The 'pig in the middle' of the film industry<br />The history of film is usually related through the achievements of producers, directors, writers and performers.<br />Making films, production, has always been perceived as a glamorous pursuit. <br />
Our personal understanding and appreciation of film is shaped by our experiences at the cinema<br />The exhibition of film is a commonplace, shared cultural activity highly visible in every city and town in Britain, constantly feeding the popular memory.<br />By contrast, distribution, the third part of the film supply chain, is often referred to as 'the invisible art'<br />This is a process known only to those within the industry, barely written about and almost imperceptible to everyone else.<br />
Distribution is the most important part of the film industry, where completed films are brought to life and connected with an audience.<br />
The invisible process<br />Distribution is about releasing and sustaining films in the market place<br />In the practice of Hollywood and other forms of industrial cinema, the phases of production, distribution and exhibition operate most effectively when 'vertically integrated‘<br />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.<br />The three stages are seen as part of the same larger process, under the control of one company.<br />
In the UK, distribution is very much focused on marketing and sustaining a global product in local markets. <br />In the independent film sector, vertical integration does not operate so commonly<br />Producers tend not to have long-term economic links with distributors, who likewise have no formal connections with exhibitors.<br />
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. <br />In this sector, distribution can be divided into three stages - licensing, marketing and logistics. <br />
The quantity and production of release prints and trailers:<br />-Specialised films will often be released with fewer than 10 prints.<br />-These are ‘toured' over a 6-month period to all parts of the UK .<br />-Commercial mainstream films will often open on over 200 prints. <br />-These are screened in all major UK towns and cities.<br />
Press materials, clips reels, images, press previews, screener tapes:<br /><ul><li>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.</li></li></ul><li>The design and printing of posters and other promotional artwork:<br /><ul><li>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.</li></li></ul><li>Advertising campaign – locations, ad size and frequency:<br /><ul><li>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. </li></li></ul><li>Press campaign/ contracting a PR agency:<br /><ul><li>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.</li></li></ul><li>Arranging visit by talent from the film:<br /><ul><li>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.</li></li></ul><li>Other preview screenings:<br />- 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.<br />
Logistics of Distribution<br />By Becky Baker and Emma Dimelow <br />
Distributor<br />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. <br />
Fact on Distribution<br />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.<br />Each print lasts around 18-20 minutes, when run through a projector at 24 frames a second. <br />A feature print will usually be 5-6 reels.<br />Prints are hired by the exhibitor for the duration of their play-dates, and therefore each print is made for repeat use. <br />
Logistics<br />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.<br />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.<br />There's an imperative for the distributor to deliver the film on time.<br />They physically transport the film reel. <br />
Digital Distribution<br />Bradley Cooke-Catcheside, Dan Miller & Joshua Irons<br />
What is Digital Distribution?<br />Digital distribution is a new form of technology created at the end of 2005.<br />In 2005, the UK distribution and exhibition sectors began by moving onto digital distribution and exhibitions.<br />The quality that has been produced has surpassed the original cinema presentations.<br />The sound system that has been used in these new pieces is far better quality then before.<br />
What are the Advantages of Digital Distribution?<br />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.<br />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.<br />Digital Distribution can also be shown in a larger areas such as China or Brazil, places which before were not used for broadcast.<br />In the UK, digital technology has been embraced by the non-theatrical sector, such as those in film society and school. <br />
What is the overall effect of Digital Distribution?<br />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.<br />The time taken to produce a piece will be halved (from 6 months maximum to just 3 months).<br />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.<br />