Hey, Do You Have a Theater? - December 13, 2002
A year ago today I was on pins and needles, waiting to hear if we were going to get into Slamdance or not to premiere the film. Little did I know that not only would we get into the fest, but that as soon as it was announced there would be a frenzy of press so intense that I would be turning down interviews for lack of time. Damn, that was weird.
Now all that is a distant memory. We had a great year on the festival circuit, I met some wonderful folks (and gators) all around the U.S. , audiences showed up (which is always nice, and never guaranteed).
But we still don't have a theatrical distribution deal. I have no explanation for you. Our producer's rep, Josh Braun, talked to everybody under the sun. Most distributors say they like the film, and many stayed interested throughout our festival run. But inevitably there is something--fear of controversy, a tough market, our film's lack of movie stars--that prevents them from offering to distribute it.
So it's really up to us now. It's self-distribution or no theatrical distribution at all. The latter scenario wouldn't be a tragedy or anything--plenty of indie films get only TV and home-video exposure in the U.S. But we do have to decide which way to go. Do we piece together a theatrical run by calling up theaters and booking the film where we can? (There are a few indie cinemas already interested.) Do we try to do this with no money?
I don't know yet. Self-distribution is tough. I know filmmakers who have regretted going the self-distribution route because they didn't have the advertising funds they needed to really do it right. You can put a lot of work into it, and still only a handful of people make it to the theaters, and your movie closes right away. You're up against every other movie--indie and Hollywood--playing at the time of your release, and everybody else has TV commercials and newspaper ads running.
On the other hand, there are success stories. And some of those success stories are films that managed to get a lot of press, which can be better than advertising. And we do happen to have a film that attracts press. We have audience interest (emails asking how one can see the film still come in all the time), some exhibitor interest and a track record of getting more publicity than most indie films ever see. Looked at one way, it almost seems foolish NOT to self-distribute.
Got a theater? Know anyone who does?
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