Distribution and Exhibition Options for Independent Filmmakers

In this day and age, everyone is making films (or at least video content) so it’s harder and harder to be seen in the ocean of content. You’re still making films and you want people to see them, but how can you do that? Here are 4 distribution and exhibition avenues that we recommend looking into in order to get audiences to see your film.

Get your film seen - distribution and exhibition

Social Media Sharing

Yes, this is where the majority of videos are going up every day, but there is still an opportunity there. If you are consistently posting quality content and slowly growing a loyal and engaged viewer-base, people will start catching on and seeing your films.

Getting selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick, or Short Film of the Week can help. Maybe pay for some social media ads (don’t pay for views) to get your film in front of audiences you think may be interested.

Heard of Fede Alvarez? Directed the Evil Dead remake and great horror Don’t Breathe. How did he get found? Because his short film Ataque de Panico was released on YouTube and got a whole bunch of views.

Sure, it does seem like the videos that get the most views are compilation videos, or vlogs, or music videos or late night talk shows, but is it possible to rise to the top.

Check out Paddy Galloway’s video on big YouTuber Peter McKinnon and how he grew his channel so fast. Now, not only are people watching Peter’s regular vlogs, but he also makes shorts films which also now have an audience.

So don’t discount the social media platforms! Use their advantages to YOUR advantage.

Get your film seen - distribution and exhibition

Classic Distribution Deals

A very traditional avenue, but a distribution deal could well be on the cards. With the rise of Netflix and online streaming, companies can’t get enough of content!

So if you’ve made something, pitch it! Go to the film markets, hustle, take meetings, show people your project. Have you made a series pilot? Take it to Netflix, Hulu or Stan. Just produced a feature? Hit up those same people, or take it to AFM and advertise your screenings.

Made a short film? Screen it at festivals that distributors attend. There are still companies that will buy short films. FutureShorts, Flickerfest, Ad Astra Films, Film Annex are just to name a few.

OzFlix, and Australian online streaming service are very near to launching a short film distribution option for short filmmakers to sell their films and receive revenue sharing for those views. Distribution deals are still out there but as mentioned earlier, you have to hustle!

Get your film seen - distribution and exhibition

The Film Festival Circuit

Again with the traditional route, but still a good one. Film festivals are everywhere! And, yes, plenty of people are making films now, but not everyone takes the time and makes the effort to enter festivals.

Work out which festivals are best suited for your film and enter those ones. Don’t just go for the big ones like Sundance or Cannes, because those are incredibly difficult to get into. (not saying that you can’t or wont. You won’t make it to the top if you only aim halfway down).

But you might want to try smaller tier festivals that you will have a great chance at being selected into, so that audiences can see your stuff. If you build up a great record of festival appearances, you will have more experience for your next one. Maybe then you should submit to a larger festival.

Plus, distribution executives attend festivals! Film markets are attached to festivals. There is the possibility of someone seeing your film at one of these festivals and buying your short.

Get your film seen - distribution and exhibition

Four-Walling a Cinema

Here’s another option, but is definitely the most expensive. Four walling is the act of hiring a cinema yourself and holding your own screenings. You will have to hustle – market and advertise the screening yourself, sell tickets, ensure all the tech requirements are met. But at the end of you will have your film screen at the cinema and anyone can attend (so long as you sell them tickets).

This is often an option for independent filmmakers having their own premieres for cast and crew. It also works for low budget filmmakers without distribution deals yet, to tour different cities with their film to drum up some buzz and hopefully gain a wider distribution deal.

How do you get people to see your films? Tried any of these options? Let us know. For more on Distribution and Exhibition, check out our other articles.

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