Jason Brubaker is a Hollywood based independent motion picture producer and an expert in internet movie distribution.
He is the publisher of FilmmakingStuff.com, a free professional resource for independent filmmakers. His articles on independent movie marketing, distribution and film production have been featured in The Independent and Movie Maker Magazine and has served as a guest panelist for the Sundance Film Festival.
We asked Jason to share a few tips and advice to documentary filmmakers about how best to distribute their films.
What is your #1 advice to documentary filmmakers who are in the beginning stages of their first documentary project? (If they get nothing else, they should remember this)
In the past, I might have recommended producing whatever story they're most passionate about. But affordable production technology coupled with non-discriminatory distribution has flooded the market
with documentaries. So in order to make your
documentary rise above the noise, my primary advice is to know which target
audience is going to buy your film.
What do you see as the top mistake new filmmakers make regarding distribution?
Most filmmakers make their documentary without ever considering who will actually buy it. They start out with the assumption that their documentary is going to appeal to everybody on the planet. They enter the festivals and keep looking around for one of the big studios or TV networks to sweep in and buy the film.
While I understand the enthusiasm, there seems to be fewer and fewer great deals each year. So after festivals, many filmmakers find themselves ill-equipped to conduct their own marketing, sales and distribution.
From day one, documentary filmmakers should know their target audience, have an idea how large their target audience is and they should have a plan for reaching their target audience.
I've read on your site where you recommend Distribber as an "all-in-one" Video-On-Demand (VOD) distribution service. Why do you recommend them?
I have been recommending Distribber for years, even before I worked there because I believe in what they are doing.
I originally found Distribber because I was looking for a way to get movies onto iTunes. Unlike traditional distributors (who take a percentage of ownership,) I saw Distribber only charges a one-time upfront fee to access popular VOD marketplaces.
Since that time, Distribber has grown a lot. In late 2015 the company was acquired by GoDigital Inc, which gives filmmakers even more options. And Nick Soares, the CEO of GoDigital is actually a filmmaker and a former Distribber client!
In full transparency, I currently serve as the Distribber director of marketing and business development.
What is the core service Distribber offers to filmmakers? In other words, what's involved in getting a film on Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, etc.?
Getting content into popular marketplaces (iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, VuDu and more...) is a rigorous and time intensive process. The Distribber service covers ingestion, encoding, quality control, review, delivery and accounting...
I would only suggest using Distribber if you meet the following criteria:
With the proliferation of so many films on the market right now, can documentaries actually make money these days? If so, have you noticed any commonalities of the documentaries that actually do generate a profit?
Documentary filmmakers who start with the end goal in mind typically do better than those who have a set it and forget it attitude. For example, how many units do you need to sell to break even? What is your strategy for getting your message in front of enough people to make this happen?
With many platforms, the more sales you get, the more you rise in rankings. This in-turn can help your film get discovered by more and more people.
What do you see as the most exciting trend in filmmaking right now?
Thanks in part to crowdfunding, I think more and more
filmmakers are becoming marketers and entrepreneurs. The idea that you can develop, produce and distribute your films from literally anywhere with internet has changed the Hollywood landscape.
Documentary filmmakers can now easily get content in front of niche audiences without asking permission. This is an amazing time to make documentaries.
Jason Brubaker is a Hollywood based independent motion picture producer and an expert in internet movie distribution. He is the publisher of FilmmakingStuff.com, a free professional resource for independent filmmakers, and the creator/author of the Sell Your Movie System.
He is currently serving as the director of marketing and business development at Distribber, a distribution service that helps filmmakers get their films on Netflix, iTunes and other popular marketplaces.