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DOCUMENTARY TIP #8: Distribution Strategies for a Changing World

The current state of Independent Film Distribution is complex and ever-shifting. Below is a run-down of a recent talk given at IDFA by indie film distribution guru and strategist Peter Broderick, as reported by our staff member, Carol Ann Short.

Seize the Future: The Cutting Edge of Distribution

There are currently unprecedented opportunities and challenges in what Peter Broderick calls the “New World of Distribution.” As traditional distribution has continued to decline, a growing number of filmmakers are using state-of-the-art models to maximize both audience and revenues. Peter consults with filmmakers and media companies to develop strategies to maximize distribution, audiences, and revenues.

First of all, Peter believes that the cornerstone of every distribution plan must include a Web site and a meaningful Distribution List. Many strategy steps will stem from these two items.

Here are some things to think about when crafting the distribution and marketing plan for your film.

DOCUMENTARY TIP #7: Writing a Strong Treatment

Treatments are an invaluable tool at any step of the way in the filmmaking process. They are a succinct and descriptive way to get across the elements of your film to others. They are usually 1-2 pages and contain only the essential information about your project. (Sometimes a treatment can go up to 4 pages, and then would include a longer narrative story summary, and more character information). The writing should be well-organized, grammatically correct and exciting and tantalizing to read. You want to hook your reader and get them interested in your project so that they want to know more and so that they become a supporter of the project.

It’s essentially a marketing tool that is helpful in fundraising, distribution, and many other steps of the filmmaking process. Writing a treatment can also really help you sharpen your own ideas and concept of your film.

DOCUMENTARY TIP #6: Insurance!

Here’s a Guest Documentary Tip from Winnie Wong, our DOC TALKS expert on February 25th.


Q: I’m making my first film and trying to save money wherever I can. What’s the least amount of insurance coverage that I need to obtain for my production?

A: This is dependent upon how many bosses you’ve got to please… what I mean is, as a filmmaker, you will need to satisfy banks/lenders, location/facility owners, equipment vendors, payroll services, and vehicle rental companies to name a few. All these individuals will not only want you to carry production insurance, they will require that you show proof of that coverage, by asking for what is called a certificate of insurance. Oftentimes they will require that they are named an additional interest on your policy so they have protection in case there is an injury or damage etc.

DOCUMENTARY TIP #6: Are Agents Necessary?

Here’s the scene: Two doc filmmakers have the rights to make a story about the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier and one of the largest warships in the world. They go to an agent to help them sell it. Turns out the agent feels that the filmmakers and the story are not ‘sexy’ enough to sell. It needs something more.

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