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October 15 at 8:15am

Distribution Case Study Masterlist

By Ted Hope

HopeForFilm Distribution Case Study Masterlist

HopeForFilm Distribution Case Study Masterlist

Okay, I am disappointed. Again.  This is 2013.  It’s not what I thought the future would look like. Don’t get me started, but I did think things would be better for us, and  certainly in the Direct Distribution world.  I thought we knew that we were all in this together.  I thought we knew that if we shared information it would lift us all up higher.  That is why I created this blog after all.  But of course if knowledge and information changed behavior, no one would smoke, eat refined sugar, or have unprotected sex. But I digress… I went looking for all the Distribution Case Studies I could find, and have compiled them for you.  Maybe I am not a good researcher.  Maybe you are not either, as this is really a crowdsourced list.  By my count it currently is only six films long, plus the great collection that  Film Independent has pulled together of another TEN films. I was going to wait until I found ten, but I figure that would mean I would not post until 2015. Ted’s Note: Since posting this, many of you have shared.  I have grown pleased with this list, and very pleased that we are all working to build it better together.  Please keep emailing me or placing in the comments any additions you have.  Please read some of these before making your next (or first film)! DISTRIBUTION CASE STUDY MASTER LIST:

  1. AMERICAN: The Bill Hicks Story http://bit.ly/1alXFCE (US doc; hybrid strategy)
  2. BASS ACKWARDS (US narrative, micro budget, used “Sundance as a publicity platform for releasing the picture directly into the marketplace; to subvert the system of selling one’s film at a major festival and instead to use Sundance as a vehicle to go directly to the audience”) http://bit.ly/1aPXpOb
  3. BEING GINGER http://bit.ly/GNJcXa (Scottish doc) and update on how hard it really is:
  4. BLAST! http://bit.ly/15MR054 (US Doc; direct distro; strong education market exploitation). Not so much a “case study” as an overview article.
  5. BONES BRIGADE http://bit.ly/1aa7fHz (US doc, utilizing great merchandise; direct distro)
  6. ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW: http://bit.ly/HqntWs (US Indie feature; direct distro via PDA) Okay, it’s not a case study — just a release of intial D&D VOD numbers, but it’s a start.
  7. FAVOR http://bit.ly/1mXvxj7 (US Micro Indie Theatrically Released via crowdsourced screenings)
  8. A FIELD IN ENGLAND: http://bit.ly/IpWBFY (UK micro-budget feature, day&date UK multiplatform release)
  9. I AM BREATHING: http://www.iambreathingfilm.com (UK doc on ALS, not a case study but a good example of a direct distribution website)
  10. INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE  http://bit.ly/19zh9rk (Canadian doc; direct distribution)
  11. LUCIA (The First 10 Days Of Online Release) http://bit.ly/17VODO1
  12. OBJECTIFIED http://bit.ly/Kci5qy (US Doc, filmmaker toured with film)
  13. SOUND IT OUT: http://bit.ly/17JTrSH (UK doc, utilizing crowd funding)
  14. STAINED (2010): http://bit.ly/1aRaggY (Canadian horror film)
  15. TRANSCENDENT MAN: http://bit.ly/1c203lh (US doc, a hybrid model utilizing a special event tour, collapsed windows across all mediums, and innovative new portals through which to share the film.
  16. THE WAY WE GET BY: The DIY Chronicles (US Doc)
    1. Part One: Finding A Spot In The Line Up
    2. Part Two : Timing Is Everything
    3. Part Three: Going Local & Maximizing Your Distribution Window
    4. Part Four: Minimize Your Loss And Hope For A Greater Payoff In The End
    5. Part Five: Going Local Pays Off
  17. WHEN HARRY TRIES TO MARRY: http://bit.ly/1aaIizJ (US narrative)

CASE STUDY COLLECTIONS — COURTESY OF FILM SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS: BFI – Great listing of films & case studies of how distribs are using new ways of reaching audiences, such as using new marketing techniques, new distribution platforms or innovative exhibition models. bit.ly/18p4i8M Film Independent has a good listing of case studies. http://www.filmindependent.org/case-studies/

Including BURN (US Doc) – which is already recognized as a  great example of DIY. The filmmakers also wrote a good article on the lessons they learned from Direct Distribution.

IndieWire did a brief overview of what was working with 6 Doc films from HotDocs in 2010. Jon Reiss, Shari Candler, Orly Ravid & The Film Collaborative put out the book “Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul” which has several case studies of DIY in it. CASE STUDIES ON ASPECTS OTHER THAN JUST DISTRIBUTION Okay, this one is not “Distribution” but back before The Celebrities took to crowdfunding for 7fig raises, Jennifer Fox had record success with “MY REINCARNATION” (US Doc) and shared it with us all:

NOT CASE STUDIES… BUT GREAT EXAMPLES OF METHODS OF DISTRIBUTION, MARKETING, & ENGAGEMENT Austin-based Brian Briskey just did a whole lot of good work for all of you!  The list below focus on those that benefit from Direct To Community (I think it a lot more than D2Fan) engagement (again, more than just marketing).  I will organize this at a later date but for now check out all these great examples!

Narrative Examples
  1. One of the largest crowdfunded and crowdinvested - http://www.ironsky.net/
  2. One of the largest crowdSOURCED films - http://en.cosmonautexperience.com/
  3. Freemium model with strong Direct To Fan Marketing - http://www.roadhomefilm.com/
  4. Indie horror example in collaboration http://www.thetunnelmovie.net/
  5. Commercial driven and crowdsourced movie experience - http://www.insidefilms.com/en/
  6. Up and coming horror director building a relationship with her audience - http://www.karenlamfilms.com/
Documentary Examples
  1. Any and all collaborative things by Tiffany Shlain - http://letitripple.org/
  2. Collaborative movie project on the Occupy Movement - http://www.99percentfilm.com/
  3. Advocacy and activism online - http://www.ecowarriorsrise.com/
  4. Niche and innovative evangelism - http://www.ridethedividemovie.com/
  5. Strategicly partnering and fostering good will - http://flatlinetofinishline.com/
  6. Niche and well executed online campaign/crowdfunding - http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/
  7. Collaborative and Niche (formerly Blue Potato) - http://beneaththeharvestsky.com/
  8. Direct to Fan oriented - http://www.objectifiedfilm.com/
  9. Transmedia excellence - http://www.collapsus.com/
  10. Crowdfunded,sourced,supported,etc. - http://www.kickstartedmovie.com/
  11. Humanitarian series of featureless - http://respectfulrevolution.org/


Digital Sales Bundles - http://filmmakermagazine.com/86746-marc-schiller-talks-the-benefits-of-movie-bundling/

Pay What You Wish - http://filmmakermagazine.com/86657-bond360-launches-pay-what-you-wish-four-movie-creativity-bundle/


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  1. SheriCandler / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Members of The Film Collaborative are working on an update to Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul right now. As happened the last time, it is tough to find people who will really lay out the numbers and outcomes…but be on the lookout soon.

  2. Ted Hope / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    That’s great news!

  3. Mal Woolford / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    There may not be a case study, but UPSTREAM COLOR is surely a good example?

  4. Ted Hope / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    We just need Sundance to release the case study!

  5. Josh Folan / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    I put together a case study of the making of “All God’s Creatures,” of which a large section was dedicated to the DIY distribution efforts, called “Filmmaking, the Hard Way” a DIY effort in itself on the book release front. The feedback has been good, and we had to jump through a number of hoops to get the film out there, being such a small movie and budget. http://www.amazon.com/Filmmaking-the-Hard-Way-ebook/dp/B00CW0CJKU/

  6. Ted Hope / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Hey Josh, If you’d like to share some of what you learned with the community here, I’d welcome a blog post or two on the process….

  7. Josh Folan / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    I’d of course be happy to, Ted. Shoot me an email at jf@nyehentertainment.com?

  8. thedarklight / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    A great list. There’s maybe around a dozen

  9. Nic Wistreich / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    There’s around a dozen case studies from the BFI here, ranging from Life in a Day and No to In Darkness and Ping Pong – http://www.bfi.org.uk/film-industry/lottery-funding-distribution/case-studies-audience-research/new-ways-reaching-audiences-distribution

    Also this from the BVA has some useful breakdowns of TV vs Theatrical vs Home Ent for six films http://www.bva.org.uk/files/u1/BVA-Report_ReadyToFaceTheFuture_final_1_.pdf

    In terms of VoD numbers, I guess For Lovers Only deserves a mention http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column-post/polish-brothers-new-movie-no-budget-huge-profit-exclusive-28989?page=0,0

  10. Ted Hope / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    This is great Nic, thanks for sharing. I will add these in!

  11. Nic Wistreich / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    It’s a great list you’re building, tho I realise half the ones I mentioned aren’t strictly direct distribution but indie/innovative engagement.

    There’s also some case studies from the big early DIY pioneers:
    – Age of Stupid (video) http://blip.tv/power-to-the-pixel/franny-armstrong-lizzie-gillett-distribution-case-study-the-age-of-stupid-cross-media-film-forum-2009-2850466

    - Iraq for Sale – also the first crowdfunded feature (video &
    files) http://microwave.filmlondon.org.uk/get_the_knowledge/selling_your_film/diy_selling_your_film/case_studies/documentary_iraq_for_sale_diy

    – Four Eyed Monsters (video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDeTvq9PG9E & http://microwave.filmlondon.org.uk/get_the_knowledge/selling_your_film/diy_selling_your_film/case_studies/fiction_four_eyed_monsters_diy

  12. Josh Folan / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Or let me know how you’d like me to send it over/post?

  13. Josh Folan / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Ted – checking in again on how you’d like me to get you these posts!

  14. David Peterson / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    yes, I want to see Upstream Color listed!

  15. Karen Lam / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Hi Ted! Thanks for including my website, http://www.karenlamfilms.com — the last three years have been an incredible experience. I have a direct relationship with my audience, but it hasn’t felt like work mainly because I’m starting as a fan. Ultimately. it’s being engaged in the horror community and supporting each other. My new feature film http://www.evangelinefilm.com is self-financed, and I’m going to let horror friends and fans do screenings in their cities. I have no idea how that will turn out…!

  16. Annelise Larson / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Here’s a supplemental case study on Karen Lam from my own blog – brilliant lady that she is: http://www.veria.ca/dm-case-studies/indie-film-karen-lam-stained

  17. Josh Folan / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Ted – checking in yet again. How would you like me to get you these posts?

  18. Ted Hope / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    what’s your email?

  19. Josh Folan / Oct 15 at 8:15am
  20. Josh Folan / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    I didn’t miss your email, did I?

  21. Nayan Padrai / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Hi Ted, Missing “When Harry Tries to Marry” the article in which I started using the term DIRECT DISTRIBUTION… http://trulyfreefilm.hopeforfilm.com/2011/08/nayan-padrai-on-why-we-call-it-direct-distribution-instead-of-diy.html Thanks

  22. Ted Hope / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Thanks Nayan. I fixed it now.

  23. Ted Hope / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Thanks. Added.

  24. SCandler / Oct 15 at 8:15am

    Another from BFI for the documentary In Real Life…http://www.bfi.org.uk/sites/bfi.org.uk/files/downloads/bfi-insight-report-in-real-life-2013-10-Final_0.pdf Shows even when you seemingly have everything in place, sometimes a film still doesn’t catch on.

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