Distribution Transparency: Four Filmmakers Reveal Their Numbers, Part Two

Tuesday’s post looked at Neil Berkeley and Judy Chaikin as two filmmakers who wanted to create a theatrical release for their films to boost visibility, increase ancillary value and learn for themselves how to operate in the new hybrid model of distribution and marketing. Today we will look at Paco de Onís from Skylight, the company he runs with creative director Pamela Yates and editorial director Peter Kinoy, and their film/media project Granito 

Paco de Onís, Skylight and Granito

According to de Onís, Skylight is “as much a filmmaking organization as a human rights organization.” Hence their goals are not about monetary gain but about social change, specifically in the realm of social justice. To do this, according to de Onís, “we’ve had to develop a model where we can work without a distributor,” he explains. “A distributor is looking for financial dividends, but we’re out looking for social dividends.”

In this quest for change and larger audience, they often give their films away for free. They gave their film Granito, about genocide in Guatemala, away to a major Guatemalan bootlegger, who then spread it across the country in a way they never would have been able to. “There’s no better distributor in Guatemala. We don’t make any money from that but our film gets seen everywhere.”

In addition when the film screened on PBS, they persuaded the broadcaster to take off geo-blocking from the PBS streaming feed so that anyone in the world would be able to see the film. Skylight also creates indigenous language versions of many of their films which are given directly to that community.

Skylight also makes its films available for free to groups that want to screen them. Whether for a community group or a local human rights organization, you simply have to fill out a form on their website explaining why you want to show it, and they’ll provide you with a copy. They also ask that you let them know how the screening went after it’s over, but Paco says this often doesn’t happen.

It is very hard to track eyeballs and impact, but here are some of the statistics they have collected for Granito…

To check out these figures and read the rest of this article, click to Filmmaker Magazine.