You’re making a documentary. It’s about a cause you are passionate about. You find the right team to join you and raise the money to get it off the ground. You film it, slave over it in post-production, and now, years later, somehow it is complete. And as if that wasn’t hard enough, now you have to find distribution that may or may not yield any income to re-pay you for the hard work.
But what if there was a different way of approaching your distribution? What if the energy you mustered to get this far is the same energy that carries you into the world of marketing, PR, and social media? Distribution can be on your terms, if you think more like an entrepreneur.
My documentary is called The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things. It’s about a group of all-female filmmakers driving across America to interview inspirational women from all walks of life.
I had heard of the distributor Indieflix because of the tremendous work they have done with the anti-bullying documentary Finding Kind. So when we were fortunate enough to meet IndieFlix CEO Scilla Andreen cosmically (due to a well-timed vision board and our supportive executive producer), it felt like it was meant to be.
We signed on with Indieflix while we were still in production, and now that the film is complete, I look back and see that they are more than just a distributor. They are managers, publicists, designers, and most importantly, mentors and friends. We are a team with the same goal in mind: changing the world through the power of cinema.
The way to accomplish this is a somewhat counterintuitive approach. This film is not available online, and it is not for sale on DVD. While those things may be in our future, for the moment we are focused on this documentary inspiring change and igniting conversations regarding gender equality, empowerment, and facing fears. And that can’t be done watching this film alone in your living room.
With a theatrical/on demand distribution model, we screen the film in schools, groups, organizations, and corporate offices around the country and the world. Anyone can host their own screening anywhere, anytime. What a privilege it is to be able to meet thousands of people and ask the one question that just might change their life like it did mine: What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?
My producing partner Dana Michelle Cook and I find ourselves in the unique position of being able to meet our audience firsthand. We know that everytime a young woman comes up to us after a screening and says: “I didn’t know women could be astronauts, now I want to be an astronaut,” we see how our work is invaluable, and it keeps us moving everyday. We see the power of cinema and the importance of bringing people together to have a conversation that matters.
It’s interesting how my role as the traditional “director” is long since over. I am now a full-time entrepreneur. My mission and my job is to get this film out to as many people as possible because I know its value, and I’ve seen the magic that can happen when people get together to watch it. I’m learning everyday how to be a better marketer, better at social media, a better public speaker, and how to build an effective brand.
If you’re a filmmaker, it’s time to think of yourself as an entrepreneur. It’s so gratifying to take ownership of your work, and to know that all of your effort will benefit you personally, professionally and financially.
I know that all of the doors open to me moving forward in my career will be because I took a chance on myself with The Empowerment Project. And what is more empowering than that?
To learn more about The Empowerment Project and find out how you can bring it to your community, go to http://indieflix.com/empowermentproject. Follow our journey nationwide: @EmpowermentDocu
Sarah Moshman is an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker and TV producer.