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Top tips to find distribution for your film

Getting distribution for your film can be a tricky business in a crowded marketplace. But, by the very nature of their profession, filmmakers should love a challenge. Here are a few tips to increase your chances of seeing your film reach the intended audience.

If you want to see your film get distribution then you will have to make sure that you make life as easy as possible for both yourself as well as the distributors and broadcasters you talk to.

You will need to do some planning and make sure that you are adaptable on a few points in order to significantly increase your chances.

Here are our top tips:

Be willing to edit your finished film

You need to be flexible as a filmmaker and be willing to tailor the length of your film to the needs of different markets. All broadcasters have different demands and will need films of a different duration to fit into a certain time slot. Make sure you are able to provide exactly what they are looking for.

Check the necessary filming standards and technical specs

Making sure the technical part of your film is correct will help the distributor reach the widest possible market. You will also need to check if you hold all the rights to any archive or stock footage you might have used. Permission to use footage just for festivals is not as good as it sounds because if the film gets a buzz going, the rights holders can then hold you to ransom.

Don’t put all your eggs in the cinema basket

Though you would not necessarily think it, theatrical distribution can be the quickest way to lose money. A semi theatrical distribution, especially if your film focusses on a specific societal issue, can generate just as much publicity (and income). For example, one night in a specific cinema with a targeted audience can help get film critics interested. This might result in successful video on demand (VOD), DVD or broadcasting sales.

Get your festival strategy right

Figuring out your preferred festival route can be a strategic minefield. Once a film has been shown at a ‘second tier’ festival it is almost impossible to get into a ‘top tier’ festival such as Cannes or Sundance. Be bold - why not aim high to start with? However, make sure you don’t get hung up on a festival that won’t start the admission process until eight months after you have finished your film. That is eight months in which you could be promoting elsewhere. See where we are going with this? It’s all about finding the right balance.

Remain flexible during online distribution

The future is said to be VOD rather than DVD, but when looking for a service provider there are a few things to watch out for. One is the ability to apply geo blocking. With geo-blocking, should the film be picked up for broadcast in a specific territory then you can block the VOD for that specific licensing period.

Make sure you read the fine print

When you do finally get an offer from a distributor don’t just jump for joy and sign on the dotted line. Make sure for example that you know what they mean by ‘marketing costs’ and place a cap on it. You really don’t want to find out that you have not made any money because the distribution company has spent a fortune on expensive and unnecessary goodies that no one is interested in. Also make sure they provide you with a quarterly or even monthly overview of the costs. A surprise where money is involved hardly ever ends well.

Let us know if we have missed any tips that can help filmmakers to get their work out -  you can reach us by leaving a comment in the section below or via Twitter and Facebook.

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