Film distribution companies help you market your film. And seeing as a film takes a lot of time and money to make. At the very least you will want to try and make your money back.
In this article, I have listed 21+ film distribution companies many of which accept unsolicited films. You will also find a film distribution strategy plan below.
As you read through – if you find this article helpful, I would be grateful if you can share your thoughts in the comments section.
Film Distribution Companies List
All films - FilmHub | Bleecker Street | Entertainment One | Freestyle Digital Media | Good Deed Entertainment | Gravitas Ventures | Indie Rights | Juno Films | Magnolia Pictures| The Orchard |Prolific Pictures | Samuel Goldwyn | Seed and Spark | Vertical Entertainment |Virgil Films | Bull Dog |101 Films |
Genre Films – Abramorama (Documentary)| Breaking Glass Pictures (Horror, LGBT, Comedy) | Passion River (Documentary) | Strand Releasing (Foreign, LGBT) | Wolfe Video (LGBT) | Terror Films (Horror), Brain Damage Films (Horror), Left Films (Horror) | Uncorked Entertainment (Comedy, Horror), Gkids (Animation) | Lighthouse (Faith) |
Read my Interview with Klaus Badelt the founder of Film Hub
Many of the film distribution companies listed above accept unsolicited films. However, it can be more professional to approach companies through a sales agent.
These companies also send staff out yearly to major film festivals to find potential films to distribute. I found these companies through a simple google search, make sure to spend the time to find the perfect distribution company for your film. Ideally you want to find a film distribution company that has worked with a film similar to yours before.
A good film distributor helps you get your film shown at cinemas and streamed on VOD platforms. It is wise to plan your distribution strategy even before you make your film. Yet, often this stage is overlooked by filmmakers as being too complicated or dismissed as someone else's job. Independent filmmakers especially need to consider how their film will be distributed.
Which brings us to…
The Film Distribution Strategy Plan
Find or build a audience for your film
Consider what makes your film special
Create a film distribution plan
During pre-production you need to think about who will watch your film once its complete. If your film was shown in the cinema why would people choose to watch your film? If your film was picked up by Netflix, what would make it stand out beside all the other films?
Many distributors are looking for a film that already has a guaranteed audience. This could be from a well-known cast member (who has a large social media following) or an adaptation of a book or video game that has a pre-made audience. Genre films such as horror or comedy can already have a built-in audience. Even a super low budget film (with some work) can build a base audience through social media before the film is completed.
Pre-sale Financing – Some distributors also do pre-sales. This means that they will give you a portion of your budget to help you make your film. Keep in mind you only profit once your film has made that money back. This technique works especially well for high genre films such as horror.
Pre-sale selling – If you are independently financing your film, you can gather some of your budget through pre-sales. For example, your could pre-sell DVDs or an online VOD release. This is typically done through platforms such as Kickstarter, however this can be risky you will need to have a plan to pay back backers if you fail to complete your film.
Continue to build your audience
Create a media kit and film website
During production you can begin to build a foundation audience. Create a website for your film, take photographs during production and share the process on social media. On your website create a media kit with a trailer, scene clips and still images. Make sure everything is shareable via social media. Before you approach distribution make sure that your that your have all publicity available for them to use.
Enter film festivals
Plan your premier
Get a sales agent
Find a distributor
Film festivals are your first point of call once your film is made. Film festivals not only get your film shown in front of a real audience but distributors also attend them looking for films to buy. Firstly where will your film premier take place? Your premier should be treated as a big occasion, you can invite potential distributors to your premier, as well as film critics and colleagues who could potential help you further your career.
There are thousands of film festivals world-wide. These come with many rules and regulations. The main five film festivals are Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Toronto, Venice. Your film will have to be very professional made and/or have an excellent story and acting to get into one of these festivals. Then there are medium scale film festivals such as Raindance and South by Southwest, there are also genre specific festivals.
You don’t need to get into a festival to get a distributor but a win at one of these festivals can pursued film distribution companies to take on your project. For a film festivals strategy plan enter a mix of high, medium and genre film festivals. Although smaller, local film festivals are also more likely to showcase your film. Not all film festivals are going to help you get your film distributed so do your research on each film festival and the type of films they accept before you enter them.
Sales Agents - Sales agents will help get your film noticed by distributors at film festivals. Film distribution companies are also more likely to take your film seriously if they are approached by a recognised sales agent. I’ve found a few places where you can find sales agent online - a LinkedIn search and dictionaries such as The Knowledge (UK) and American Film Market.
Distributors Directly – If you have no success with festivals or sales agents you can always approach a distributor directly. Some film distribution companies only go through sales agents, you can find submission guidelines on their websites. The best approach is to target distributors who have already worked with a film similar to yours before.
Self Distribution – If the traditional method doesn’t work there is always self distribution. Planning your own cinema release is expensive but possible (read about the distribution of a $1million feature film). You can also create your own DVDs and VOD sales. Making a profit from self distribution is very difficult which is why it’s best to start building a audience online even before you start making your film.
I hope this has been helpful - the resources below have more detail on what distributors are looking for from filmmakers.
RESOURCES – Sundance - What Distributors Want From A Film | Film Independent – Distribution In The 21st Century | No Film School – List Of International Short Film Distributors | Launching Films – Distributor List | No Film School – Finding International Pre-sales | Independent Cinema Office Advice | Stephen Follows – Sales and Distribution Advice