Action films when done right are commercial, travel well and sell across multiple territories. The challenge is balancing the costs of making an action film with the returns from distribution. What do you need to keep in mind to blow them away at the box office?

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In praise of data. Before you option that script or put pen to paper, a smart filmmaker will do some market research. How are films in the same genre and budget range performing? Is there market demand for your film? Content might be king, but data can make sure you’re making the right content that will have an audience. Here are some sites which can help you with your research.

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The death of DVD rental and sales have hit cult films hard. Traditional distribution doesn’t have space for them anymore. The slow burn and niche audience means low returns in a film marketplace where revenues are already falling. At the same time, cult films can raise millions on crowdfunding. The cult film is dead. Long live the cult film?

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From development to distribution, your film lives and dies by its first five minutes. If you can’t hook a script reader, a distributor and your audience, your film will flounder. The first five minutes of your film is a promise to the your audience. It builds trust you can tell story. It’s your chance to show us why we should listen. Why we should give our time? Why should we care?

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Your movie artwork is the public face of your film. Along with your title and trailer, it’s absolutely fundamental for film marketing. You get one chance to make a first impression.

You need to be able to grab us in a glance, make us think, “Wow. What’s that? I want to see more.”

Artwork comes in many forms; one sheet, film poster, billboard, DVD sleeve and VOD thumbnail and needs to work across all of them. You’re hustling for attention among hundreds, if not thousands of other films. Great artwork can tip the balance from getting seen to floundering in obscurity.

It all boils down to being able to translate the essence of your film into one single compelling image that reflects the story and feel of your movie.

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Title, trailer, artwork. The holy trinity of film marketing. Get them right and you can make a spectacular first impression and leave us hungry for more. Get it wrong and your film might end up languishing unseen in film limbo. How do you make a great movie trailer?

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So, you’ve got your heart set on making a comedy. Here’s what you need to know to make it commercial. Know your audience. Think about cast, story and visual humour.

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Take a look at the cinema screens this summer and going to head to head with the superhero movies, you’ll find a bunch of R-rated comedies. Jump 22 Street, Sex Tape and Tammy are all gearing up for release. The studios are embracing the genre. Why? Because comedies have the capacity to punch above their weight and make bank at the box office.

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Last week, The Film Collaborative launched the second edition of Selling Your Film, “Selling Your Film Outside The U.S. – Distribution in Europe”. I finished reading it over the weekend and it’s fantastic. If you’re thinking about making a film, going the self-distribution route or just want to learn more about how non-traditional distribution works, this is the book for you.

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There’s nothing like a list to make sense of jargon. Here’s a guide to film distribution terms from A to Z. I’ll continue to update this post. If there’s anything you’d like an explanation for, drop me a line in the comments and I’ll do my best.

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