The Art and Science of distributing your film via Cinema on Demand and community screenings.

You have a film. You want to get it out there. And you want to make money. But the old model of distribution is just that. Old. The competition for broadcast sales is fierce, Netflix is producing their own content and buying less, and DVDs are becoming a thing of the past.  The good news is, the internet is your friend! Social media and on-line platforms allows indie filmmakers to reach  audiences in new ways and puts the power of distribution in your own hands and those of your fans. But it is more than just distributing your film. You are building a community. A tribe. You are connecting people all over the world to each other. You are creating a revolution. Think big. 


A promo reel we created for my film, to inspire people to host their own screening. 

Audience in lobby.jpg


Thirty years ago when I started filmmaking I luckily received grants to fund my many of films. Television broadcasts, community screenings, universities and film festivals were my goals for distribution. Most of my films were funded and nationally broadcast.

In 2008, with great enthusiasm, I embarked on a new film project, a film about homeopathy. Homeopathy is one of the most controversial forms of medicine ever invented and I thought I would easily secure funding in this day and age of our national ‘healthcare crisis’. Surely, foundations would share my passion. How wrong I was. I was rejected from every grant for which I applied. I then turned to individuals.

Through the span of 8 years, a variety of creative crowdfunding campaigns, email blasts, and a ton of tenacity, we raised over $316,000 from 800 strangers all over the world. Not only did we raise the money, but equally important, we built a group of solid followers.

This ”slow drip” crowdfunding method laid the groundwork for the grassroots distribution of the film. I grew a “tribe” of people who were hungry to share this film with their community, friends and family. 

But many of these people lacked the knowledge and/or resources to produce a screening event. I suspected it could be a potential nightmare if I left them to do this on their own. This is where Cinema on Demand was a perfect match.


The film was released April 2017.

Cinema On Demand (COD). Tour began end of July 2017. Still active. 

100 COD screenings (Australia, UK, NZ, Canada and USA)
Audience average: 110
Total box office gross: over $125,000

Total community screenings (including COD). 

200+ Screenings worldwide
33 different countries
Subtitled into 18 languages

We had no marketing budget, no ads, no publicist and no traditional press. This was all done utilizing innovative and consistent digital marketing: social media and emails. More than just making money, these screenings, followed with Q&A’s build communities, inspire dialogue, raise awareness, motivate change, and educate!  It is an evening of entertainment that brings people together around a topic about which they are passionate. And, it is a lot of fun


Laurel profile 1.jpg

I have been critiquing and influencing social issues for over 30 years. My high-profile films have screened at film festivals around the world; at universities and medical schools; won numerous awards; been nominated for an Emmy and been broadcast on PBS’s Emmy winning national series, Independent Lens, and POV. My previous films have gained me acknowledgment and respect from doctors, researchers and institutions including Harvard Medical School, UCLA, MIT, and Harvard University.

My newly released documentary Just One Drop: the story behind the homeopathy controversy, is currently being distributed around the world using the Cinema on Demand model. My earlier films include: My Travels with Oliver (2017), a tribute to Oliver Sacks, Reconnected (2010) a movement disorder discovery,  Twisted (2006) about the neurological disorder, dystonia. Touched, (2003) about people who think they have had contact with aliens and the Harvard psychiatrist who believed them. The Jew in the Lotus (1999), about a group of rabbis that met with the Dalai Lama, and Twitch and Shout (1994) about Tourette Syndrome, nominated for a national Emmy. 

The intention in all my work is to entertain audiences while educating them. I have also been self distributing my earlier films as a Member Owner with New Day Films.


I would love to help you. Please send me an email with a brief description of your film and best times and ways to reach you. I offer a 15 minute complementary introductory conversation to discuss rates and determine how I can be of assistance to you and your film. 


"Don't be a dancer" I once heard a great teacher tell a young hopeful. "Dancers live terrible lives. They are always poor. They are too tired to make love. Family live is impossible. Don't be a dancer".  

After a minute she added, "Unless, of course, you must."

Indie filmmakers struggle with finding funds, grapple with hours of footage in the edit room, work on our films for years, often we don't pay ourselves, and then have to figure out how to distribute them when they are finished! Are we all insane??

We make films because we must. Because we know our films create a powerful impact. Cinema on Demand provides us with a wonderful vehicle to do what we always want our films to do. Change the world. One screening at a time.

What I learned from Laurel goes far beyond just the nuts and bolts of distribution. I learned a totally different way of looking at the world of filmmaking by developing and engaging my tribe, from the beginning. She painted a picture of the new models that are changing the way we make, fund and distribute our films. Laurel drew me a road map and together we made a plan. I moved forward with much more confidence and clarity.
— Gretchen Stoeltje