Can you make money from your short film that you just completed. Well, the obvious answer is to sell the film to short film buyers at profit. but the question still remains – who buys short films? In this article we will find out who are the short film buyers and how to distribute your film.
To answer the question in few lines, you should be looking at buyers offline and online. Offline buyers can be the cable networks, local film shops, short film distributors and agents; whereas online online buyers can be the video on demand websites, online short film platforms or the video streaming websites like YouTube and Vimeo. So, let’s elaborate on them one by one.
After you have made a short film it becomes important for you to sell it within a year or two because after you complete your festival circuits, it becomes difficult to keep the buyers’ interest for that long. While the future of your film cracking a profitable financial deal is diminishing, it is important to be aware who is the right buyer of your short film.
Pick the Right Buyer
It is a difficult process and initially you will be seeing many companies showing interest in your film because all the want is free content with which they can make money.
Many filmmakers including me have fallen prey to such short film buyers who entice you with promises of great distribution and publicity only to charge you for participation and give you nothing in return. Your film is lost in the sea of many mediocre films and you end up earning nothing. Instead they make money from your short film. So, before finding the buyers you should know how to sell the short film to the right buyer.
Where to find the Right Buyer for your Short film?
You can find the buyers either offline or online.
Usually will find offline buyers while participating in any of the film festivals. if you get some award or recognition with your film and craft it won’t be difficult for you to find buyers approaching you with offers.
Also many festivals have market places where you can do deals with various production houses agent or distributors. you will find distributors and producers from different countries and regions and you can sell your film for particular region.
Short film sales agents
Selling yourself with the help of short film sales agents can speed up your process significant. it will be tough for you to reach short film buyers individually as you may be tied with time or money.
Sales agents can I do work for you for a fee or Commission. it simplifies your process of finding buyers because they have their clientele at place and it should do you no harm in hiring them. you can find them in the festivals are you can search them online. it will be tough to find an agent who will sell your film worldwide instead you can look for sales agents for particular countries of region.
Short film distributors
Some distributors more or less do the same thing what an agent does but you should focus on distributors who buys the film for distribution rather than charging fee for distributing it.
Many distributors may offer to distribute on a sharing basis . in such cases you should be clear with the terms and conditions and probably get into a contract where your money is safeguarded.
Check out the list of buyers and distributors provided by Raindance
The short film corner of the Cannes Film Festival have list out various short film buyers and distributors who’s who which will help the short film makers to contact this people directly. This is an old list but you can get the list of the companies who buy and distribute short films.
Check it here –> Short film Buyers and Distributors whos who
Also check this link → Shortshorts.org
Short films of late have become hot on some cable channels. Everyone needs content and short films has become an effective way to entertain their audience. You can approach the channels which showcase short films on a daily basis or on weekends.
Many corporate sponsor short films if it is based on their products are on subjects which deal with the products. Companies like BMW once come with series of short films.
Sponsorships walk into wave either you produce the film after you have found a suitable sponsor are you approach the sponsor with your film which is closely based on their domain.
Film Production companies:
If you have made a film of a certain genre, you should not fail to approach Film Production companies which produce films in that genre. They can buy your film for their DVD releases.
you can sell your short films travel companies or Airlines. Many Cruises and Airlines buy short films to entertain their customers and so does some hotels.
Video consumption online is growing at an insane pace. Most of the prominent social platforms are quick to jump into the bandwagon of video streaming. Short film demands too are increasing day by day due to daily consumption of video on cell phones.
Every year we are seeing many online short film distribution platform sprouting up from nowhere. just Google “short films” and see how many video streaming sites advertising on that search term. It is good news for the short film makers as well.
YouTube and Vimeo are still the giants in distributing short films worldwide. in fact you can earn money From the advertising royalties. Now, there are better high quality Video on demand (VOD) platforms available online that offer income potential for the makers.
Now, before getting your film into the online distribution platforms you should be aware of its policies on compensation. Go through their terms and guidelines before you decide to deal with this platforms. My short film was hijacked by video on demand service which took away my YouTube rights. I had signed the agreement because I was ecstatic to do so.
Also be mindful of the word “Exclusive rights” because here the distributor has the absolute right to distribute your film and you can’t put it anywhere else online till the period of the contract terminates. So you should always go for the non-exclusive contracts with several online platforms which increases your distribution potential to several platforms as well as regions. Normally you won’t be earning great from these platforms but when things add up the income can become substantial.
VIDEO on Demand:
There are broadly three types of Video on demand film distribution.
Transactional Video on demand (TVOD) where you have to pay to view the film like iTunes. Blockchain based site like Dtube pays the filmmaker for upvotes.
Subscription Video on demand (SVOD) where you subscribe to the platform to view films Amazon prime and Netflix other popular examples of SVOD.
Advertising Video on demand (AVOD) where the advertisers pay for views. (ex- YouTube) Vimeo https://ott.vimeo.com/
Short Film OTTs
Over The Top ( OTT ) platforms which stream videos to your home television without being connected to any cable or satellite, are an excellent distribution channel for short films. Netflix, Amazon video, Hulu and Apple TV are some of the popular OTTs.
There are many dedicated OTTs proliferating everyday for short films and making the income avenues of short film makers brighter.
Listed below are the what are the top OTTs where a short filmmaker can showcase their movies and make some money with it.
Online Channels :
Sundance has its own Short film channel so does many reputed film companies which stream shorts.
Sonny Boo has listed out some popular channels. I am not sure if they buy it.
Check it here –> http://www.sonnyboo.com/downloads/tv.htm
Buy and Sell Platforms
If you have a large community of followers or you are a popular short filmmaker there are online buy and sell platforms which will help you in selling your short film directly to the viewers. Like any e-Commerce store you can list your short films on this platforms and the audience have to pay these platforms to watch it online. The revenue earned will be sent to you on a per order or monthly basis.