December 31, 2016 at 6:30AM


I made my first 90-minute feature film - what now?

I am a filmmaker from Germany and after a five year struggle, some crowdfunding, and a lot of my own money, I finished my first feature film. It is close to 90 minutes long; roughcut is completed, and some more or less famous actors are in the lead (at least famous in Germany). It is a strange timetravel story, more artistic than heavy on effects.

A company, based in Hollywood, contacted me and is interested in worldwide distribution. Is this a good idea?

Another company wants to become a co-production to help me raise money for the post (sounds, effects and grading are still missing). Is that a good idea or will I lose too many rights?

A good friend told me to wait, before selling anything, and start with a festival tour next year.

In short, I donĀ“t know what to do. I am sure it's not the next Star Wars, but I want it to reach the audience it deserves, while not making all the first time producer mistakes.

What do you suggest? What would you do? What should I avoid? What are the best steps to make in distributing my own film?

Thanks in advance for any tips and hints.

Best regards,


Your choices are: maintain absolute creative control and likely reach nobody or lose control and possibly reach a good audience. Which is more important?

It may not be as simple as all that though. Distribution deals are usually more lenient than production deals, since you already paid for the movie. You may be able to keep most of the creative control. I can say with certainty that it's VERY difficult, almost impossible to reach a wide audience on your own. You need to get every avenue of social media and mainstream media to take interest in your work, let the people see clips (but not too much). It's not enough to get a bunch of subscribers/likes etc. because I have clients that got tens of thousands of followers on social media and sold 2-3 copies of their movies. Hold public events, get the news to promote you with interviews. How do you do that? Connections.

Who you know is everything, even more important than a good movie. I know a guy who outright stole a script (not even a good script) a few years ago, made a movie and had a few packed theatrical showings. More important is he went on to be a professional director. Was he any better than the hundreds of other self-proclaimed directors in my region? Not really, but he had the right connections to get the movie made and promoted to an audience the rightful owner couldn't.

January 2, 2017 at 5:26AM


If you end up signing any kind of contract for distribution or other and are promised to be paid a percentage of the net profits, make sure you do not do this! But rather, and insist (make sure it is in any contract you sign) on being paid a percentage of the gross profits. To learn more about what I'm referring to, check out this article about "Hollywood accounting" :

January 2, 2017 at 8:32PM, Edited January 2, 8:32PM

Ron Marvin
Director of Photography

A) Find a good entertainment attorney - one who specifically works in entertainment, and/or a sales agent, to make sure you don't get screwed over with the contract. B) Read everything you can find about the companies who are offering you deals to make sure they are legitimate and have experience with films like yours. It's easy to fall into a trap where you want the deal so badly that you sign with "just anybody" and then your film is tied up for what seems like an eternity with a company that fails to give it its best shot.

January 4, 2017 at 3:22PM, Edited January 4, 3:22PM

Mike Dorsey
Filmmaker, Producer, Director, Editor

Your Comment