Distribution Case Study: Film Festival Premiere As A Catalyst For Successful Hybrid Distribution

Hi everyone! Back with another case study in my Distribution Case Study series. Today we’re talking to Anne Renton, director of The Perfect Family, which premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival and has been enjoying a successful hybrid distribution run ever since.

Just goes to show you how valuable a festival premiere can be in raising initial awareness for a film, that can then lead to distribution on various platforms. You’ll notice Anne also ended up doing a self theatrical release after her festival run to further raise the buzz for her film, which in her case was money well spent.

OK with that said, over to Anne…. and let us know any questions you have in the comments section below the post. Enjoy!

WHAT IS THE NAME AND SHORT SYNOPSIS OF YOUR FILM?

The Perfect Family

Suburban supermom Eileen Cleary (Kathleen Turner) has been nominated for the coveted Catholic Woman of the Year Award at her local parish, and only one final test remains – introducing her family to the Board for the seal of approval. Now, as she finally faces the reality of the nonconformist family she’s been glossing over for years, her meddling reaches hilarious new heights in this heartfelt and honest dysfunctional family comedy.

WHAT IS THE WEBSITE FOR YOUR FILM?

http://www.theperfectfamilymovie.com

This page has the On Demand Screening info:

http://www.theperfectfamilymovie.com/screenings/on-demand/

WHAT IS THE BUDGET (or Budget Range) FOR YOUR FILM?

Under 1M

WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL DISTRIBUTION PLAN FOR YOUR FILM?

My producers Cora Olson and Jennifer Dubin and I understood the realities of independent film distribution, so we always knew we may need to self-distribute.  Cora and Jen had done that on their previous film, so were well equipped to handle it.  We had hoped that we might have gotten a deal that made sense for us.  If so, would have sold the film, but self-distribution was the next plan.

 

HOW DID YOU END UP DISTRIBUTING THE FILM? 

Cora and Jen headed up our self-distribution strategy.  We teamed up with Variance Films for our theatrical release and our day-and-date VOD release went through Gravitas. Our lead actors all participated in press for the film.  Kathleen Turner was incredible with all the press she did and was totally on board with our strategy so pushed the VOD angle at every opportunity.  Although our theatrical numbers were probably about what one could expect with the small distribution budget we had, our VOD numbers were more significant.  We did DVD release with Virgil Films.  We also were able to sign a deal with Lifetime Movie Network (the film just aired last month).   

 

WHICH FESTIVAL DID YOU END UP PREMIERING AT AND HOW DID THAT HELP YOU TOWARDS YOUR DISTRIBUTION GOALS?

We premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.  That premiere enabled us to get significant press on the film and also allowed our sales agent to invite distribution companies to the screening. (which ultimately led to the distribution deals we got!)

 

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE OBSTACLES YOU ENCOUNTERED WHEN TRYING TO FIND DISTRIBUTION FOR YOUR FILM?

I think in terms of looking at traditional distribution, I feel the film fell into a category of not being “indie” enough for the bigger independent distributers and too small a film for the larger distributers.  So although we did have distribution offers we were unable to find a deal that made sense to us. 

 

WHAT RESOURCES OR TOOLS DID YOU FIND MOST HELPFUL?

Very early on the process I worked with Stacey Parks as I was putting the film together.  As it was my first film it was incredibly valuable in understanding the different models of distribution and how to set up a film for the best possible chance of success.  It was also extremely helpful to have input on cast and how meaningful they would be in a US and foreign market.  I also have found Film Independent to have a lot of great resources for all aspects of filmmaking.  I found our script consultant Ruth Atkinson though a recommendation from Film Independent.

 

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU LEARNED THAT YOU DID NOT EXPECT?

During our festival run we screened at several big festivals.  All the screenings were sold out, often with lines around the block and people being turned away.  We had 5 sold out screening at Tribeca.  One thing I learned was that festivals may be kind of a false sense of ultimate audiences.  Festivals have the bandwidth to really promote your film and set of an aura of specialness around it.   People are excited to be there and therefore bring that energy to the screenings.  In the ‘real’ distribution world you can’t have that reach without millions of dollars behind you.  You are competing for attention from films that have distribution budgets 100 times what you have.  Although I did not expect our theatrical screening to have numbers like Tribeca, it was such a different experience to the festivals and, I was not expecting that.

 

IF YOU HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?

Well, of course you only know things in retrospect, but I think if we knew for sure we would not find the right distributor we may have planned our distribution right after our Tribeca screening.  That way, we could use the press and exposure of that festival to roll into a theatrical release.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS FROM HERE?

The film is still playing at international festivals and we are just getting going with International distribution. I am looking forward to the next project to take all I have learned and apply it with the knowledge I have now!

 

Any questions you have for Anne or me, please put them in the comments section below!

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Additional Resources

11 ‘Independent Friendly’ DVD Distributors – for retail, Redbox, and Netflix 

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Comments

  1. Phil Wurtzel says

    First off Anne congrats! Distribution in this budget range is the brass ring. Since you’re dealing with a bunch of producers here on a distribution site and information is king can you go into any figures on sales. Concerning LIFETIME’s purchase of your film and or the MG with any of the other rights you licensed. If you can only give ranges (such as mid five figures or such) that would be great. Also wondering how your VOD deal is structured and or how you will drive traffic to that venue. Thanks and again great work.

  2. Doug Mayfield says

    Hi Anne,

    Very well done.

    As Phil noted, we are a bunch of producers here so forgive our producing type questions.

    Can you describe how you and your producers raised the budget, how you approached Kathleen Turner and her representation and made an offer, and any thoughts you may have on working with investors?

    As a writer I will ask, did you need rewrites while shooting, and if so, how did you approach getting the necessary changes made?

    Thanks

    Doug Mayfield

    • Stacey Parks says

      Hi guys,

      I can answer some of these initial questions for you since I was Anne’s consultant at the time (and not sure what her schedule is like this week and if she’ll have time to get on and answer questions!)

      She actually had a private investor fund her budget, a contact she brought to the table.

      Since she was fully funded from the beginning, they hired a Casting Director to make offers to talent – that’s how they got Kathleen Turner on board (as well as their other ‘name’ talent)

      Not sure about the rewrites question but I will ask (she did not write the script but worked closely with the writer I know)

      Hope this helps!

  3. James says

    Great piece, a few questions:

    Stacy would you say the film is now profitable with the sales it’s made?
    What was the release budget on the threatical which culminated in a BO of $110K?
    A range on VOD/DVD numbers would be great.
    Was there a advertising budget for the VOD/DVD release and how was this raised?

    Thanks!

    • Stacey Parks says

      James,

      I believe the release budget was in the low to mid six figures across ALL platforms (theatrical, VOD, etc.)

      In terms of VOD numbers, they’re just completing their first quarter and haven’t gotten reports in yet, so too early to tell. In fact, most people don’t really start seeing the bigger VOD revenue numbers till Q2 and Q3 once there is some traction.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Stanley D. Williams says

    Stacey, Anne, et al. We watched A PERFECT FAMILY last night on Netflix. I’m a script consultant in L.A. specializing in structure, who has in the past written movie reviews and analysis for Catholic outlets. First I want to apologize for the panned reviews that some Catholic reviewers gave the film. I’m embarrassed for them and for their ignorance of story structure and the critical role of moral dilemmas in great drama. This was a wonderful film that stayed true both to Church teachings and the moral dilemmas that many devout and faith Catholics face. Ms. Turner’s character was perfectly portrayed and solidly directed. Anne Kenton did an incredible job. We loved the film, will defend it, and I will be promoting it… even if it is two years, too late. Now… second: We noticed Ms.Turner has an Executive Producer credit. If she didn’t participate in the funding (directly, as implied above), why was this credit given to her. Again, we were amazed at her subtle and strong portrayal. Thank you all for this important film.

    • Stacey Parks says

      Stanley,

      Thanks for watching and glad you enjoyed!

      I can tell you it’s quite common for a star of Kathleen’s stature to get EP credit on an indie film even if they don’t bring investment to the table – you have to remember they may have lowered their fees and/or helped bring other stars on board, so like I said it’s a common scenario.

      Hope this helps!

      Stacey

  5. Alex S. says

    Hi, I’m curious how you hooked up with your producers. Did you contact them and tell them you had the financing or did they come on board before you had the financing in place? Did you have a previous relationship with them?

    Also, who created your site and how did you find them? Thanks!

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