Friday, February 24, 2012

Tribeca Film Institute: 'Distribution 101: Lists, Documents and Other Essentials'

Tribeca Film Institute published this useful list of things to consider when prepping a movie for distribution. Click here for the original post.

List of Essential Materials

There are certain obvious materials that are essential to releasing your film, and other not-so-obvious materials that may earn you gold stars and make your film much more attractive to potential distributors.


Feature film on HDCam or digital file
  • Original aspect ratio
  • Native frame rate
  • Bonus points: 5.1 mix
  • Bonus points: Additional versions: Clean output (no titles), DME separated
Key art/Poster art
  • 300 dpi
  • Bonus points: separated art layers
Audio output:
  • Channel 1: 5.1 track: Left
  • Channel 2: 5.1 track: Right
  • Channel 3: 5.1 track: Center
  • Channel 4: 5.1 track: Lfe
  • Channel 5: 5.1 track: Left Surround
  • Channel 6: 5.1 track: Right Surround
  • Channels 7+8: Full Mix Stereo L&R
  • Channels 9+10: M&E Stereo L&R
Special note on audio channels: At the very least, you’ll be expected to deliver a Stereo mix, as well as DME separate channels. Preparing the audio configuration properly can go a long way to getting around complications on promotional materials and music licensing. Plan your audio mappings in your sequence accordingly so it will be easier to output separate DME tracks, which can go a long way to enabling clips to be used promotionally without out-of-context music licenses.

Gold Stars:
  • 4x3 pan and scan – does provide additional flexibility for certain outlets, although most now will accept the film letterboxed within a 4x3 frame
  • Audio Commentary – standard for DVD release, easy enough to do on your own
  • Closed captions & Subtitles – not unusual if CC not delivered with the film, but English subtitles may better your odds with distributors if the original language is non-English
  • On set photography and behind the scenes footage/outtakes/deleted scenes
  • Social media outlets & web presence (built-in marketing platforms and hooks)
  • Pre-organized binder of all clearances, releases and music licensing information

Mental Checklist/Timeline

  • Check into grants and film finishing funds
  • Start building and leveraging your own social media tools to start building an audience
  • Think creatively about other parts of the process of making the film that might be useful
      a) Casting tapes?
      b) Story boards?
      c) Notes on napkins?
  • Get all talent agreements in place
  • Shoot behind the scenes footage and interviews, arrange on-set photography
  • Post short clips or pictures for social media as the film progresses
  • Hold onto other clips and material for later promotion and EPK construction
  • Set up your project for ease of output for audio channels during assembly of feature and trailer
      a) Narration
      b) DME
      c) Music
  • Save and organize for future use:
      a) Outtakes/deleted scenes
      b) Alternative Endings
  • Confirm all legal materials are in progress or finalized before you finish the edit
      a) All talent agreements (promotion & appearances, approval, likeness and image grants)
      b) Music cue sheet (with prioritized notes about out-of-content usage)
  • Press and Marketing Handout Preparation
      a) Press clippings
      b) Premiere footage
      c) Trailer
      d) EPK
      e) Promotional Clips
      f) Continued social media presence
  • DVD Extras Creation audio commentary
      a) Interview footage
      b) Casting tapes/story boards/notes on napkins
      c) Audio Commentaries
  • Distribution Preparation
      a) Transcript
      b) Closed captioning

Delivery Folder Structure

  • Archival Clip Licenses
  • Cast and Crew Restrictions
  • Certificate of Authorship
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Chain of Title
  • Credit Items
  • E&O
  • Literary Materials
  • MPAA Documentation
  • Music
  • Other Agreements

Downloadable Documents

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