Have you heard about the "new hybrid distribution model" for films? I hear you cry. A quick tutorial from my beginners POV: in the olden days (like 12 months ago, ok, maybe 24 months), it seems that you finished a film, put it out to distribution companies hoping that someone would sign you. And either you signed and then had THEM do all the work FOR YOU - for a (smallish) cut of the profits or you went into the corner without a distribution deal and cried. The pros to this approach: you where done with your film. The con: you where done with your film. So far so good.
Now, if you have a narrative film I think that's still a pretty good model, since they tend to need a theatrical or TV release. However if you have a documentary with a social message, then maybe you want to make sure it gets seen by the right people - those who care about your topic, or even better, those who don't - YET. Are you with me?
A few years back and with the help of the interweb, sorry I mean the internet, artists, filmmakers, producers and the like where able to reach their fans, friends and followers directly. And all of a sudden giving away all your rights to ONE company seemed insane. Add to that a lousy economy and a hugely risk adverse studio and distribution community and BINGO - the new hybrid distribution model. DIY distribution (do-it-yourself - for those of you who are acronym-challenged - me included).
Today, thanks to the internet and social networking you can do it all yourself. That is: IF: you have the upfront money, never need to sleep, have no family and love abuse.
For now I leave you with two books that are an absolute must read if you are self-distributing or considering it:
For ANYTHING self-distributed: "Fans, Friends & Followers", by Scott Kirshner - very inspiring and informative.
If you are self-distributing a film: "Think Outside the Box Office", by Jon Reiss - very detailed and as far I can tell, timely.