Distribution and sales is a murky world for short films. Mostly, because distribution for short films usually just means film festivals, and ‘sales’ means the vague chance of getting $100 prize money.
But there are platforms out there that are looking for short and feature films from indie filmmakers.
Finding them is often so tough we just give up.
So today we’re going to get into the process that will help you find the right platforms for your film.
Where you lead, I will follow
Yeah, I’ve been watching too much of Gilmore Girls.
Look into films like yours. They should have similar themes or storylines, been made within the last 3 years, and have had a similar budget.
Find out what they did with their films, where they released them and where the film ended up after its festival run (if it had one).
This research will form the basis of your distribution plan, and give you ideas for platforms that have accepted films similar to yours.
*bye bye cold emailing + zero responses*
This step will see you skipping the fruitless ‘short film websites’ google searches, which usually has out of date info and platforms that aren’t guaranteed to even want your film, let alone accept it.
Go where your audience is
When I work with filmmakers, we develop 2 separate audiences for them. One for them, and one for the film they’re currently working on.
Publicising your film should be done to your audience.
But finding platforms to pitch to should be based on your film’s audience.
It may sound cool to be pitching to Netflix, but if your audience isn’t actually on there, your film won’t be seen by the right people.
And even if Netflix accepts your film (there are stringent entry requirements), if the view count is low, they may not accept your next one.
So go where your audience is. If that’s YouTube or Facebook, then that’s where your film needs to be. You won’t make a profit from your film being bought, but you may make some ad revenue.
And, more importantly, if you get a high view count, you’re going to have made your life exponentially easier. Why? Because when you pitch your next project to a producer or investor, you’ll have the numbers to support you.
It’s much easier getting £5000 out of an investor when your films have a proven interest and market.
What does the film need to do for you?
Don’t forget that your film is working for you, not the other way around.
If you need this film to establish you as a writer, director or producer then a festival run will get you your desired results.
This is because your film will be seen by other filmmakers, and will also have credibility in the industry. People aren’t as bothered by laurels anymore, but they still provide you with a sense of credibility and experience.
But if you’d rather grow your audience so you can make your next film asap, going direct to an online release is your best plan.
Of course you can do both. But you need a festival run before an online release, as most festivals don’t accept films which have been freely available online already. Apart from, curiously, Sundance.
Bonus: build your audience + let the platforms come to you
Not only do high viewing figures online aid all your future pitches, they also get attention from all kinds of industry decision-makers.
Platforms of all kinds may be coming to you.
The best part? These are usually platforms that are looking for your kinds of films, and have an audience similar to yours.
What are you planning on doing with your film?