SCREW FESTIVALS. RENT-A-DISTRIBUTOR (To Guarantee Profits. Pay for P&A)
by Dov S-S Simens on July 25, 2016
CUT-TO-CHASE: PRODUCERS ALWAYS GET F*CKED.
You must control content. Distributors & Networks control content.
(Harvey Weinstein is a great Producer for he controls his content)
Hollywood (Warners, Paramount, 20th, Universal, Sony, Disney, etc.) has a simple saying that you, the independent filmmaker(s), have never heard… but they say it all the time & it is the truth.
So what is the saying?
I hope you’re an adult, mature and ready for honesty.
Okay, you are!
The saying is… “Producers get F*cked. Distributors do the F*cking”.
That is not all of the saying.
Here comes the second part… “What do you want to be, the F*cker or the F**ckee?”
The key to success in Hollywood and movies in general is to control content and be the person/company that (A) collects the money, (B) creates the accounting statement and (C) distributes (if any, Yuk-Yuk) the money.
The Movie Studios control content. They collect the monies; they make the accounting statements; and they decide if they are going to distribute any.
The movie studios control content… Thus, they have power.
Now for you, a filmmaker, to have power, you must be able to not only make a film but also control it.
Read on and learn how.
*** COMMENTS PLEASE: In the interim, of the 1,000s of you that read my No-Bull Blog I bet there are 20-30 of you that Produced or Directed a Feature Film; then got a Distributor and then “got F*cked”. If so, please-please COMMENT on your experience. YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED.
FILM F*CKER or FILM F*CKEE
Back to the No-Bull Blog & apologies for the crude language but that is how Hollywood Execs truly talk.
The answer to “What do you want to be a…f*cker or f*ckee” is obviously you desire to be the one (f*cker) that is in control.
(The Hollywood phrase for “F*Ck You” is…. “Trust Me”. Always worry about anyone in business that says “Trust Me”.)
I’m not saying that you want to screw people but you must have control of your product….and this is possible.
This means that you desire to not only be a Producer, but a Producer who either controls a distributor or, in the new internet world, self-distributes the product themselves.
Thus, expand your horizons and think about being either a “Rent-A-Distributor”, or a “Self-Distributor: Theatrical” or a “Self-Distributor: Internet” as an integral part of your business plan.
Not easy and in the 20th Century it was almost impossible. But today, 21st Century, with the Web, Social Media, cheap Broadband, Micro-Charging and On-Demand revenues that can be obtained directly from the viewer…. It is doable.
BE A DISTRIBUTOR
First thought is “why not be your own theatrical distributor”?
(Aha. A moment of clarity. To control creative bookkeeping… be the bookkeeper.)
If you’re obsessed to go theaters, secure a theatrical release and become a “real” movie then instead of Secure-A-Distributor by attending the festival circuit (remember, each festival costs $2,000-$50,000 to attend), being discovered and begging for a deal; you should possibly think Be-A-Distributor.
Permit me to explain.
(When I present my “2-DAY FILM SCHOOL” in other nations (last year Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Ecuador, Mexico, Hong Kong, Romania, Holland, etc.) where I teach “How To Make & Sell Your First Feature Film” , I also spend an hour teaching how to Distribute your own feature film.)
By being your own distributor you control everything, you cut out the middlemen and you keep all monies (if audience comes), minus the P&A marketing costs (“P” stands for Prints and “A” stands for Advertising).
Here’s the point: In nations, other than USA/Canada, there are not many movie theatres (multiplexes & screens, although growing) and it is easy to cover the entire nation with 5-20 Prints.
For USA/Canada you will need 500-2,000 Prints, and the ability to collect from 100s of theater circuits and independent owners (if audiences come) to be a distributor… My advice is “don’t try” being a Distributor in North America but in any other nation around-the-world you are foolish not to be the Distributor.
To be a Distributor, after making your feature film, you should put aside $15,000 for Prints, $25,000 for a Gala-Premiere, with Celebs & Limos & $50,000 for a 1-week advertising campaign (newspaper, radio, TV & social media) to cover the nation… and you have created a “MOVIE”.
This is only $100,000…. Yes, $100,000 is a lot for beginning filmmakers. But, if it is possible to procure it increases your chances of success and profits by 100-fold.
Don’t try this in America however in other nations, with not many theatres it is very realistic…and you (A) create a movie that you (B) control and almost guarantee (C) profits from On-Demand, DVD, Cable, TV, Foreign & Licensing deals, licenses & revenue streams… do it!
Thus, if you are a filmmaker/producer/director in any nation, other than USA/Canada, I would truly think about becoming your own theatrical distributor.
Now let’s talk America.
(If you call a Distributor with (A) your film and (B) your marketing money… You will get a distributor with a great deal.)
We have 300 Million people, with approximately 200 markets (New York, Sacramento, Dallas, Orlando, St Louis, etc.) which are actually little nations within themselves.
Therefore, trying to launch yourself as a Distribution Company, with your Movie, in America I advise NOT TO DO. America is too big, too complicated for first-timers.
So what do you do, with respect to America, after you’ve made your film?
My recommendation is, when creating your budget, during pre-production, put in additional money (P&A money) so that when you’ve finished you don’t have to prey FIND A DISTRIBUTOR but you actually, with the P&A money, RENT A DISTRIBUTOR.
Renting a Distributor puts you in an entire new world of realizing profits than if you just got a distributor.
50-50 NET DEAL
The normal (aka: standard) Distribution Deal is, called the “50-50 Net Deal”…. and this is the deal that you Want-To-Avoid.
(With your own P&A money you can almost guarantee profits… P stands for “Prints” and A stands for Advertising.)
Which is the Distributor (A) first gets their Distribution Fee (usually 35%), then (B) recoups their expenses (the “P&A” they spent, which they inflate) and then (C) splits 50-50 on anything that is left over….if, Ha-Ha, anything is left over.
There is much-much more to a Distribution Deal than what I just explained with the “50-50 Net Deal”, which is detailed in 4-5 of my other No-Bull Blogs… but that is enough for now.
So you, the Filmmaker, with a feature film are going to festivals in hopes of being discovered and getting a “50-50 Net Deal”… which, you’ve heard the phrase “CREATIVE BOOKKEEPING”, which translates to there IS NEVER EVER ANYTHING LEFT OVER.
However, if you RENT-A-DISTRIBUTOR (you come with the Film and the P&A money) instead of GET-A-DISTRIBUTOR then you are RENTING-A-DISTRIBUTOR and are in control you can circumvent the “50-50 Net Deal” and can negotiate a 12.5% Distribution Fee (not 35% that they offer), you can also recoup your expenses (P&A) first (not allow them to skim), you can further get 65-85% of theatrical profits, and keep 100% of On-Demand money, 100% Cable money, 100% DVD money, etc… Oooo!?
Doesn’t this sound better?
Don’t Secure-A-Distributor; in your business plan, add $100,000 and don’t, if USA/Canada based try to distribute yourself, but Rent-A-Distributor and circumvent the horrible “50-50 Net” Deal.
PS: Also, if you keep your feature films budget under $100,000 you might totally skip the theatres and go direct to the consumer (On-Demand, Pay-Per-View, Streaming, Archiving, etc.) via the web and again be your own distributor, cut out the middlemen entirely and keep the money…
More about “Internet: Self Distribution” in a following No-Bull Blog.
- Dov Simens
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5 comments on “SCREW FESTIVALS. RENT-A-DISTRIBUTOR (To Guarantee Profits. Pay for P&A)”
I like your honesty and appreciate the real language i can learn to speak with studios!
Another great post Dov. Thank you.
As filmmakers no doubt use Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, GetAround, etc., they should be much more aware of what’s taking place in film distribution. Disintermediation continues to reshape economies and how we’re getting our films is be part of that shake up. I’m looking hard and deep into Distribbr, Quiverdigital and Bitmax.
Once again Dov you’ve done it. That’s why I like dealing with you because you tell it like it is. Plus you come with useful information. I appreciate that.
Easier said than done… Theater decide what to put on screen and they don´t like new, small distributors, even when you´re paying the vpf, they decide where to program your movie, and they give you the worst circuit possible for your movie. You spend less money and end up not loosing that much money in the process. Thats true.
How do I find a distributer for rent?