Blumenthal has officially closed its deal for distribution. We are beyond thrilled... and that is all I'm allowed to tell you for now. An official press release will come out in the new year at which point I can give you all the nitty gritty details of the cutting-edge distribution company that we are partnering with and the nature of the deal itself. So for now, forget I even said (typed) any of that. The important thing is that you will ALL be able to see the film!
Any indie filmmaker probably thinks that the closing of a distribution deal for his or her film is the point at which they can finally sit back, put their feet up, and give a sigh of relief that it wasn't all for nothing. Not the case.
The moment after the terms of a distribution deal are finalized, an indie film producer is sent a document from the distribution company. On the document is a list of DELIVERABLES. Deliverables are all of the materials that must be delivered to the distributor upon execution of the agreement so that they can perform their duties. Deliverables are also the final obstacle in the life of an independent film. The reason that it's an obstacle is that it forces a filmmaker/producer to confront any corners that may have been previously cut just to get the film done and save as much money as possible.
A perfect (and common) example of what I'm talking about is the issue of music rights. Sometimes, a filmmaker will put a popular song in the movie with an idea to pay for the rights to that music once the movie sells. Now, this assumes that the film is being sold with some sort of advance or minimum guarantee that would afford the producers money to pay for it. But, even in such a case, the distribution deal would be contingent upon the film having rights to the music in the first place. Not only is there the issue of coming up with the money, but what if the rights to the music aren't available? Then that awesome song that makes the climax of the film so great is all gone. That's a hypothetical here, but stuff like that happens all the time.
For those of you who are curious what sort of deliverables are required for a distributor, here is some of what's on the list:
1. Video Content: Video assets must be original dimensions and frame rates from production. Accepted tape or digital delivery formats include:
- Tape Delivery: HDCAM, HDCAM SR, Digital Betacam
- Digital Delivery: Container: QuickTime.mov or AVI, Codec: ProRes HQ or Cineform, Standard: NTSC, PAL, or HD
2. Audio: Must deliver 5.1 surround and M&E track if created 5.1 audio should include L, R, C, LFE, Ls, Rs channels.
3. Trailers/Preview Clip: One (1) trailer, or a generated two-minute preview clip delivered. Must be the same aspect ratio as the associated feature.
5. PUBLICITY / PROMOTIONAL / CREATIVE
- POSTER/KEY ART: One (1) layered poster Photoshop (.psd) or Illustrator (.ai) image 150dpi minimum, One (1) flat (single layer) 2143x3000 (jpg, tiff) image 150dpi minimum. Flat image must not contain release date, credit block, DVD logo, film rating, website, and/or promotional tagging (but OK on layered file).
- COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY: Twenty (20) or more different production digital photos depicting key scenes in the Picture and/or behind-the-scenes with members of the cast appearing therein. The photography shall be delivered digitally in the highest resolution format possible (preferably 300dpi). Necessary for service specific promotions.
6. CLOSED CAPTIONS / SUBTITLES:
- SUBTITLES: One (1) subtitle file in .SRT or SAMI/.SMI file formats that conform to Picture time code.
- CLOSED CAPTIONS: One (1) caption file in .SCC (Scenarist) or .ASC (Cheetah ASCII) - must conform to Picture.
7. LEGAL DOCUMENTS:
- PRODUCER’S ERRORS & OMISSIONS (E&O) INSURANCE
- CHAIN OF TITLE DOCUMENTATION
- MUSIC CUE SHEETS
8. INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION:
- M&E Audio Tracks - Used for dubbing content in different languages.
- Written Script
- Textless movie file. Used to add credits in alternate languages
- Subtitles or Dubs required on a territory specific basis.
Like any other small indie film, we have a couple of snags on the delivery list (though nothing like the music scenario above). For our part the only real issue will be dealing with the closed captioning, which we may or may not end up letting the distributor handle and recoup the cost. C'est la vie...
All the exciting details of our distribution deal to come!