Indie Film Distribution
July 10, 2008 12:30 PM   Subscribe

How to get theatrical distribution for an indie?

We made a feature film. It's screened at over 15 festivals so far this year in the U.S. and won six awards. We got picked up by a big indie agency in L.A. but so far they have not managed to secure any kind of theatrical distribution deal.

We're not really in it for the money, but we'd like to get SOME kind of theatrical play (where people pay to get in) no matter where. We do have the funds for a 35mm print ourselves if needed, but we're not opposed to screening in HD. In fact it looks great in HD.

Anyway, is it possible to approach theaters directly? Obviously not AMC, but small local art house theaters. Does anyone have any experience with self distribution before going the DVD route (we have a small deal in place already, but are waiting for theatrical just in case)

Any advice appreciated. THANKS
posted by rocco to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Anyway, is it possible to approach theaters directly?

Yes, you can hire most arthouse cinemas in the UK, and I'm sure the same is true in the U.S. Getting your film scheduled to play in the evenings and on weekends without paying for the privilege may be harder — you'll need to establish a relationship and to demonstrate that you can fill the room. The place to start is by picking up the phone and calling a cinema in a community you know.

For most indie films these days, a theatrical release is a loss leader to pick up credibility/press reviews, so when you do spend money on it (and you'll need to for your 35mm print — those things don't run cheap), remember at all times why you're doing it. The key thing is to generate press, not to make money. That's what DVDs are for.

But the good news is, if you're in a position to afford a 35mm print then you have the money to do this right. You say you have "an agency". Do you mean you have a sales agent? Talk to them about your plans. They'll have advice. Consider hiring a marketing consultant or spending the money on a course. I've heard Stacey Parks at Film Specific recommended.
posted by caek at 12:43 PM on July 10, 2008

And good luck! I'm working on selling an indie film right now. Drop me a line if you want to compare notes.
posted by caek at 12:44 PM on July 10, 2008

Two firsthand accounts:
posted by blueshammer at 1:44 PM on July 10, 2008

we'd like to get SOME kind of theatrical play (where people pay to get in) no matter where

Rent a theater, advertise the event, charge admission. Last time I went to this sort of screening it was standing room only.
posted by yohko at 10:29 AM on July 12, 2008

Check your mefi mail. I might be able to be of some help to you.
posted by incessant at 8:22 AM on July 14, 2008

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