GOING BIONIC: DISTRIBUTING INDEPENDENT FILMS INTERNATIONALLY – READER Q&A STRIKES AGAIN!

Welcome to Going Bionic, #197. Today we are reaching into our e-mailbag and answering a few more questions that filmmakers long to have answered. As always, my answers are meant to save you time, money and energy, as well as help you push your career and the life of your project forward. With that said, here lets reach into the depths of your recent questions and see what we can do about offering some clarity to some of the issues that litter our world of independent cinema.

I’m interested in composing music for feature films. Do you have any idea how I would go about getting started? 
Yes, I do. The first thing to do is to get onto to IMDb Pro and look up every film in development and preproduction and e-mail their producers about the music score for the film. If the picture already has a composer, then they’ll tell you. If not, you may be able to send the film’s producer/and or director a sample of your work, via electronic link . Before you do, however, you should be aware of what genre the film is. Should you not be sure of the genre, just ask. The worst thing to do is to submit a great piece of material to the wrong type of project, because all the people you submitted to are going to remember about your submission is that you submitted the wrong type of music to them.

I would also look into student films. I’d try graduate film school projects from UCLA, USC and NYU first. Why? Because not only will grad students from those programs have a larger budget than most short films, but those short films traditionally do very well on the film festival circuit, meaning your work will get some nice exposure.

I just finished producing the first season of a spec TV series, but I’m having trouble selling it to a network or cable channel. How do I get my show on the air?
This is a tough one. If you made an entire season of a spec TV series, without the involvement of a network, cable channel (at least their strong interest in distributing your show), or a sponsor, then your investor could be looking at a very large tax break. However, there are a few ways to remedy the situation. First, you can seek a big name executive producer for your show, in order to draw attention to it. For example, “Quentin Tarantino presents,” will get a hell of a lot more attention for your show, than without his involvement. Of course, you’re going to have to give up a chunk of ownership in your show in order to get an A lister to come on board and right your ship, but the trade off is well worth it, because getting a good piece of something that sells for a lot of money, is far greater than getting 100% of something that doesn’t sell.

Another thing you can do is go after corporate sponsors for your show, but that will be next to impossible, unless you have a major actor attached. In addition, you can approach some cable stations about buying a block of their airtime, which would guarantee your show getting on the air. While this tactic is actually pretty smart because there is solid money to be made doing it, it certainly requires a sizable additional investment. Good luck!

Will making my current indie film in 3-D help its chances for distribution?
I doubt it, especially since major films released in 3-D are making a lot less at the box office than they used to a few years ago. There’s nothing wrong with making your film in 3-D, but don’t break your budget doing so, because any additional income earned by having your film in 3-D, may not cover your expenses of putting your film in 3-D in the first place. Besides, if you’re talking about an indie film, you may not get (or want) theatrical distribution. Thus, a large chunk of your potential for 3-D income will be eliminated.

How much money should I expect in VOD sales for my upcoming $200,0000 indie horror/thriller? 
That depends on how successful your film is in other mediums, how well it’s made, it’s genre, and if it goes wild on social media. Thus, there’s no way to gauge how much you should ‘expect’ to make on VOD sales, without considering that other information. Thus, you could make anywhere from $0 to $500,000 or more…I will say this: you should have a very clear understanding on exactly how much money your VOD aggregator (distributor) is changing you (including all fees and percentages). At least then you’ll have an amount you know you’ll have to hurdle before you’ll see a dime from your VOD sales.

You always talk about how important the Cannes Film Festival Is. Is it really all that important?
In a word, yes. Cannes is simply the single most important film festival on the planet, and possibly beyond. This is because many films enjoy greater sales internationally, than they do domestically. Thus, with international film buyers flocking to Cannes every May, the best way for you to ensure your film’s best chance at success, is to make sure the world of film buyers knows about your film.

I thank you once again for lending me your eyes, and I’d love to borrow them again next Tuesday, when I report directly from the European Film Market (EFM)/Berlin Film Festival. Until then, stay warm and have a great week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.




Posted on February 4, 2014 in Features, Going Bionic by
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