Artist Rights Distribution is a Los Angeles based independent distributor of media content, committed to representing artists’ rights and interests in the marketing, distribution and sales of feature length films and episodic content. We distribute content internationally among different media, including theatrical,digital, multi-platform VOD, on physical product and in ancillary markets.
What’s film distribution about? Let’s break it down:
1. You want to make sure you get paid. We’ve all heard the horror stories. At ARD, we’re artist-centric. We come from a background as filmmakers, so we know what it’s like to be on your side of the deal. We operate from a “Client-First” approach and have a genuine interest in you and your film in both a personal and, more importantly, a fiduciary capacity and we will not breach that relationship. We pledge to be transparent in all aspects of our relationship, first and foremost,being financially transparent. As one of our filmmakers, you are entitled to know about every detail of our handling of your film and how it’s being marketed and sold. Our books are regularly audited and always open for our filmmakers’ inspection as it relates to their film. We are happy to provide filmmakers with updated financial statements upon request. All expenses relating to your film will be clear to understand and verifiable.
2. You want to know our distribution strategy for your film. Each film is different and requires a
specialized strategy. We will work with you to listen to your thoughts, concerns and ideas and tailor the appropriate release strategy based upon your film’s unique needs. The base release strategy we recommend is as follows:
a)Theatrical Release: It is our objective to pursue a distribution strategy which begins
with the widest theatrical release we could achieve, while still limiting your financial risk. Most distributors won’t even entertain a theatrical release for an independent film because it’s a risky proposition and even if they do a theatrical run, the filmmaker may never be able to cover the expenses associated with the release.We’ll release your film theatrically for several good reasons. Primarily, our aim is to leverage a VOD release that’s built on verifiable box office returns that we can show to platforms such as Netflix, so that we may achieve the highest value licensing deals. Also, curated platforms will be more likely to accept a film that’s had a successful theatrical run. We also have an opportunity to garner high-value critical reviews from major print media outlets, such as the LA Times, NY Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, several other print media outlets, online media, and through our film blogger outreach program. These reviews will live on your film’s IMDB page and Rotten Tomatoes page, continuing to build your film’s pedigree, Along with these critical reviews comes a great deal of publicity and exposure for the film. Lastly, if we stagger our theatrical screenings, we can not only save on DCP creation costs, but we’ll also have the time to submit to transactional VOD platforms to place your film in the “In Theaters Now” section to gain premium placement and higher rental and sales prices.
In order to achieve this with a limited financial hurdle to overcome, we work with a theatrical service provider to screen the film theatrically on an on-demand basis in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Part of our theatrical release strategy is to pursue a risk averse avenue so that the film isn’t buried under huge expenses before it even gets a chance to breathe.
This is a thumbnail sketch case study of an actual example of what a distributor offered on a film that eventually signed with ARD: The distributor presented a deal to screen the film in 300 theaters nationally. The cost for P&A for each screen was $10,000, times 300 screens. That was a $3,000,000 hurdle for the film to jump before it saw the first penny. Films of a similar genre had recently only grossed $2,300 per screen. That would have left the film at an expense deficit of $2,310,000 ($7,700 per screen, times 300 screens). To make matters worse, the distributor was going to take a theatrical commission of 15% of gross sales before any money even went toward repayment of P&A expenses. But the real issue was the actual $10,000 per screen P&A expenses. When the distributor was pressed for a breakdown of actual expenses, it was revealed that there were many shared expenses lumped with other films and expense categories that couldn’t be verified or were unclear. In short, the $10,000 per screen P&A expense was a profit center for the distributor. The distributor would have been making money at every turn and it was unlikely that the filmmaker would ever see any money because they’d be unfairly burdened with inflated expenses and commissions off the top, which unduly benefit the distributor.
Our theatrical strategy is a streamlined approach with only three main expenses. We’ll need the deliverables: 1) a DCP, one hard drive with the file on it and a few Blu Ray discs as a backup plan, 2) the theater rental fee which is a risk-free proposition because it will be covered by pre-sales and 3) targeted, sales-driven, digital marketing. We’ll augment this with an aggressive PR push for the film and leverage our theatrical service partner’s email list. Then it’s very simple, expense thresholds are known up front and the screenings only happen if enough tickets are pre-sold to cover the expense threshold.
b) Transactional Video on Demand: We will facilitate as wide a VOD release as possible to give your film the greatest exposure for rentals and sales. Transactional VOD will follow thirty days after the end of the theatrical release. Transactional VOD includes rentals and sales of the film of iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Fandango Now, DirecTv, Comcast, Verizon Fios, etc.. New releases, if they’re approved by curated platforms, typically sell the HD version of film for $12.99 and the SD version for $9.99. They typically rent for $6.99 in HD and $4.99 in SD. The prices go down a bit when the film is no longer considered a new release, maybe six months to a year after being released. However, we still get paid in perpetuity as the film continues to sell well into the future. iTunes and Google Play pay us 70% and Amazon pays us 50% of sales. Again, without a distributor, we’ll get paid directly without having to split with a distributor.
c) Subscription Video on Demand: Subscription VOD is best exemplified by Netflix,
in which subscribers pay a monthly fee to Netflix and Netflix pays a licensing fee to content providers. Netflix pays a flat rate that varies per title. For example, a solid title can earn a filmmaker around the low five figures to high six figures license fee for 2 years, paid quarterly. Unless we get a great deal for an exclusive from Netflix up front, we’ll wait for about six months after the TVOD release for the SVOD to begin. We will also explore other niche subscription-based platforms for licensing deals.
d) Ad Based VOD: Hulu and YouTube are examples of AVOD. We’ll do this when the
SVOD licensing periods begin to expire. The viewer on AVOD platforms watches a commercial every fifteen minutes in order to continue watching the film for free. The filmmaker receives 50% of all ad revenue for their content.
e) Physical Product:DVD / Blu Ray sales will be a piece of our revenue. I know a firm
that will create these on an on-demand basis and we have a shot at getting into Wal Mart. This revenue stream is not nearly what it used to be.
f) Foreign Rights: We’ll make deals with sales agents in foreign territories that we’re not
releasing the film in digitally through our aggregator.
g) Miscellaneous: Airplanes, hotels, and libraries will also be part of our release strategy,albeit small.
3. You want to know what kind of marketing your film will have. Time after time, distributors
halfheartedly take a film, bunch it together with other films in a similar genre, inflate phantom marketing expenses that get charged back to your film disproportionately, and your film languishes with stagnant sales. That’s not our model. We don’t get paid unless you get paid. We’re not some huge corporate entity relying on signing up films just to bolster our library to keep shareholders and/or joint venture capitalist partners happy. We are sales-driven in our focus,in order to maximize your returns on your hard work. We’re not going to engage in expensive,unnecessary marketing of your film. All of our marketing efforts will be targeted and sales-driven to maximize the return on the marketing dollars spent. We’ll even discuss expense cap with you so you’re comfortable that we’re not going to unfairly burden your film with exorbitant marketing expenses.
Public Relations: We’ll customize a public relations campaign to tie in with every
newsworthy event, including premieres, VOD releases, special events, and tie ins with cast, producers and film-related activities. We’ll generate reviews, engage film bloggers,amplify awareness, and create an online presence for your film.
Digital Marketing:We have an eight-tiered digital marketing campaign to specifically
drive traffic to transactional VOD sales and rentals. We’ll align your film with like-minded community action groups, manage community outreach and engagement, initiategrassroots screening tours to build a following, create digital engagement, generate engagement campaigns and build your film’s email list and community.
Social Media Engagement: We will work with you to create social media content and
marketing assets designed through our creative development team and media planners to build and expand your fan base, continually engage with them to maintain awareness,create action campaigns and drive sales and rentals.
4. We can assist with film festival submissions. It’s important to build a pedigree for your film. If you need assistance navigating the film festival circuit, we can help. We’ve been there. We have
relationships with over 100 festivals and the festival managers and owners, with whom we have personal experience. We know which festivals are worth submitting to, which festivals you’ll have a better chance of being accepted by, which festivals pay for your travel expenses, which festivals are worth attending, which festivals will gain you the most exposure for your film, and which categories and festivals in which you have a better chance of competing.
5. We’re here for you. You’ll have unprecedented support and access to management for updates on your film’s progress, release strategy and timeline and sales. If you have a question, just pick up the phone and you’ll be talking with a someone who has seen your film and knows about its
6. Ongoing support. We’re not going to stop working after your film is released. We’ll keep
supporting your film, generating exposure, continuing outreach to film bloggers, and encouraging consumer reviews and ratings on Amazon, iTunes, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and the like.
Have we missed something? We’re open to your suggestions and ideas and are happy to discuss your film and what we can do to help make it successful. Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call to talk about your film.