Independent
Licensing Explained

Reaching the Global Audience

For independent films and television programming, multiple
distribution and licensing relationships pave the road to creative
and commercial success.

Independents need to be creators, entrepreneurs, salespeople, marketers, and many times magicians to successfully move their project from script to screen.

Independents are companies that are skilled at organizing the financing and sales, production, marketing, and licensing of films and television programming, relying on a complicated web of third-party relationships with all types of distributors and exhibitors in as many places around the globe as possible. This independent business model used by U.S. worldwide Independents who don’t control their own distribution is in sharp contrast to the U.S. major studios and global online platforms which are able to self-finance and own or control their own distribution and release worldwide. 

Since Independents organize separate financing on a project by project basis and begin the lengthy process of production and securing worldwide distribution to reach the largest audience possible, cash flow is always an issue. In order to greenlight production, Independents depend upon the ability to secure pre-production distribution agreements which act as collateral for production financing and guarantee distribution.

There are a myriad of third-party contractual relationships and licenses which need to be negotiated and put in place so that the production can be delivered to audiences for the first run of distribution. Distributors are licensed exclusively for their country, language, and release platform. Major national distributors generally take all-rights for their country in exchange for providing an upfront guarantee and then sub-license to cinema chains, television, cable, and VOD platforms. As part of the master distribution plan, non-exclusive VOD, or second run licenses will be negotiated as the film is completed, delivered to the distributors and released to the global audience.