Four things I've learned about independent film distribution

The film has been out for 6 weeks! So much has happened, but it’s really just beginning. Thank you to everyone who has shared our posts and hosted screenings. It’s been incredible to see the enthusiasm for the message. Now to the big questions...

What’s the plan? What about Film Festivals? When can I see it on iTunes or Netflix?
— Everyone

I must get some version of this question daily. The answer is complicated. The plan is a work in progress. Luckily I have some experts on the team. Amy Slotnick managed the community screenings for The Business of Being Born and Birth Story: Ina Mae Gaskin and the Farm Midwives. She’s doing a great job connecting the film with communities across the country and around the world! Peter Broderick is an Independent Documentary Distribution Consultant. He’s consulted for many independent documentaries and is great at guiding a film to reach its full potential audience. Here’s what I’ve learned so far: 

1. Festivals are good, but they aren't necessary.

This is something I wasn’t expecting. The landscape is changing. There are more ways than ever to get a film out even if it doesn’t play at a single festival. We’ve been rejected from 6 festivals so far and are waiting on responses from 5 more. At first it was disappointing, but especially after screening the film with audiences in San Francisco, DC, Tulsa, and Seattle I’m more confident than ever that this film connects with people in a meaningful way and will get out with or without festivals. That said, if you have a connection to an upcoming festival and want to see “Why Not Home?” there, send us an e-mail. 

2. Conferences are the new film festival.

For documentaries like this one, conferences are a great opportunity. The film has a clear audience and a goal to educate and inspire. If you’re involved in planning a conference or are attending a conference for doulas, midwives, medical students, nurses, nursing students, parents, women and are interested in bringing the film to the conference please let us know.

3. Take it one step at a time.

I’ve been working on this for so long, I was ready to just launch and then be done. Release it however/wherever possible as quickly as possible. Peter’s experience has taught him that releasing an independent documentary is more like slow food than fast food. It takes time to do it well. The quickest thing isn’t always the best.

Along those lines, I had a working timeline of video on demand (iTunes/Amazon/etc.) in the fall, but now it seems that’s unlikely. Before we can get it to video on demand services we need to demonstrate that there is an audience who will watch the film. The way we do that is through community and conference screenings. We have a goal of 200 by Labor Day. So as much as I’d like to give you a date for video on demand release, I just can’t. Too much depends on whether or not we get into festivals, if there’s a TV broadcast, all of that will impact release dates. Thank you for being patient. We’ll get there.

4. Ask for help.

I keep having to learn this. Over and over. Our small team can’t do this alone. We need your help. Many of you have asked, so here’s a short list of what you can do:

  • Tell people in your personal and professional networks about the film. Encourage them to bring it to their community.
  • If you’re part of a group on Facebook or elsewhere that would be interested, share the trailer and help us engage a wider audience.
  • If you have a blog, a podcast, an Instagram following, tell your readers/listeners/followers about Why Not Home? and why informed choices and a more integrated system of maternity care that supports women and families is important to you.
  • Partner with other advocates in your area and host a public screening.
  • Invite your friends to like us on Facebook, Tag them on Instagram.
  • Become part of our PR team. We have a press release and we’re pitching it to news outlets, but it’s slow going. If you can volunteer some time fill out the connect form here and we'll get you set up.

If you've seen the film, what did you think? We always love hearing from you. Leave a comment or fill out the form here.