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Top 5 Mistakes Filmmakers Make When Looking For a Film Distribution Deal

written by: twhatley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/4/2011

The biggest, most important task that a filmmaker has after completing a film is distribution. Newbies are sometimes not aware of what is appropriate when trying to secure a distribution deal. If you are that person, then this article is for you.

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    As a new filmmaker trying to sell your first masterpiece, you might not know there are certain faux pas when trying to secure a distribution deal. Before querying networks and studios, find out what you positively shouldn’t do to try to get your film distributed.

    Mistake #1: Failing to do your homework. Never—NEVER—send a proposal blindly. You want your professionalism to show to the person reading it. Another thing is being in “the know” when signing deals. You don’t want to be taken advantage of. Believe me, there is nothing better than checking your references.

    Mistake #2: Sending out a huge mass mailing to every distributor, film festival and sales agent you can get your desperate little fingers on. In the case of distribution, quality is definitely better than quantity. Don’t just send out a ton of proposals hoping someone will bite. Find the right ones who fit your project. Getting a distribution deal is all about matching your film with the appropriate buyer.

    Mistake #3: Sending an unfinished project, trying to get a jump on things. It may seem logical to you to send a rough draft because it takes time to get a response. You may think that you will have the finished project by the time they contact you anyway and it is better to go ahead and get a deal on the film before putting too much time and money in it. If you think this, you are completely wrong. If you send an unfinished project, it won’t go any further than that. You want them to think you are a professional, and professionals do not send in rough drafts. Because of that, they will take your film as if it is complete and you will come off producing very raw, unpolished and poorly edited work. Is that really the reputation you want starting off?

    Mistake #4: Treating filmmaking as a hoppy and not a career or business. As a serious filmmaker, you are a business owner. As such, you must continue to grow and invest in your main product; which is you. Continue your education. Stay informed of the current events in the industry. Take workshops and seminars. If filmmaking is a part-time thing for you, then stick with only showing your movies at the family reunion.

    Mistake #5: Thinking that distribution doesn’t require planning. The thing to remember is that this is a business and all businesses need a plan; especially when looking for funding or a deal. Failing to plan is only ensuring that your film will be unsuccessful.

    Remembering never to make these five mistakes will help you on your journey of getting a distribution deal. Breaking even one of them may just end your career before it starts.