My day/date release drops today
+ Your series submissions questions answered
Hope you had a great week!
I wanted to pop into your inbox today and answer a few questions I’ve been getting in regards to Series development and distribution. Specifically, many of you are smartly diversifying your film slates into series slates and there’s been a bit of confusion over how the process works and differs from indie film.
But first, an announcement….
One of the films I produced last year Pinball is kicking off its release today. After our Hamptons premiere in November, Vertical Entertainment picked it up for a theatrical day-and-date release which launches today.
You can see out the New Yorker review here and buy/rent it on Apple or Amazon over the weekend if you’d like to check it out. I’ll be sure to report back in a few months and let you know how the release pans out. Right now I can tell you we are self- funding the social media marketing campaign and hired a publicist so we’ll see if any of that produces ROI! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, even with a solid distributor in place, it’s the producers who handle marketing of their release, not the distributor. More on this soon!
Back to the Series discussion….
This is stemming from applications I received for our Submissions Service as well as individual emails.
A few of you have gone ahead and produced a full series independently and are now looking for a ‘streaming deal’ or other distribution. But can you distribute a completed series in the same way you do an independently produced film?
Not really - though there are a few exceptions whereby if the series is truly broadcast quality, you can get placement on one of the AVOD’s like Tubi or Freevee, or more likely one of the smaller ones. Funny enough, Tubi and Freevee have gone ‘premium’ and are either funding their own originals now or picking up major catalogues rather than one-off series. There’s a few exceptions here but don’t expect to sell a completed series to one of the premium SVOD’s like Netflix, Apple, or Amazon Prime.
What about an independently produced pilot? I would say the best use for that is to use it as a proof of concept, but realize that if you sell a series based on the pilot you produced, the streamer or network will likely scrap it and start over by partnering you with one of their in-house production companies who will reshoot the pilot and series from scratch. In other words, with few exceptions, they aren’t going to see your pilot and then order a whole series off that that you produce (particularly if you don’t have an existing commercial relationship with them), so for this reason I don’t recommend spending resources on independently producing an entire pilot. Instead shoot a teaser sizzle which is a cheaper way to get a proof of concept across.
Finally, what if you’re at an earlier stage of development and haven’t produced anything yet? In that case I recommend investing in a killer pitch deck/visual presentation plus written assets like a log line, short synopsis, character descriptions, and a series arc so that when you take it out to possible partners, they can see the potential before considering investing in further development like hiring writers for treatments, pilot scripts, etc.
In short, series development, sales, and distribution is its own beast and quite different from indie film. But you’ll learn as you go, and I’ll be writing about it in more detail in my MIPTV dispatches coming up soon.
In the mean time, you can ask me any other questions below in the comments or email me at email@example.com.
And if you need help with a series you’re developing or trying to sell, check out our Submissions Service and see if it’s a fit for you.
Alright on that note, I’ll wrap this up for today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend ahead and I’ll see you next week!
To your success,
@Michael - next step is to start submitting to production companies who have a body of work in line with the type of show you wrote and have a verifiable relationship setting up those series with the major networks or streamers. You can also enter into series pilot competitions which is a discovery mechanism for these production companies and will help boost your work. Let us know how it goes!
Interesting. I was wondering about this exact thing. I tend to write long. My Story Consultant friend keeps telling me I’m building worlds. So we don’t think I can shorten those two stories. I started one in the 90s as a feature script but it got too big and expensive for a feature film. And TV was never an option for this crazy thing I wrote. Now, however, my friend said this is the time for my style of writing. That one story expanded to a short season of television. Although I do know it can go further. More recently I started another story that became a slightly smaller world but it’s still a season of television. I wrote all of it. The former is still too Epic to handle right now but the latter has manageable elements. I have a Pitch Deck, a Bible, a good pilot script, 8 episode scripts that need some work. But, the story is there. So what now? I guess you explained the what now above but, what if I already wrote the first season? Less development costs maybe. Can I still push it somewhere? Thoughts of the moment.