Know Your Goals
Why did you make this film? Who did you hope to affect? What do you hope to gain in the release? What are tangible measures of success to you? Shape your distribution strategy around your specific goals.
If you made an eye-opening documentary about water pollution and your goal is to increase awareness of the issue, partner with relevant non-profits and hold chapter screenings in tandem with fundraisers. It may not make sense to pay for a New York theatrical screening that you think you will need to raise visibility of your film. Instead, pursue your goal directly by using your content to further your cause.