The World of Movie Distribution Is a Tough Place

The world of movie distribution is a tough place. After fighting and sweating to finish a movie you’re mentally and physically exhausted.

You just want to take a break and rest, but you can’t because finishing a movie is only half the battle. It’s time to enter the world of movie distribution.

Movie distribution is a tough place for filmmakers new to the grind. It’s hard to switch off the creative mind to deal with the business side of selling movies.

What I’ve learned the hard way is the movie distribution really starts with promoting and marketing a movie.

Social media is an inexpensive way to get the word out about your movie and create a killer viral buzz online.

It’s cool to go the film festival route to get your movie seen by viewers and potential film buyers, but over the years from talking to other filmmakers there is a common feeling that the film festival scene is too crowded now.

U.K. filmmaker Wayne Daniells from LiarDice Films told me his last trip to The Cannes International Film Festival was a ruthless feeding frenzy.

There were a glut of movies and producers were fighting to get the attention of movie distributors.

All in all Wayne expressed that it was a waste of time and money pitching his film there. I’ve heard the same opinion from other filmmakers that are frustrated with the film festival scene and no longer see it as a good way to secure movie distribution.

I personally like the direct route of contacting movie distributors to see if they’re interested in being sent a screener. This is where it helps if you have already been promoting and marketing your movie online using social media.

Movie distributors are more interested in acquiring movies that already have a strong online presence.

I’m strictly speaking from a true independent movie perspective. Studio budget movies are an entirely different animal when it comes to the world of movie distribution.

When it comes to movie distribution for an indie produced film the way it normally happens are independent producers and filmmakers take the risk making the movie without any guaranteed movie distribution deal in place.

They usually have to shop it around to sell it. That’s been my personal experience so far. I’ve never created content with a movie distribution deal in place.

It’s like writing a screenplay on spec, but you’re dealing with a movie. Promoting and marketing a movie through social media is an absolute must.

Start early before you’re movie is even finished. That way when you begin contacting movie distributors you’re movie will already have more appeal because people are talking about it.

Movie distributors that cater to releasing independent movies do very little marketing for most of the titles they release.

If you’re movie doesn’t have any actors or celebrity names attached to it then it won’t get marketed outside of the standard insert in a movie distributor catalog.

So once you do secure a movie distribution deal you’re already giving your movie a boost by promoting and marketing yourself.

My mind is all over the place today, so let me get back to finding a movie distribution deal. Hold up please. A nice Miller Lite would help me focus right now.

That’s much better now. There are different ways to land a film distribution deal. You can spend the money doing the film festival route. Deals get struck all the time at film festivals.

But honestly there is a glut of film festivals. The number of film festivals is way out of whack compared to the number of movie distributors that release independent films.

Skipping the film festival circuit works for many independent movie producers that don’t have name actors in their film or know their story won’t appeal to an art house crowd.

Hiring a film sales representative is a good call if you skip the film festival scene all together. A film sales representative or producer’s rep has contacts with movie distributors to get your movie screened.

Plus many of them can get you into magazines like Indie Slate and MovieMaker to make your movie look more appealing to movie distributors.

They also watch your back when it comes to movie distribution agreements. When filmmakers look at movie distribution agreements it can be overwhelming.

There is lots of legalese “mumbo jumbo” in there designed to lessen the amount of money you make from movie royalty payments or a straightforward buy-out of your movie.

Unless you have experience reading movie distribution contracts it’s easy to get taken advantage of. I’m in the habit know even if I have a films sales representative like “El Tigre” watching my back I still read all contracts completely.

You will be surprised at the hidden fees and costs some movie distributors try to get over on a filmmaker with in of all places, the contract definitions section.
My film sales rep and I once found a flat fee of $50,000 for marketing costs in the definitions section.

Hiring an entertainment attorney is another good move, but usually is too costly for a truly independent filmmaker. Plus from my own experience an entertainment attorney is not as helpful as a film sales rep with securing a movie distribution deal or getting you some press.

That’s not really the job an entertainment attorney. They’re great when it comes to negotiating your movie distribution contract. But most won’t get you a deal like a film sales rep. You can bring them in after you have a deal on the table.

I had two sharp entertainment lawyers that saved my ass from getting burned when it came to sell a reality show I produced called “America’s Wildest Bachelor Parties.” They got me a producer friendly contract and got me paid on time each quarter. I’m glad I hired them.

If it’s just not in your budget to hire a film sales rep or entertainment lawyer you can still secure meaningful movie distribution hustling hard yourself.

Promoting and marketing your movie online is followed up by putting together a clean and neat film package to send to movie distributors. Keep it simple with a DVD screener, one-sheet artwork, tight synopsis, tagline and very short bios for key cast or crew that have previous IMDB credits.

To get a list of potential movie distributors see what companies are releasing movies in the same genre as yours. The Internet makes it pretty easy to find contact information nowadays.

Movie distribution companies usually have a contact page for film submissions. Follow the guidelines and mail off your film package. They get a flood of film submissions, so be patient if you don’t hear back right away.

Movie distributors have certain times they are aggressively seeking films to fill their catalog and other times they have all they need for now. I have the buying months written down.

Once they get your film package they will Google your movie. That’s where having been promoting and marketing your movie online really stands out. It takes more than only having a website or blog.

You need some press and backing from online film bloggers to make your movie standout in the eyes of movie distributors.

I dedicated a chapter about movie distribution in a book on indie filmmaking I wrote. It might help you with more detailed movie distribution information. All the best with marketing and selling your movie.

Upcoming Zombie Movies

The latest Zombie Movies of 2013-14

Zombies have of late gained a large amount of interest in pop culture. The reasons might be myriad – a morbid fascination with apocalypse situations, a metaphor for the way that most people allow themselves to be herded like sheep, a growing fear stemming from recent virulent diseases that have wreaked havoc on populations. Whatever the reasons may be, Zombies now have their own genre despite seeming mindless, no pun intended.

Though first featured in White Zombie (1932), it wasn’t until the premier of Night of the Living Dead (1968) that Zombies in movies really garnered attention from the majority of the viewing public. A slew of Resident Evil movies later, Zombie movies were regarded as a completely action and horror oriented subject. With the release of Shaun of the Dead (2004) though, Zombie movies have been explored for their comic value, thus bursting the dam on what can be done with thousands of mindless, smelly creatures all intent on eating those still alive. The success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, a zombie apocalypse survival television series, has promptly brought on the year of the zombie, with more than a dozen films and ventures that attempt to cash in on the success that these undead freaks of nature have achieved. Here we take a look at some of the Zombie movies set to be released soon:

World War Z – One of the biggest zombie movies to be released yet, WWZ stars Brad Pitt in the leading role as Gerry Lane, a United Nations worker whose task is to coordinate resistance and help stop the global Zombie epidemic that threatens to tear down human civilization. Based on the eponymous book by Max Brooks, the director, Marc Forester portrays the Zombie cadres like a colony of ants whose strength is in numbers. With a budget in excess of $200 million, Paramount Pictures is set to release the film in June of this year. This is likely to set a record as the highest grosser of Zombie movies 2013-14.

Warm Bodies – Based on a book by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies is a Zombie romantic comedy that explores Zombie love. Jonathan Levine, who wrote the screenplay and also directed the movie, ventures into the untested by providing a Zombie’s perspective. Nicholas Hoult stars as Zombie who shows signs of human emotions towards Teresa Palmer’s character and the movie explores the possibility of humans and zombies living in a harmonious environment. Released early February of this year, this Zombie movie has already grossed over $100 million, making this a must watch for any Zombie movies lover.

The 4th Reich – Combining the two greatest villainous entities in Hollywood, this Sean Bean starrer terrifies movie goers with Nazi Zombies. Directed and written by Shaun Robert Smith, this World War 2 era movie portrays an elite team of a British Infantry Division as they go about killing Nazis and eliminating the threat of Zombies created by Nazi scientists during their experiments to create a superior human race. Set to be released late this year, The 4th Reich is another in a long list of WW2 movies, but with a slightly undead twist.

Invasion of the Not Quite Dead – A dark comedy thriller about the inhabitants of a small island off the coast of England that is turned into Zombie death trap by a deadly virus, this is one of the more entertaining Zombie movies, written and directed by Anthony Lane is not one to miss. Starring relatively well known Andrew Ellis and Ajay Nayyar, the movie promises a unique look at how a small group of survivors face the rigors and challenges of escaping Zombies.

Wyrmwood: This is an Australian movie set to be released in late 2013, with post-production work going on. The movie is styled after the Will Smith starrer I AM LEGEND, and falls in the action category of Zombie Movies 2013-14. Written and directed by Kiah Roache-Turner, the movie stars Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey and Leon Burchill. The story revolves around Jay Gallagher, whose character loses his family on the eve of a zombie attack. He teams up with a friend and together they drive through the Australian Bush to the safer interiors, battling the undead on the way from the comfort of a fortified van. This movie seems to have a better storyline when compared to many of the other Zombie movies 2013-14 has to offer.

R.I.P.D – Also known as Rest In Peace Department, is a Zombie action comedy that has a star studded cast. Ryan Reynolds plays a recently murdered cop and joins the likes of Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges and Mary-Louise Parker who along with others and forms a team of undead police officers. With a release date in mid July 2013, this Zombie film portrays the undead as the good guys who use their undeadness to fight crime. Directed by Robert Schwentke who has blockbusters like Red (2010) and The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) under his belt, this is one of the better Zombie movies 2013-14 and is sure to exceed all expectations.

The Harvard Zombie Massacre – Another Zombie movie that is presently in pre production, it is set in a Harvard University campus overrun with Zombies. The twist that sets this movie apart from the rest of the Zombie movies is that these particular Zombies aren’t as mindless as one might suspect. Produced by Warren Zide of American Pie and Final Destination fame, the film chronicles how America’s most brilliant minds can survive an onslaught from the most brilliant Zombies. This horror comedy written by Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit will be released late 2013 or early 2014.

Movies set for release in 2014:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – An adaptation of the classic Jane Austen story of a woman’s quest for independence and love, the screenplay has been reworked to include her fight to eradicate a growing Zombie threat. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are provided with zombie flavored distractions from their pristine 19th century English manors and questions of morality and marriage are superseded by the need to survive. Though the film is still in its planning stage, its unique twist ensures that it will generate a great deal of interest, and not just with zombie movies lovers.

The Curse of the Buxom Strumpet – A dark comedy set in the early 1700’s and starring Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench, this Zombie movie focuses on the accomplishments of a lord of fictional Upper Trollop, a small town in Oxfordshire, England. Based on E’gad Zombies!, a short film by the same director, Matthew Butler who worked with Ian McKellen, this movie promises a showing like none other, partly due to the tremendous acting talent and also due to the unique settings. Set to be released early 2014, this is one of the Zombie movies that will set itself apart from the rest.

The zombies are taking over the movie theaters and cinemas, after the last few years which were dominated by the vampires and werewolves. Every big Hollywood studio and the not-so-big ones, not to mention the independent movie makers are trying to cash in on the latest craze for the undead, set off the by the popular television series. Zombie movies are invading the cinemas and theaters around the world and there seems to be no stopping the undead, anytime soon.