If you’re a filmmaker or indie producer, now’s the time to acquaint yourself with independent film distributors. That is, if you want eyes on your film. Without an indie film distributor, no one will see your film but you and your family. Get familiar with this list of independent film distribution companies to find the right partner!
Have a documentary in need of indie film distribution? Especially if your film has a social impact message, it might be the perfect fit for Abramorama, an indie distribution company that specializes in that very type of media.
It considers itself “innovator in focused, niche film distribution, direct-to-consumer engagement, and live, event and digital cinema.”
And if you’re seeking distribution outside of the United States, Abramorama offers global options for its clientele.
Finding indie film distribution across multiple platforms is vital to a modern indie film. BayView Entertainment has been leading low budget film distributors in this field for fifteen years across all film genres.
Per its website, it has partnerships with:
Moreover, it markets itself as “a full service media company committed to acquire, develop, produce, market, and distribute audio-visual content.” As a filmmaker considering indie film distributors, one with this type of comprehensive support should be on your list.
When assessing independent film distribution companies, it’s never a bad idea to see what they offer in the way of international distribution. Case in point, Breaking Glass Pictures. It markets itself as “a globally connected indie film distribution company” with its primary focus in North America.
However, Breaking Glass Pictures also has an international sales branch with distribution partners in regions such as:
So if you’re a filmmaker researching independent film distributors with global reach, add Breaking Glass Pictures to your list.
Are you an experimental or avant-garde filmmaker or indie producer working out of the West Coast? Then you may want to add Canyon Cinema to your list of film distributors.
The beginnings of this indie distribution company go all the way back to 1967 when it was an artist-run distribution co-op. It formally became the non-profit Canyon Cinema Foundation (CCF) in 2014 and offers distribution options for West Coast artists.
Given that many independent film distribution companies tend to cater to more traditional films, Canyon Cinema Foundation can be a tremendous partner for anyone working in the experimental or avant-garde space.
When putting together your list of independent film distributors, are you considering exactly how they will circulate your film? Does their indie film distribution include theatrical, broadcast television, streaming, digital, cable, or satellite VOD?
Not to mention, some film lovers still purchase physical media. Do your potential low budget film distributors offer DVD, Blu-ray, or 4K options?
Cinedigm does. Moreover, it provides distribution through a number of broad and genre-specific streaming channels, including:
Producers Philip and Mary-Ann Hobel have been behind a number of documentary and scripted narrative works, including the Oscar-winning Tender Mercies. They’re also the founders of The Cinema Guild, one of several independent film distributors based in New York City.
Given their professional background, the Hobels focus primarily on distribution for independent, foreign, and documentary films. If your project falls into any of those categories, add The Cinema Guild to your list of independent film distributors.
The Hobels aren’t the only filmmakers turned independent film distributors.
For nearly 15 years, Charles S. Cohen, the executive producer behind the Oscar-nominated Frozen River, has been heading up the Cohen Media Group. The CMG keeps its distribution focus on North America for both contemporary and classic cinema.
Why does Cohen Media Group concentrate its distribution efforts solely in North America when many of the indie distribution companies we’ve covered so far make it a point to distribute globally?
They say it’s so that the CMG team can “devote their best efforts towards each film’s fullest potential.” Something for filmmakers to keep in mind when researching low budget film distributors.
Filmmakers who regardless want to work with an indie distribution company that has a larger scope may want to consider Entertainment One.
Known as eOne, this distributor works on a global scale, with partners across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. In fact, eOne can offer prospective clients over five-hundred broadcast partners across more than 150 territories around the world. As its site states, eOne has the “reach of a studio and the flexibility of an indie.”
Not quite sure what independent film distributors do or what film distribution entails? The Film Collaborative can help.
The Film Collaborative is a non-profit indie distribution company that aims to help filmmakers through the distribution process. Its three central taglines – “filmmakers first,” “non-profit, on purpose,” and “we don’t own your rights… you do!” speak to The Film Collaborative’s focus on championing the indie filmmaker.
Add FilmRise to the list of indie distribution companies that were founded by film producers. For the last decade, producers Danny Fisher, Jack Fisher, and Alan Klingenstein have been bringing both films and television shows to audiences across the world.
With an impressive library of more than “50,000 licensed and originally produced scripted and unscripted feature films and television episodes across all genres,” FilmRise has partnered with many of the biggest global names in distribution:
Freestyle Digital Media is a boutique distribution group…
When they hear the word “boutique,” some filmmakers and indie producers may think small. But when it comes to low budget film distributors, it can also mean a company that carefully curates its content. That pays more time and attention to the filmmakers.
That is the experience filmmakers get with Freestyle Digital Media. An indie distribution company that emphasizes the veteran experience of its team, FDM provides additional à la carte options, including:
With this individualized approach, filmmakers receive a tailored-made distribution experience should they partner with Freestyle Digital Media.
Good Deed Entertainment is an Ohio-based indie distribution company that works in multiple entertainment spaces both in terms of genre and medium.
That being said, if you’re a horror or sci-fi filmmaker, Good Deed may be of particular interest on account of its Cranked Up Films division. Through it, the company distributes “high concept horror, grounded sci-fi, and speculative fiction.”
It also develops and produces genre content, so filmmakers may want to consider connecting with GDE before their next horror or sci-fi project goes into production.
When researching independent film distributors, you’ll likely come across industry terms such as “all-rights distributor.” This means that should you partner with one of these indie film distributors, they’ll do all the legwork to distribute your film via theaters, television, streaming, you name it.
Enter Gravitas Ventures, which is one of the independent film companies on our list that is an all-rights distributor. For more than fifteen years, Gravitas Ventures has been helping filmmakers and indie producers get their movies seen across the globe through multiple mediums, including various forms of video-on-demand.
Viewing audiences watch documentaries in growing numbers. Great news for documentarians! If you have a doc you’re looking to put out through indie film distribution, you may want to partner with a company that specializes in this type of film.
Founded in 2017, Greenwich Entertainment focuses on documentary features. But for all you scripted narrative filmmakers out there, don’t leave Greenwich Entertainment off your list of film distributors! It offers distribution options for you as well.
Gunpowder and Sky is an indie distribution company that champions filmmakers early in their careers, a huge plus for anyone who might be trying to distribute their first or second film.
Established in 2016, Gunpowder and Sky has distributed more than forty features and series, typically with a focus on “pop culture, social issues and larger-than-life personalities” from both emerging and established creatives.
IFC Films has been one of the leading independent film distributors for more than twenty years. That fact speaks to how nimble it has been in the face of ever-changing entertainment platforms and mediums.
IFC Films champions the independent filmmaker, but it also has a division called IFC Midnight that focuses specifically on genre films such as sci-fi and horror. Not to say that a genre filmmaker shouldn’t explore independent film distribution companies that cater to all types of movies. But partnering with an indie distribution company like IFC Midnight that knows how to find horror or sci-fi audiences could make it worth checking out.
A distribution deal doesn’t matter much if the indie film distribution company doesn’t know how to reach audiences.
That’s why Avi Federgreen, the producer who started Indiecan Entertainment more than 10 years ago, makes it a point to identify and connect with audiences specific to the films he and his company are distributing. He also partners with filmmakers with whom he hopes to collaborate for multiple film distribution deals.
Indie Rights is an indie film distribution company that believes in filmmakers reaping the financial rewards of their creative efforts.
That’s why founders Linda Nelson and Michael Madison state on their site that their filmmaker clientele “deserve to earn 80% of the revenue generated” by their films. And to guarantee the success of those films, Indie Rights carefully curates the projects they choose to distribute to ensure ample exposure of them through their global partnerships.
There’s that word again… “boutique.” But don’t let that dissuade you from exploring low budget film distributors who use it like Juno Films.
Boutique can be a great thing for filmmakers who don’t want to be one of the hundreds that get lost among the distribution shuffle. Juno Films founder Elizabeth Sheldon and her team work with both scripted narrative and documentary filmmakers with all-rights releases across North America, as well as international sales.
Magnolia Pictures is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution division of 2929 Entertainment, which was founded by billionaire entrepreneurs Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban.
With a focus on independent and international fare, Magnolia Pictures has built an impressive library of more than 500 titles since its inception in 2002.
As you research independent film distribution companies, be sure to look into how they might handle internet distribution. After all, while theaters and broadcast television are still powerful forces, people around the globe now get their entertainment via the internet.
Mbur Films highlights itself as an “internet-based media distribution company,” which can work in the favor of filmmakers looking for an indie film distribution company that understands the importance of exposure through it.
Milestone Films is itself a milestone… An indie film distribution company that’s been around for over thirty years! Started in 1990 by Amy Heller and Dennis Doros, Milestone Films is among the oldest indie film distributors on our list.
It began as a way for audiences to connect with classic masterpieces, independent features, and innovative documentaries. For the past fifteen years, Milestone Films has gone on to concentrate on bringing movie viewers stories that give a voice to underrepresented voices. They continue to promote the films of Black, Native American, and LGBTQ+ communities.
If you know the Chicago film scene, you are likely familiar with the Music Box Theatre that resides in the Windy City. But did you know that its operator, the Southport Music Box Corporation, also operates Music Box Films?
In 2013, Music Box Films launched its distribution arm Doppelgänger Releasing, which focuses on theatrical and at-home viewing for genre films. Yep, another indie film distribution company that specializes in genre films. So for all you genre filmmakers out there, Music Box Films just might be the right fit for you and your movie.
The Alamo Drafthouse is a popular theater chain that first opened its doors in Austin twenty-five years ago and has since branched out to multiple locations across the United States. One of its co-owners, Tim League, then decided to get into the indie film distribution game with the founding of Neon in 2017.
Along with co-founder Tom Quinn, League has enjoyed great success by building a remarkable catalog of films through Neon, including Pig, Spencer, and Titane, that viewers can rent from the comfort of their own homes.
Like its name implies, Passion River Films is devoted to distributing films that will inspire passion in viewers. For nearly twenty-five years, this company has been bringing audiences the very best in documentary and scripted narrative films.
Remember when we mentioned that filmmakers should know exactly what independent film distributors can offer to them? Well, Passion River Films provides theatrical, broadcast, streaming, video on demand, DVD, and, most interestingly, educational distribution options through its filmmaker partnerships.
Passion River Films educational distribution options include:educational DVD licenses, educational streaming rights, public performance licenses, and even filmmaker speaking engagements. Perfect for filmmakers with academically-minded projects.
Roadside Attractions is one of the more well-known independent film distribution companies given its permanence in the distribution world for more than twenty years.
Founded in 2000 by Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff, Roadside Attractions has a keen eye for Oscar fare, including the films Albert Nobbs, The Cove, Judy, Manchester by the Sea, Super Size Me, and Winter’s Bone.
For almost thirty years, Seventh Art Releasing has stood among independent film distributors as a champion of unique documentary films.
Like several of the low budget film distributors mentioned so far, Seventh Art Releasing offers a host of distribution options, including festival distribution. Seventh Art helps position projects in prominent festivals. This can be a huge boon for indie filmmakers looking to have their films seen and purchased for other venues.
Since 1989, Strand Releasing has been a prominent force behind the distribution of American independent, documentaries, and international films for U.S. theaters, video on demand, and DVD/Blu-ray purchase.
The longevity of Strand Releasing speaks to its leadership among low budget film distributors.
Rounding out our list of independent film distributors is the Winnipeg Film Group. As you might have guessed from its name, it’s also another of our Canada-based independent film distribution companies.
An artist-run organization “committed to promoting the art of cinema,” the Winnipeg Film Group sprung out of the frustration of local filmmakers. They sought new distribution opportunities, as well as production and exhibition options.
Since its inception in 1974, the WFG has leaned into collaboration among its group of filmmakers and artists for overall greater project visibility.
Independent film distributors have never been more important for filmmakers and indie producers. While the opportunities to produce films have never been greater, as well as the options for their distribution, indie filmmakers must still rely on independent film distribution companies as the go-between for them and their audiences.
To their credit, low budget film distributors are often the biggest supporters and cheerleaders of emerging and indie filmmakers, which makes a partnership with one of the above independent film distributors yet another springboard to creative and career success.
Excited to learn more? Why not take a look at our list of upcoming film festivals? Maybe you’ll find the perfect place to meet an independent film distributor.
Scouting production locations? We’re breaking down 10 states with considerable film tax breaks so you can get the most bang for your budget buck.
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