Francis Ford Coppola doesn’t like the state of indie distribution:
The movie business is not a good business to be in. You can have the money to finance your own movie, the actors can all love you, and if you don’t control the distribution, you’re dead.
Not to rewrite the master, but an addenda: if you don’t control marketing and distribution, you’re dead. The two ought to synch up. Even as it has gotten cheaper to make a movie, it has gotten more expensive to market one. The big studios are still the only ones with the muscle to do a wide release.
I’ve been reading a book called Entertainment Industry Economics and one of the real eye-openers is the distribution fee that the studios take when they buy up an independent film. It’s a big fat percentage and it makes it hard for an independent producer to make money, because the studio is skimming that fee before anyone else gets repaid.
So remember, kids, budget for an additional salary to survive on while the studio isn’t paying you. Otherwise, as uncle Francis says, “you’re dead.”