Film Distribution Glossary Terms and Definitions
(the important ones)

  • AVOD - Advertising Video on Demand 

    • AVOD is free to viewers - think Tubi. AVOD streaming services make their revenue by selling advertising. Filmmakers and distributors make their revenue by being paid a portion of that ad revenue. 


  • SVOD - Subscription Video on Demand

    • SVOD viewers pay a flat rate per month - think Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Shudder, etc. SVOD streaming services make their revenue by selling subscriptions to viewers. Filmmakers and distributors make their revenue by being paid by SVOD streaming services per film (usually a flat rate paid over the life of the contract but sometimes there are back-end payments). 

  • TVOD - Transactional Video on Demand

    • TVOD viewers pay on a pay-per-view basis - think iTunes. TVOD streaming services make their revenue by charging viewers a fee for renting or downloading their content. Filmmakers and distributors make their revenue by taking a percentage of the transaction / pay-per-view fee as outlined in the TVOD contract agreement. 

      • EST - Electronic Sell Through means the viewer downloads the content and has unlimited viewing access.

      • DTR - Download to Rent means the viewer is "renting" the content for a specified period of time. After such time the content is no longer viewable. 

  • OTT - Over the Top

    • Content that is directly distributed to viewers over the Internet - think basically all Internet streaming services. (read more at Wikipedia)

  • Four Wall / Four Walling 

    • A filmmaker, producer, or distribution company (such as m.bur Short Film Distribution) rent out a movie theater for a flat-rate for the purpose of selling tickets to a film screening. This is generally a bad idea as ticket sales rarely exceed the cost of theater rental - however, there are benefits to four-walling including reviews in publications, a Rotten Tomatoes page, and more that you will discuss with your m.bur partner when you join the Mbur filmmaker family. (read more at Wikipedia)


  • Front-end payments

    • When a filmmaker is paid on the "front-end" it means they are paid upfront. This rarely happens in modern film distribution unless the film has mass appeal (read: star power) or is a darling at a major film festival like Sundance or Tribeca and causes a bidding war among buyers.

  • Back-end payments

    • When a filmmaker is paid on the "back-end" it means they are paid based on certain criteria - percentage of gross sales, percentage of net revenue, etc. The back-end is usually expressed in terms of "points" (See next term).

  • Points

    • One point is typically equal to 1%. So, if a filmmaker retains 70 points, they would be paid 70% of the agreed upon revenue model (gross sales, net revenue, etc.). Often producers, named actors, and key players in the film will take deferred payment through back-end points. 

  • MG - Minimum Guarantee

    • You've just won Sundance and you're the hit of the festival. Now, distributors will be fighting over your film and some of them will even offer you an MG, or minimum guarantee - a set amount of money upfront to secure the rights to your film. MG's are becoming more rare by the day due to the dilution of the value of films in the industry but if you're lucky (and quite good), you may be able to secure a minimum guarantee for your film.

  • Film Distribution Deliverables

    • Each distribution partner (Hulu, Shudder, Tubi, Netflix, etc.) has their own specific set of deliverables - that is, technical, paperwork, and media requirements for successful delivery to their platforms. This is sometimes a daunting task for filmmakers who haven't paid attention to distribution deliverables prior to finishing their film. Luckily, m.bur has streamlined this process. (See Deliverables Section)

  • M&E Track - Music and Effects Track

    • This track contains the music and effects for your film and only the music and effects (no dialogue). This is particularly important for a filmmaker to submit to a film distribution company because most International Film Buyers want to dub in their native language with actors of their choice. By providing an M&E Track and Dialogue Track as separate audio files, the International Film Buyer can use only the M&E Track. (See why this is sometimes difficult for filmmakers to provide in the Deliverables Section)

This list is constantly updated. If you're a filmmaker in need of an amazing company to foster your film along the thorny path of film distribution, check out Mbur Indie Film Distribution. You can read the benefits of becoming a part of the Mbur filmmaker family by clicking here. And you can submit your film here

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Mbur is an Internet based company headquartered in Burbank, CA.
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