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Jeff Lewis, TDN Artists

Clips from films produced by Luciano Saber

PLACEBO EFFECT - This espionage thriller was shot on location in Chicago and had a limited theatrical release.

SCARED - This upbeat feature film was shot on the Sony lot on 35mm Kodak film.

AH! Vision

(c) 2009 LUCIANO SABER, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

PRODUCERS, DIRECTORS & BELOW THE LINE

10 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SEARCHING FOR DISTRIBUTION


By L. Saber


If you’re one of the few, lucky filmmakers that have beat the odds and shot a film, you may be wondering how you’ll ever get your movie seen and most importantly distributed. Without going into too much irrelevant information, here’s what I’ve learned:


1.It’s always best to identify, in advance, your target audience. To whom are you planning to market movie? What type of people (consider, gender, age, social-economic status, ethnic background and so forth) will want to watch your film?


2.Try to figure out what the trend might be in 12 months. That’s generally the length of time for an independent from pre-production to distribution. The trick is to become psychic and figure out what the public will want to see a year from now. See how your storyline might fit that genre. How do you do that? Take a look at the major studios announcements. What type or movies are in production today? Remember that the films shot today, will most likely appear in the market place a year from now. Have you noticed how video rental houses try to feature old movies of the same genre as a new hot release? Also, independent product of similar genre will be featured as well. It may be psychological, but when audience member watch a hot new release, they’ll want to see more in that genre, so they’ll go to the video store and when they can’t find another studio blockbuster, they’ll look for other titles and artwork that are similar to what they just watched. Will talk more about artwork later.


3.Research distribution companies. Don’t spend your time sending packages to places that don’t specialize in distributing your type of film. For example if you’re planning to produce an action adventure movie starring the local martial arts champion don’t bother calling distribution companies that specialize in religious films or documentaries. Do your research in advance and produce a list of distribution companies that might be interested in your story.


4.Keep in mind that most of the major studios have an in-house independent division such as Sony Screen Gems, Paramount Classics, Universal Independent among many others. Find out what the flavor of the year is and send a query letter. Befriend an acquisitions executive and let him or her read your script before you go to pre-production. If they like the premise ask for their opinion on actors or tweaks in the script that might make it better. This is called emotional deposits. Then see if the executive would be interested in chaperoning the production. After you start shooting invite him or her to the set, send a couple of good dailies. Drop a hello note and ask them out to lunch to give an update on your shoot.


5.Consider film festivals. Research film festivals and submit to the ones that feature similar genre films. Take a look at past winners and see if your film or screenplay has similar qualities.


6.When you have a rough cut, invite friends and family to a screening. Ask your neighbors, and anybody else you can round up, to watch your film and give them anonymous review cards to fill out. Simply write a series of questions for them to answer. A lot of times, people will see a movie and will get a general feeling whether they liked it or not, but won’t be able to verbalize specifics. Help them out by asking things such as:


a.General Comments / Story


i.            What was the most memorable part of the film?

ii.What was the worst part of the film?

iii.Did the story move at a good pace?


b.Image Quality


i.            Was the image clear?


c.Sound Quality


i.            Was the sound okay?

ii.What about the music? Did you notice it?

iii.Did the sound effects work for you?


d.Acting


i.            How were the performances?

ii.If you were to edit, what scenes would you eliminate?


e.Editing


i.            Was the editing choppy?

ii.Too drawn out?

iii.Too stylized?


f.Final Thoughts


i.            Would you recommend my movie to friends and family?

ii.Would you recommend my movie to your worst enemy?


g.Other Comments – feel free to make notes below. Thank you for your help.


That’s the general idea, but you can include other areas or questions to which you may need answers or validation.


7.Artwork! Remember in item number two above, I talked about the artwork that people will be drawn to after watching a hot release in the same genre? Artwork will sell a film. I sold one European territory before the script was even written, just based on the synopsis and artwork.  Make sure your artwork represents your story and it’s done well.


8.Film Markets. You can buy a pass to film markets such as AFM (American Film Market), which takes place in Santa Monica, CA. If you have the money, you can purchase a booth and travel to foreign markets such as Canes and MIFED (Milan Film Market). There are many others to consider such as the London Screenings, but you can go to the Internet and find out what would work best for you.  For a filmmaker the markets, just like film festivals, are a very important element of your career. It’s a place where you can network and develop relationships, and who knows, maybe even sell your film.


9.Hit the streets, pound the pavement and make the call. You may make a thousand calls before you get a deal, so don’t despair or get discouraged.


10. Make sure you have a hot trailer and deliver your product for review. Make use of the   Internet, places such as YouTube are great delivery systems. Burn your trailer to a DVD and make sure all DVD and computer players can read it. When I got started VHS was still the way to deliver product sample, but today, it’s a lot cheaper, faster and better quality. You can really put your best foot forward.


I hope this information helped you get started. As always, comments and questions are welcome at: feedback@aspiringhollywood.com.


In the meantime, good luck...“quiet on the set—and action.”