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Are distributors interested in short films?


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 08:21 PM

I'm currently in the process of submitting my short film to film festivals - both locally and overseas. So far I have been accepted into one festival. I keep hearing about the presence of media companies and distributors at festivals and the chance of getting signed up by them for home video release etc. However, I'm assuming that they would mainly be interested in longer films - like 30 minutes or longer. Would that generally be the case? Would there be much hope for short films? Would the genre of a short film make much of a difference at all in attracting distributors? By the way, my film happens to be extremely short - running at 8 minutes so don't really know about my chances with this sort of thing.

 

I don't suppose there are instances of short films being picked up by distributors for use as filler material? By that I mean being used as bonus content alongside someone else's longer film on a DVD etc? I was also wondering - do distributors usually bear the costs of manufacturing, packaging, and making multiple copies of the VHS tapes, DVDs, Bluray discs etc or is there some other company (link in the chain) that organises and pays for that?


Edited by Patrick Cooper, 07 April 2016 - 08:26 PM.

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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 08:40 PM

The answer to all of your questions is: No.

 

R,


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#3 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 08:46 PM

The answer to all of your questions is: No.

 

R,

 

Ah okay. So are distributors interested in films that are 30 minutes or longer? No.

Are distributors interested in short films? No.

 

Correct?


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#4 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 09:08 PM

Actually, I just remembered about someone's short film that got video distribution deals in at least two countries / regions. I think the film's duration was about 15 minutes if I recall.


Edited by Patrick Cooper, 07 April 2016 - 09:09 PM.

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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 10:50 PM

What do you think a "distributor" can do with a 30 minute film?

 

R,


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#6 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 11:23 PM

Richard is correct.  Back when The Sundance Channel was The Sundance Channel, you might have had a shot at that.  But it's more mainstream than HBO, these days.

 

I met the producer of the documentary Man on Wire (2008) a few years ago and she mentioned that short narrative films were a good way to get noticed at festivals, but that the short itself wouldn't do much for you.  She said that having a feature-length screenplay ready to go might at least get a conversation going.  But let's be honest, people with that kind of power are only going to be at the major festivals.

 

My advice is to just sit back and enjoy the festival experience.  It's pretty cool seeing your own film up on the big screen.


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#7 Ivon Visalli

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 12:02 AM

In some rare instances a distributor will package a number of shorts together and distribute them as a "shorts collection".  In general, you need to have been recognized at a film festival or fit the theme of the collection (like horror shorts).  Here's one example:

 

http://www.amazon.co...orts collection


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#8 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 02:06 AM


My advice is to just sit back and enjoy the festival experience.  It's pretty cool seeing your own film up on the big screen.

 

Yea I think that's the best advice - simply watching your own work on the big screen and soaking up the atmosphere. I'd also be interested in the audience reactions - whether that be laughter or boos / hisses or applause or stunned silence.

 

Ivon, I had a feeling that there might be compilations like that out and about. Though yea I'm guessing that would only occur with short films that have done exceptionally well at festivals.

 

Richard, naturally the market for a 30 minute film would be pretty limited outside of a festival. Though there have been some distributors who sell short films through iTunes so I guess that could be one option.


Edited by Patrick Cooper, 08 April 2016 - 02:16 AM.

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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 02:57 AM

A 30 minute film is basically a one off single TV drama, it won't have any theatrical life. There are distributors who have their short films on their books (TV programmes etc being their main earner) because they have a niche, I know of one who still has them, because he handled  couple of my shorts in the past. However, you won't make a profit from all this, I know of only one short that has done so (there may be some others).


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#10 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 07:27 AM

This company takes short films.  A lot of the smaller foreign & art stuff that Netflix and Hulu would ignore. Though much of it is on Netflix too.   I have no idea though whether they pay filmmakers directly or you have to go through an aggregator.  So it may be a dead end.  But I'd be pretty happy if my film found a home there considering the strength of the catalogue.

 

https://www.fandor.com/


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#11 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 10:21 AM

Here's the grand total that short film makers have earned from their work: $00.00.

 

R,


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#12 John E Clark

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 11:44 AM



I'm currently in the process of submitting my short film to film festivals - both locally and overseas. So far I have been accepted into one festival. I keep hearing about the presence of media companies and distributors at festivals and the chance of getting signed up by them for home video release etc. However, I'm assuming that they would mainly be interested in longer films - like 30 minutes or longer. Would that generally be the case? Would there be much hope for short films? Would the genre of a short film make much of a difference at all in attracting distributors? By the way, my film happens to be extremely short - running at 8 minutes so don't really know about my chances with this sort of thing.

 

I don't suppose there are instances of short films being picked up by distributors for use as filler material? By that I mean being used as bonus content alongside someone else's longer film on a DVD etc? I was also wondering - do distributors usually bear the costs of manufacturing, packaging, and making multiple copies of the VHS tapes, DVDs, Bluray discs etc or is there some other company (link in the chain) that organises and pays for that?

 

Short films are 'filler' for fests to close the gaps between the feature films being shown. There are specific fests for short film, but in general they are not something that sells.

 

As far as I can tell, short films should be viewed as calling cards to meet people, but even then, no big budget projects will be based on a few short films... lightening does strike occasionally, and someone gets a gig offer from an award winning short... but in general... no financial value...

 

The only people I have heard of getting some value for shorts, is on youtube... From this site's list of 'top viewed'...

 

http://www.reelseo.c...utube-channels/

 

 

Unless you have Justin Bieber in your representation portfolio... or produce something like "Masha and the Bear"(Russian) at #5 on the list... forget that...

 

"Masha and the Bear"...

 


Edited by John E Clark, 08 April 2016 - 11:52 AM.

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#13 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 12:51 PM

Many festivals have special short shows, which only screen shorts rather than features. Some fesivals specialize in shorts, so there is a range for short film makers to apply for.


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#14 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 02:19 PM

Nowadays, could a well received short perhaps get you a deal with a company to produce a feature with them that they would then distribute? Or is the likeliness of that happening still next to impossible with only a short?


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#15 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 02:38 PM

Nowadays, could a well received short perhaps get you a deal with a company to produce a feature with them that they would then distribute?


Well-received by whom? Shorts are usually only screened at festivals.

Or is the likeliness of that happening still next to impossible with only a short?


I'm sure its happened but it's definitely not the norm.
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#16 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 03:00 PM

I'm sure its happened but it's definitely not the norm.

 

If you read about Brad Peyton, from Gander Newfoundland, do you Americans know where that is?

 

You will see that this was his story.  Festival short to Hollywood feature, ka-pow!

 

But really, for young aspiring filmmakers to remotely believe this will happen to them....well buying lottery tickets would be a better investment.

 

R,


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#17 John E Clark

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 04:37 PM

 

If you read about Brad Peyton, from Gander Newfoundland, do you Americans know where that is?

 

 

Just a bit north east from where Cajuns come from.


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#18 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 05:16 PM

 

I have a few friends in animation, would you say the process is a bit different for cartoons when it comes to shorts? Rather than getting a feature deal, getting a multi-episode deal.


Edited by Macks Fiiod, 08 April 2016 - 05:16 PM.

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#19 Carl Looper

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 05:17 PM

Short films are the traditional path to making feature films. While you won't necessarily make any money out of it, you'll still want to make them. How else is a filmmaker going to learn film making, let alone demonstrate to anyone else (with funds), that they can in fact make a film?

 

Why not just make a feature film? Well, short films are cheaper to make than feature films.

 

But feature films are also very different from short films, so while short films provide a path, they don't provide the entire path.

 

Film festivals provide a context in which one can get to know various powers that be and cement relationships that might lead to bigger and better deals.

 

C


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#20 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 07:28 PM

There is plenty of money in making short films, you just need to make something that people want to see. 

 

The problem is connecting the audience to your film. So building a fan base early in the pre-production phase is critical. Its no different then making an indy feature. It's a lot of hard work, fundraising and getting people excited. Since shorts don't cost much to make, all of this work is made a lot easier.

 

You submit the film to festivals, all from the money you raised to make it. You generate buzz at the festivals and when it's all done, you distribute online. You offer it for free if people watch an add before it. You make a few pennies on the hits from youtube. On a feature, this won't make anything, but on a short, you could theoretically break even if you do it right. I've heard of many people who have made profits off youtube from their short films. It happens quite a bit and a lot of them go on to make more shorts because the system worked so well. 


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