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Million dollars question...

Shooting and editing my film took quite some time, mainly because it was my first significantly big project, and I had to figure things out as I went along. Nearly four months after completing the final cut of my film, I have made little to no progress regarding distribution or searching for more funds. Now, I realize I had a very novice understanding of how things work in the film and TV industry.

Let me break it down:

Making a film is easy; selling your film is nearly impossible. If you have a lot of contacts in the industry, everything is easier but does not guarantee anything. And if you have no contacts like me, you have to start from scratch!

And it all comes down to one thing: the million-dollar question every filmmaker wants to answer - how to sell and distribute their film. Shooting and editing a film is relatively easy compared to selling it. If this were easy, everyone with a camera would have a show on Netflix instead of working a 9-5. The filmmaker is a creative person but has to turn into a hunter. In my case, and because my film is a TV pilot, I need two things: a distributor who will agree to broadcast or stream my content, and a sponsor who will fund the production of more episodes. The distributor would likely want a mini-season with 6-8 episodes, and the sponsor would be interested in financing the project if I secure a distributor. It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem because distributors want proof that the project is funded, and sponsors want proof that their investment will support a project that has a distributor. So, my main question is, where to start?

I spent the past four months reaching out to friends and family and asking, "Do you know anyone in the film or TV industry?" and talked to a handful of folks. I received good information about online resources, groups, learned from others' experiences, and understood that my journey had just begun.

I subscribed to a couple of online resources to become a member and get access to webinars I thought would give me ideas, maybe solutions to my problem. And before each one of them, I was excited about the opportunity. I quickly realized that this would not work. I attended a dozen seminars, and almost all but one were "sales pitches" for another filmmaker workshop, online coaching, and whatnot. It all sounds really good on paper, but when you've just wrapped a $35k project, you don't have any more money for workshops and online coaching (which cost about $3-5k for a couple of months). So, I decided to do it myself and start all over from scratch. I had to think about my problem and how to solve it. Having big goals can be intimidating. For example, if I were to set a goal to have my show on Amazon Prime Video, I would most likely get discouraged and fail. Instead, I decided to go with a simple, achievable goal:

The goal: Get my film in front of the right pair of eyes.

But before reaching out to folks, I need to be able to market my film.

To-Do List:

  • Website: Done.

  • Themes/Episode Season 1: Done. I researched six themes I want to explore during the first season. There may be more, so feel free to look at it and comment if you have interesting ideas!

  • Sales Pitch: Not done. I have a draft, but it is far from being done.

  • Trailer: Almost done! I am wrapping up a one-minute trailer so people can have an idea of what the film is about and decide if they want access to the full episode.

Then my approach will be simple: log into my LinkedIn account and be on the hunt for people working in the TV or film industry, send them a short message with a link to my trailer.

I would also submit my film to festivals but... Film festivals are difficult:

I won an award at an independent film festival and was super excited about it. I added the laurel to my main poster and even wrote a press release. I was also rejected from Sundance and SXSW, and maybe four other smaller film festivals I thought I would have a shot at. This year, Sundance received over 18,000 projects for the 2024 edition to only select about 150, which is about 10 films per category. Something I have learned during the past six months is that a film festival is a potential approach but should NOT be your only strategy to get your film a distributor.

What's left?

Well, this is the million-dollar question, and, surprisingly, being creative helps. Filmmakers need to become creative when it comes to distribution and funding. Industry standards don't really apply to independent filmmakers, especially if they have a limited to nonexistent network. There may be something or someone, somewhere, who is looking for sports content to put on their platform. It could be a local high school TV network, an airline VOD service, airports, TV networks, or streamers. If you start searching, you'll find there are a lot of non-traditional platforms that need content. It is important to think about what my offering is and find a distributor that aligns with the messaging and values. These will be my primary targets.

I have started a document that lists potential "targets," as I call them, and as soon as my To-Do list is complete, I will start reaching out. I am prepared to discuss ideas too. For example, some folks may be interested in a series, others in a feature film. In both cases, I need to shoot more and need more funds. During the next few months or years, I will need to be able to openly speak about my film to people who would want to completely change it all.

To summarize this post, there is still a long road ahead, and I am not sure what will happen during 2024, but I am excited for the awaiting opportunities!

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