The Making of an Indie

Producing an independent film requires more than talent. Get a close-up look at the development of these movies from idea to screen.

This includes compensation for the producers, the executive producers, director, and writer, and should be capped at between 10% and 20%.

Post Production: After the film is shot, it must go through editing, color correction, sound mixing, etc.

Advertising: Savvy filmmakers remember to save a portion of the budget for film festival fees, various press junkets, press appearances for the actors and director, and creating art, such as photo stills and posters.

The Distribution Hustle
With so many independent films being made today, distributors are clearly in the driver’s seat. Before inking a deal, filmmakers must evaluate their options. To do that, they must have a solid understanding of how the distribution process works, says Lisa Davis, a partner at the New York entertainment and media law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. There are a few primary distribution models available for independently financed films, if the producers want to retain copyright ownership of their film:

The exclusive distribution agreement with a major or mini-major: The distributor gains rights to a film for as long as 20 years and, in turn, pays the producer an advance. The distributor splits the net profit with the producer after recouping the advance and its print and advertising costs.

The exclusive distribution agreement with a small distributor: The distributor gives a small advance, at best, to the producers; handles the marketing strategy; and negotiates a split of the box office receipts and/or proceeds from DVD sales and rentals.

The Internet and iTunes. “While it’s not at the point where large numbers of feature films are being viewed through those channels, these can be avenues for short films and audience builders for feature films,” Davis adds.

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