Deliverance! A Distribution Checklist of Deliverables

Production wraps, post-production is completed, and a film finally plays to the public… a moviemaker’s proudest moments. In between these peaks, though, is the long slog of material delivery.

As unsexy as that process seems, you won’t get to that big premiere (whether at a festival, in a theater, or on a VOD platform) without an understanding of deliverables. So what exactly do you need to show for your labor? At indie distributor FilmBuff, we’ve put together an easy list.

Delivering Your Film

Apple ProRes 422 HQ

The ProRes HQ file is your master source file, used for delivery across all platforms. In order to keep things moving seamlessly, you’ll need to provide delivery in the film’s native frame rate and resolution. The most frequent reason for rejection is when audio is delivered in mono instead of the preferred stereo format.

DVD/Blu-ray Copies

If you have created your own DVD or Blu-ray for public sale, most platforms and encoding houses will view the file as the best available source for the film. Platforms are always looking for the highest-quality file, and if the distributor has this on hand, it expedites the quality control (QC) process.

Closed Captioning

Closed captioning has become mandatory for VOD platforms. Distributors can help you create this file, but creating one beforehand helps move things forward more efficiently.

Subtitling

Subtitles are not required for all films, but are always helpful to have on hand. The more languages, the more territories a distributor can access. To save costs, many filmmakers try to crowdsource subtitling, but be careful—subtitles created in this way often fail QC due to formatting issues.

Transcript

Having a timecoded transcript for your film saves time in creating subtitles and captioning, decreases costs, and protects against errors. International broadcasters require a transcript prior to a film’s debut. This is time well spent upfront, because it will expedite foreign sales.

Music Cue Sheet

Many common platforms require a list of all songs featured in the film and the relevant data surrounding these tracks (duration, composer, title and in-and-out cues). This is important specifically for subscription platforms such as Netflix.

Music License Materials

Music licensing should not be an afterthought—your film cannot be exhibited anywhere without the necessary clearances accounted for in writing. Festival licensing differs substantially from the process required for a full public exhibition, and there may be cost increases for music rights after a festival debut. Sometimes filmmakers have to swap out tracks after a festival run to avoid these additional costs.

Metadata

Details, details, details! Metadata consists of a list of cast and crew, a synopsis, a logline—basically, all of the other items you might see on an IMDb page. Metadata submission can be one of the more tedious chores of the delivery process, but don’t mess up here. Pay attention to the spelling of names, the ordering of the cast and crew, and how you describe the film in the synopsis. At FilmBuff, moviemakers enter metadata through their online dashboard; afterwards, we review the submitted information and optimize it for distribution.

Marketing Your Film

Trailer (Apple ProRes 422 HQ)

A trailer is the one click that stands between someone buying your film or clicking over to a new title. They can range from 30 seconds to three minutes in length, though at FilmBuff, we prefer something around 90 seconds. Good distributors work closely with moviemakers on the creative direction of their trailers—FilmBuff does not release trailers that aren’t approved by the moviemaker. We may even create multiple versions and lengths in order to maximize audience appeal.

Poster Art

While theatrical posters often feature festival laurels, billing blocks, review quotes and taglines, VOD platforms require “clean” poster art. When delivering to a distributor, make sure you send layered Photoshop or InDesign files in order to meet each platform’s specifications.

Bonus Materials

Having “extras” to pair with your film maximizes all marketing and public relations efforts. The more creative your materials, the better. Here are some common examples:

  • Exclusive scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Interviews
  • Deleted scenes
  • Extended scenes
  • Bloopers
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Commentary

Promotional Clips

Besides the aforementioned extra content, it helps to have select clips from the film to use as exclusives in the press prior to launch.

Press Kit

A standard press kit includes the current poster, a synopsis of the film, cast and crew information, and production stills and/or publicity photos. While this list is the standard, include any assets you think might be useful as marketing tools.

You’re probably raring to go on your next project and procrastinating on the nitty-gritty of poster resolutions and subtitle formats. But hang in there—these are some of the last steps to take before your film gets the send-off it deserves. MM

Edel Malone is an asset specialist at the theatrical and VOD distributor FilmBuff.

This article appeared in MovieMaker‘s 2016 Complete Guide to Making Movies.

1 Comment

  1. Elliot Roberts

    October 25, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Great article! As someone who handles the closed captioning/subtitling side of things, one thing I’d like to add is to make sure you allow sufficient time for captioning/ subtitling.
    While English closed captioning can often be completed in a quick as a few days, professional subtitling takes a minimum of a week, often close to two or three weeks for the highest quality subtitling.

    Also, make sure your captioning provider is well versed in the requirements of the all the VOD services. Often, iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, etc. require captioning and subtitling in slightly different formats.

    Be careful with crowdsourcing — while it’s obviously the most cost effective option, you risk setting yourself up for headache later when, as mentioned above, it doesn’t pass QC for any number of reasons (poor translation, incorrect formatting, time code issues…)

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