What you will learn:
- Understanding all the different markets for film distribution
- How to market your movie
- The types of distribution deals
- Assessing the potential risks
- The financial projections of your movies potential success
- Researching an estimated financial plan
The Markets and Marketing
This area is very important and can be the hardest area filmmakers have to compromise or compare their unique movie with others in the marketplace.
It is very common to hear writers and directors say, “My picture is unique and can’t be compared to other films.” I know I had this personal problem. I always felt the movies I wrote were acceptable for everyone in all age groups. However, it was only until after I educated myself about how marketing works that I realized how flawed my perception was.
Again, the whole purpose of this film business plan is to get your movie financed, and you have to do that by educating your investor thoroughly on all the different angles you believe your movie has the greatest chance of success. That means you will have to compare your movie with other successful ones that are closely related to yours and limiting your movie to specific genres. Every genre has their own unique market and audience. Moreover, every genre requires different marketing strategies.
If you were writing a zombie movie, you know your target audience involves people who love action, gore, violence, zombies, horror and post-apocalyptic dystopian movies. There is no way you can convince an investor that your zombie movie is suitable for everyone including children.
So, try your best to narrow down your movie marketing to that specific group of moviegoers. This will not only help you get a much clearer idea of who you are targeting, but your investor and distributor will have a greater understanding of the type of movie you want to make.
Go into as much detail as you can. In fact, some great examples you can find online is to go on google and search for, “media kit”. A media kit is a breakdown of a specific company or website’s audience base. It goes into incredible detail such as, age, location, gender, education, employment, interests, etc. These companies and websites have these media kits available to educate advertisers to advertise with their business.
This is no different with what you are trying to do with film investors. Investors want to know these details. This is a good place to mention that you want to attract investors who already have experience in the market you want to enter. If you are writing a zombie movie, you will have a better chance of getting film funding by speaking with an investor who already invested in other successful zombie movies or similar movies like the one you want to produce. They understand film marketing and will be impressed how much you understand the market. In addition, if your script is incredible, you have a significantly greater chance of securing funding for your project.
Similar to the Industry section, you want to explain how the film distribution system works. Never assume your investor already understands how the system works. Always communicate on the same level.
The “rights” of a movie establishes the owner of the copyright, which enables the legal use of the movie to the copyright holder. Having these “rights” allows a producer to create contracts, licenses, or rentals of the film for distribution. The copyright holder has complete control over how they wish to strike up a deal. You may strike a deal, where you license a specific length of time to a distributor, or a specific region, domestic, foreign, DVD, television, mobile, internet, etc. In return, the distributor shares the rental/license fee to the copyright holder.
Major studios have their own film distribution divisions for their own films. However, they sometimes acquire films outside of their studio as well.
Looking at the Industry section, you will notice the Studio ends up taking anywhere between 30% to upwards 55% of the shared revenue depending on your project.
Studios have the ability of projecting your film on over 4,000+ screens on opening weekend. They have a large established distribution channel to utilize. They also have incredible resources and influence that allow them to do film marketing consistently on TV, print and the web.
The typical deal
There is no such thing as a typical deal. No two deals are ever the same. Everyone has the same goal. Distributors will take as much as they can get, producers will want to give as little as possible.
Never go into an agreement without the advice of an entertainment attorney experienced in film. Some distributors may persuade you to sign an agreement before any specific fees or details have been spelled out. They are trained to be persuasive business savvy people. The attorney protects you from these types of people by knowing what needs to be in the agreement before signing. Attorneys are equally as persuasive.
The attorney’s film experience is critical. It is important to get an attorney who specializes in film. Some filmmakers ends up getting any attorney, or someone who has experience in the music industry. This is a no-no. The film industry is a specialty and you want to strike the best deal you can possibly get when negotiating with distributors and investors.
A distributor’s fee can also vary depending on the territory or even the medium. The fees can range from 15% up to 50%. However, the overall average is around 35%. If a distributor is asking for more, you may not want to sign.