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The Rise of Digital: Why Online Distribution is the Future of Filmmaking

Updated: Mar 9

With so many filmmakers vying for attention in today's crowded market, getting your film distributed can be a daunting task. That's why our team, Savant Artists, has a combined 35 years experiences with real world examples, and performed extensive research and analysis to provide you with the most comprehensive guide on how to get your film distribution in today's digital age. Whether you're an independent filmmaker or part of a major studio, our guide will help you navigate the complex world of film distribution and increase your chances of success. If you are still searching for answers, or have a finished film that you would like our team to review, go the the Submit Your Film page and we will be in touch.

In this guide, we will cover everything from the basics of film distribution to the latest strategies and tactics for achieving success in the industry. We'll provide you with specific examples of films that have had outstanding success, such as the Academy Award-winning movie "Parasite," which became a global phenomenon despite being in Korean language. We'll also examine how streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime have disrupted the industry and offer tips on how to leverage their platforms to maximize your film's potential.

But it's not just about the big players - we'll also provide insights into the success of viral films like "Kung Fury" that generated massive buzz and millions of views despite a shoestring budget. Our guide will also feature interviews with filmmakers who have achieved great success in the industry, offering their personal tips and strategies for navigating the distribution process.

In addition to the latest trends and tactics, this guide will also cover the basics of film distribution, including the different types of distribution and how to choose the right one for your film. We'll also delve into the nitty-gritty details of the distribution process, from submitting your film to festivals and markets, to negotiating distribution deals and creating a marketing plan.

Overall, our guide is designed to provide you with everything you need to successfully distribute your film in today's competitive market. Whether you're a first-time filmmaker or a seasoned industry professional, our comprehensive guide will help you achieve your distribution goals and get your movie in front of the widest possible audience.

Click one of the sections to jump down and read about a a specific section:

  1. Understanding the Basics of Film Distribution

  2. Traditional Film Distribution

  3. Digital Film Distribution

  4. What Type Of Distribution is right for my film?

  5. Creating a Film Distribution Strategy

  6. Identifying Films Target Audience

  7. Creating a Film Marketing Plan

  8. Leveraging Social Media

  9. Conclusion

  10. More Info on Digital Film Distribution

  11. Excellent Film Resources


Understanding the Basics of Film Distribution

Understanding the basics of film distribution is essential before delving into the more intricate details of the process. Film distribution involves making your movie available to the audience through different channels, including theaters, television, and digital platforms. The importance of choosing the right distribution type cannot be overstated, as it can determine how widely your film is seen and how profitable it becomes. Traditional distribution involves releasing a film in theaters, followed by home video distribution, while digital distribution involves releasing a film through online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Vimeo. More information on the vast array of streaming services at a follow up article, "The Streaming Wars."

The movie industry has witnessed several viral stories and films that have enjoyed outstanding success through proper distribution. A prime example referencing above is "Parasite," the South Korean film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2020. The film's worldwide success is credited to its strategic distribution plan, which included a slow rollout in theaters before expanding to digital platforms. Another example is "The Irishman," the 2019 crime epic directed by Martin Scorsese, which was released on Netflix and received numerous award nominations. While Parasite and The Irishman are both well-known examples of films that achieved great success through digital distribution, there are other lesser-known examples of films that have been distributed strategically. An excellent case in point is "Sound of Metal," a 2019 drama film that follows a drummer who loses his hearing. The film was released through Amazon Prime Video and enjoyed great success, ultimately receiving six Academy Award nominations. Sound of Metal's strategic distribution plan played a significant role in its success. These films demonstrate the importance of choosing the right distribution strategy for your movie to achieve the best results.

When it comes to choosing the right distribution type, it's important to consider the pros and cons of each option. Traditional distribution can be more expensive, as it involves the cost of physical prints, advertising, and theater rentals. However, it can provide the opportunity for wider exposure and the possibility of critical acclaim through festivals and awards. Digital distribution can be more cost-effective, but it may not provide the same level of prestige or critical recognition. Nonetheless, it offers the benefit of wider reach and a potential for more revenue through the use of online platforms and social media. Below we take a closer look of each form.

In conclusion, understanding the basics of film distribution is crucial for filmmakers looking to distribute their work successfully. Choosing the right distribution strategy requires careful consideration of the pros and cons of each option, as well as an analysis of the target audience and goals of the film. By following the right approach and knowledge, it is possible to distribute your film effectively and achieve your objectives.


Traditional Film Distribution

Let's take a look at traditional distribution. Releasing a film in theaters can be a great way to get your movie seen by a large audience. With the right marketing campaign, a theatrical release can generate buzz and hype, which can translate into a big opening weekend. However, traditional distribution can be expensive, and there is no guarantee that a movie will be successful. Additionally, with the rise of digital distribution, the theatrical release has become less important in recent years.

On the other hand, digital distribution offers a much wider potential audience than a traditional release. By releasing your film through online streaming platforms, you can reach a global audience in a matter of hours. The cost of digital distribution is also much lower than traditional distribution, and you can potentially generate a lot of revenue through subscriptions and streaming fees. However, it can be challenging to get noticed among the vast number of films available online, and digital distribution requires a lot of marketing efforts to stand out.

In order to make an informed decision about the best type of distribution for your film, consider your budget, your target audience, and your marketing strategy. For example, if you're making a small indie movie, traditional distribution might not be the best choice for you, since the cost of releasing a film in theaters can be prohibitively expensive. On the other hand, if your film has a niche audience, digital distribution may be the way to go, since you can target that specific audience with online marketing efforts, on current example is Slasher Film: ‘Final Summer’ Teaser Trailer Gives Homage to ‘Friday the 13th’!

In addition to choosing the right type of distribution, it's also important to plan your distribution strategy well in advance. Start thinking about your marketing campaign as soon as possible, and consider hiring a marketing professional to help you get the word out. Building buzz and generating interest in your film can be just as important as the distribution itself, and a successful marketing campaign, can make all the difference in the success of your movie.

In conclusion, film distribution is a complex process with many factors to consider. Traditional distribution can generate buzz and excitement, but it can be expensive and less accessible than digital distribution. Digital distribution can be a more cost-effective way to reach a global audience, but it requires a strong marketing strategy to be successful. Understanding the basics of film distribution and choosing the right type of distribution for your film can be the key to getting your movie seen by the widest possible audience and making it a success.


Digital Film Distribution

Digital distribution has revolutionized the film industry, providing filmmakers with new ways to reach audiences and create revenue streams. The rise of streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime has allowed for greater access to films, while social media and video-sharing platforms like YouTube have made it easier than ever to promote and share content.

One example of a film that found success through digital distribution is "Tangerine," a 2015 independent film shot entirely on an iPhone. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was later released on iTunes, where it generated significant buzz and critical acclaim. Another example is "The Big Sick," a 2017 romantic comedy that premiered at Sundance and was later released on Amazon Prime, where it received widespread acclaim and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. More recently, Hoaxed: Everything They Told You Is A Lie signed with Random Media and quickly reach #1 on iTunes, Read More Here.

When it comes to digital distribution, filmmakers have the option of either Video on Demand (VOD), Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD), and (AVOD) Advertising-based Video on Demand. VOD allows viewers to rent or purchase a film, either through a one-time transaction, a subscription service, or a $ amount per minute streamed, while SVOD offers a library of films for a recurring monthly fee.

The choice between VOD and SVOD will depend on the goals of the film and the target audience. For example, a filmmaker looking to make a profit off of a single film may choose VOD, while a filmmaker looking to gain exposure for their work may choose SVOD to get their film in front of a wider audience.

In conclusion, digital distribution has opened up new possibilities for filmmakers to distribute their work, with a variety of options available to suit their needs. It's important for filmmakers to understand the differences between VOD and SVOD and choose the right type of digital distribution for their film, based on their goals and target audience. With the right strategy, digital distribution can be a powerful tool for independent filmmakers to achieve success in the industry.


What Type Of Distribution is right for my film?

When it comes to distributing your film, there are different types of distribution that you can consider. Understanding the pros and cons of each distribution type is important to make an informed decision about the best option for your film. Here are some examples of different distribution types and films that have had success with them:

Theatrical Distribution: Theatrical distribution refers to the release of your film in movie theaters, providing a chance for a wide audience to watch it. While it can be expensive, involving the cost of physical prints, advertising, and theater rentals, it offers the potential for critical acclaim through film festivals and award ceremonies. One great example of a successful film with theatrical distribution is "Moonlight," a 2016 drama film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It received widespread acclaim after premiering at the Telluride Film Festival and was praised for its artful direction, writing, and performances. Its theatrical release allowed it to gain significant exposure and ultimately helped it become a critically acclaimed and successful film.

Home Video Distribution: This type of distribution involves releasing your film on DVDs or Blu-rays. It's a more traditional distribution method that has been around for decades. It can provide a reliable source of revenue for your film, but it may not have the same level of exposure as theatrical distribution. An example of a successful film with home video distribution is "The Blair Witch Project," a 1999 horror film that became a cultural phenomenon and grossed over $248 million worldwide on a $60,000 budget. Henceforth,The Blair Witch is arguably the most successful independent film marketing example of all time and with a more in-depth review on the Top 13 Indie Horror Film Marketing Campaigns Too Scary To Be True article.

Digital Distribution: Digital distribution, on the other hand, has become increasingly popular with the rise of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. This approach can be more cost-effective, as it doesn't involve the costs associated with physical prints, advertising, and theater rentals. Instead, your film can be released directly on streaming platforms, which offer the potential for wider reach and more revenue.

Some filmmakers have found great success by combining traditional and digital distribution. For example, the 2019 film "The Farewell," directed by Lulu Wang, was released in theaters before becoming available on digital platforms such as Amazon Prime. Similarly, the 2020 film "Promising Young Woman," directed by Emerald Fennell, was released in theaters before being available for rent or purchase on digital platforms like Amazon and Apple.

It's also important to consider your film's genre and target audience when selecting a distribution type. For example, the 2018 horror film "A Quiet Place" was released in theaters, as the horror genre tends to do well in theaters, while the 2021 romantic comedy "To All the Boys: Always and Forever" was released on Netflix, as it targeted a younger audience.

In conclusion, choosing the right distribution type for your film requires careful consideration of factors such as budget, genre, target audience, and goals. By understanding the pros and cons of each distribution type and analyzing your film's unique needs, you can make an informed decision that will increase the chances of success for your film.

Hybrid distribution is a versatile method that combines different distribution channels to reach the widest possible audience. It's a smart choice for independent filmmakers who want to make their movie available in theaters, on TV, and through digital platforms simu