How to Find Your Audience in the Digital Age: Alternative Distribution

How to Find Your Audience in the Digital Age: Alternative Distribution

Industry radicals discussed alternative distribution methods in a panel at IFP Film Week 2016.
In the auditorium of IFP’s futuristic Brooklyn space sat five innovators of the film distribution field. Representing the more traditional ends of the spectrum were Ryan Krivoshey, Founder and President of Grasshopper Film, and Aliza Ma, Head of Film Programming at Metrograph, a new Manhattan cinema that’s blown up over the past year for its impeccable indie and film-buff curation.

On behalf of “white label distribution” was Jamie Wilkinson, CEO of VHX, a streaming platform which was just recently acquired by Vimeo. There to talk about Shutterstock’s contribution to indie filmmaking was its Director of Footage, Derick Rhodes, a self-proclaimed outsider on the panel and “Brooklyn filmmaker and example of someone who did distribution somewhat poorly.” And rounding out the team was Missy Laney, Director of Creative Initiatives and ambassador for the rebel distribution outlet BitTorrent.

(This article originally appears here: at

With the advent of digital filmmaking and the supersaturation of the market, old school theatrical distribution has changed tremendously. These five organizations have formed and adapted in response to the evolving atmosphere. What was most heartening about these panelists was their affection for the underdog. Brandon Harris, the moderator, from Filmmaker Magazine, began the conversation with a question about how each company is listening to the changing habits of consumers.

There are no wide nets in the age of the internet.
Almost immediately, a trend emerged: curation. Throughout the hour, it became apparent that in this world of constant media barrage, having a strong and clear personality— and knowing how to communicate that to your specifically tailored audience— is the key to success. There are no wide nets in the age of the internet.

Below are some of the most interesting takeaways from IFP’s New Innovators: Distribution panel.

Plan your theatrical and digital releases to complement each other
The conversation kicked off with a debate around the place of cinemas in our digital age. Ma weighed in for Metrograph: “We have a physical space that reflects the changing state of exhibition and distribution.” Though modern culture seems down on old-fashioned movie-going, Ma advocated for a new perspective. "Our programming approach has been to work in a symbiotic way with open-minded distributors to tailor release strategies for each film," she said, "so that we can reach out to those niche markets and give the films a theatrical life that they might not otherwise have.”

Ma also mentioned a harsher reality that some pro-digital fans might not care to admit. “It’s important want more? to keep in mind that most— maybe 99.9% of filmmakers— make their films for the big screen, so it’s important to give their films a theatrical life as much as possible.”

"99.9% of filmmakers make their films for the big screen."
“Every year, there’s a new article about find more the death of cinema or the death of theatrical,” Krivoshey chimed in, “but in reality, as Aliza said, most people

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