Online course

Film Distribution: Connecting Films with Audiences

Discover how your favourite films make it to your local cinema or television screen, through the film distribution process.

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $59 Find out more

Get an introduction to how the UK film business works

With over 800 films a year being released, the choice for cinema goers is massive and ever changing. How do we, as members of the film audience, find out about films? What methods are available to film distributors to attract our attention to specific films in the digital age? In such a crowded marketplace, how do films find their audiences?

Through this online course, you’ll discover the ways in which films make their way to cinemas and beyond through the film distribution process. You’ll find out how film distributors play a pivotal role in connecting films with audiences.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsDAVID PUTTNAM: Hello, I'm David Puttnam. I've spent many, many years of my life as a filmmaker, a film producer. And I had certain amount success, but I certainly enjoyed those 30 years, as no other point in my life. I'm also, happily, the president of the Film Distributors' Association of Great Britain. And that gives me a fantastic insight into what's happening in film distribution. I had it, as it were, as a collaborator, participant, for 30 years. For the last 10 years, I've had this wonderful, wonderful bird's-eye view of what's happening in distribution as distribution has moved from an analogue to a digital age. It's been very, very enjoyable. I've learned a lot.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 secondsAnd part of what I learned is, I hope, going be contained in the series of lessons-- the series of weeks that you're going to spend learning all about the exciting world of film distribution.

What topics will you cover?

  • Who the target audience(s) for a film will be. The many considerations include comparison with recent films of a similar genre. Defining the target audience will affect the ‘when’ and ‘how’ of the marketing campaign.

  • How distributors will advertise and promote the film and how much to spend on these activities.

  • When the film will open in cinemas – the distributor will carefully track the competitors’ release schedules, as well as all sorts of wider public/media events, aiming to ensure that they do not go head to head with similar types of film or major distractions for the target audience.

  • What sets this film apart from all the other films on release at around the same time? Distributors look for a film’s ‘selling points’ – its stars, director, genre, awards/nominations, based on a bestselling book or game, and more.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now
    This course started 29 April 2019

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Apply their own experiences of film consumption to the methods of film distribution.
  • Identify the key decisions made in the distribution business process, and gain a greater understanding of how the UK film business operates.
  • Compare the ways in which different types of films are distributed in the UK.
  • Discuss the apparent effectiveness of different types of film campaigns.
  • Reflect on the various ways in which audiences consume films and investigate the effects that the experience of consumption have on the mode of consumption.
  • Explore the different ways in which films are brought to the attention of potential audiences – the differences between advertising and promotion.

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at anyone interested in the world of film and film distribution, but may be of particular interest to students and teachers of media and film studies.

Who will you learn with?

Ian Wall

Director of Education at The Film Space (www.thefilmspace.org). He is a teacher, author, producer, screenwriter and director. He has won 2 BAFTA's.

Who developed the course?

Film Distributors’ Association Ltd. (FDA) is the trade body for theatrical film distributors in the UK - the companies that release films for UK cinema audiences.

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