Rays Of Hope In Distribution

by | December 7, 2023 | Newsletter

In the indie film world this week – Sundance and Slamdance announced their slates.  Films that didn’t get in probably heard last week or the week before.  There is often a lot of sadness in the indie film world this time of year (however I’m hoping there is less and less sadness around this time as filmmakers realize that their releases are not dependent solely on the top 5 festivals in the world – especially considering how many films that get into these festivals are still without distribution a year later.)

In any case I have written several times around this time of year why it doesn’t matter if your film got into Sundance.  I found this piece I wrote for The Wrap way back in 2011 – and I would say it all still applies. 

Just to indicate what a buyers market we are in right now with a glut of content (overwhelming consumers as well)- and hence why it is important to develop your own distribution strategy – there was a record 17,000+ submissions to Sundance this year with over 4000 features, of which they chose 82.  That’s an acceptance rate of 1.8% (Harvard is 3.5%).  Last year 3 films sold out of the festival (a number of others have sold in some way since- but usually in some form of low/no guarantee split rights arrangement).  Perhaps this year it will pick up – I’ll be curious to see – but considering the number of films in the festival that already have distribution – if  acceptance to Sundance and selling your film there is your distribution strategy – you don’t have a distribution strategy.   But the good news is that I think filmmakers know this by now. 

Regarding strategies – below are some thoughts on what gets butts in seats for scrappy theatrical releases and how Sam Now constructed a very smart cost effective grassroots FYC campaign that makes sense. 

And if you are curious about the future of distribution – Don’t miss this great Beyond Resilience Webinar that is happening later today at 1pm PT. I’ll be there!