X: The Impossible Release

This will be the last post under the making of The Impossible Murder.

The movie is locked and finished, marketing materials are prepared and authorized, and the censor certificate is in place. What next? Actually, the biggest mistake every filmmaker makes (including yours truly) is to not ask this question at the time of writing the script. Ideally, before commencing preproduction, a filmmaker must know his/her marketing and release strategy. To leave it for later is to invite disaster. Most movies do not get released because of this. Actually, if filmmakers were to analyze, study and discover for themselves about the possibilities of a theatrical release for their beloved project, prior to spending any money, then most movies won’t be made.

The reality is, in any given country where feature films are widespread, the number of cinema halls and shows are limited, and demand is less than supply. The saddest part is, the number of cinema halls is not a true indicator of demand. This is why alternate distribution channels such as television, DVD and Blu-ray, Internet, VOD, etc exist. The path a film must take to at least recover its budget or break even must be carefully analyzed and detailed well in advance. Only viable projects must be produced. There is no excuse to spend loads of money on something that will never see a wide release. There is no subject that is worthy of this exercise, and if the subject is important, then it is better off making a documentary about it.

What about The Impossible Murder?

After having found a distributor and mobile partner for the movie, I decided to test if PR had any worth in Mumbai. I was lucky enough to find one newspaper who was interested in publishing my story, and the news appeared on May 28th, 2009 in Mid Day. However, what I learnt soon after, was that unless I four-walled the cinema halls, I wasn’t going to get my film released. Also, it became apparent, that it was highly unlikely I would even recover the additional expenditure I would have to incur in marketing and promoting the film. If ‘second tier’ movies with stars in it had to go through this fate, my small movie with no songs or stars had no chance.

I also met a lot of con artists in the process, so be forewarned. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If the offer is too good to be true, and has come too easily, there must be something wrong.

I decided not to release The Impossible Murder in theaters and decided to go the DVD or television route. First, I made an appointment with and met executives at various television channels. The cumulative wisdom I got from the networks was simple: No names, no songs, no theatrical release? Forget it. Moving on, I met with various DVD distribution chains to see if the movie might get a DVD release in India. I met with the same response I got from the networks. After this, there was only one avenue left to pursue:

Self Distribution.

Luckily for independent filmmakers, there are various ways in which movies can be distributed. One company that is doing this well is CreateSpace, owned by Amazon. This is the route I took. I sent my DVD to them, had it approved, and my movie was available on DVD, to download and for streaming via VOD on Amazon. It was a great feeling. Finally, there was closure.

Soon, to be safer, I added another distribution channel: Indieflix. Over the last few years, many companies have mushroomed on the internet offering these services, but the reality is that, without marketing and promotion, nobody will even hear about your film. If they don’t know it exists, why would they want to see it?

Except for:

  • the Official website,
  • the Wikipedia link,
  • the IMDb page,
  • the Facebook page,
  • the Youtube video,
  • and the Vimeo link,
  • the movie wasn’t promoted. It remains unseen by its potential audience, of which I know there are hundreds of thousands.

    Therefore, prepare a detailed marketing and distribution plan prior to prep work. Meet as many people as you can in the initial stages of the project to gauge the potential of your product. This way, even before any money has been spent, you will have a general idea of what its outcome will be, and therefore, know whether the investment in time, effort and money is worth it. This wisdom is what makes a great producer.

    I conclude by saying The Impossible Murder has taken three years of my life, and I’m sure if I knew the things I know now, I would have done things differently. I am grateful to those who had supported me during this journey, and some of them are now friends for life. I have also made contacts within the industry who now eye me with respect, for I have done what many only dream to do. If you have the money, and the idea, then go make the movie.

    Don’t wait for anything because nothing waits for you.