DIY Film Distribution: How to Get Film Distribution
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If you’re a filmmaker looking to distribute projects how, where, and when you want, it may be time to check out Altavod, a new film distribution platform created by filmmakers, for filmmakers.
Launched in Aug. 2020 by Robert Schwartzman, the filmmaker behind “Dreamland” and “The Argument” and co-founder of Utopia Distribution, Altavod aims to give autonomy back to creators by cutting out the distribution middleman and offering access to back-end data and analytics, meaning filmmakers can see exactly how their content is performing in real-time and who is engaging with it. Altavod also lets filmmakers and distributors keep licensing rights, allowing creators to put their films on as many platforms as they want, rather than being restricted to just one. Beyond distribution, Altavod also gives that same autonomy to filmmakers during the marketing process by offering the ability to directly engage with consumers—all while maintaining full control over their content.
To get all the details on the new service, Backstage spoke to Schwartzman about Altavod’s origins, its features, and why it’s what the film distribution market needs right now.
Where did the idea for Altavod come from? What was broken in the film distribution world that needed fixing?
There are great places to sell and discover movies [but] some of those places typically require someone in the middle to transfer that content to those platforms: You [need] an aggregator or distributor. It doesn’t feel like it’s a level playing field for all filmmakers to have direct access to sales tools, because what if they don’t have the money to pay a high aggregation fee? And what if they don’t have a distributor out there willing to take a chance on her film? A lot of times, filmmakers are left without a solution. There are so many movies being created that no one even knows about because they’ve never been given a distribution solution. With Altavod, there’s a more effective way to make more per stream.
Why did you see a need for more autonomy in the film distribution process?
On the filmmaking/production side, it’s gotten a little more friendly for filmmakers. If they want to carry that sort of autonomy in the creative process from the onset, they have the tools: cameras they can access, consumer products that are really advantageous to the creative process. But when it comes to distribution, there really hasn’t been something [to] support that same mindset at the beginning of the process all the way to release.
The platform takes a much smaller commission compared to most of the usual suspects. There are no exclusivities so you can coexist on our platform and other places; we’re not saying you’ve got to be here only, so that opens up more of a freedom to explore what’s out there. You’re not stuck here. You can take your movie off if you hate it and you can keep it on if you love it. What’s also great is you can swap out the files at any time, so you can update your movie to a different version.
Why is it vital to consider consumers and how they can connect with filmmakers?
I think the beauty of today’s market is that there are incredible tools out there to help promote your movie. In addition to just making more per stream and controlling the price point, maintaining the dialogue with that audience is key because once you convert somebody and get them to watch your movie, it would be beneficial to be able to market your second or third, or next movie to that same person. On Altavod, you can establish a relationship with your consumer base and bring them new content. And if you’re a distributor, you typically have a library or a back catalog. Once you activate an audience that likes what you’re doing, you can bring them on [to] titles from the past they may have missed.
How did Altavod update the distribution process for the digital-focused world?
If you can make your own Facebook page or Twitter account or YouTube channel, there’s a bit of an expectation that you could be able to turn content on and off as you want. It’s become the new norm to be able to have the sort of instant gratification on content discovery, creation, and uploading. But like I said before, they usually require some kind of aggregation partner or someone to do the onboarding for you. That process also takes three to four months of lead time. You can’t just say, “I want to put my movie out now; tomorrow, I’m ready to go. I’ve got a great campaign idea. I’m going to go now, bam, let’s do it.” You’re not guaranteed front-page placement, so you’re not guaranteed discovery. There are other places out there that have huge audiences but unless you’re on the front page, what good is it? [Filmmakers] need an alternative solution.
For more on how to get work on a film crew, visit Backstage’s crew hub!