Within the past 6 months many of the major studio’s independent film branches have closed up shop due to financial cutbacks. These include Picturehouse, Warner Independent, Paramount Vantage, and Red Envelope. These closures have lead to fewer distribution deals, most that are not beneficial to the independent filmmaker.
Now several filmmakers whose work played at Sundance this year are opting for the self-distribution route. DIY Distribution means taking their films and trying to get them played in traditional venues (theaters) but also being creative with where they can play their films. For instance, the Sundance winner, “Ballast” is going to explore new frontiers and demographics by showing the film to Southern audiences via churches, town halls and museums to reach people who may have never had the opportunity to see the film as it stars African American non actors and is hard to market. The advantages of self distribution are that the filmmakers retain more control and can see more profits due to sales of DVDs and merchandise. However, the process to self distribute is long, difficult, and can be expensive. Some self distributors have been able to raise millions of dollars for their campaigns, like director Randall Miller did for his film Bottle Shock.
The New York Times has a really interesting article about the Do It Yourself distribution route. You can read the article here then find out about two impressive films Ballast and Bottle Shock. Hopefully these filmmakers will be successful in their huge endeavors and the market will soon turnaround for all other filmmakers who may not have the ability to self distribute.