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WYSIWYG Filmmaker's Toolkit - Part 2


WYSIWYG Films logo (say Wiz-ee-wig)How Do I Sell My Film Part 2 - Delivery Format

Netribution and film distributors WYSIWYG have joined forces to present on-line WYSIWYG's Filmmaker's Toolkit....

Okay. So you now know who will watch your film. Well, that means you can also estimate how many people you have as potential audience. That gives you an idea of how much money you can spend. It also tells you... but wait, how many people will watch your film? That depends on how you offer it to them. Let's look a little closer at delivery format.


In the old days (way back in 1980) you had cinema, video and tv. You had the possibility of Betamax and VHS tapes, so most people put them out in both to appease the mass indecision. VHS won out eventually and the higher quality Betacam remained a format for shooting on and not for delivery.

Fast forward to the present and we have a much larger and ever-expanding group of possible formats:

VHS: soon to disappear

DVD: to disappear in the next 2 years and we will replace it with HD-DVD and Blu-ray. Seeing as the big boys did not learn from the VHS-Betamax controversy they have set up to do it all over again with these 2, with Sony heading up the Blu-ray consortium and Toshiba heading up the HD-DVD camp.

Cinema: we have begun the conversion from film projectors to digital projectors. These project on the same big screens (both front and rear-screen projection) and represents no change to the audience. However, for the distributor this makes a huge difference, instead of £$€1000 film prints they have $€£100 harddrives, an dthe price continues to drop. Some systems have no harddrive but rather a central server that feeds the film to the projector via the internet. For some time these digital projectors and the film projectors will sit side by side.

TV: traditional broadcast TV remains pretty much the same, however more and more broadcasters will adopt high-definition (HD) delivery via cable, requiring an HD tv for viewing. At present broadcasters send the signal out in standard definition (SD) and high definition side by side. Most TVs also accept both standards, but not for long.

Cable TV: with the delivery of broadcast TV via cable as a standard, the line between cable and TV has blurred.

Video on Demand: delivered through set top boxes and once relegated to hotel rooms, most cable delivery systems now offer VoD next to its regular cable programming and also includes the broadcast channels all through their set top box. Consumers usually pay a fee for each viewing or a monthly subscription to access a library of films.

IPTV: basically tv line-ups delivered over the internet. A viewer can navigate around the schedule and play shows that they missed earlier at will, or can select shows for recording that they wish to watch later. Confusingly many Cable tv providers use the internet to deliver their services through their set-top-box, also providing internet access to the viewers. These boxes already do IPTV. However IPTV tends to refer (at the moment) to tv delivered through the world-wide-web that you see in your computer internet browser. It includes many different additional functions.

Direct to download: works much the same way as video on demand except it refers to computer downloads instead of set top boxes, this distinction will blur out of existence very soon.

Mobile content delivery: IPTV and VoD capabilities on 3G (always-on the internet using cell networks) and 4G (a merging of wifi and cell networks) phones and multimedia players and handsets (like iPod, Sony PSP and others)

The last 3 can merge into a category called IP Content Delivery, as it really only matters that we will deliver the content via internet, we do not really care how the consumer accesses the content.

So back to our film. Let's remind ourselves, we have an audience of :

  • between the ages of 18-30
  • an equal mix of male/female
  • low to middle income families
  • English speaking
  • mixed Indian and British background

Starting at the end of the list we can see that if we have a story that limits viewing to Indian and British background means that the film will principally appeal to a section of the UK and areas of India, with smaller disparate groups around the globe. (Note that we're talking generalisations here, look at the broad strokes of the larger segments although many films will appeal to people outside the groups mentioned.)

The UK and India both have large cinema networks, the UK even has an expanding Digital Screen Network. So we can deliver to cinema.

Cinematic releases earn no profit. Let me say that again: Cinematic releases earn no profit. Let's look at that.

When we hear that a film has grossed $300M at the box office it actually means that the film cost $200M and the advertising and prints cost for $100M. The profits come from the DVD sales. The cinematic release basically counts as p & a spend. The traditional wisdom says: "if you do not have enough money to do a proper marketing campaign, do not release in cinema" However, "a proper marketing campaign" remains subjective.

Back to the demographics, middle income 18 to 30 year olds tend to have acces to the internet, mobile phones and cable TV. They also have DVD players. Hey, that's why most films get marketed to this group. They represent the largest audience group in the world. So we can release on all formats.

Some filmmakers will have a script already, some just have an idea and some may have nothing but the desire to make a script. Regardless of which category you fall into, knowing how to work out who will buy your film will help you.

If you do not have a script yet, your next step will be to get one or develop one. Let's look at how to do that, and then we'll return to distributors and selling your story.

WYSIWYG Filmmaker's Toolkit