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CHILDREN OF INVENTION: Why They Turned Down 8 Distribution Offers
By Ted Hope
Today we have a guest post from Mynette Louie and Tze Chun, the producer director team behind CHILDREN OF INVENTION. The film opens this weekend in New York and their whole journey through DIY/DIWO distribution has been fascinating to watch and a learning experience for us all. They have been truly brave and really generous sharing a lot of information along the way. I really love this film and truly admire both of them. Please support their film.
Tomorrow they will share their Top 10 Reasons Why They Are Glad They Turned Down The Distribution Offers They Received. Stay Tuned.
Top 10 (alright, 11) Reasons Why We Turned Down 8 Distribution Offers
1. Couldn’t get straight answers about revenue projections, accounting and recoupment. Why this is bad is self-explanatory.
2. Term was too long. Yes, it’s a lot of time and hard work to self-distribute, but we could always choose not to exploit some distribution channel if we figure it’s not worth it. We can’t, however, choose to get out of a 10 to 25-year deal. And if we did a 25-year deal, we’d probably be in old-person diapers by the time the rights revert to us. And that’s just sad to think about.
3. Revenue share was too small. We know that specialty distributors have it tough too, and respect what they do (more than ever now that we’ve been through it) but revenue splits still have to be mutually beneficial for the filmmaker and the distributor. With the state of things being so uncertain, it’s tough to figure out the fairest deal, but one thing’s for sure: if you can no longer offer an advance, then the other terms have got to give to make up for that. A distribution deal today is a partnership, not a hand-off.
4. Delivery requirements were onerous and costly. Some of the tape formats made us think they were distributing the film back in the 1980s. We may as well have been burning Laserdiscs.
5. Distributor was overloaded with other films. We didn’t want to be sitting on a shelf indefinitely or helplessly harassing our distributor to pay attention to us.
6. Couldn’t get straight answers about marketing plans. Suspected that they had no marketing plan.
7. Wanted more control over how our film was marketed. In our DIY mode, the approval process for our marketing materials is literally the two of us, director and producer, exchanging a few emails. Tze does all the graphic design and Mynette does all the web design. Yes, it’s more work for us, but you really can’t beat the speed and efficiency of this model.
8. We’d already done most of the hard work ourselves by the time people came to us with weak distribution offers. No thanks.
9. Other filmmakers warned us not to do business with them. Warning to distributors: We all talk to each other.
10. Distributor misspelled the name of the movie in their inquiry e-mail. Okay, we didn’t turn down the deal because of this, but it didn’t help.
11. Distributor used the phrase “T&A” in conversation. Don’t do that, even if you’re talking to a guy.
Please support the NYC theatrical premiere of CHILDREN OF INVENTION and WHITE ON RICE on March 12! The films will run March 12-18 at the BIG Cinemas Manhattan (formerly the ImaginAsian), 239 E 59th St (bt 2nd/3rd Aves). CHILDREN OF INVENTION is also making its Los Angeles theatrical premiere on March 12, and will run March 12-17 at the Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St (bt E 2nd/E 3rd Sts). Buy tickets and get more info here.