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There’s a growing trend to release films across multiple media platforms on the same day. Sounds fair enough in a time when entertainment is enjoyed in many different formats, but does it make sense for smaller indie films like it does for studio films?

It’s four years since Bubble was released in cinemas, the net and on DVD at the same time. In mid 2008 Apple began launching studio movies through iTunes the same day they were released on DVD, and now in 2010 many independent filmmakers are releasing their films on the internet and DVD simultaneously. Whether it’s orchestrated by the filmmakers or the studio (or in the form of piracy) release windows originally set up to enable each distribution platform a period of exclusivity  are increasingly becoming a thing of the past.

Another trend that’s emerging is for film festivals to act as the trigger for day and date releases for independent film. Sundance is doing it, Tribeca is doing it… some of the features competing in these festivals are distributed online the same day as they screen at the festival. On one hand this seems like a great opportunity for independent filmmakers to gain as much exposure as possible, using the publicity garnered by their festival selection; but on the other hand these films are automatically depriving themselves of premiere status in other cities and countries.

Does it make sense to release your film on all platforms to coincide with its run in a major festival?

Jucy‘s director Louise Alston told me how she was approached many times for DVD sales at the festivals that screened All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane, but didn’t have a DVD distribution deal at that time; and potentially could have achieved greater revenue and audience reach had it been in place.

At the last Power To The Pixel conference, several speakers presented their distribution strategies that were DIY or hybrids of traditional release models. The Age Of Stupid implemented multiplatform tactics orchestrated primarily through their website where you can download the film, buy a DVD and arrange a public screening. The film was also released in cinemas.

In his book Think Outside The Box Office Jon Reiss wisely explains how publicity is often hard to achieve on a low budget and it can be sensible to use the film’s festival momentum to release it to a wider audience.

Like all things in this age, I believe there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The factors we need to consider when planning to release a film include:

  • the audience for the film (in all territories)
  • the quality of the film
  • the infrastructure you have set up to support a distribution / promotional push
  • your ability to grow momentum through social media

We’re not sure what Jucy‘s release strategy will be just yet, but we’re working with a hands-on sales agent who’s (like us) a good mix of realistic and optimistic.

Are you releasing a film? What strategies have you employed?

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