by Mia Bruno
The reality of the distribution marketplace is that it is constantly changing. Platforms are constantly morphing into new entities. Distributors appear and disappear. A strategy that worked for a film even a year ago may be totally ineffective for a film today.
It behooves us all to experiment a little, to be nimble enough to adjust our approach if the data doesn't bear our theories out, and to develop a nuanced understanding of how the marketplace works and the value and consequences of atypical decisions. Making distribution a process that is based on informed assumptions allows for trying new things and challenging existing paradigms without ignoring potentially lucrative opportunities that may exist in a more traditional sphere.
The one constant in the ever-evolving distribution landscape is that every film must find and connect with its audience. In our quest to discover the people with whom SADIE might resonate, we merged fresh ideas with traditional ones, always using one to bolster the other. We started by building relationships with grassroots organizations working on issues relevant to our film’s themes. Booking the film in reputable theaters gave us added legitimacy with those groups and helped them to fill the seats with their members for screenings and hosted discussions afterward. Those packed houses offered proof that an audience existed, bolstering our opportunities in the marketplace, from additional theatrical and academic screenings to excellent placement on the iTunes storefront.
Our initial goals for the film were: 1) to build on the momentum of the film's premiere to get it seen by audiences all over the country, and 2) to amplify the conversation around the film's themes. We have built a screening tour that has included robust conversations around women telling their own stories, specially targeted teen events, and youth developmental screenings for educators to talk about how to identify and deal with young anger before things go too far. Our distribution strategy incorporated many conventional aspects, while concurrently embracing what the story was actually about and allowing space for those conversations to take place. As we close the theatrical chapter after screening and hosting discussions in 25 states and counting, we are proud to say that we are achieving what we set out to do.