The 'pig in the middle' of the film industry The history of film is usually related through the achievements of producers, directors, writers and performers. Making films, production, has always been perceived as a glamorous pursuit.
Our personal understanding and appreciation of film is shaped by our experiences at the cinema The exhibition of film is a commonplace, shared cultural activity highly visible in every city and town in Britain, constantly feeding the popular memory. By contrast, distribution, the third part of the film supply chain, is often referred to as 'the invisible art' This is a process known only to those within the industry, barely written about and almost imperceptible to everyone else.
Distribution is the most important part of the film industry, where completed films are brought to life and connected with an audience.
The invisible process Distribution is about releasing and sustaining films in the market place In the practice of Hollywood and other forms of industrial cinema, the phases of production, distribution and exhibition operate most effectively when 'vertically integrated‘ Vertical integration is the process in which several steps in the production or distribution of a product or service are controlled by a single company or entity, in order to increase that company's or entity's power in the marketplace. The three stages are seen as part of the same larger process, under the control of one company.
In the UK, distribution is very much focused on marketing and sustaining a global product in local markets. In the independent film sector, vertical integration does not operate so commonly Producers tend not to have long-term economic links with distributors, who likewise have no formal connections with exhibitors.
Here, as the pig-in-the-middle, distribution is necessarily a collaborative process, requiring the materials and rights of the producer and the cooperation of the exhibitor to promote and show the film in the best way possible. In this sector, distribution can be divided into three stages - licensing, marketing and logistics.
Marketing Prints: Prints and Advertising
The quantity and production of release prints and trailers: -Specialised films will often be released with fewer than 10 prints. -These are ‘toured' over a 6-month period to all parts of the UK . -Commercial mainstream films will often open on over 200 prints. -These are screened in all major UK towns and cities.
Favourable press response is a key factor in developing the profile and attraction of a film.
Distributors consider both the quality and span of coverage.
The design and printing of posters and other promotional artwork:
The cinema poster is still the basis of theatrical release campaigns.
Several recent examples indicate that the poster design is highly effective in 'packaging' the key attributes of a film for potential audiences.
Distributors will also consider other poster campaigns.
Advertising campaign – locations, ad size and frequency:
Advertising in magazines, national and local newspapers raises awareness of a release.
For mainstream films, scale and high visibility is the key.
The cost of print advertising in the UK is high and is seen as a riskier business than in most other countries.
Press campaign/ contracting a PR agency:
Many independent distributors in particular do not have press departments, and will therefore hire a press agency.
This is especially the case if the distributor brings over key talent for press interviews to support the release.
Arranging visit by talent from the film:
The use of talent - usually the director and/or lead actors - wins editorial coverage to support a release.
The volume of coverage can far outweigh the cost of talent visits.
Other preview screenings: - A distributor will consider the use of advance public screenings to create word-of-mouth and advance 'buzz' around a film. This means the public are able to hear about the film and tell other people about it.
Logistics of Distribution By Becky Baker and Emma Dimelow
Distributor The distributor will enter into an agreement with the cinema to screen the film on certain 'play-dates'. It is the responsibility of the distributor to arrange the transportation of the film to the cinema, as part of its wider coordination of print use across the UK.
Fact on Distribution For UK theatrical exhibition, the distributor typically handles 35mm film prints. Each print can cost around £1,000 - or twice that if subtitled - so a degree of care is required of everyone involved in handling the print. Each print lasts around 18-20 minutes, when run through a projector at 24 frames a second. A feature print will usually be 5-6 reels. Prints are hired by the exhibitor for the duration of their play-dates, and therefore each print is made for repeat use.
Logistics Logistics represents the phase of distribution at its most basic - supplying and circulating copies of the film to theatres, of tapes and DVDs to shops and video rental stores, and managing the effectiveness of the supply. The showing of films in cinemas is a time-pressured activity. Cinemas spend their money publicising film play-dates and times in local papers or through published programmes. There's an imperative for the distributor to deliver the film on time. They physically transport the film reel.
Digital Distribution Bradley Cooke-Catcheside, Dan Miller & Joshua Irons
What is Digital Distribution? Digital distribution is a new form of technology created at the end of 2005. In 2005, the UK distribution and exhibition sectors began by moving onto digital distribution and exhibitions. The quality that has been produced has surpassed the original cinema presentations. The sound system that has been used in these new pieces is far better quality then before.
What are the Advantages of Digital Distribution? The main advantages of Digital Distribution is that overall it is much cheaper and much less stressful then other alternatives as less problems are likely to occur then before. A further advantage of Digital Distribution would be that the overall effects are less harmful towards the environment as fewer pieces are created and less travelling occurs. Digital Distribution can also be shown in a larger areas such as China or Brazil, places which before were not used for broadcast. In the UK, digital technology has been embraced by the non-theatrical sector, such as those in film society and school.
What is the overall effect of Digital Distribution? In the long-run, Digital Distribution will mean that films that have been produced will be done so in high definition and have much higher quality then previously. The time taken to produce a piece will be halved (from 6 months maximum to just 3 months). The cost form producing will also be much lower then before, this is because less arrangements will have to be developed, meaning that more money is saved.