Almost every week I get a request from a filmmaker who’s seeking distribution and isn’t sure what to do. While there are plenty of articles on the subject, oftentimes, it just helps to hear from someone else who’s been there and done that. So here’s Brad Podowski’s story.
Brad Podowski is a filmmaker from the Chicagoland area. He’s worked on films, in various roles from being a grip to a producer, since 2004 and owns a video production company, BP Video+, which specializes in corporate video and graphic design.
What led to your initial interest in filmmaking?
I originally went to school at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago for animation. Growing up, I was always interested in the magic of animation – making a drawing come to life. I would create flip books with my dad. I loved to draw, so animation seemed like a perfect fit. While in college, I was living with a friend of mine from high school who was going to Columbia College for film. I helped him with one of his student film projects and from there I was hooked. I transferred to Columbia the next semester.
With a background of graphic design, set construction, and cinematography, how did all that come into play when you started writing/directing your own films?
I think the biggest advantage was having a strong visual sense and being able to communicate that to each department head.
Tell us about your newest project Redemption Way.
Redemption Way is my debut feature film. I wrote, produced and co-directed it.
Jenny Paine is a hospice nurse who feels it is her mission to safely deliver souls into the next life. However, when her childhood friend Autumn is put on hospice, Jenny’s attempts at sharing her Christian faith are angrily rejected.
Feelings of helplessness extend to other areas of Jenny’s life as well. She longs for children, but her husband doesn’t feel ready financially, and Jenny’s chance for a promotion at work is being sabotaged by a scheming co-worker.
With time running out, Jenny must place her faith in God by making a life-changing sacrifice.
Describe your process for acquiring a distributor for Redemption Way.
The process was a lengthy one and didn’t fall into place very easily, at least not initially. I was trying to get another project off the ground. It was a modern-day interpretation of the Book of Job, with the Job character being a female. My producer at the time had a connection with my current distributor, Vision Video. We created a pitch package and submitted that along with the script to them. They were one of many distributors that we submitted it to. Vision Video responded well to our submission but ultimately didn’t think that the project was a good fit for them. I had spent a year trying to raise money for that film and ended up empty-handed. It was very frustrating. So I decided to write a story that I could produce myself on a very limited budget. After I completed the script (which was the fastest I’d ever written anything – God’s provision), I contacted Vision Video again, who I now had a working relationship with. They really liked the story and decided to not only provide worldwide distribution but also come on board to help fund it. Without them, I don’t think this film would have been possible. It certainly would not have been possible without God’s favor.
What was the greatest challenge of finding a distributor?
The greatest challenge was dealing with rejection, especially on a project that you’ve spent years of your life on. The take away: Don’t give up. Keep walking through the doors God opens until they close. Then pray and test the next door.
What advice would you offer to first time filmmakers looking for distribution for their films?
The most important thing when seeking a distributor, aside from prayer, is having a strong story. Spend the time making your story as strong as possible. Seek out professional feedback and be wise when implementing those suggestions into future drafts. Don’t rush the process. Stay true to the initial vision of the film and make sure that it’s about something that you care deeply about. That will get you through the long and sometimes exhausting process that is filmmaking.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you began work on Redemption Way?
I think I would have spent more time in pre-production crafting the visuals of the story. Planning each shot more carefully, getting deeper into the visual language of the film. All in all though, I’m very proud of the work that everyone has done on this film.
How can people learn more or purchase Redemption Way?
To learn more, visit www.RedemptionWayMovie.com. You can purchase the film (DVD & Digital HD) now at www.VisionVideo.com. It will have a worldwide release date of September 5, 2017 and will be available on Amazon, Pureflix, walmart.com, target.com, christianbook.com, and LifeWay, among others.
What do you have planned for the future?
I am praying for God’s guidance. I’m open to working on others’ films and I’m also beginning to develop some feature film ideas. One is a mystery, based on a true story, surrounding the death of my uncle. But, who knows what’s next. Making a film is an incredibly challenging endeavor. If it’s God’s will, I would love to make another film!
One thing you’ll note is that while Redemption Way is Brad’s directorial debut, he brought to the film years of training and expertise which resulted in a project suitable for distribution. Distributors are looking for quality projects.