The technical elements that are required to distribute a motion picture are known as “deliverables”. They are the individual components of the movie, the skeleton that enables distribution companies to release it to the public. If you are independent filmmaker you should regard deliverables as a mandatory part of your production and think about them well in advance. Making a feature film isn’t easy, if you have committed to the journey I hope this information will be useful and perhaps save you some time, money and potential heartache.
I’m presenting you with two lists with anecdotes and explanations. The first one is from an American distribution company that picked up the North American rights for my movie. The second is from the distribution company that picked up the European and world rights. These are excerpts from the actual distribution agreements that we entered into, and they cover the basic essential elements that you should think about. If you have the luxury of working with an experienced Producer or Production Company (or if you paid attention in school) you might not need this, but for the rest of you I hope it is helpful.
"Delivery" will be deemed complete when all of the terms and conditions of this Paragraph 7 are
7.1 The Licensor will deliver to Licensee all of the following materials for the Program
(collectively, the "Materials," individually, the "Element").
7.2 A final color corrected HD master and/or a Digital Beta broadcast quality video master with
audio channels 1&2 being LTRT and 3&4 M&E and English language main titles and end credits. Textless
backgrounds should be recorded at least 2 minutes after end of program with additional color bars. A Hard
Drive with edit files and a final color corrected version of the Program.
The first element is the master of your movie. My recommendation is to create a “HDCAM SR MASTER”. An HDCAM SR tape is a high quality component digital format that can be copied (cloned) without degradation, it also holds more audio channels than HDCAM, DIGIBETA and D5. From your HDCAM SR you will generate and deliver other tapes that may be requested. Make sure that your master has a left and right audio mix on separate channels and music and effects on excusive channels as well. You can create a 5.1 mix, but regarding distribution, the basic nuts and bolts require separate tracks LTRT on channels 1&2 and Music and Effects on channels 3&4. Keep in mind that there are many ways to travel to the same destination. The important thing is that you chose an output master that has sufficient quality to contain your masterpiece and the respective audio.
TEXTLESS backgrounds two minutes after the end of the movie… Text less backgrounds are basically the credit roll without the credits on them. Start the text less backgrounds after about 30 sec of black after the film ends on the tape (start on either full minute or half minute and provide a written list of which text less BG goes where in the film with time code reference).
MASTER HARD DRIVE with your edit files and audio and supporting documents (self explanatory). Essentially a copy of the Hard Drive that you used to edit and grade your movie.
7.3 Original key art elements and color still images pertaining to the Program, which may be supplied on a CDR, DVD-R, hard drive, flash drive or via FTP. Any photographic, cleared musical elements
or other material pertinent to the Program of said product that is available through the Licensor.
Original key art and promotional pictures… Also, behind the scenes footage, cleared music etc... Stay organized and think about promotional elements during your production process. You should get high resolution stills and images of scenes… it’s crucial.
7.4 Music cue sheet with all ASCAP or BMI information for each individual artist and publisher.
A cue sheet is a document which is filed with the performing rights societies and contains a detailed listing of each piece of music used in a film or television production. The cue sheet contains information for each piece of music including the writer(s), publisher(s), usage of the music (background, theme, etc.), length of the music, and a title for each piece of music.
7.5 Contractual credit block.
A comprehensive list of credits as they are obligated to appear in the movie and on the poster.
7.6 Separate M&E tracks with a scratch dialogue track.
A D-88 tape of your movie’s audio; separate music, effects and dialog.
7.7 Music Licenses: Copies of all synchronization, performance and master use licenses in
connection with the music contained in the Program.
It’s IMPORTANT to keep good production records. Including copies of all contractual agreements, licenses, work for hire agreements, and release forms.
7.8 Electronic press kit.
A solid press kit, in paperless format.
7.9 Dialogue and Action Continuity: One (1) typewritten or photo-reproduced copy of a detailed
combined dialogue and action continuity of the completed Program(s), conformed in all respects to the
dialogue and action contained in the completed Program.
Initial: Licensor_____ Licensee_____
This document details your movie’s action and dialog with time code references. We had our movie translated and generated some German subtitled DVD’s by a company in Burbank. It cost about $1,500, and in the process they created a detailed continuity list for us, and we were able to get our movie into some German film festivals with the subtitled DVD’s.
1. 35mm Picture and Trailer (If available)
35mm print if available… Self explanatory.
2. NTSC and PAL 4x3 and 16x9 Digital Beta Master of the Picture with audio channel 1 and 2 containing a
stereo left and right mix of the original sound and channels 3 and 4 containing a stereo left and right mix
of the music and effects tracks with textless title backgrounds at the end of the Picture after the credit
3. NTSC and PAL 4x3 and 16x9 Digital Beta Master of the Trailer with stereo on channels 1 and 2 and
stereo M&E on channels 3 and 4
NTSC stands for the National Television System Committee, and it is the analog television encoding system used in most of North America, South America, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Burma, and some Pacific island nations and territories. PAL, stands for Phase Alternate Line, and it is an analogue television encoding system used in broadcast television systems in large parts of the world. Essentially, the NTSC system encodes audio and video at 30 frames per second and the PAL system encodes audio and video at 25 frames per second.
It can be very costly for an independent filmmaker to simultaneously generate PAL and NTSC versions of a movie. Our foreign distributor required a master as well, we then did an NTSC to PAL Conversion and output to the requested DIGIBETA.
4. HD (HDD5)16x9 and 4x3 Master of the Picture and Trailer (If available)
A D5(clone from your master) with the movie and the trailer on the same tape. A D5 is a high quality component digital format, similar to HDCAM SR but instead of 12 channels of audio it has 8.
5. DA88 of the M&E Tracks —harmonized
Mentioned earlier, D-88 separate channels with music, effects and dialog.
6. High Resolution Digital Stills (at least 40)
Self explanatory; press kit and promotional materiel mentioned earlier.
7. Music Cue Sheet
8. Dialogue and Continuity List
Same as above, cue sheet and dialog continuity lists.
9. E&O Insurance (If available)
Insurance documents… E and O insurance stands for errors and omissions and protects Production and Distribution companies from various liabilities regarding the images and sounds within a movie. Many distribution companies insist on carrying E&O… If the filmmakers don’t provide it, in some cases the distributors will. Typically it’s the producer’s resposibilty.
10. MPAA Rating (If available)
11. Copyright Form PA
12. Title Report and Copyright Report
A clean chain of title is critical for foreign distribution. You will need copyright certificates, and clearance report. Often, title clearance is one of many procedures required by E&O insurance carriers to minimize the risk of litigation. Title and trademark clearance are essential.
15. A transliteration if Picture contains languages other than English
Script and synopsis is pretty straight forward. We didn’t have to worry about #15 because our movie was in English.
That covers the primary essential elements that will be requested when you find distribution for your movie. I hope the information is helpful, and not too intimidating. If you have any insight, comments or questions I’d love to hear from you. Best of luck!