Does anyone out there have any positive stories about distributors?
No. No, I didn't think so. It's funny - I thought it was just the distribution company our show was with. I thought we went with a pack of monkeys and all those other distributors were great. After all, many distributors have great visibility in the business. They must all be great while we were lumbered with idiots.
Turns out everyone feels the same.
People on big shows with high-profile distributors have nothing but horror stories about how their show has been treated. Everyone feeling they went with the wrong distributor. And that's a real problem.
You see, when a show is made (as ours is now), it falls to the distributor to sell the show, usually internationally. They have to find the best platforms for the show, try to hype it up as much as they can, get it the best time slots from broadcasters. They have to find licensing deals, build what they would call a brand. Get books into shops. Toys if people want them. That sort of thing. Take the raw materials that are the show itself and get it out there.
Handing a show over to a distributor is like handing your child over...
...to an abusive coke addict who barely knows or cares that your child exists.
Things I have seen from distributors that bug the living shit out of me:
- Not actually getting to know the show. Like, not even watching the goddam episodes. How can you possibly expect to sell something if you don't know what it is?!
- Trying to tell the show makers who live with the show every single day what the show is or should be, even though they don't know the show, as in the previous point.
- Not talking to other people within their company. Seriously - do you guys spend so much time glued to your Blackberries that you can't even talk to somebody in the next room? Stop asking for the same shit all the time when the people in your office already have it.
- Not forming any sort of strategy. Probably as a result of the previous point, distributors routinely wander around aimlessly until those few minutes a month they decide they should do something. Without the preparation and resources, they achieve nothing.
- Spending more time coming up with reasons why things won't work or can't happen than actually trying to find out what you can do. We've made a show. That's an uphill struggle. We know all about how difficult things can be. We don't care. What you can't do isn't worth shit to us. Go do something.
The list goes on and on...
How most of these people keep their jobs is absolutely beyond me. Actually, some distributors have a fairly high rate of staff turnover so maybe they don't. And of course, because they don't actually ever communicate with people in their own company, every time someone leaves it is like starting from scratch. The new person will be sure to tell us just what great things they've worked on. But that silence when we ask them a question about our show tells us so much more.
In a way, I suppose it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one who ended up with a fuckwit for a distributor.
Oh and if any distributor comes across this, you know I don't mean you, right? It's those other distributors...