A filmmaker contacted me recently with an interesting dilemma. His film, just off of several strong festival screenings, was starting to attract tempting distribution offers, including educational distribution from one of the best houses in the country. Then he heard about Academic DIY and began to wonder if that could offer anything equal.
I gave him my usual rap…how much he’d make per year (after you get up-and-running, as much as $25-$30,000, for several years), the limited amount of up-front work and money required to get started, and so forth. He wasn’t convinced. How could Academic DIY compete with a company like the one offering him the contract? What could I say to convince him?
Then over coffee this morning, the answer came. Worldcat.org, the international database of all library holdings on earth, held the key. Any filmmaker considering a distributor should go first on Worldcat, choose several of the distributor’s top titles, and search the number of library and university holdings for each. Is the distributor actually placing films? And if it is, how many film placements would be needed, at the cut they’re offering you and film price, to make your annual DIY profit?