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What makes a film successful?

Well, if we knew the definitive answer, I guess we would not be here...

14 Sep 2018

By Ian Gibbon

Well, if we knew the definitive answer, I guess we would not be here. However, a few of the common factors that contribute to a successful film include: a compelling storyline; a well written script; great actors who have a reach to the audience; a visionary director alongside a director of photography and editor and….. the list just goes on and on.  Oh, and at the end of the day a bit of luck is needed. A major world catastrophe, economic, political or environmental can quickly divert Joe Public from turning up at his/her local Odeon. On the other hand, a significant world event can sometimes make a film’s subject matter more relevant overnight than was originally thought.

However putting the cultural factors aside, three of the most important elements of having a successful film are getting hold of the money to make the film; securing an A list cast that will bring gravitas and will connect with the audience and then having a major distributor to get the movie ‘out there’

There is currently an influx of private capital into the indie film business that has made it easier for producers to get their movies made.

There is also a great array of actors with enormous followings on social media, which means the film might have an instant reach.

But one of the major stumbling blocks is getting a distribution deal. Going into Toronto Film Festival this year there were a number of high profile indie films without distribution deals. These included the Jesse Eisenberg – Alexander Skarsgård  drama,’ The Hummingbird Project’; Justin Kelly’s ‘Jeremiah Terminator Le Roy’ with Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern;  ‘High Life’ with Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche (by the way one of my all time favourite actresses); and ‘Vox Lux’, with Natalie Portman and Jude Law.

Getting indie films shown in cinemas is pretty tough at the moment.  The bankruptcy of the distributor Global Road together with the collapse of The Weinstein Company has created a huge hole.   Over the past four years there has been a decline in revenue from home video and TV sales which has meant that US distributors are hesitant to take on a film unless they can see success first hand with a theatrical audience.

Therefore US domestic distribution is extremely important and the present bottleneck in getting deals for indie films is a major concern.

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