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MRTS MFA: Educational Film Distribution: Edu Distributors

Resources for RTVF MFA students interesting in distributing their documentaries to the educational market.

Distribution Avenues in the Edu Market

Avenues for distributing to the Edu Market?

Traditional educational distributor

  • Handle most matters for you
  • Selective about who they work with

Self Distribute

  • You handle most matters yourself
  • Increased control

Something in between

  • Filmmakers cooperatives - New Day Films, Film-Makers Cooperative
  • Hire consultant or advisor

Norms in the Educational Market

A few norms in the educational marketplace on how to sell these things to Buyers

Purchasing a copy

  • DVD is still preferred physical format
  • Chaptered
  • Closed Captioned
  • Length - keep in mind a class is 50 minutes long; variable lengths
  • Educational ‘extras” - guide on how to address specific issues; quizzes, curriculum tie ins (K-12)


  • Often higher priced - $200 - $500 average range
    • Why? Niche educational topics -have a very focused and small audience
    • Rational: Sell relatively few copies, so you need to charge more per copy to break even. If nobody can make money creating specialized content, what’s the incentive to create it?
  • Tiered pricing - $300 for college; $150 for public library; $30 for individual
    • Keep in mind, you can only effectively implement tiered pricing if you control all the sales
    • Libraries can purchase Home Video versions. If something’s available on Amazon for $20, a library can buy it
    • If you directly control sales to libraries and individuals, you can decide who you will sell to and for what price.
    • Zipporah/ Frederick Wiseman is a good example of tightly controlling his work

Public performance rights (PPR) for an open screenings

  • Many filmmakers include this as an “bonus feature” when charging higher prices
    • Limited PPR - Ex: on campus, under 50 students, not admission charged.
  • Some filmmakers change $ for EDU DVD or $$ for EDU + PPR
  • Additional fees for additional needs - if someone wants to charge admission or open the screening up to the general public
  • Remember, PPR is not needed to show a film in class

Online access to films

  • Needed more and more - online courses, students preferred anytime/anywhere access
    • Digital Rights - Permission for the buyer to digitize and put the film online in a protected environment
    • Access levels -  to all currently enrolled students or to a specific course
    • For how long? 1 semester, 5 years (standard), in perpetuity!
    • Prices changes according to what you’re selling
  • Provide streaming Access
    • When the filmmaker or distributor hosts the online film and managed access
    • Similar to online journal databases - things are moving in this direction
    • Subscribe to 1 film or a collection of films
    • Libraries can’t use individual streaming options like Amazon Instant, Itunes, download codes, etc

Educational Film Distributors

This is an uncomprehensive list of film distributors working in the educational/ non theatrical market. 

Additional Links