DAOHeader LinksContactWhy This Film?Our SupportersClips and ImagesThe FilmmakersThe Film


The goal of distributing and exhibiting Dear Anna Olson is that of any film: to reach the widest audience possible. However, this particular film has a unique and compelling profile. At once a parable, a work of art, a multimedia experience and pure entertainment, the film can appeal to numerous audiences. Every facet of Dear Anna Olson’s uniqueness will be utilized to creatively distribute it through a broad range of traditional and nontraditional channels. While short subject films exist outside mainstream media, there are, nonetheless, many established and innovative distribution and exhibition outlets that will put Dear Anna Olson in front a full-spectrum of audiences.

And, as the Internet continues to become a major source for home entertainment it will undoubtedly lead to many exciting new distribution options yet to be considered. Therefore, the following ‘Plans for Distribution’ should be considered an evolving sketch and subject to change as more business models emerge.

Award-winning films have the tailwind of good public relations and can leverage the award show marketing channels at little cost. Also, the festival circuit places the film in front of many potential distributors. Therefore, the first step in the distribution of Dear Anna Olson will be to enter it into several major film festivals, both nationally and internationally. Sequence of entry is important, since certain festivals have very strict rules about premiering. Also, winning an award at certain festivals like the San Francisco International Film Festival or the Berlin Film Festival will make Dear Anna Olson eligible for Oscar™ consideration. With all these of implications in mind, careful consideration will be taken as to when and where the film will be submitted. Ultimately, aspirations are that Dear Anna Olson will be at least nominated, and hopefully awarded an Oscar™. Obviously, even a Motion Picture Academy nomination would have a significant impact in the marketing, exhibition and distribution of the film.

For a film like Dear Anna Olson there are several distribution tracks to follow after its run in festivals. The first and most preferred is a theatrical release where the film is included in a collection of shorts. Touring shows, like Mike Judge’s The Animation Show, are shown at art-house cinemas and other small venues nationwide. The inclusion of Dear Anna Olson into a touring show will allow the film to reach its natural audience: independent film and animation enthusiasts. A theatrical release can also offer a segue into another distribution market: home video. In most cases of animated short home video distribution, the shorts are compiled by the distributors of the touring shows and mostly target the same type of audience.

The next distribution channel would be broadcast television. Cable outlets like The Independent Film Channel and The Sundance Channel frequently screen short films as interstitials to even-out scheduling for features that run short. Digital cable companies like Comcast offer animated short films as On Demand programming, allowing the viewer to watch the film at their leisure. Dear Anna Olson's length makes it optimal for this use, and its profile suits international television audiences. Stations such as Channel 4 in Britain and Canal + in France are always seeking films where language is not a barrier.

An important issue to consider when seeking distribution deals is exclusivity. In an exclusive agreement a single distributor would own the film's theatrical, home video, broadcast and all other usage rights. Non-exclusive agreements allow for separate negotiations with different distributors for each market segment or channel. While an exclusive distribution 'package deal' may seem less work, one runs the risk of putting full faith in the efforts of a single distributor. Non-exclusivity will mitigate the risk that a distributor loses interest or means to promote Dear Anna Olson.

Non-exclusive agreements will also allow for the exploration of alternate distribution and exhibition opportunities. One option currently under consideration is to form a distribution company to specifically market this film. Direct marketing channels, such as mail and Internet, will promote Dear Anna Olson to specialized audiences who would benefit from the film’s message and educational aspects. Audiences that meet this profile include schools, libraries, faith-based organizations and community centers.

Mailings could be in the context of catalogs for education professionals or direct response to select lists. All marketing would describe the film and drive audiences to this website, DearAnnaOlson.com. Here they will learn more about the film, view still images and movie clips and, ultimately, purchase copies on DVD or VHS. The site will also be used to generate greater excitement for the film and future projects through the online newsletter, which will keep audiences informed of the latest DAO News and Upcoming Events.

One such event currently being considered is to have Dear Anna Olson tour with an orchestra who would perform the musical score live as the film is being shown. Presently, one such orchestral group has expressed great interest in the idea of collaborating on this project. This sort of exhibition would help support the film in several ways: it would create a unique and exciting multimedia event to showcase the film at which copies of Dear Anna Olson could be made available for purchase at the performance venues. Most importantly, it will help to reach audiences who might not normally see a film of this type. Also under consideration is the creation of an alternate “Special Edition” DVD of Dear Anna Olson where the viewer could choose between the original theatrical soundtrack of the film or the live performance by the orchestra.

There are also plans to do a book adaptation of Dear Anna Olson. This will be a picture book for children with images based on those in the film. As with the musical/event showcase mentioned, this could potentially lead to wider distribution of the film through the bundling of the book and the video, akin to DVD/book projects such as Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman.

In addition to direct response, there will be distribution through the Internet via websites like IFilm.com and AtomFilms.com. These sites present films like Dear Anna Olson as streaming video to be viewed on a home computer. For now, plans to utilize this conduit would occur at the very end of the film’s distribution efforts. While the financial returns from these sites would be small at best, it would allow the film to remain accessible to the online public for an extended time.