You made your film, and thanks to the great internet content democratization, you can now buy it on Amazon. Let the champagne flow! Until you realize, however, that without a better plan, selling 5 DVDs a year simply won't earn you enough to make your next film. In this 2013 Toronto International Film Festival Filmmaker Bootcamp video, keynote speaker Ira Deutchman, who started marketing for Cassavetes and today advocates a rise-from-the-dead for theatrical distribution, breaks down how you can use film festivals to distribute your film to a growing audience.
Deutchman starts us off with the reality of today's film marketplace. In 2010, Withoutabox registered 45,000 unique titles; the sum of films released by all major studios combined was a mere 101. As he puts it, in this crowded marketplace, unless you have recognizable stars or a built-in audience, it's a lot harder to prove that people will want to watch (and therefore the industry will want to help distribute) your film.
However, you have 2 secret weapons that you can use and they are 1) audience word of mouth and 2) press. Where can you cultivate these weapons? Film festivals.
With a range of advice, from when to send screeners to the size of the posters you print, Deutchman outlines how you can use festivals to help your film reach the eyeballs it deserves:
It's worth pointing out that Deutchman's presentation is aimed at filmmakers who get in to prestigious festivals such TIFF, a place where most of those 45,000+ titles entering the market every year will NOT be going. While you might not be able to snag that Variety review, or get picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, a non-top-tier festival run could still generate the press and word-of-mouth that will land your film a spot in the marketplace -- if you plan it right.
What are your thoughts on press and audience word-of-mouth in relation to the success of an independent film? How would you use a non-top-tier film festival to build momentum for distribution?