Every filmmaker knows they should create a budget for their film, but few documentary filmmakers understand that a budget should not end at picture lock or a festival premiere.
Creating a budget for distribution is an essential part of launching your film into the world, growing your audience, and generating revenue.
I had never even heard of a distribution budget until I approached picture lock on my third documentary. To advise me during distribution, I hired legendary distribution strategist Peter Broderick, who opened my eyes to the need for a distribution budget, how I should think about it, and how to create my own.
With his guidance, I was able to generate over $1.5 million in revenue for my own documentary about the Senior Olympics, Age of Champions. My experience shaped the path for my career as a filmmaker, distribution strategist, and for Show&Tell’s work helping hundreds of documentary filmmakers on their distribution journeys.
My distribution journey started with blissful unawareness, followed by a shocking realization...I needed a plan.
When it came to creating a budget for my film, I thought that after reaching picture lock, my work was done! I set aside a thousand bucks to travel to my festival premiere, and I knew I needed to have a little money available for deliverables to distributors and platforms. That’s quite literally where I thought the bucks stopped.
After my festival premiere at AFI Docs and a glowing review in the Washington Post, to my surprise no distributors were clamoring for the chance to take my film off my hands and hand me a big check. I was on my own. And that was terrifying.
How I discovered the concept of a distribution budget
Short answer: I got help.
When I first hired Peter Broderick to help me envision my film’s release and create a plan for it, I had no idea what a distribution budget looked like. For decades, Peter has advised thousands of documentary filmmakers like me on how to distribute their films in creative and customized ways. His first step for me was creating what he called a distribution strategy, which includes a distribution budget.
Peter helped me understand that I needed to build a lean and mean team to lay the groundwork for a more hands-on distribution model for my film. I needed people - people to help me build a website, identify my target audience, organize events, research, and reach out to potential partners and funders in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.
These people - my distribution team - needed to be paid. Thus, I created my first distribution budget. Building a distribution budget became a core part of all of my successes going forward - it was my blueprint for how to prioritize and navigate months of outreach, events, failures, and successes.
I am excited to be leading a special webinar with Peter to share what I learned then, and in my years since working with hundreds of filmmakers. We’ll discuss the budget and team you need to put your distribution on a firm foundation and maximize your chances of success.
What to expect in Ready for Launch
The very advisor who showed me a path to thinking creatively about my distribution, creating a budget and building a team, distribution strategist Peter Broderick, is joining me for this live Show&Tell webinar event. We’ll break down more essentials on distribution budgeting, provide real-world examples, and answer live questions that you need answered, like:
How do I start distribution and how much does it cost?
Who should I hire and how much should I pay them?
How can I fundraise to cash flow my distribution?
Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to learn from a visionary distribution expert who has helped independent filmmakers around the world find success on their own terms for decades.