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Special Delivery: Film Deliverables

You haven’t spent all this time, money and resources on your project so that it can sit on your editor’s hard drive. People actually need to see your story. For this to happen, there are certain technical and marketing considerations you want to consider.

Photo: Dylan Ashe


We know. You’ve made a lot of choices along the way, from the genre of your story to which editing program you used to cut it. Now there’s one more pretty important decision to make, and unfortunately it’s not always a cheap one. Because you’ve been honest with yourself about your goals, you know where your audience will be watching this project. Now you need to format it for those venues. If you’re going theatrical, you’re a lucky devil, but you also have to figure out what the exhibitors require. Some theaters are fine with a simple Quicktime file or a Blu-Ray, but many including the major festivals will make you have a Digital Cinema Package (DCP). The standards of a DCP may be enough to drive you to the more accommodating arenas of YouTube and Vimeo. But if you set your sights on Sundance from day one and you’ve made room in the post-production budget, then enjoy your fancy new DCP and hope someone has enough good will to provide you with a new winter coat for your trip to Park City.

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If you’re on this site, you probably get excited when you see a trailer that looks really awesome. Sure, we’ve all been burned from time to time based on this logic, but it also works the other way where we’ve missed out on something great because of a lousy trailer. At the very least, you don’t want your potential audience staying home or clicking a different link because you couldn’t cut a decent two minute trailer. You want your trailer to establish the genre, tone and atmosphere of your story without giving too many key details away. However, you definitely don’t want to lose out on distribution because you don’t have the “right” kind of trailer. It’s not the worst idea since Han shooting first to make a few different versions of your trailer. Even if you don’t really care about the diverse tastes of different markets, studios and distributors do.

Further Reading:

Lock & Answer Print

Back when film was actually done on, you know, film, the first complete version of your project was called the answer print. It had reels and everything! For digital natives, the answer print is the first master copy of your project. It’s not necessarily the final version, but it’s pretty damn close. There might be some last minute fine tuning adjustments, but this means your project is more or less ready to go.


During production, delivery probably means the best meal you can afford. In distribution, it refers to what materials and versions of the project the distributor needs from you. As simple as it sounds, this can actually become the bane of your existence. Distributors can get super nitpicky, and “deliverables” are expensive to create – not to mention the fact that your money from the distributors is usually contingent on completing that delivery you can’t afford without their cash.

As annoying as this can all be, you can try to plan for delivery materials in your budget. For a video project, you’ll need an HD Cam and a specifically encoded digital version with closed captioning and separate audio tracks. If you have any artwork, make sure to include the original graphic files. Distributors will also want to see licensing agreements for music or trademarks, as well as proof that you hold the copyright on the project. Even if you took photos on set primarily for your own marketing, these are also potentially part of the delivery package. Did you create any code for any transmedia games or apps? Have that ready to go too. Finally, make sure to list any and all credits that need to appear in the final version.

For More on Business Considerations in Post-Production:

For More on Distribution Options:

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