The film distribution landscape is changing rapidly. Many filmmakers and production companies decide to cut out the middle man (sales agents) and go directly to distributors or VOD platforms with their productions. The reality is that finding the right sales agent, who would represent your film is a challenging task. The sales agents charge a lot of money for their services, often adding charges for extra expenses on top of their flat fee or % of the sales.
A lot of the sales agents pass the films they should be representing onto an aggregator company. Those companies used to be distribution companies but since the model changed so much, some if not most became non-profitable in a sense they used to be. As aggregators, they prepare digital files for different VOD platforms, while charging filmmakers for that job, plus % of all the sales. Sales that will most likely have to be generated by filmmakers themselves via clever use of marketing and audience reach out.
In the new creative hybrid distribution model, filmmakers often keep digital rights for themselves, while planning and creating an online marketing campaign. However, they look for distributors for theatrical release or deal directly with independent cinema chains to run limited theatrical distribution.
If filmmakers decide to engage with theatres directly, they can hire a booker to book the venue/s and negotiate the contract between the filmmaker/production company and the theatre chain or the theatre owner. The contract between the filmmaker and the venue can be for one flat fee or share of profits. All the specifics of the deal will depend on what is negotiated and agreed upon.
By keeping the digital rights, filmmakers can maximise their digital revenue if they cleverly manoeuvre their marketing and promotion efforts by reaching out to their niche audience.
Sometimes, in the creative distribution model filmmakers find sales agents for a single territory. Let’s say an American indie filmmaker isn’t that familiar with the European market, so they decide to find a sales agent familiar with the European territory. At times filmmakers decide to have a sale agent representing their film for TV networks or hotel/airline chains.
The sky is the limit when it comes to the creative distribution model. In this model, a filmmaker only uses what they think will work for the film without having to spend a colossal amount of money on traditional marketing and promotion package.
The concept and idea behind creative distribution is to use creativity to reach out to as many territories and platforms as possible. Creative distribution certainly pushes the boundaries of traditional distribution and has the potential to connect with the audience in a new way.