Considering Self-Distribution?

Self-distribution. It’s getting some attention in the documentary world. Wondering why? May I recommend a SilverDocs conference session? It may have the answer you’re looking for.

THE WAY WE GET BY, about a group of senior citizens who visit the airport daily to greet and thank departing and returning soldiers, aired on PBS, was screened at numerous film festivals, and had a theatrical release. It is one of the top 300 all time grossing documentaries. All through self-distribution.

I had an opportunity to speak with producer Gita Pullapilly who, along with director Aron Gaudet, will be presenting their Funding/Self-Distribution Case Study. Along with getting a better sense of what to expect from her session, I also took the opportunity to speak with her about market for documentary films.

On what the session will cover:
“What we did isn’t going to work for every filmmaker. What we’re doing is showcasing an example of what we did. We want to provide ways to think outside of the box, so people can get their films out there. The session is going to be interactive. We want it to be an open forum for filmmakers to freely discuss their challenges and for us to provide our input. It has been really interesting since we’ve been inundated with phone calls. And they’re struggling to get their films out there. What Aaron and I can offer is the most therapeutic session, remind filmmakers there is hope. There are creative opportunities to make sure your film gets made/gets seen.”

Some preview tips:
– Start thinking about distribution early
– Figure out your target audience
– Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Do some self-distribution and get some help from an outside source. Just think about what each method has to offer.

On whether or not the success of self-distribution may make distributors rethink their strategy:
“It’s hard to predict what [distributors] want to spend money on. We thought that our film was that film [that had general appeal]. It comes down to personal taste and what they can sell. I’m not sure [if the success of our film] will make distributors any more eager. The point is, it’s okay if a distributor says no. There is still hope for filmmakers.”

Any one who has seen THE WAY WE GET BY knows how special the film is. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do. Watch the trailer.

And if you haven’t purchased your SilverDocs passes yet, you still have time!

— Preeti Balakrishnan


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