‘Know your project inside out’, was the message from a panel of industry experts to producers thinking about taking the alternative distribution route.

EFM Alternative distribution panel

Speaking in Berlin on the EFM Industry Debate panel on alternative distribution, hosted by Screen, Oscar-winning producer Gareth Unwin, who recently adopted the model for war film Kajaki in the UK, said the structure can work on the right film: “The experience proved to me that ‘self-distribution’ - or ‘direct distribution’ - none of these terms are dirty words. On the right project it may be that you can find the right exhibitor who will take your film.”

Speaking about his Kickstarter-backed 2012 feature Borrowed Time, producer Olivier Kaempfer said: “In order to distribute your own film you need three key ingredients: passion and dedication; experience; and money.”

Producer Sigrid Dyekjaer encouraged producers to take up distribution not only in their home market but abroad as well: “Getting the ambassadors in your own territories and then making a list of what works and what doesn’t makes it easier to do the same abroad providing you know your film well.”

Robert Franke of VOD platform Viewster urged producers to interact with sales companies: “I enjoy working with a sales company because not all producers are as professional as the producers on this panel and don’t know how platforms work. Deliverables, packaging, digital shelf space, etc… Knowing how we operate is essential.”

Panelists offered differing views as to whether producers should directly contact sales companies they don’t have an ‘in’ with.

Cristina Garza of Mundial said: “As a producer don’t go directly to sales companies [if you don’t already know them]. It doesn’t work. We don’t spend a lot of time talking cold calls. You probably have more contacts than you think. Festivals are one of the key ways to make your film classy and more attractive.”

Unwin countered: “Speak to sales agents. If you need more than the money that is in your pocket to make your film then the money that comes from other sources will need to know that it isn’t 100% exposed to risk.”

Panelists also agreed that the term ‘self-distibrution’ was a misnomer due to the number of people that inevitably work on the distribution of any film.