Getting Your Film onto the Screen.

AuthorCallaghan, Linda

September 1, 2020By Linda Callaghan

So, you have an idea for a great movie and think it has "legs". Where do you start?

Let's look at it like any product to be sold in the marketplace. To understand how to make and market your movie, there are three basic questions that you need to answer:

  1. What are you selling?

  2. Who is the seller?

  3. Who is the buyer?

The Product

First, you need to translate your idea into a concrete form. It might be recorded on film or it might be recorded in a digital format. It will be your idea translated into a tangible product. Regardless of how you have recorded or plan to record your idea, for the sake of simplicity let's call it a film. What you will be selling is the copyright in your film. This is your product: the copyright in your film.

Copyright is a bundle of rights. Think of a package of licorice strings. You can divide up the package amongst your friends in any number of ways. Some friends get more strings than others. You can do the same with copyright. You can divide up your copyright in various ways and then sell it. You can divide the copyright into different territories of the world. You can divide the copyright into different platforms that exist today to exhibit films. You can exhibit your film in theatres or on television, or allow it to be streamed or downloaded. You can break your film down into smaller pieces or versions. You can create episodes from a longer version. You can expand your film to make sequels, prequels and series. You can translate your film into different languages. All of these are the "strings" that you can bundle for sale. So, for example, you can sell your film to theatres limited to North America for one year. Or you can sell your film to a streaming service in Europe for three years. If your film is a nature documentary, you can create stock footage (that shot of the caribou herd running across the tundra) which you can sell. If you have a musical score accompanying your film, you can create a soundtrack which you can sell.

Because you are not putting licorice strings in a box and shipping them off, you need to pay attention to what rights you are selling. Selling the rights to your film is complicated. You need to be clear on what exactly you are putting in the conceptual box that is being shipped off. You need to keep track of all the rights you have sold and make sure you don't do the equivalent of selling 200% of your licorice strings.

The term "sell" is not...

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