Its that time of the year when filmmakers nationwide get all antsy. Sundance generally starts to let filmmakers know whether their work has been selected for the festival around the end of October. This ritual extends for about four weeks until Thanksgiving gives everyone a break.
Generally speaking, for fifteen years now, filmmakers approach Sundance with a single plan: to sell their film for a big profit. The logic of this singleminded pursuit is non-existent. For several years now, great films with clear audiences screen without getting picked up. The amount the lucky few achieve has been dropping consistently with a few exceptions. Simultaneously, the need to work with the mainstream distributors has been dropping rapidly. One could even argue that these distributors have defined their acquisition strategy so specifically that they need to even bother to attend the festival.
Filmmakers need to recognize that what once was the holy grail now needs to be regulated to Plan C or even Plan D. I wish it wasn't so and I wish many of the filmmakers could walk off the mountain with their wildest dreams of wealth realized. But we all need to recognize what Plan A and B really should be these days.
Plan A has got to be that you will need to be the leading force in the distribution of your film. This is the DIY model.
Plan B is that various experts will all want to work with you on Co-Distributing your film, albeit for a fee.
Plan C is that buyers for different media will want your film and you need to be able to evaluate how to mix and match these offers -- or even accept those offers at all.
Plan D is that someone will make an offer of such an amount that it is worth considering giving up all your rights to your film for the next twenty years.
There are many aspects of each plan that need to be considered in addition to these various plans. I will be doing my best to examine these aspects in the days ahead. Although Plan D doesn't really need any further thought than where to find a good lawyer; the indie world has relied on this plan long enough.