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The Fine Print: How To Understand and Negotiate a Film Distribution Contract

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Distribution 7th Nov 2016 Filmmaker Magazine

There are many new distribution options for the independent producer. The old media includes theatrical, broadcast/cable, home video; new media’s alphabet soup includes TVOD, SVOD, AVOD, EST, PPV, streaming and nontraditional theatrical. As new distribution channels develop, new distribution companies emerge. But not all distributors are effective in all mediums and markets. Just as you would not expect Netflix or Vimeo to release your work theatrically (Netflix’s recent self-originated productions to the contrary), you would not expect Gathr and Tugg to broadcast or cablecast your work. As a consequence of all these new distribution channels and the splitting up of rights in the works among multiple distributors, distribution contracts have changed and evolved.

This article looks at the most important clauses in distribution contracts and points out where you may want to negotiate improvements to your contract including changes related to new media.

Preliminary Considerations


Before diving into specific provisions of a distribution contract, let’s consider a few preliminary matters that may impact the negotiations of a distribution contract.

Due diligence: In the best of circumstances you will receivemultiple offers from distributors. In other circumstances one is lucky to have any offer. In all cases you should extensively research potential distributors. Familiarize yourself with the distributor’s track record, its strengths and weaknesses. Speak with other producers who have distributed their works through the distributor(s) in question. Attorneys experienced in this field can help you evaluate distributors, recommend distributors and, in some cases, introduce your work to distributors.

Read the full article at Filmmaker Magazine

filmmaking, filmmaking tips, indie tips, distribution

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