The second episode of my passion project, the podcast “Creative Distribution 101” is up ! It features interviews with experts and filmmakers who have used creative, alternative and non traditional ways to get their film out there. Whether you’re interested in the future of filmmaking, or just want to learn some distribution tips, this is for you !

In this episode I interview Sarah Moshman (find her on Twitter & Instagram) an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and TEDx speaker. Her first feature doc “The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things” has been screened over 700 times around the US and around the world in schools, groups, organizations and corporations starting conversations about gender equality. With Indieflix as the distributor, the film has been sponsored by major brands like Nordstrom, American Girl and Microsoft . Sarah’s second feature doc, “Losing Sight of Shore”, follows the incredible journey of four women who rowed across the Pacific Ocean. The film was released globally in 190 countries on Netflix in May 2017. Now she’s making a documentary examining sexual harassment in the workplace entitled NEVERTHELESS.

Sarah is a master of creative distribution, so check out the episode below  and let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter (@norapoggi) !

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts here!

Links mentioned in the episode:

The Empowerment Project
Losing Sight of Shore

Show notes:

  • Creative Distribution is about the entrepreneurial mindset and being your biggest advocate: no one will care as much as you do and be as vocal as you are about your film. 
  • Momentum happens in waves, Sarah and her team worked full time on the first Tour for the Empowerment Project, and after hitting a wall, decided to keep going instead of giving up. They built a second wave of support for the film and after 4 years it has now been screened over 700 times.
  • Sponsorships came thanks to an unusual partnership with distributor Indieflix, who really goes to bat for their films to craft a long-term campaign. This is also made possible by having a smaller slate of films. Each of those deals took months to materialize, so patience is key.
  • Sarah and her team took other jobs during the course of the campaign and split their time between the screening tour and other filmmaking jobs – juggling is the key to sustainability.
  • Speaking engagements are a great way to make money back as filmmakers, you are paid to be yourself and share your expertise.  Charging between 1000 to 2500 plus travel is totally doable, depending on who you are talking to and how much experience you have as a speaker. Sarah now has an agent who discovered her at one of her speaking events.
  • Sarah and her team waited three years to put the film online to maximize revenue, thankfully, as digital sales with Gravitas were not what they expected. Maximizing each window of distribution is really important.
  • With her second film, Sarah knew that she needed the biggest audience possible and her sales agent Film Sales Company got her on Netflix (no need to ask her for contacts, Netflix only deals with pre-approved agents and vendors!:)
  • Netflix is amazing to draw eyeballs, but your film can easily get buried if it’s not an “original” Netflix product. No one knows how they decide to market it and to whom, it all depends on algorithms, so you have to promote it yourself. Sarah bought her own billboard and promoted the release.
  • After these two very different experiences, Sarah’s take on distribution is that you have to craft a campaign that fits your film and its audience. Customized creative distribution does not work for every film, the same way Netflix is not right for every project – the film will tell you where it needs to go, each one as a path.
  • If you are worried that you don’t have the skills to do the work of distribution, remember that as a filmmaker you are de facto an entrepreneur. You managed to raise funds somehow to make your film. So, you do have what it takes to get it out there!