10 Ways to Make Distributors Totally Hate Your Guts

A few months ago we gave some advice on how to make film festivals despise you. Assuming you have done the opposite of what we told you, there should now be some distributors interested in your film. Here are 10 ways to Make Film Distributors Totally Hate Your Guts.

1) Make it nearly impossible for a distributor to see your film

Let’s say a potential film buyer misses the one and only screening of your film at a film festival. Don’t offer to send them an online link to the film. I know these are easy to set up on Vimeo with passwords, but why make it easy?

Insist that they attend your next festival screening on another continent later in the year.

If you do cave in and send a DVD make really sure the DVD can’t play on a computer,and only on the DVD player in the distributor’s boardroom. That way your potential client wont be able to watch it while travelling or at home on the weekend.

 2) Clog up their email really good

If a distributor expresses interest in your film make sure you send them updates on the progress of your film. Two to three daily updates will guarantee to annoy. Make sure you let them know everytime you have a new Twitter follower, Facebook message and so on.

3) Send totally irrelevant emails

Go a step further with your email campaign. Reference news stories like Neil Armstrong’s death, Lance Armstrong’s doping allegations, aboriginal plights with Exxon in the Alberta oil sands project – in short, anything that you think of
– especially if it has actually no relevance to your film.

4) Consider silence as a sign to try even harder

If a distributor doesn’t respond to your telephone messages or repeated emails, view it as a sign of interest in your film. You know the adage: No news is good news. Try even harder to get through.

5) Take things really slowly

Once a distributor has made the decision to buy your film, go super slow. Invent mentors and crew members you need to consult before you sign off. Let them know that the deal doesn’t feel quite right yet. Don’t worry that they might take all this money and give it to a film made by a competitor – just hang in there, one step at a time. Ask about world premiere status and so on.

Super slow is a guaranteed way to disgust and annoy distributors.

6) Followup at your pace

Just because a distributor calls or emails at 5:05pm just as you are going home doesn’t mean you should break your routine and respond right away – respond when you get home (after they have left their office) or better yet – the next day.

If someone is expecting a screener – mail it at the end of the week – when it suits you.

7) Follow up like an insane person

Wow! This one will get you noticed and for all the wrong reasons. Send gifts of chocolates, wine and flowers. Write insane blog postings about the distribution company. Set up auto-Tweets every 15 seconds. Pepper the receoptionist with hangup calls.

You get the picture. You will soon be despised along with the worst of your competitors.

8) What do you mean music rights?

Stick Beatles songs, Astrid Gilberto singing ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ liberally throughout your movie and then put the disclaimer ‘Guide Music Only’. Then show a complete ignorance of the music clearance process.

9) Negotiate like a sleaseball

Agree a price, sign it and then start demanding extras, like shipping, postage, telephone call charges , pension contributions, holiday pay and meeting fees. The more outlandish your claims the more they will hate you.

10) Hold your film hostage

Agree, in principal to a fee for your film, but insist you’ll only accept it if they agree to take your next film.

Conversely, sell your first film to one distributor, and then take your second to a competitor after the first company has invested a lot of time and effort into launching your career.

Fade Out

I’m sure there are many other ways to make distributors really hate your guts.

What have I forgotten?

Yours in filmmaking,

Elliot Grove

Ask a question about Raindance Film Festival



Photo Credit David Martinez / BIFA 2018

Few people know more filmmakers and screenwriters than Elliot Grove. Elliot is the founder of Raindance Film Festival (1993) and the British Independent Film Awards (1998). He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), AMBER (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018) and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance BREXiT trailer 2019

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

  • facebook
  • linkedin
  • skype
  • twitter
  • youtube