The democratization of independent filmmaking means that almost anyone can pick up a camera and make a movie. (Whether they should is a discussion for another day.) Once your movie is completed, however, how do you get it seen by an audience beyond your family and friends?
A couple of days ago, I suggested that fledgling filmmakers learn from Kevin Smith's handling of Red State and team up with a wider variety of complementary talents, including those who know how to market and distribute films. What if you don't know anyone who can fill all those roles? A company called Prescreen recently launched and may be able to help.
The company has issued a call for entries. Why would independent filmmakers submit their labors of love to Prescreen instead of a film festival, sales agent, or distributor? "We do not intend to replace any of the existing channels," founder and CEO Shawn Bercuson told Sheri Candler. (Prescreen is sponsoring Candler's upcoming book, "Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul.") "We are merely a tool to help make the marketing and distribution efforts much easier."
Prescreen will not accept every film that is submitted. If a film meets their standards, Prescreen will feature it once in their daily email to subscribers, who will then be able to view the trailer on the Prescreen site and decide if they want to rent a streaming version. If so, the rental costs $4.00 on the first day, jumping to $8.00 for the remainder of the 60-day period that the title will be available.
There is no upfront cost for the filmmaker. At the end of the 60-day period, Prescreen says it will send the filmmaker "a check for 50% of the revenue generated from the sales on Prescreen along with a ‘Prescreen Performance Report’ that details all of the relevant information a filmmaker or distributor would need to continue to reach the targeted audience." No more than 60 titles will be featured on the site at any given time.
From the sound of it, Prescreen could give unknown filmmakers a leg up. They're hoping to build a community that will support filmmakers who have finished their projects and yearn to get their voices heard in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Prescreen may not necessarily change the way indie films are distributed, but they could play a role in getting good films noticed. Much will depend, of course, on the quality of films that are submitted -- and whether Prescreen's curators can separate the wheat from the chaff.