Before You Sign On the Dotted Line

So, you've considered all the advice and decided on an Impact Distribution approach. Now you’ve got to ensure you make the right deal, or group of deals, that work for your strategy. Before you sign on the dotted line, consider how your Impact Distribution plan measures up against the following:


Personal Your artistic goals? What you want to gain personally from distribution? How long you want to be involved?
Production What are the financial needs and obligations of the production? Is the whole team aligned to the same Impact Distribution goals? Does the team have the capacity to deliver on the impact distribution plans?
Impact How far does the distribution plan serve your impact goal? How far does the distribution plan serve the needs of relevant movements? How far does the distribution plan rely on your subjects and what are their needs?
Strategic audience How far does the distribution plan allow you to connect with your most strategic audience? How far do you have flexibility and control to share the film as the campaign requires? Does your audience have needs and are they being served by the Impact Distribution plan?



Remember the following to ensure you get the most from the deals you’re going to make:

Have a plan before you start to negotiate

Know what you’re not prepared to budge on - whether that’s direct sales rights, your campaign website or the rights to community screenings. That way, whether you’re working through a sales agent or doing it yourself, you’ll know which parts of the flower you’re not willing to give away.

Equip yourself with the right people to get the deal done

Think about working with a negotiator to get the deal signed. This may be a lawyer or it may be a sales agent, it may even be someone in your team. The key thing is to make sure they are an experienced negotiator and are on top of the current trends in the distribution landscape.

Appropriate timing

Does your impact campaign depend on certain timings, for example a major conference, an international governmental meeting or an individual doing something? Can your distributor work to the same schedule? If they are responsible for the film’s marketing, can they work with you to deliver an integrated campaign that amplifies your impact work? Being clear upfront of your intentions can help improve your deal. Co-ordinated strategy and execution are what you’re after.

Most films don’t get signed at festivals, but whenever or wherever you take a meeting with a distributor or sales agent (who sells for you to distributors) use this handy checklist to ensure you’re thinking straight before you even think about signing a deal:

How do the deals on offer measure up to your priorities? Tick the boxes to compare:


CONSIDERATIONS DEAL 1 DEAL 2
Your artistic goals?
What you want to gain personally from distribution?
How long you want to be involved?
To the financial needs and obligations of the production?
The team's capacity to deliver on the impact distribution plans?
How far does the distribution plan serve your key impact goal?
How far does the distribution plan serve the needs of relevant movements?
How far does the distribution plan reply on your subjects and are their needs served?
How far does the distribution plan allow you to connect with your most strategic audience?
How far do you have flexibility and control to share the film as the campaign requires?
Does the audience have needs and are they served by the Impact Distribution plan?




And whatever time of day or night you sign, congratulations!

Geek Out: Ideas for further reading


Made byDoc Society Made possible by: Ford Foundation - Just Film Bertha Foundation Sundance Institute Knight Foundation