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Monday, January 18, 2010

Peter Broderick & Alt Distribution

The Future of Indie Film Distribution: Peter Broderick from Scott Kirsner on Vimeo.

Peter Broderick is considered by many to be the guru of alternative indie film distribution. In many ways, his terminology captures both the frustrations of past indie failure and hopes of future with more democratic connections between filmmakers and their audiences.

In his terminology, Broderick describes the old world hierarchical distribution system of "gatekeepers" who control access of audiences to film. Of course, given the ratio of filmmakers to timeslots in movie theaters or cinema houses, the distribution of celluloid by necessity was hierarchical. And distributors were not only self-appointed gatekeepers, they stood up with actual dollars and financial investment to shepherd a film into a marketplace of a competitive viewing public.

Yes, the digital realm offers filmmakers "more control" over the distribution of their films but at a creative and financial cost to the filmmakers. Often instead of partnering with people who have an expertise (albeit a bias as well) and sharing the financial risk with investors, independent filmmakers have to go it alone and reach through the title wave of the over-saturated information and entertainment products to reach a target or general audience. If the indie filmmaker doesn't want to (or appeal to) the "hierarchical" old world distribution system, they are left without partners and must absorb the additional work on their won.

If filmmakers find themselves complaining that they have little creative time left after trying to raise the finance to produce, they will further reduce their creative up time on distribution - an equally arduous and time consuming task.

The question becomes, seriously, do filmmakers really want "full control over their work from beginning to end."? Do they want to be their one and only sole backer? Do they want to fully invest their film themselves? Do they want to wear all the hats - writer, producer, director, editor, distributor, residual contracts holder/administrator? Typically, some of the "control" and investment is shared with trusted "experts" and partners in the various phases of the stream from beginning to end for good reason.

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