Film

DVD Distribution

Much like traditional theatrical distribution, traditional DVD distribution is in steady decline. Many DVD distributors have closed shop and it has become rare to get a traditional DVD deal these days. What few films get picked up for such a DVD deals usually have an A-list cast or are high concept films.

On the other hand, do-it-yourself DVD distribution is currently one of the most profitable platforms out there. For the DIY route, you can either choose to manufacture and fulfill the orders yourself, or go with an on-demand manufacturer. On-demand is easy and profitable because it doesn’t require you to stock inventory, and the manufacturer prints and sends out the DVDs as they are ordered, giving you a high quality product and a hassle-free delivery.

It is also a great risk-free way of making your film available to a large audience and begin making royalties from day one. What’s more, you retain full control of your title, which allows you to eventually opt for a traditional distribution deal should the opportunity present itself.

Another advantage of the on-demand model is that it takes care of the time-consuming process of order taking, manufacturing, shipping and customer support, allowing you to focus on marketing. When exposing your film to the masses via on-demand distribution, you get a better shot at having new audiences discover you. Building buzz online also betters your chances at getting a traditional distribution deal.

On-demand lets you retain all rights to your film, which gives you the freedom to strike any deals you wish, even with other on-demand distributors. There are usually no commitment terms or setup fees either. All you need to do is send them a DVD master, set your list price, and the company will send you monthly checks.

The biggest player in the on-demand space is currently CreateSpace, owned by Amazon.com, which provides exposure to millions of customers.

Direct Distribution vs. Traditional Distribution

With traditional distribution these days, the returns for producers seem to be diminishing. Even with commercially and critically successful films, everybody seems to get a cut except for the producer. Direct distribution allows you to retain control of your rights, allowing for returns that can contribute to sustainability.

Direct distribution presents a number of hurdles before revenue starts flowing, however. Marketing and distribution require capital and resources. DVD authoring, design, production, packaging, promotion costs, web marketing and advertising can cost up to $20,000. Theatrical releases can even cost up to $50,000 but you can always distribute digitally on hard drives to reduce costs. Of course, not all cinemas will accept that format. One option is to take out loans with “soft terms” and repay them within one year from returns on the film.

Additionally, one must consider the logistical demands of self-distribution. If you don’t want the endeavor to take over your activity completely, you’ll probably need to employ people to share the workload, as well as assess what can be done in-house and what needs to be outsourced. The biggest upside is that the revenues tend to be better, and go directly into your bank account..

The bottom line is that in direct distribution, good strategy and passion for reaching audiences aren’t enough. You need also need good starting capital. Coupled  with emerging technology and social media, you have the right tools to be successful.