Are You Funding Your Own Distribution?

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Indie Film distribution can be a tricky game.  Below, Stacey Parks highlights some things to think about when approaching theatrical and VOD distribution.


In my last newsletter I mentioned something new I’ve encountered with a few distribution clients whereby they are being asked to fund their own theatrical release in order to get a distribution deal. To be more specific, distributors are saying – we like your film and we can offer you a distribution deal, but YOU must fund the P&A in the form of a theatrical release.

We already know that a theatrical release can maximize VOD revenues and according to the VOD numbers thread the proof is there….but now it’s becoming more and more commonplace for distributors to insist on filmmakers self funding their own P&A.


Well the most obvious reason is because distributors know how important theatrical exposure and traditional press reviews are to driving sales and revenue, but they aren’t that sold on the title enough to actually invest in P&A. So they ask the filmmaker to do it instead. 

Oh the nerve you might be thinking! And I don’t entirely disagree with you….but from the distributors perspective, they want you to shoulder the risk with them. Just make sure that you are being rewarded for shouldering risk, in the form of a deal reflecting lower fees and expenses.

For example I advised one of my clients to negotiate a lower fee on the VOD portion of the deal and carve out some upside for himself since he’s fronting over $10K in P&A. Another client is sidestepping a distribution deal entirely – since she’s fronting all the PR expenses for her release, she wonders – why does she need a distributor to get on to VOD platforms that she can access through one of the self-service platforms and cut out the middle man. 

So you can see there’s different situations out there for everyone, and sometimes it’s even a hybrid where the distributors kick in a portion and the filmmaker picks up the rest.

Anyone have a similar experience with this sort of distribution arrangement where you’re footing the bill for your own P&A? Let’s discuss in the comments section below….

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