How to Get Your Film Listed on Streaming Services
If there’s one thing that films are known for, it's following books of the same title or same general storyline. Where once it was difficult to write a novel, find a publisher, and get the book out there, now there are a hundred avenues to self-publish. It didn’t take independent filmmakers long to follow suit.
As a filmmaker, you have a lot of options for getting your film on living room screens, including Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Google Play, and more. It's not as easy as it is to publish a book but it's a lot easier than it was ten years ago. So how is it done? How do you get a film listed on a streaming service?
Anytime you want to sell something to a certain market, you have to have what is called a “Unique Selling Point.” If your film was crowdfunded or you already have a locked-in fanbase via YouTube, Vimeo, or other social media platforms, that’s a good place to start.
It's especially helpful if you have entered your film at a couple of Film Festivals. It's like anything else. You build your foundation and rely on that foundation as your primary selling point. The most important part is, not to be nervous when you are throwing your pitch at every major streaming service you can.
The worst thing they can do is say ‘no’ and that’s far from the end of things if they do.
Find a Distributor
A distributor is to the film world what a publisher is to the book world. There are several that may be worth your time. Streaming Features is a good place to start. They already have a working relationship with Amazon Instant, Crackle, Netflix, and Hulu.
There is also Quiver Digital, which can distribute your film to Google Play, Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes. The best part is, that you don’t have to pay any fees to submit your film. But if it gets distributed, an aggregator/distributor will take a standard commission fee out of the deal.
Speck will charge you a one-time fee of $50. However, once you’re past that, you can submit as many films to them as you want to. Speck is its own streaming service and is available on Roku. However, Speck will also distribute your film to Hulu, Crackle, Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services as well.
Distribber is the most expensive in terms of upfront cost. You’ll have to shell out $750 at the door. The good news is, that you can use crowdfunding to cover the costs and all of your deals with Distribber are non-exclusive. You can back out any time you want.
Follow up on Your Pitch by Sticking with the Streaming Service
You can always avoid the aggregator/distributor business altogether. It's a lot harder this way, as you will be attempting to talk major streaming services into giving your film a go. It means a lot of emails, letters, phone calls, and texting.
In other words, a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of hard work. But easy work doesn’t get a film on Netflix either. One of the angles you can take is to approach much smaller streaming services first. Crackle TV, Hoopla, Dekko, ScreamBox, Shudder, Fandoor, Mubi, and Eros are just a few.
Get a few films on these and it's every bit as good as having a small-town film festival on your resume. The pay is a lot less and the audience will be fewer but everyone has to start somewhere. If you don’t have anything out there already, including a built-in fanbase, it will be far more difficult to work your way into the good graces of Netflix and Hulu.
Amazon Prime is a little different. It's a bit laxer trying to get your film in there and Amazon will pay you every time someone streams your film. They won’t pay you a ton but, once again, it's a start.
All Things Considered
Getting into the filmmaking business isn’t the easiest thing in the world but avenues of approach are opening up in ways that have never existed before. It's never been easier to get your film on a streaming service than it is right now.
Put together a good film, get some support behind it, create the perfect pitch, and go after the right streaming service or aggregator and you may be in business faster than you realize.