Independents are looking to distribute their own films online, eliminating the middle man

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

One of the hardest things when you aren’t an established filmmaker is how to get your projects distributed. It used to be that a low-budget film had to assault the gate keepers or run the film festival circuit in order to get some distributor to pick up their project. But the Internet has changed everything and one expert says it’s causing the entire industry to undergo a seed change on how films are distributed.


When I started participating on film festival panels, filmmakers used to ask how to land a distributor, how to get a good film distribution deal or how to live happily ever after. But over the last two years, the narrative has changed significantly. Filmmakers are now asking questions about how to market and sell their own movies, without the middleman. – Jason Brubaker,

Jason Brubaker says that it isn’t just upstarts who are looking to distribute their films online either. He says that well-known filmmakers are rapidly seeing where the eyeballs are and think they can go it alone and rely solely on their name recognition to sell their films online via video on demand.

“Last week a famous TV celebrity (and filmmaker) called me,” writes Brubaker,” saying: “If I already have access to thousands of people who know me and my work, what is the value in sharing my notoriety with a sales agent promising to get my movie on iTunes?

And it’s a very good point. The L.A. Times has picked up on the trend as well, with a story that winners at Sundance have opted on video-on-demand (VOD) distribution because they can make more money via downloading and streaming, especially since the DVD market is diminishing as younger users flock to streaming options like Netflix and direct video downloading via iTunes.

But Brubaker says that this “New Movie Distribution Program,” comes with the additional challenge of what he calls “sourcing your audience.”   “…regardless of the on-demand platforms,” he adds, “the bigger question is: What are you doing to build your audience? What are you doing to create a marketing, sales and distribution strategy?

Brubaker says that the new paradigm means that the filmmaker is responsible for getting the word out to the audience.  And that could mean social media, having your own web portal to drive sales and rentals, even using crowdsourcing to finance the whole endeavor.

Of course, Brubaker has a system, and he’s selling it. But I’m not writing about this to give the man a free commercial. The main point is that our industry is fundamentally changing… from cable cutters to streaming original content to social media. That’s what Kevin Spacey’s pivotal speech last month was all about.

It’s a very fluid time and the deeper into it we go, the more likely the old models will simply become obsolete.  And that’s why being wired into your audience where they live, which is the Internet, is a heavy duty tool to not only get your project seen, but to make a few bucks on it while you do.

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