For over ten years, we have dreamed of working with the team at Aspiration Entertainment. Gary and I went to college with the owner, Erik Løkkesmoe, and we have stayed in touch and followed each others careers, hoping there’d be an opportunity to join forces. Even on our first film, CALVIN MARSHALL, we discussed a partnership, but the timing wasn’t right.
While Aspiration started out primarily as a marketing firm, in the last couple years, they have expanded into a full distribution company releasing narratives, docs, and shows. Over the past decade, they have worked with major studios and independents to support films such as WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?, FREE SOLO, DARK WATERS, THE TREE OF LIFE, THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON, CALVARY, LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT and many others.
For PHOENIX, OREGON Aspiration Entertainment will handle distribution and marketing for all North American rights including but not limited to theatrical, digital, and streaming.
When choosing a distributor, we were expressly looking for a partner with marketing experience, since most distributors accessible to independent filmmakers provide extremely limited marketing services.
For awhile, it has felt like there are only two types of marketing options:
- Hand-over all marketing to a studio or mini-major who buys the film outright with an upfront cash payment — a negative pickup deal. The distributor takes complete ownership of all marketing and sales activities for the film. The filmmaker moves on to their next film. This is the holy grail, but the chances of this deal happening for an independent film are miniscule (less than 1%) and almost only happen at (or immediately after) a major film festival or with films having very famous, A-list cast.
- DIY Marketing in conjunction with a smaller distributor. These distributors may do a little bit of marketing, but their real strength and skillset is making deals with all of the platforms. They take a percentage of all sales and rarely provide an up front cash advance. Filmmakers usually have to do their own marketing in order to get the film into the world.
We’d been noticing the lack of marketing expertise with the small distributors. At the same time, Aspiration was noticing this gap and chose to fill it by developing a disribution company focused on marketing and filmmaker collaboration.
Because Aspiration believes that filmmakers can provide key insights into the film’s audience and messaging, they enlist filmmaker involvement, collaboration, and oversight on brand consistency.
The first thing they asked us to do — while still in negotiations — was to answer a list of questions about the film, our reasons for making it, what we hoped audiences would gain from it, and details on our audience. This was a hugely valuable exercise, and I still regularly review our answers.
Aspiration is also actively interested in developing solutions to reach audiences through grassroots campaigns and creative promotions. Since independent films do not have massive resources like the studios, it is imperative to supplement a traditional release with additional marketing strategies and revenue channels.
We are excited to be collaborating with them on new solutions and also learning from all of their years of experience.
We are so grateful to finally get a chance to work with Erik and his team!