Some Inspiration for Independent Filmmakers

The Box Office is going through it’s summer hurdle and it’s problematic for indie filmmakers.
Don’t worry, innovations in distribution (Netflix, legal downloading, on-demand cable, even releasing films in theaters and on DVD the same day) will save the indie business. Besides, things just look bad right now because we’re in the annual summer slump; indie films will flourish again in the fall, when prestige pictures are released in order to appeal to Oscar voters.

See the rest of the article By Gary Sussman, “Is the Sky Falling on the indie film business?”

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Answer to: How to send out my film to a distributor?

Thanks Robert for your question.

There is a few things you must do to prepare your film for a distributor.

Firstly, you can find movie distributor links here and find their addresses from their respective websites. Then, follow their instuctions on how to send your DVD in to them. Most likely they will ask for some or all of the following steps to send them :

Secondly, is burning a DVD. This is elementary with Mac software like DVD Studio Pro. On Mac, if you are doing film editing, you can use Final Cut Pro and when you are finished editing, you will export the movie into .mov format or .avi format and easily bring these into DVD Studio Pro. Other DVD authoring such as menu creation and extras will be important to market your film and are slightly more complicated when creating this DVD, so seek help if your not sure how to do this.

Thirdly, is the cover artwork, your DVD cover. This can be created in Adobe Photoshop and exported into size with DVD Cover Creator. Still shots are also important. Pick your favorite still shots in the film! 5-10 will do. These will advertise your film and can be made into a small booklet with the help of any copy center.

Fourthly is your Press Release. Your Press release will be one to two pages long. It will be advertise the plot and sell their story to the distributor. (this is very important) Write quick and fast statements about the plot and don’t use run- on sentences. The press release will also contain the director, screenwriter and all the crew involved on a business letterhead. Also you should put the duration of the film and the film ratio as well (4:3- fullscreen, 16:9 widescreen). After this is said and done your ready to send.

One more note : Involve another letterhead saying that upon sending your DVD and it meets their approval, you will send a 30 page film distribution memorandum describing in detail every aspect of the film. For a complete step by step breakdown of a film distribution memorandum click here.

For any other questions, please reply to this post or send an email to me, at filmdistributionfacts@gmail.com.

Answer to : What is the difference between Independent and Hollywood Movie Marketing

Thanks jerry for your question.

You asked : what is the difference between Independent and Hollywood Marketing?

I wanted to show a most current example, so I used internet marketing to illustrate the answer.

Internet Marketing is on the rise, and many companies take new ideas from the web and apply it to conventional non-internet marketing. Studies have shown that there is a difference between the ways Independent filmmakers market their film to the way Hollywood does. In the conference papers of the International Communication annual meeting in 2007, they discussed Charles Hoffader’s ideals, a popular scholar in general web marketing activity and they applied it to the film industry.

According to Hoffader, there is four levels of interaction in websites. They are Communication, Sales, Content and Networking. “ We can say that the first two, Communication and Sales reflect promotional goals through sales from different movie distribution outlets of the Independent/Hollywood filmmaker. The second two interactions are content and networking, that reflect goals of maximizing and audience interaction to develop demand and profit for the films themselves.” (Intl’ Communication Association meeting, pp.2)

Consider websites from popular movies such as “Fun with Dick and Jane”, “Saw 2”, and “Chronicles of Narnia” vs. an Independent film such as “Man From Earth” and reflect on the Sales and Communication to the Content and Networking of each other.

Man From Earth encourages an audience member to participate in networking by creating links in their home page, which you can rate or write a review for the movie on Blockbuster, Yahoo or Amazon etc. With “Fun with Dick and Jane” all that is on the website is to buy the DVD and it’s based on a film critic you don’t know and doesn’t say much to convince you.

A Filmmaker can tell a lot from a website about if you want to Independently distribute or Hollywood distribute. Your success will depend a lot on the fan devotion and effective audience creating based on history and your idealism of Independent Film.

You can market yourself towards a “moviegoer audience” based on monetary merchandising, i.e. Harry Potter, or you can market your film through viral marketing and simplified networking, which includes individual interaction or rating and reviewing your movie.

Sample Copyright License Agreement (For Text and Written Works)

Below is a sample copyright license agreement for text and written work. if you are the author, you representative agent or publishing company will send this to the filmmaker/licensee if the license is available for use in a movie in adaptation or for a print run of so many books to sell.

Conversely, if you are looking for the rights to works, you may find the licensor of the work and call or email if the rights are available and they agree on terms, they will send you a copyright license agreement like this below. Please reply for any questions to the post or at moviedistributionfacts@gmail.com

Sample Text Permission and Copyright Agreement

___________________ (“Licensor”) is the owner of rights for certain textual material defined below (the “Selection”). _____________________(“Licensee”) wants to acquire the right to use the Selection as specified in this agreement (the “Agreement”).

Licensor Information
Title of Text (the “Selection”): ________________________
Author: ____________________________
Source publication (or product from which it came): _____________________________
If from a periodical, the ISSN, volume, issue and date. If from a book, the ISBN: __________________________
If from the Internet, the entire URL: __________________________
Number of pages or actual page numbers to be used: _____________________________

Licensee Publication Information
The Selection will appear in the following publication(s) (the “Work”): _____________
(check if applicable and fill in blanks)
[ ] book– title: ______________________________
[ ] periodical– title: _____________________________________
[ ] event handout– title of event: _________________________________________
[ ] website– URL: ___________________________________
[ ] diskette– title: ___________________________________
Name of publisher or sponsor: ___________________________________
Author(s): _____________________________________
Estimated date(s) of publication or posting: ________________________________
Estimated number of copies to be printed or produced (if a book, the estimated first print run): __________________
If for sale, the price: $_____________________
If copies are free to attendees of a program, cost of program: ______________________
If a Website, indicate the average number of visitors per month: ____________________

Grant of Rights
Licensor grants to Licensee and Licensee’s successors and assigns, the:
(select one)
[ ] nonexclusive
[ ] exclusive
right to reproduce and distribute the Selection in:
(select all that apply)
[ ] the current edition of the Work.
[ ] all editions of the Work.
[ ] all foreign language versions of the Work.
[ ] all derivative versions of the Work.
[ ] in all media now known or later devised.
[ ] in promotional materials published and distributed in conjunction with the Work.
[ ] other rights __________________________________

Territory
The rights granted under this Agreement shall be for __________________ (the “Territory”).

Fees
Licensee shall pay Licensor as follows:
(select one and fill in appropriate blanks)
[ ] Flat Fee. Licensee shall pay Licensor a flat fee of $__________ as full payment for all rights granted. Payment shall be made:
[ ] upon execution of this Agreement
[ ] upon publication
[ ] Royalties and Advance. Licensee agrees to pay Licensor a royalty of _____% of Net Sales. Net Sales are defined as gross sales (the gross invoice amount billed customers) less quantity discounts and returns actually credited. Licensee agrees to pay Licensor an advance against royalties of $____________ upon execution of this Agreement. Licensee shall pay Licensor within 30 days after the end of each quarter. Licensee shall furnish an accurate statement of sales during that quarter. Licensor shall have the right to inspect Licensee’s books upon reasonable notice.

Credit & Samples
(check if applicable and fill in blanks)
[ ] Credit. All versions of the Work that include the Selection shall contain the following statement: _________________________________________________
[ ] Samples. Upon publication, Licensee shall furnish ____________ copies of the Work to Licensor.

Warranty
Licensor warrants that it has the right to grant permission for the uses of the Selection as specified above and that the Selection does not infringe the rights of any third parties.

Miscellaneous
This Agreement may not be amended except in a written document signed by both parties. If a court finds any provision of this Agreement invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this Agreement shall be interpreted so as best to effect the intent of the parties. This Agreement shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of _______________. This Agreement expresses the complete understanding of the parties with respect to the subject matter and supersedes all prior representations and understandings.

Licensor
By: ______________________
Name: _____________________
Title: _____________________
Address: _____________________
Date: ________________

Licensee
By: ______________________
Name: _____________________
Title: _____________________
Address: _____________________
Date: ___________________
Tax ID # ________________________

How to Request and Secure Permission to Use Copyrighted Text in Your Book or Film

Copyright owners have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and create derivatives of their works. Most others, like filmmakers and distributors and publishers must obtain permission from the copyright owner to lawfully engage in any of these activities. In this post, I will highlight basic ideas on how I and you can secure permission for copyrighted text for your film or book.

Before you decide to use the copyrighted written idea for use in your film or book ask yourself –

Is the material protected under copyright law? Knowing when a work was published or if legal requirements were met is helpful in determining if a work can be used without permission.

General Notes about Securing Permission for Copyrighted Text:

• Usually for text, it is common for Authors/ Agents to charge $150 for a regular permission to license text.

• Copyright Law usually protects text works after 1922.
• If copyright law does not protect it, the owner did not renew the copyright or the work did not minimal standards for copyright protection.

• The Fair Use Law permits you to copy small portions of work for certain purposes such as scholarship or commentary; commentary is usually another writer’s opinion on something.

Exclusive and Non Exclusive Rights:

• A Permissions Agreement that is exclusive is if you are the only person who has the right to use the work as described in the agreement.
• Most permission agreements are nonexclusive and others can use the material in the same way.

For Terms of Use for Permission Agreements:

• Usually, it is a general period of time between 2-6 years, while some agreements prohibit the copyright owner from revoking rights by granting permission irrevocably.

For Territory that a Licensee can Use Text:

• May be limited to a certain geographical area but it is subjective, ask for terms first through the author or agency.

More Notes about Securing Permission for Copyrighted Text:

• Permissions should be obtained before you complete or budget for the work
and start the completion of the work for obvious reasons.

• Sometimes the owner of the work will not require payments, because some artists eager for exposure may agree to suspend payments unless the work becomes profitable or on other factors.

• If you hire someone to create a work, the business will retain the rights only if they are the employee of your company and not just a freelancer. Basically, the company pays them for the job or gives weekly or monthly payments.

• A right of publicity is when a persons name or image is used on for example a cereal box. Have to contact the owner for this, if you are displaying owners name on advertising material.

• If the text is written by two authors- you need permission from both of them.

• Permission to photocopy and distribute materials is online at http://www.copyright.com, CCC clears millions of works through their representatives international and national – it costs 120 membership yearly fee and additional charges for use, they may waive the fee for one time users.

• Unpublished works created after 1978, are protected for the life of the authors plus 70 years.

• Publication does not occur when copies are made and not distributed, only when the text is publicly performed or displayed.

Locating Publishers:

• International Literary Marketplace- http://www.bowker.com/main/home/index.html – searchable online for a fee – books currently available for sale- call them first
• The University of Texas – http://www.lib.utexas.edu/libs/HRC/WATCH/ – has addresses for authors, artists and their copyright holders in US and UK libraries

Paraphrasing and Infringement:

• You have to radically paraphrase work to be so disguised as to be unrecognizable is not copying. It is kind of impossible..

Using Facts:

• You don’t need to ask for permission if you are using facts or fact based theories.
• But you can’t copy more than the facts, which is the expression of them or the arrangement.

• If you don’t have an exclusive agreement your license or permission doesn’t have to be written or valid.

——————————————————————————————————————–

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Recommended Books on Film Distribution for Filmmakers

When learning about film distribution, these books below are recommended reading to learn more about the film distribution business. I quote these books quite frequently on my blog posts. Check them out!

The Insider’s Guide to Independent Film Distribution
Independent Film Distribution: How to Make a Successful End Run Around the Big Guys
Film Finance & Distribution: A Dictionary of Terms
The Feature Film Distribution Deal: A Critical Analysis of the Single Most Important Film Industry Agreement
Independent Feature Film Production: A Complete Guide from Concept Through Distribution
Selling Your Film: A Guide to the Contemporary Marketplace
The Independent Filmmaker’s Law and Business Guide: Financing, Shooting, and Distributing Independent and Digital Films

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Using the All Time 50 Top Box Office Movies to Market Your Film

If you wanted to create a film, but wanted to know what genres are the most popular movie genres, you could start by analyzing the top box office movies of all time.

Similarly, if you completed your film and want to successfully promote it, you might see from the list of the top 50 box office movies below that your film might not fit into the most popular movie genres using this research below. For example, since comedy is one of the most popular genres, you could decide to add a cutscene(s) of a humorous conversation between two people if the movie can accommodate it in terms of plot. That way, when you go to a distributor, you could find “yet” another way to market your film!

There are many variations you could come up with, you just have to be creative and find new ways to market your film! A chart is below of the top 50 Top Box Office Movies, their top grosses, what genre(s) they are and out of the top 50 films, how popular is their genre(s).
Please let me know if you had any creative thoughts and still want to explore them by posting a comment and/or emailing me, Jonathan at moviedistributionfacts@gmail.com.

The results from the graph below show the top 50 box office gross hit movies of all time. They are separated into multi genre movies with information from IMDB.com categorizing them into genres. The top movie genres are Drama, Romance, Action, Adventure, Animation, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comedy, Crime, Family & Thriller. Other genres did not make the list. The results are not out of 100%, rather 50 x the number of genres.)The movies are with their respective genres the highest in obviously Action- 52% (26 out of the top 50 movies had the action genre in the film) of the 50 movies and even higher in Adventure- at 66% (33 out of the top 50 movies had adventure.) This is of course obvious that people go to see action and adventure the most.

Lets concentrate on the other most popular genres below :

Sci Fi, Comedy, Fantasy and Romance are the most popular. 16 Sci Fi movies have made over 200 million box office receipts, the same as comedy. Following this Fantasy and Romance share the same split, 20% each of the top 50 movies.

What to learn from this research?
To add as many genres to your film as possible to market it!

Top Box Office Movies Total Box Office Film Gross (In Millions) Genre(s) Total Movies % out of 50 movies – genre popularity
#1 Titanic $600,788 Drama, Romance Drama-8/50=16%

Romance-10/50 =20%

#2 Star Wars : Episode III Revenge of the Sith $460,998 Action, Adventure, Sci Fi Action-26/50= 52%, Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#3 Shrek 2 $437,212 Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Romance Animation-7/50=16%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Comedy-16/50=32%

#4 E.T: the Extra Terrestrial $434,974 Adventure, Drama, Sci Fi Adventure-33/50=66%

Drama-8/50=16%

Sci Fi-16/50=32%

#5 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace $431,088 Action, Adventure, Sci Fi Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#6 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest $423,416 Action, Adventure, Comedy Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%
Comedy-16/50=32%
#7 Spider Man $407,681 Action, Crime. Romance, Sci-Fi Action-26/50= 52%

Crime-4/50=8%

Drama-8/50=16%

Sci Fi-16/50=32%

#8 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith $380,270 Action, Adventure, Sci Fi Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#9 Lord of the Rings : Return of the King $377,192 Action, Adventure, Fantasy Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%
Fantasy-10/50=20%
#10 Spider-Man 2 $373,377 Action, Crime, Romance, Sci-Fi Action-26/50= 52%

Crime-4/50=8%

Romance-10/50=20%

Sci Fi-16/50=32%

#11 The Passion Of Christ $370,773 Drama Drama-8/50=16%
#12 Jurassic Park $357,067 Action, Adventure, SciFi Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#13 The Lord of the Rings : The Two Towers $341,748 Action, Adventure, Fantasy Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%
Fantasy-10/50=20%
#14 Finding Nemo $339,714 Action, Adventure, Comedy Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%

Comedy-16/50=32%

#15 Spider Man 3 $336,530 Action, Crime, Romance, Sci-Fi Action-26/50= 52%

Crime-4/50=8%

Romance-10/50=20%

Sci-Fi-16/50=32%

#16 Forrest Gump $329,693 Comedy, Drama, Romance Comedy-16/50=32%

Drama-8/50=16%

Romance-10/50=20%

#17 The Lion King $328,538 Animation, Adventure, Drama Animation-7/60=14%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Drama-8/50=16%

#18 Shrek the Third $320,706 Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Romance Animation-7/60=14%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Comedy-16/50=32%

Romance-10/50=20%

#19 Transformers $319,222 Action, Adventure, SciFi Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#20 Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone $317,575 Family, Adventure, Fanatsy Family-8/50=165
Adventure-33/50=66%
Fantasy-10/50=20%
#21 The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring $314,163 Action, Adventure, Fantasy Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%
Fantasy-10/50=20%
#22 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones $310,676 Action, Adventure, Sci Fi Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#23 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End $309,302 Action, Adventure, Comedy Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%
Comedy-16/50=32%
#24 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi $309,206 Action, Adventure, Sci Fi Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#25 Independence Day $306,169 Action, Sci Fi Action-26/50= 52%  Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#26 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black
Pearl
$305,411 Action, Adventure, Comedy Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%
Comedy-16/50=32%
#27 The Sixth Sense $293,506 Drama,  Thriller Drama-8/50=16%

Thriller-3/50=6%

#28 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix $292,000 Family, Adventure, Fantasy Family-8/50=16%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Fantasy-10/50=20%

#29 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and
the Wardrobe
$291,709 Action, Adventure, Fanatsy Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%
Fantasy-10/50=20%
#30 Iron Man $290,601 Action, Adventure. Drama Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66%
Drama-8/50=16%
#31 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back $209,272 Action, Adventure, Sci Fi Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#32 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire $290,013 Family, Adventure, Fantasy Family-8/50=165

Adventure-33/50=66%

Fantasy-10/50=20%

#33 Home Alone $285,761 Family, Comedy, Crime Family-8/50=16%

Comedy-16/50=32%

Crime-4/50=8%

#34 The Matrix Reloaded $281,538 Action, Adventure, Sci Fi Action-26/50= 52% Adventure-33/50=66% Sci Fi-16/50=32%
#35 Meet the Fouckers $279,167 Comedy, Romance Comedy-8/50=16%

Romance-10/50=20%

#36 Shrek $267,665 Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Romance Animation-7/50=14%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Comedy-8/50=16%

Romance-10/50=20%

#37 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets $261,979 Family, Adventure, Fantasy Family-8/50=16%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Fantasy-10/50=20%

#38 The Incredibles $261,435 Animation, Adventure, Action Animation-7/50=14%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Action-26/50= 52%

#39 Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Christmas $260,031 Comedy, Family Comedy-8/50=16%

Family-8/50=32%

#40 Jaws $260,000 Adventure,  Thriller Adventure-33/50=66%

Thriller-3/50=6%

#41 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Scull $257,620 Adventure/Action Adventure-33/50=66%

Action-26/50= 52%

#42 I Am Legend $256,386 Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller Drama-8/50=16%

Sci-Fi-16/50=32%

Thriller-3/50=6%

#43 Monsters  Inc. $255,870 Animation, Comedy, Family, Animation-7/50=14%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Thriller-3/50=6%

#44 Batman (Original, 1989) $251,190 Action, Crime, Sci-Fi Action-26/50=32%

Crime-4/50=8%

Sci-Fi-16/50=32%

#45 Night At the Museum $250,863 Adventure, Family, Comedy Adventure-33/50=66%

Comedy-8/50=16%

Family-8/50=16%

#46 Men In Black $250,156 Action, Comedy, Sci-fi Action-26/50= 52%

Comedy-8/50=16%

Sci-Fi-16/50=32%

#47 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban $249,538 Family, Adventure, Fantasy Family-8/50=16%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Fantasy-8/50=16%

#48 Toy Story 2 $245,852 Animation, Adventure, Family Animation-7/50=14%

Adventure-33/50=66%

Family-8/50=16%

#49 Cars $244,082 Family, Animation, Comedy Family-8/50=16%

Animation-7/50=14%

Comedy-8/50=16%

#50 Bruce Almighty $242,704 Comedy, Fantasy, Romance Comedy-8/50=16%

Fantasy-8/50=16%

Romance-10/50=20%

For any questions, please reply to the post or to moviedistributionfacts@gmail.com.