How to Find Distribution and Grow Your Audience Creatively

Hosted by Liz Manashil


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Liz Manashil

Webinar hosted by: Liz Manashil

Creative Distribution Expert, Former Manager of Sundance's Creative Distribution Initiative

Liz Manashil was the manager of Sundance Institute's groundbreaking Creative Distribution Initiative and worked in impact distribution for many content creators during her time at Picture Motion. Prior to Sundance and Picture Motion, Liz spent several years as a film critic for the Hulu series JUST SEEN IT, which she also helped produce and direct. As a filmmaker, her debut feature, BREAD AND BUTTER, was released by The Orchard and can be seen on VOD nearly everywhere. Her second feature, SPEED OF LIFE, was released by Giant Pictures, can be seen on Showtime. Liz spends her time advocating for filmmakers to have healthy and productive relationships with their distribution partners. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

The barrier of entry into filmmaking has never been lower, and the opportunities for distribution have never been higher. While the channels of distribution have never been more diverse and accessible, the education for filmmakers of how to best utilize those channels is often hard to navigate. Is theatrical or VOD your best bet? Will the film festival circuit help you? What can a distributor do for you? And how much money are indie films even making these days? 

With so many different opportunities and new platforms arising constantly, how do you choose the best path for YOUR film?

Content still over-saturates the marketplace and standing out has become particularly difficult. Independent films that find success in this landscape do so by being creative, by approaching distribution in unconventional ways, and by uncovering platforms and strategies that others might not have considered. Creative distribution takes a good amount of work and forethought, but it’s also fully possible for any filmmaker who’s up for thinking outside the box. First, it will be important to have a better understanding of the free and paid opportunities to market your film, connect with distributors, build audiences, and team up with collaborators who will help amplify your efforts. Let us give you the tools you need.

Liz Manashil was the manager of Sundance Institute's groundbreaking Creative Distribution Initiative and worked in impact distribution for many content creators during her time at Picture Motion. Prior to Sundance and Picture Motion, Liz spent several years as a film critic for the Hulu series JUST SEEN IT, which she also helped produce and direct. As a filmmaker, her debut feature, BREAD AND BUTTER, was released by The Orchard and can be seen on VOD nearly everywhere. Her second feature, SPEED OF LIFE, was released by Giant Pictures, can be seen on Showtime. Liz spends her time advocating for filmmakers to have healthy and productive relationships with their distribution partners.

Liz will walk you the options you have to creatively distribute your film and strategies you can implement to build your audience and optimize your film’s release. She’ll begin by outlining the state of distribution today, how it’s changed in recent years, what success looks like now and what’s realistic or normal for independent films. She’ll then go into what ‘creative distribution’ means and how it can benefit you as an artist. She’ll teach you about film aggregators as an option for distribution, including how to find good ones, and red flags to watch out for. She’ll then discuss tips for finding traditional distributors. She’ll go over different types of distribution rights you might not have considered before and explain how to determine which distributors could be the right fit for your film. Liz will also talk about how to navigate distribution contracts and the main clauses and sections to look for. She’ll then teach you ways to market your distributed film to build your audience, with both free and paid strategies. Next, she’ll delve into impact distribution as an option for releasing your film. She’ll go over what it is and how to use this method to run a successful screening tour. Finally Liz will talk about how you should be adjusting your distribution goals post-COVID and use this time to your advantage.

With the lessons and strategies Liz lays out, you’ll be armed with an large array of ideas and practices you can apply to your own independent film to give it a release and audience you might not have thought possible


Distribution is constantly changing. Whether you are a first time filmmaker or a seasoned veteran, the landscape and the market are both constantly in flux. I'm so excited for you to join me in our session about alternative forms of distribution. I'll give you a bird's eye view of how to get your film out, how to build audiences, and how to make a difference with your movies.

-Liz Manashil

What You'll Learn

  • The State of Distribution Today
    • Major changes in recent years
    • What does success look like now?
    • What’s realistic or normal for independent films?
  • What Is ‘Creative Distribution’ and How Can it Benefit You as an Artist
  • Using Film Aggregators
    • What are aggregators and how do they differ from traditional distribution?
    • Pros and cons of using aggregators
    • Notable aggregators to look into
    • Red flags and things to watch out for
    • Tips when signing up for an aggregator
  • Finding a Distributor
    • Pros and cons of working with a traditional distributor
    • Different types of distribution rights
      • Including some right types you might not have considered
    • How to determine which distributors could be the right fit for your film
    • How to find the players - directories of distributors
  • Navigating Distribution Contracts
    • The main clauses and sections to look for
    • Red flags to look out for
  • Marketing Your Distributed Film
    • Free ways to build an audience
    • Paid ways to market your film
  • What Is Impact Distribution and What Does It Entail?
    • Managing a semi-theatrical run
    • Tips to run a successful impact screening tour
    • The 5 tools you need for an impact campaign
    • How do you measure impact?
  • Adjusting Your Distribution Goals Post-COVID
    • And how you can use this down time to your advantage
  • Q&A with Liz

About Your Instructor

Liz Manashil was the manager of Sundance Institute's groundbreaking Creative Distribution Initiative and worked in impact distribution for many content creators during her time at Picture Motion. Prior to Sundance and Picture Motion, Liz spent several years as a film critic for the Hulu series JUST SEEN IT, which she also helped produce and direct. As a filmmaker, her debut feature, BREAD AND BUTTER, was released by The Orchard and can be seen on VOD nearly everywhere. Her second feature, SPEED OF LIFE, was released by Giant Pictures, can be seen on Showtime. Liz spends her time advocating for filmmakers to have healthy and productive relationships with their distribution partners.


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