Film Distribution Expenses - Budget for them

Film Distribution Expenses - Budget for them
by Susan Basko, esq.

It is that time of year when "everyone" is pitching show and movie ideas, meeting up with their production staffs, and trying to get a film project rolling.  It's an annual holiday-like season for filmmakers when there is much chatter and lots of coffee.

Let's look at a list:

and -- and -- what comes next?

That's right -- Distribution.  Distribution should be the end goal of most productions, but it is most likely to be left off the budgets.  Today, a tiny handful of filmmakers will distribute their films in theaters, The rest will distribute their films online, as VOD, on Youtube, Itunes, Amazon, and other such sites.  Some will sell or rent DVDs, though that method is cumbersome when online streaming is possible  Never skip and never underestimate the distribution budget, because, even in this age of online distribution, the expenses can be quite high.  Without a distribution budget, you cannot get distribution, unless you enter into a usurious distribution contract where you will never see a dime.

Here are some things that should be in your Distribution budget for when a movie is going to be distributed such places as Itunes, Amazon, and other such places, or sold as DVDs.  There are probably other things that should be in the budget, but these are the basics:
  • Errors and Omissions insurance 
  • Closed Captions
  • Encoding 
  • Trailer, Greenband trailer, teasers
  • Photos - stills, set pics, posed cast and crew
  • Art for online sales, art for DVD if that will be a method of distribution
  • DVD authoring and dupes, if DVDs will be a method of distribution
  • Posters
  • Sales sheets
  • Website with press materials, trailer, jpg photos, cast and crew list, etc
  • Someone to run social media accounts
  • Someone to respond to email queries
  • Marketing strategy plan and expenses for that
  • Festival entries
  • Travel to festivals
  • Ads in local or free online weeklies, industry websites or papers, etc.