Indie film distribution

Independent Film Distribution: Costs And Complications

History remembers only those who defied the odds and did things that were deemed to be impossible. Independent filmmakers, too, we think, fall into the same category as those bunch of “I-am-not-gonna-give-up” attitude people who changed the status quo with the stories they told.

There are countless films that fall under the “indie” flag, which won accolades worldwide, got screened at mainstream festivals, brought in more eyeballs with their content, and distinguished themselves from the crowd. 

But do all indie films receive the same acclaim regardless of the content? And this is, again, a topic of debate that needs introspection.

However, the journey from getting the film made to finally bringing it to the audience has not always been fruitful for independent filmmakers due to the various complexities and markets that revolve around the business.

Limited budgets, no big names involved, insufficient marketing resources, and the cinema industry being a highly competitive space constitute some of the rugged roads that indie filmmakers must navigate through.
In this blog, we’ll list out the various challenges that indie filmmakers might face in the process of finding a distributor who believes in their vision, strategic ways filmmakers can market their films even with limited budgets, and how they can harness the power of video monetization platforms to reach their films to a broader audience.

Looking to Distribute & Monetize your Short Films?

Setbacks Are Not Step Backs

These days, making a film is easy – thanks to the rapid rise of technology that allows storytellers to bring out the vision. The real deal is scouting a distributor who’d buy the film and facilitate a decent release. 

Here are some of the roadblocks that independent filmmakers might face in the course of independent film distribution:

  1. Limited Budget
  2. Insider Competition
  3. Theatrical Release
  4. Limited Marketing Resources
  5. Target Audience
  6. Limited Scope
  7. Piracy
  8. Previous Expertise

1) Limited Budget:

With a mainstream star comes a significant chunk of the budget. And indie filmmakers do not have this luxury. Budget becomes a constraint. You need money to make a film. You need money to promote a film. And you need money to reach out to a film. Hmph!

2) Insider Competition:

Major film production companies already have close ties with existing distributors who make it easy for their films to get screens during release. But with no big names associated with indie films, it’s like sailing a ship of rough waters to reach the shores.

3) Theatrical Release:

A wide theatre release is a promotion by itself for many films. However, there are a lot of factors that theater owners and distributors take into account before securing a release date. And most of the time, it doesn’t send the right signals to filmmakers.

4) Limited Marketing Resources:

Every little amount that you’ve got has been invested into making a film that’s close to your heart. And that would’ve led to a dearth of marketing resources for your indie film. These days, marketing the film to its fullest plays a prominent role in breaking even on a film after its release. 

5) Target Audience:

target audience

Let’s agree to the fact that indie films, which are sub-categorized as ‘art films,’ do not have a large sector of the audience behind them. The target audience for indie films is limited. Reaching out to them again becomes a complicated task without a planned strategy in place.

6) Limited Scope:

Honestly speaking, not many distributors are willing to buy and release indie films in the mainstream circuit. Of course, there are some who are very passionate about doing their part in making cinema prosper. But on the other hand – how many indie filmmakers are currently making movies? The contrasting gap!

7) Piracy:


If there is one thing that has been dampening cinema worldwide, it is this unstoppable virus damaging the efforts and hard work of 100s of technicians who make a film. And this piracy seeping into indie films is heartbreaking for everyone involved.

8) Previous Expertise:

Distributing an independent film is different from doing a mainstream film. The marketing needs to be different. The approach needs to be different. And the same on different levels. Unless you find a distributor with proven experience supporting indie films, it might be a bumpy roller coaster ride.

As the title suggests, all these challenges are not step-backs but just setbacks until you find that one person or company who will be impressed by your film and the conviction you made it with, despite the odds.

Also, challenges like these are not tied to the cinema industry alone. Any person from any sector doing something creative and new away from the usual stuff has to go through and grow through this phase to reach the pinnacle.

Costs Of Distributing An Indie Film

There are various factors that influence the process of distributing an indie film. The foremost of all is finding the right person or a production house that will comply with your compelling story and vision. Identifying such personnel will give your film a pedestal push.

Independent filmmakers just cannot walk into a production company and pitch their film to sell. You need to identify the executive producers or agent part of that company and set up a meeting with them.

Distributing an indie film

Another way could be to make an independent film travel worldwide via film festivals circuit. And the costs of submitting independent films for festivals are also subjective, and cannot be defined, as fees differ.

To conclude, the cost of selling your independent film depends on the budget it took to shoot a film, whether all cast and crew have been paid, sound designs and color grading had to be done with quality, and technical aspects like these will be considered in the selling process.

For example, if an indie film is made with $10000. Finalizing a distributor who’s willing to pay $15000 and release the film would be a great deal with a considerable revenue. Go Online With Your Film: Post-pandemic, the count of people visiting theaters has drastically changed. More people nowadays prefer to watch movies on OTT in the comfort of their homes and at their convenience. Explore the VOD option and secure an online release in no time. We’ve discussed more about this below…

Another model would be profit sharing wherein the distributor would not be giving an upfront payment after purchasing the film. Rather, it’d depend on a pre-agreed ratio to share the profit. Say, like 60/40 or 70/30 and this is where you need to put on the negotiation hat to win over the situation.

Also, one more trend that’s been picking up pace is the distributor assuring the indie filmmaker to produce their next film. This way, the filmmaker also gets a convenient passage to make their next film. And the distributor also has a solid final product in hand that’s ready for release. 

Considering all these factors, the cost of distribution depends on the pathway independent filmmakers choose to take in the process of releasing their film.

Marketing An Independent Film

Dear Independent Filmmakers, you were not given millions of dollars to make a film, yet you made it right – choosing your own path. Thereby, irrespective of the challenges, there are some passages you can seek to market your film to the masses. Here are some options that indie filmmakers can try:

  • Social Media: One viral video is all it takes to get your film’s level to an unimaginable reach. Sit with your crew and brainstorm ideas. Social media marketing might not finalize a distributor immediately, but it will surely make more people turn their eyeballs toward your film.
  • Private Screenings: Select a community and organize private screenings for them. They can be in mini halls, auditoriums, and any place that accommodates a considerable audience. It might not give the best cinematic experience, but you gotta start somewhere, right?
  • Film Festivals: Explore the film festivals within your vicinity and apply to ones that fall in line with your film. Getting nominated for festivals can be a huge plus. Note: Film festival submissions come with a cost. Choose wisely.
  • Local Theaters: Talk with theater owners in your region if they can lend their screens based on a partnership basis. Set up a meeting, tell them the story of how you made the film and what you intend to do with its limited release, with their support. And we are hopeful you’ll find some generous hearts who will understand your passion and render support.
  • Go Online With Your Film: Post-pandemic, the count of people visiting theaters has drastically changed. More people nowadays prefer to watch movies on OTT in the comfort of their homes and at their convenience. Explore the VOD option and secure an online release in no time. We’ve discussed more about this below…

You’re One Step Closer…

Popular OTT giants like Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, and more also have a set of prerequisites that every film they are intaking is expected to meet. While the odds can be equalized, it is time independent filmmakers explore other possibilities to stream their movies online.

Heard about video monetization? It’s a space where creators like – filmmakers, photographers, teachers, artists, chefs, fitness coaches, and everyone in the creative field – can upload content, monetize their talent, and 5x their revenue doing so. There are 1000s of creators worldwide winning it big with video monetization already.

Imagine uploading your independent film on a movie distribution platform for free (for a limited time). Yes, you heard it right. But wait, there’s more – You can set your own pricing model. Audiences can pay whatever price you set and access the movie in the exclusive channel created for them.

Well, worried about the pricing issue as you don’t have big names or technicians associated with the project. We’ve got that covered as well. There’s a feature called “Donation” wherein audiences who liked your film can support the crew by contributing a fee in exchange for the experience you gave them with your film.

If you have come this far reading this article, we hope you are an indie filmmaker or aspiring to be, and you are at the right place: GUDSHO is a premium video monetization platform built for creators and filmmakers like you. Check us out and create your own channel. All it takes is minutes.

Upload your film, set pricing models, and reach wider audiences. Let your film be streamed by people across the world. Let your story be seen by people across the world. And we’d be happy to do our small part by standing behind directors who will change the future of filmmaking. Ciao adios!

Looking to Distribute & Monetize your short films? Get in touch with us right away.


1. Is the traditional way of film distribution outdated?1. Is the traditional way of film distribution outdated?

We would not call it outdated, as a significant chunk of collections come from theatrical releases of films. But distribution these days is not just limited to theaters with the rise of OTT platforms.

2. Which is the best online platform for the distribution of Indie Films?

So many independent films have found a place on Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. But if you want more creative independence and financial freedom, you can head to platforms like GUDSHO, Vimeo, and Brightcove that lets you screen the movie your way – from screening to pricing.

3. Is it better to release an indie film online these days?

Nothing beats the experience of communal viewing seated inside a theatre. But direct-OTT releases cannot be downplayed as they help to take your films to 100s of countries worldwide, much more than a theatrical release.

4. How much does online film distribution cost?

Many factors are involved: Budget of the movies, cast value, story importance, profit aimed to make, and more. It differs for each OTTs. But if you choose video monetization platforms like GUDSHO: The control is yours – You decide how the streaming and pricing model works.

5. How do indie films get distributed?

100s of films found a distributor after a festival screening. However, other options include a limited theatrical release, direct distribution on OTT, or choosing VOD platforms to earn more profits for your independent film.



  1. Linda Reply

    This is information you don’t usually find anywhere else. It lists out all the possible problems faced in self distribution of content by indie film makers. Must read! Thanks.

  2. David Reply

    This is a very important topic to cover as most indie film makers have one question in mind how much does it cost to promote a film and what are the difficulties involved in self distribution. Definitely worth reading. Genius!

  3. Sidikae Reply

    Independent film distribution is truly a complex journey, and your blog sheds much-needed light on the often-overlooked aspects of costs and complications. Thanks.

  4. Grace Reply

    Hey, I’m an independent filmmaker at the beginner level. I’m looking for the perfect platform that allows me to stream & monetize my independent films at low costs.

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