Peter Broderick, formerly with Paradigm, is one of the world’s leading distribution strategists, specializing in the documentary genre. He talks in unprecedented detail with OWC RADiO host, Cirina Catania, and answers many of our questions about how to monetize our amazing films!

Peter and his partner, Keith Ochwat, design and implement customized strategies to maximize revenues, define audiences, increase impact, and put films on the path to profitability.

If you want to know more about distribution for your projects, this interview has many of the answers.

Welcome to the New World of Distribution!

Read Peter’s articles and describe to his distribution bulletin at You can also get more information and register for the classes that he conducts with Keith, at

In This Episode

  • 00:08 – Cirina introduces Peter Broderick, formerly with Paradigm, who is one of the world’s leading distribution strategists, specializing in the documentary genre.
  • 05:52 – Peter talks about Christopher Nolan’s film, Following. A movie they distributed in the year 1999.
  • 11:17 – Peter recommends filmmakers’ basic approach in giving rights of a produced film to distribution companies.
  • 16:42 – What are some of the strategies to scout for distribution companies as a filmmaker?
  • 21:19 – How to work with Peter to help filmmakers design and implement a customized distribution for their film?
  • 26:42 – Peter describes what they call the second stage in distributing your film, Theatrical Distribution.
  • 32:15 – Peter explains why his job is to balance optimism and realism for aspiring filmmakers.
  • 35:18 – Peter discusses the advantages of having a personal audience and the indirect selling of films to get a higher revenue margin.
  • 39:37 – Peter talks about the impact of networking as a filmmaker.
  • 42:30 – Visit Peter Broderick’s website,, to sign-up for his cutting-edge, virtual crash course – Supercharge Your Distribution.

Jump to Links and Resources


Peter Broderick is one of the world’s foremost experts on distribution strategy. He’s the former president of Paradigm Consulting. And he spends every day all day, helping creators maximize their revenues, decide on their distribution strategies, and helps them make a living doing the things they love to do. Peter, thank you for joining us.

Well, thanks for having me, Cirina. It’s exciting to be part of your show.

Tell us the kinds of projects that you work on.

I do concentrate on documentaries, and I can explain that because I only agreed to consult with filmmakers when I’m confident that I can make a meaningful difference for them. And with documentaries, it’s always possible. And with fiction, sometimes it’s possible, and sometimes it’s not. 

Well, that’s actually very encouraging. A lot of people think it’s just the opposite. Let’s talk about who was in control in the past and who’s in control now.

I can begin by explaining the difference between the Old World and the New World, and then we can get to the new New World. Does that make sense?

Let’s do it. 

Okay. So, I was running a finishing fund called Next Wave Films from 1997 to 2003, and we were helping filmmakers, mostly filmmakers who are making their first film. And these were mostly fiction features. To find the resources to finish their movie, then we would help them find distribution, and ultimately, our idea was to help them launch their careers. Our poster child from that time was Christopher Nolan; we did his first film Following, which he shot on a budget of $12,000. And we were able to give him finishing funds so he can complete the film. And then we took it to the Toronto Film Festival, then he went to Rotterdam and won the Rotterdam Film Festival. And he was off to the races. The film had theatrical distribution in the US and around the world, and it gave him the chance to make mementos of his next film, and he’s never stopped since then. 

Wow, that’s a fairy tale success story. 

That’s right. But he deserves all of it because he’s just so talented. When you meet him and in about 15 minutes of conversation, you know he’s got it. Just like watching the first few minutes or Following, whatever it is, it being the kind of quality that gives people opportunities to go to great places. He has it.

So what are those qualities? I know you say it’s hard to describe, but can you go into a little bit more detail about the qualities that somebody might need in order to be the kind of filmmaker that you or your partners might want to work with?

Following (1999) – Directed by Christopher Nolan

Well, let’s start with talent. I met him at a panel. I just hadn’t heard about him before. And after the panel, I went up to him and asked him about the Following, which was the film he was working on. And I said I was interested to see it. It wasn’t quite done, and he gave me, I think it was a cassette of it at that time. And then I started watching it. And literally, within 10 minutes, the first 10 minutes of the movie, I’m like. “This guy is just brilliant as a filmmaker.” He was working with virtually no resources, and he made this incredibly compelling thing. But it had not just the feeling of originality, and it kind of sucked you into the story, but also you felt that he was in total control of what he was doing. So I think if you look at Christopher’s career, you can see the diversity of films he has made. And many of them are really challenging in terms of the content, the story, the complexity, but he had a vision of it before he shot a foot of the film, and he was able to carry it out brilliantly. So first is talent, and I think that he’s head and shoulders above so many emerging filmmakers at that time. And I think he’s one of the best filmmakers in the world now. But he also has a determination to make films and to make them in ways that feel like him. He’s British, and he started in the UK, he had a short, some people saw the short, but he couldn’t really get many opportunities because the UK is much more traditional in the sense of people sort of rising to the top, at least at that time it was. And he decided to move to the US, and then in the US, he had the chance for more people to kind of see his work and recognize his talent. You can’t help but be impressed when you meet him by his maturity, and as I say, determination. So he’s somebody that it doesn’t take long for somebody to see some of what he shot, and to meet him and to know that he’s got that intangible thing that leads to success.

Talent comes first when it comes to any creative industry. But what sets anyone apart is the determination in making something compelling and remarkable in ways that feel like them. Click To Tweet

Do you remember what year the Following was released approximately?

It was probably 1998. 

So the late 90s, we’ll say.

Yeah, and I encourage your listeners, the film is available online, and it’s available on DVD. Criterion even has its own edition. And it’s a film that if you watch it once, you’re gonna want to watch it again because it’s a very complex story. Unlike most films that don’t require reviewing or encourage reviewing, this film definitely does.

Let’s take a beat and go back and explore the difference between the Old World of distribution and the New World of distribution. You’ve written some very informative articles on the subject, and I’d like to share some of that information with our listeners today.

In the Old World–and my old world, I mean, a situation where a filmmaker makes the film, makes a distribution deal, and gives all the rights to that film to one distributor for years and years and years and years; could be five years, seven years, 15 years. And in that situation, the filmmaker has ceded all control of her or his distribution to that distributor. Now, sometimes in a distribution deal, you get what’s called consultation, and in some contracts, you get what’s called meaningful consultation. But basically, consultation means one phone call, and meaningful consultation means two phone calls, where you can express your opinion, but all the decisions that are going to affect the life of the movie are made by the distributor.

businessman giving a woman a contract to sign
Making no deal is better than a bad deal. Hopefully, there will be other deals to come. But if you make a deal with a bad company, you’re going to regret it forever.

And that includes how they’re spending your money. As I recall, back then, and even now, some of my filmmaker friends that are looking for distribution deals, they get all excited about it, they sign with one of these distributors, and then they discover that the depth, the consultation, and all of that stuff wasn’t taken into consideration. In addition to that, there are budgetary items that they hadn’t expected that were being taken away from their gross profit, like travel and hotels, and meals to go to, festivals like con and others. And then on top of that, you add your PR and marketing costs, right?

Exactly. If you don’t have a cap on the marketing expenses, if you don’t clearly define what’s allowed and what’s not allowed, all of your share revenues can be eaten up by expenses.

Yeah. And speaking of revenue, I caution people to take a good look at the distributor that they’re going to be working with because some of these B-level distributors are basically just going around collecting films to add to their library, and then they batch them together and sell them as a group for a very, very low price to the buyers. And so filmmakers in that instance, are not making any money.

I think it varies a lot. I think that the bigger problem in that was that the basic approach of distributors is they throw the movie against the wall and see if it sticks. And if it sticks, they’ll support it some more. If it doesn’t stick, they won’t support it anymore, but they won’t give the filmmaker back his or her movie. So that’s the worst of all worlds. They’re not doing anything to support your movie, and they’re not letting you do anything to support it. So I think that when we are talking about problems of the Old World, it’s that there’s a very formulaic approach to distribution for every film. Most of them get distributed pretty much the same way, which is to throw it against the wall and see if it sticks approach, which is not the way to maximize what happens to an individual film. Every film, in my opinion, means an individual distribution strategy based on the goals of the filmmaker, the core audiences for the film, and the windows. And in that case, your chances of succeeding are much greater. But studios don’t think in terms of customized distribution strategies.

The bigger problem is the basic approach of throwing a movie against the wall to see if it sticks. If it sticks, distributors will support it. If it doesn't, they won't support it, but they won't give the filmmaker back their movie. Click To Tweet

So what’s happening now in this New World, is the filmmaker now in control?

In the New World, ideally, the filmmaker is in control. And what the fundamental differences are that instead of making one deal, where all the rights go to one company, the filmmakers are splitting up their rights among one or two, or two or three, or four different companies, and they’re retaining control that way. So they’re giving certain rights to one company and other rights to another company, and in that way, they can retain good control. So they’re keeping the rights to do certain things themselves, and then for specialized rights that they’re not going to be able to handle, they’re working with a company that’s good at that. So the basic approach that I recommend to filmmakers is only to give the rights that a company is good at handling to them, don’t give them the rights they don’t care about, don’t give them the rights that are mediocre at handling or poor at handling. But when you think about it that way, each of your partners has rights that they’re good at, and hopefully, that’s the way you can maximize things.

There are a lot of filmmakers out there who are not going to know how to judge. That’s the scary part. How do they know if a company can do what they say they can do? Do they base it on reputation? You talk about due diligence in one of your other articles, how do you decide as a filmmaker who you should hire to do what?

Before any filmmaker seriously considers working with a distributor that has made them an offer, they need to talk to three to five filmmakers who are or have been recently in business for that company. They can talk to them off the record privately and find out what their experience has been. And if they don’t do due diligence, they are in danger of being sort of hypnotized by the distributor. The one thing that even the worst distributors are good at is telling a filmmaker what a great job they’re going to do with your movie and how much they love it. So even the worst bottom feeders have that skill. But if filmmakers are doing their due diligence, they can go past that song and dance and find out what’s real. And there are so many cases where there are companies that shall remain nameless, that have been doing a really bad job not paying filmmakers, etc., etc. for years, they’re still in business. And if filmmakers were doing due diligence, they would not be in business any longer because filmmakers who had offers would find out from filmmakers who had worked for them before that they’re companies that you definitely don’t want to be in business with. And when I say when filmmakers ask me about whether they should make a deal with a bad company, I always say, “No deal is better than a bad deal. Hopefully, there will be other deals to come. But if you make a deal with a bad company, you’re going to regret it forever” And I don’t want people to be in that position.

gold human
Every filmmaker may dream about getting an Academy Award. But in a typical year, maybe 160 films are eligible, and only 15 of them will get shortlisted. Then only five are going to get nominated.

It is so sad to see someone who has been working for years to create something that they love and then watch as some of these companies just trample all over them. Can you give our filmmakers some advice about where they go to conduct this due diligence, so they don’t fall into this trap?

They can go onto the Internet Movie Database, IMDb, and then find out. And then it’s not that hard to find filmmakers online. And usually, they’ll have a website, and there’s a piece of software called RocketReach, where you can find people’s email addresses if you can’t find them easily without that. So you just have to do the work, and you can see what films and companies have distributed before and look at their website. Don’t rely on the references that the company gives you because let’s say they’ve distributed 100 movies and only two filmmakers still like them, and they’re going to give you those two references. So that doesn’t really help. Another thing that I find with due diligence, if you say to a filmmaker, “How do you like your distributor?” and let’s assume they’ve only been in business for that distributor for a few months, they’re always going to say, “Oh, I think they’re great.” That’s because nothing has happened yet. There’s no success or failure, really. And the distributor is always saying, “oh, things are working up, and all these things are good,” or “good things are gonna happen.” And then the problem is, if you ask a filmmaker who has been in business for the company for a long time, how they like them, they may be victims of this Stendhal syndrome, where you get to love your captors. So you really have to cut through liking and say, “have you gotten paid?” “have you gotten paid consistent with what your expectations were before?” “have the payments been on time?” “has recording been on time?” “have they pushed your movie out theatrical as they said they would?” Those are yes or no answers. You don’t have to find the numbers of how much they’ve been paid. They’re not subjective, like, you can go through a checklist, and you’ll know by the end of the call how it’s going. And if you hear ambivalence, or someone says, “Well, I kind of like them, but there’s been these problems.” In my experience, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If you talk to five filmmakers about a company, and three or four of them had bad experiences, I don’t care that one or two have good experiences. I would just stay away from that company.

Are there resources that filmmakers can go to where they can find out what companies or distributing certain types of documentaries, or do you just have to kind of just start digging all over the place? How does that work now?

I think the research is way simpler these days. I remember, in terms of writing Hollywood Reporter, their job isn’t to write critical articles about people who are buying advertising regularly in their publications. So I think you have to kind of look further than the kind of press release kind of stories that you see in a lot of the trades. I mean, they did do some investigative work, which can be great. I don’t remember those well, but between looking at the websites for the distributors themselves, and I can tell you, if you go on a website, and you look at what films that companies distributing, let’s say you’ve never heard of any of them, and then you look how they’re listed, and you realize they’re all genre films, and they’ve never distributed the documentary, if you’re a documentary filmmaker, I don’t think you want to be the first person down that route. So I think you really need to look at what mix of films they have. And it doesn’t take long to look at a company’s website and learn a lot about how they see themselves, what kind of films they focus on, and think about whether your film is a good fit. So another way to do it is to look at what films have played at the Sundance Film Festival and what distributors they’ve gotten. So often, in the last few years certainly, independent film documentaries that have done very well with critics, awards, and revenue, a pretty high percentage of them have played at Sundance. And so if the distributor has a number of films regularly at Sundance, that’s a good sign. If all the films on their website are of a certain type, or they don’t ring any bells, then that’s probably a bad sign.

Okay, so I’m putting myself in the shoes of somebody who’s just starting out, and all they want to know is what do I need to show somebody in order to get them to represent me? So what physical materials do you need? As someone who helps documentary filmmakers, just want to watch the film, or do you want them to give you their lookbook? What do you want?

Age of Champions (2011)Produced by Keith Ochwat

Well, let me say what I do that’ll be helpful to answer that question. My job is to help filmmakers design and implement customized distribution strategies for each of their films. I don’t just start working with a filmmaker when the film is done. Often I’ll start working with filmmakers before they’ve shot any footage or even raised any money because then I can help them position the film, help them think about core audiences that they can start reaching out to while they’re in production. The idea isn’t to wait until the movie is done. Before you’re connecting to show audiences, there’s a lot that you can learn while you’re in production. And then let’s say you’re working on a teaser or a trailer, and you get feedback to that teaser or trailer, that’s going to help you. Let’s say that, beyond this question of what kind of distributors might be right or maybe an organization, networks that will be excited about partnering in some way with the film’s distribution, and that’s something that you can do while you’re, again in production. So if you approach let’s say, you’re making a documentary, and you thought AARP would be a great partner in some way to support the distribution, not necessarily that they would give you money, then you should approach AARP while you’re making the film, not wait until it’s finished. Because if you approach them while you’re making the film, they think that you’re looking for a true partner. And if you wait until the film’s over, they may think you’re just looking for a favor. So in terms of your question about what I look for, well, first of all, people go to my website, which is, and if they’re interested in consulting with me, there’s a form they can fill out that tells me a little bit about their film. And usually, there’s a link to something to look at, often a teaser, trailer, a piece of film, or something more. So if I look at that, look at how they’re describing a movie, I have a core audience computer embedded in my brain, so I’m always thinking about who the audiences could be for this film. And if I think it has real possibilities, then I’ll arrange a phone call, and then I’ll talk to the filmmaker. And that’s really helpful because some filmmakers, you instantly know that they would be great to work with. And there are other people that you instantly know you’d never want to work with based on one phone call. An example of the latter category is people who think they know the answer to every question. In which case, they don’t need me because they know all the answers already. And that’s versus other filmmakers who are starting out and realize things have changed or are changing rapidly; they don’t know the answers to every question. And hopefully, there are ways that I can help them figure those things out. So the second step is the phone call. And then the third step is, if there’s something to watch, then I might agree to do an initial consultation, where I’ll watch that something, maybe it’s the whole film, even though it’s not finished. And I’ll do an initial consultation of an hour with them and give them all my thoughts. And then once I’ve seen the film, and we did a consultation if the filmmaker wants some more help beyond that, and if I feel with my partner, Keith, that we can be meaningfully helpful in the distribution of the film, and then keep an eye out, create a proposal for the filmmaker, to help them develop a distribution strategy, help them build a team to get into the world, advise them on their festival, advise them on educational distribution, and ultimately advise them on distribution deals. So that’s the process. My partner’s name is Keith Ochwat; he’s a very experienced filmmaker, who I consulted with on a couple of his films. And the second time I consulted with him was a film called Age of Champions. And Age of Champions is a documentary on senior athletes. And when Keith finished the movie, the best offer he had for all rights was $75,000 for everything. And he decided to turn that down. And he did what I call “hybrid distribution,” which is what I was referring to before splitting your rights, controls his distribution, and ultimately, is able to generate one and a half million dollars in revenue. So once I consulted with him, and he was able to do that, and I thought how incredibly talented he is. And he also likes the help I gave him, and then after a couple of years, he split up with his partner, and we had the chance to work together, and now we’ve been working together for several years. And it’s great because he has the expertise that complements mine, and I have the expertise that compliments him. And he’s a great guy, and it’s really fun to work with him. So for us, the first window is festivals, but it’s also conferences. So now we’re thinking, nonfiction, and there are, depending on the content of a documentary, there are probably, a number of national conferences where people in that field are getting together to discuss issues. So when you think about most festivals are local events, with a local audience and an odd conglomeration of movies, they pretend that their international trends, pretty much they’re local. Whereas most national conferences are national at least, and it’s focused on certain content, and the leaders in the field are there. So those conferences can be enormously helpful. And aside from the sort of major, major festivals, they can be more helpful than most film festivals. There’s a bulletin that Keith wrote on my website called Supercharge Your Distribution, which is about how filmmakers can use conferences as part of their strategy. So anyway, the first window is festivals and conferences. The good news about conferences is they’re considered private events and they don’t interfere with your festival premiere.

Before any filmmaker seriously considers working with a distributor that has made them an offer, they should talk to other filmmakers who have been recently in business with that company. Click To Tweet

So what is the next step? 

So the second stage is theatrical distribution. And my view of theatrical distribution is that a little goes a long play. So, for example, you could open in New York, play a week, maybe it’s a regular booking, maybe it’s a formal situation where you’re renting the theater for that week. And then you can get reviews, and you can get close attention, you can start to create some excitement. Maybe you want to do one more city, maybe that city’s Los Angeles, so in that situation, you would qualify for Academy Awards.

That was going to be my next question, how many cities do you have to break-in in order to qualify for the Academy Awards? It used to be five, but now I believe it’s down to two.

Now it’s just two in New York and LA. But the thing is, every filmmaker may dream about getting an Academy Award, but in a typical year, maybe 160 films are eligible, and only 15 of them are going to get shortlisted; only five are going to get nominated. And in reality, being shortlisted does pretty much nothing for the life of the film or for the career of a filmmaker. So you’re really gambling 160 films trying to get into five spaces of nominations, and a couple of spaces are typically always gone in a year. So let’s say there’s two shortlisted that are going to be nominated at least three spaces for 158 movies to approach. It’s not inexpensive to qualify. I think typically, people are spending something like $20,000 to do it. And so a lot of times, I’ll discourage filmmakers from that, and say there are other things you can do with that $20,000 that are going to be certain to help your distribution whereas you’re just gambling that $20,000 on getting shortlisted or nominated. 

Where is that $20,000 going? Is it for the theaters and PR and marketing?

The idea of the theater in each city with a little bit of press, it’s that simple. Now, if they’re doing a regular booking, then you’re not paying for that, but you still have other expenses. I mean, in New York, you probably need to pay a publicist. If you were going to open a theatrical, the least you’d need to pay them would be $5,000. To rent a Theater in New York for a week is generally about $10,000. So right there, that’s $15,000. So maybe it’s 20 or 25, but it adds up pretty quickly. So that’s the second window. And the thing is that there’s a lot of documentaries that I’ve worked on that have been very, very successful that never did any theatrical distribution. And there’s plenty that did theatrical distribution and wasn’t successful. So my attitude towards theatrical is that you can do it, it can be helpful, but it’s not essential.

What is the next window then?

So the next window after theatrical is what I would call special event screenings. And these are usually more one-night screenings in cities across the country. And some documentaries have done 500 of those screenings. And that’s been really, really helpful both in terms of building awareness and generating revenue. You could consider those screenings, which are rental screening. So somebody’s paying your rental fee to show the movie. So it’s revenue, and it’s awareness. Now, you could consider the first part of the education distribution. The second part of education distribution is where you’re actually selling copies of the film to colleges, university companies, government agencies, foundations, etc. And for documentary filmmakers, educational revenues are often the biggest source of revenue, or the second thing is starting to revenue. So that’s a really important window for them. And it has to be long enough. It has to be a minimum of six months of sales before you can make the movie available at consumer prices. TV could happen while you’re in educational distribution, that’s fine, but being on iTunes, or being on Amazon, or Netflix, whatever, that’s the final consumer stage. And it’s really important when you’re doing windows to go window by window, maximize the possibilities in each window, learn from what happened during that window, refine what you’re going to do in the next stage. And in some cases, things are going really well, so you’ll extend the window. In some cases, they’re going poorly, and you’ll shorten the window and move on. So with documentaries, I really recommend when filmmakers make their strategies to not think about day in day, the idea that the movie role will be available on all platforms simultaneously, which is probably the worst idea I can think of for documentary distribution. Instead, think about the stage by stage distribution, where you’re refining your strategy as you go, learning a lot, and then hopefully maximizing things.

It seems that a lot of filmmakers put all of their eggs in one basket, and that is the, “I wish I could get on Netflix, and all our worries will be over.”

Well, there’s a lot of magical thinking. You’re absolutely right about that, and I discourage magical thinking. I think it’s good to have goals, but my job is to help filmmakers find a balance between optimism and realism. And if they’re just living in cloud cuckoo land, it’s not likely to have a happy ending.

I think part of what’s happened here in the last ten or so years is the democratization of the process and the cheapening of the equipment that’s given a lot of filmmakers the chance to make their movies, and many of them are wonderful, but a lot of them are not. So all of a sudden, we have thousands of movies that every year, everyone’s scrambling to figure out because they’re young, and they just jumped in with both feet, or they just bought the cameras, and they started filming their wonderful idea. And now they’re going, “okay, now what?” So I think there’s a service here that you’re offering that could really find the next Christopher Nolan, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Definitely would be. Well, the thing about democratizing equipment is correct. I mean, when people started making films digitally, in late 1999 or 2000, that was a huge shift because filmmakers could afford to own the means of production, which was just a digital camera and a laptop. So nobody could stop them from making a movie, which was amazing. But now with distribution, because distribution has changed the New World, and we’re about to talk about the new New World, nobody can stop them from distributing their movies. And so when you think about your strategy, and you think about well, let’s go back to the windows now. Let’s say you make a film and you apply to festivals. You don’t need a distributor to do that. You reach out to conferences. You don’t need a distributor to do that. You want to be in theatrical distribution. So if you can’t find an overall deal that you like, and I always discourage those deals anyways, you could do a service deal where you’ll hire a booker, the booker will pitch your film to theaters. The booker is working for you, so you’ll control what she or he does and the cost of it. And hopefully, you’ll start out with a kind of realistic approach, maybe just want to play to cities, and then you’ve had limited theatrical distribution, don’t need a distributor for that. Okay, let’s get to the next stage, the idea of special event screenings around the country. You absolutely don’t need a distributor for that. Let’s go to the next stage of educational sales. Well, up until recently, they recommended the filmmakers that they always get an educational distributor, but now things are changing. And I don’t want to get stuck on this, but more filmmakers are doing educational distribution themselves in a very targeted way. And in some cases, generating a lot more revenues than they would if they went through an educational distributor. So it’d be great to have an educational distributor. But again, it’s not essential that in terms of being on TV, PBS, for example, you don’t necessarily need a distributor to approach TV opportunities. And then finally, there’s consumer distribution. So there’s a way to be on Amazon without any distributor, and there are aggregators that can help you approach Netflix and iTunes. And they’re whether they’re distributors or aggregators, I guess, the terms are a little fuzzy, but so there’s so much of your distribution, that you don’t have to have a distribution deal to do and to do well. And so it’s a revolution in distribution that’s in the New World. And I think that the idea is that filmmakers can be much more creative, much more targeted, much more proactive, than if they just turn it over to a company that has a whole pile of movies, and it’s going to throw them out into the world and hope for the best. 

You also talk about indirect sales and how filmmakers can achieve a higher margin. Can you talk about that for a minute?

That’s a really crucial idea. So when a filmmaker is making a deal with somebody, but she or he definitely should retain the right to sell directly from the filmmaker’s website. And you can sell DVDs. There’s still a lot of DVD sales in particular educationally, although maybe you’ll do that through your educational distributor. But they also want to be able to sell the movie digitally from their website. And there are various services that can do the back end for you. So basically, in that situation, not only are you making more money on every sale than if it was going through a distributor where you’re splitting the revenues, you’re also getting the names and email addresses of the people who are buying from you. And you’re not going to get them from Netflix, and you’re not going to get them from Amazon, you’re not going to get them iTunes. And I can’t overstate the value of having customer data because those people not only can be supportive of the movie that you’re now putting into the world at that point, but hopefully, if you treat them right, you can take them with you to the next films that you make. And the thing that correlates with a sustainable career is having a personal audience. Now maybe you start with 25 to 50 people in your personal audience, and then you build it, person, by person. And I can talk more about how to do that, but eventually, you can have hundreds of people or even thousands of people that are excited about you as a filmmaker, and they can not just buy things from you. They can spread great word of mouth about your films to their friends, and they can let you know about the opportunity, maybe there are opportunities for money for the next film, maybe there are opportunities for partnership. They can be a great testing board for potential trailers, maybe even rough cuts, at some point. Having a personal audience is so helpful. It’s also helpful psychologically to know that there are people that are going to be there for you through thick and thin.

dart board
It’s good to have goals, but it’s more important to find a balance between optimism and realism. If you’re living in the clouds, you’re not likely to have a happy ending.

You’re right. I mean, building your personal audience is akin to establishing relationships with your fans and your super fans. And I think that those relationships are very important and you as a filmmaker and your personality and how you react for and with other people is very important as well.

I think that people understand how important networking is in this world, but it’s also to do it with a positive spirit, not to do it with some kind of cynical pragmatism. But like other people and you want to see how you can all help each other sooner or later, with that attitude you can win a lot of friends. So I think that we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of genuine charm and also the importance of networking in this world. At one point, a few years ago, I was consulting with a filmmaker who had a film at the Berlin Film Festival. And I said, “Okay, here’s my advice. When you get off the plane in Berlin,” they live in Los Angeles, “I want you to network nonstop until you get on the plane to leave Berlin.” And then I paused, and I said, “No, wait a minute, that’s wrong. When you get on the plane to LA until the time you get off the plane, when you come home in LA, I want you to network.” So that’s just so important. And people who are genuinely helpful to other people, and supportive, it’s all going to come back to them in lots of ways over the years.

I remember in the very early years of Sundance, some of you may know Laurie Smith, who was a programmer for many, many years. In the beginning, it was hard to find filmmakers that we could approach to get them to allow us to screen their films. I mean, I actually had some that would say, “Well, why do I want to do that?” And my response was, “Why do you want to make a film and then put it in the closet where nobody ever sees it?” I mean, don’t you want to make these movies because you have a story to tell and a message you want to share? So Peter, I just really appreciate what you’re doing for people. This is so important. And one of the reasons I wanted to bring you on and the reason for some of these questions is to instill in people’s minds how technical some of this is and how it takes years of experience to know who to call and to know how to put these strategies together. I guess we could do it by ourselves, and we can. You can, you can jump into the ocean and swim and paddle, but if you’re lucky enough to find partners to work with, people who can help you, then I encourage everybody to do that. Filmmaking is exhausting. You’re in production, then you’re in post-production, and many creators, including myself, sometimes struggle with the money to do these projects. It’s a lot easier to make a big Hollywood movie, to be honest with you. When you have $200 million a year, the studio’s money to play with, it’s really easy to make movies. But when you’re spending your own money, or when you’re trying to raise money, then it’s a lot more difficult. So I’m very grateful to you for sharing this information in as much detail as you have. You’ve been incredibly generous. 

And I think we need to wrap up part one of this and invite our audience back again, on our next segment on OWC Radio, where we will go into specific detail about the festival scene, and virtual screenings, and that side of things. So we are giving you right now a crash course. And I encourage all of you to go to, where you will be welcomed into the wilds of independent filmmaking. And Peter and his partner have an amazing virtual crash course on cutting edge distribution strategies. It’s called Supercharge Your Distribution. It lasts for several weeks, and it’s well worth it. You’ll be in with other filmmakers who think alike and who can all share information, and they are creating an amazing community there. So stay tuned. We’ll be reporting more on this on OWC Radio. And hopefully, we’ll bring Peter back again when he starts his second crash course. In the meantime, stay tuned because next week, we’re going to go into the deep dive of film festivals, and hopefully, you guys are getting a lot of information about this. I encourage you to write to us at If you like our show, please like and share and give us a review. You can hear us on any of the podcast aggregators, iHeart, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc. Please visit; you can subscribe there as well. And we’ll see you on the flip side. This is Cirina Catania. I’m signing off. But before I go away, remember what I always tell you, get up off your chair and go do something wonderful today. Thank you so much, Peter. It’s been great spending this time with you, and we will talk with you again next week.


  1. Embody the qualities of an excellent filmmaker. Have what it takes to do the work and produce something compelling and remarkable.
  2. Be able to work with virtually no resources. Filmmaking is an expensive activity. If you don’t have the passion for it, all the hard work, time, and resources spent aren’t going to be worth it.
  3. Be mindful of your expenses. Create an expense report from the start of a project to anticipate what you’ll need for production. During the duration of the shoot, make sure you stay within the budget to avoid unnecessary losses. 
  4. Think about your revenue. Filmmaking is a business. Ensure that you and your team at least get financial returns after everything is released.
  5. Do your research before sealing the deal with your distributor. Talk to other filmmakers and ask for their honest feedback. 
  6. Create some clout and following around your film. Utilize social media to announce what you’ve been working on, create a well-made movie trailer, reach out to various media outlets, etc.
  7. Strategize your distribution. Bear in mind that as you build awareness, you must also generate revenue. Every move you make should be for the progress of the film and its entire crew.
  8. Reach out to various organizations and establishments such as schools, companies, government agencies, foundations, etc. for aid and assistance. They may either help promote your film, be a screening venue, or fund your project.
  9. Consider airing on TV as well. iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, and other streaming services offer a handful of great possibilities for filmmakers aiming to find a larger audience. 
  10. Check out Peter Broderick’s website to learn more about the ins and outs of indie film making and how Paradigm Consulting can help you with it.

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