Getting Your Film Seen – Alternatives to Theatrical Distribution

Feeling the spring in the air, Film Doctor wishes everyone a sunny, healthy start to the week – with some ‘Monday Prescriptions’ as usual.


This time Film Doctor talks film exhibition and getting your film in front of an audience. Theatrical release might still be ‘the holly grail’ but if you haven’t secured one so far, why not explore alternative showcase options? Here is a list of various methods (in no particular order):

1. Distrify – a digital toolkit rather than just a platform, Distrify allows filmmakers to ‘rent out’ their work and see direct sale transaction, i.e. all money goes straight to the filmmakers. You don’t upload whole projects, but through sharing and embedding a trailer of your work on blogs/web pages/social media offer the audience an opportunity to discover, preview and, subsequently,  rent or purchase your film. Who’s used this? Chris Jones for Gone Fishing, Dom Rotheroe for Exhibit Aand… Terry Gilliam (!) for his new work, The Wholly Family (it will go online straight after the film festival run, and will be promoted by Terry and Distrify’s publishing partners)

2. Renderyard – upload and share content or get on the Renderyard Distribution deal. Unlike Distrify, Renderyard is more of your traditional destination site, where films can be viewed, free of charge. The revenue for the filmmakers comes from the number of times the film is viewed from the website on a pre-roll advert supported basis, and/or streamed/downloaded. In partnership with Dailymotion, HULU, Blinkbox, filmmakers get the choice to feature their work as either streamed paid-for titles or free advert-supported ones. Acting also as a DVD distributor, Renderyard could potentially secure your project with store sales across Europe and USA. Who’s used this? Makers Our StoryDom Rotheroe for Exhibit A.

3. Cinovu –  Cinovu is also an online exhibition platform, but with a paid subscription model based on how much content the audience views. A subscriber pays a certain amount of money per month, and gets to see a certain amount of minutes. It’s a pay per minute model, rather than a pay per film model. So filmmakers get paid per minute of film watched, times the number of views. Who’s used this? Not actually launched just yet, but set to do a test run at some point in 2012 (date TBC). Meanwhile, filmmakers are invited to submit their work.

4. BitTorrent’s Featured Artist Programme – it offers musicians and filmmakers the ability to submit their work for consideration for special promotions. All you need to do is fill in a submission form and provide a link to your work. If reviewed as successful, your project could be shared with over 80 million BitTorrent users around the world! Who’s used this? Australian horror/thriller The Tunnel (worldwide distribution through the BitTorrent’s two software products – BitTorrent Mainline and the iconic µTorrent).

5. Dogwoof Pop-Up Cinema (f0r documentary filmmakers/lovers) – Aimed at supporters of Dogwoof‘s catalogue of documentaries, this initiative provides an opportunity for any interested party to take part in their films’ exhibition process. Anyone can screen a film by visiting and essentially take on the role of a film exhibitor (e.g. cinema theatre) – you would set up screenings of Dogwoof’s new releases in their communities at the same time as cinemas elsewhere in the country. You have to pay a ‘license fee’ to Dogwoof and would be responsible for sourcing out a venue, spreading the word and then hosting a screening, but in return you get ticket sales revenue and support with publicity and PR/marketing campaign. Who’s used this? This may not be a model of ‘how to release your project’ for individual filmmakers, but it could be adopted by independent production companies, when struggling to secure cinema runs – ‘cut out the middle man’ and give power to the audience to share the film with each other (Note: for this model to work, the film needs to already have admirers).

And last, but not least:

6. Hire a cinema for a week –  whether you are a team of 2 (Director/Producer) or a young production company with some revenue under your belt, there is always the option to hire a screening facility – as long as you have enough cash to cover the renting fee. Try approaching independent cinemas and negotiating several dates (ideally, 1-2 weeks run), open to the cinema’s audience along with the rest of its programmed film.  Who’s used this? Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley hired the Prince Charles Cinema for their now BAFTA-nominated debut Black Pond; Bryan O’Neil for Booked Out (for UK distribution).

Monday Prescription No.9 – There’s more than one way to showcase your film and secure an audience

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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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