Research Before Signing on the Dotted Line with a Distributor by Sheri Candler




There is a new tool being developed to help independent filmmakers research backgrounds, complaints and recommendations before choosing a distribution partner. The Film Collaborative (TFC) has aggregated all of the information you will need to inform your decisions before you sign agreements and they have called this resource the Distributor ReportCard™ (DRC). It is an open source wiki anyone can use to voice opinions, experiences, questions and recommendations for both filmmakers and distributors.

The DRC is meant to be an online guide much like Yelp is for restaurants and shops. TFC founder Orly Ravid says, “For the same reason people really find YELP useful before choosing where to go to dinner, we know that feedback from filmmakers who have worked with distributors will be useful to other filmmakers. The film industry monetizes secrecy and scarcity of information and we want to fuel and reward transparency. We always advise filmmakers to get and check references before signing on with a distributor and this is just an even more unbiased way to get feedback.” At present, the DRC’s list was pulled together by TFC, but they want that to change. “We had to start somewhere so we listed distributors that we have either worked with or know about. It will take some time before it’s completely thorough and contains plenty of feedback. The more filmmakers and distributors we reach to encourage company submissions and feedback, the faster it will done,” said Ravid. Distributors representing all forms of distribution are included as well as some international sales companies and digital distribution platforms.

TFC founder Orly Ravid

Experiences both negative and positive are encouraged. “The more i better. Just as people rely on Consumer Reports and Yelp and Blue Book to make informed decisions, the DRC is meant to help filmmakers by having information all in one place and rated according to their colleagues’ experiences.”

The instructions for using the DRC are as follows:

1. Log into/create a wikispacesaccount, The site utilizes wikispaces so you should use a unique username and password. If you are already a member of The Collaborators site (, you’ll need a different username and password than your Collaborators membership. If you are creating an account, a Wikispaces MY ACCOUNT page will appear. Go to MY WIKI (near upper right-hand corner) and type in FILM DISTRIBUTOR GUIDE. A small window will pop-up underneath with FILM DISTRIBUTION GUIDE. (You can later add this to your favorite wikis and not have to type in the name each time you log in. You will still need to go to MY WIKI link to select it. Click on FILM DISTRIBUTION GUIDE. The DRC front page will come up.

2. On the far LEFT-HAND SIDE column, select the DISTRIBUTOR you wish look up or to comment on.

3. Once you are on the chosen distributor’s page, click on the DISCUSSION tab.

4. Click the NEW POST button (located just under the distributor’s name, upper left side) if you wish to comment.

5. A NEW POST window will pop-up.

6. Fill-in your SUBJECT and type your MESSAGE in the pop-up window.

7. If you want to receive an email when others respond to your post, click the box “MONITOR THIS TOPIC”. If not, proceed to #8.

8. When you are finished entering your missive, click POST.

9. Your post is complete!

TFC encourages factual and constructive information attributed to named individuals. Acknowledging that some filmmakers may not feel comfortable registering complaints or low opinions of their past or current distribution partners, Ravid said there is an option to post anonymously. “We have a user handle for anyone who wants to use the DRC anonymously and also we are happy to post the comments on anyone’s behalf. You’ll just need to contact the site administrator with your details. We will post that the person making the comment wishes to remain anonymous so those who are doing research can take this into consideration.”

To access Distributor ReportCard, please visit the site:

About The Film Collaborative

The Film Collaborative (TFC) — the first non-profit devoted to distribution education and facilitation for independent film. We offer a full range of affordable educational, distribution and marketing services to independent filmmakers looking for distribution sustainability and to reach traditionally underserved audiences. Launched in early 2010 TFC has already provided its services to more than 75 independent films such as Sundance Award Winners We Live in Public, GasLand and Undertow, and SXSW Award Winners Made in China and Weekend.

About Distributor ReportCard™:

Distributor ReportCard™ gives filmmakers and producers a chance to SCHOOL THE DISTRIBUTORS. Write reviews, share your experiences and learn from other filmmakers’ successes or mistakes.

Simply click on one of the distributors and you’ll be taken to the info page for that distributor. All information is gathered from their respective website and is not based on a TFC review. Speak your mind. Create or join a discussion about a specific distributor.

Sheri Candler is an inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, organizational outreach, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively.  She collaborates with Jon Reiss, author of “Think Outside the Box Office,” & participates in his TOTBO workshop series teaching filmmakers and PMDs how to utilize social networks and build identities for themselves and their films; she consults with non profit film distribution, marketing & filmmaker education organization The Film Collaborative; she writes articles for Microfilmmaker Magazine covering the issues of marketing and distribution for microbudget filmmakers; and she is a featured expert in the new Guerilla Filmmakers Pocketbook by Chris Jones, Genevieve Jolliffe & Andrew Zinnes.

She can be found online at, on Twitter @shericandler and on Facebook Sheri Candler Marketing and Publicity.