If you’re anything like we were six months ago, you have no idea where to start when it comes to making a DCP (Digital Cinema Package). We are by no means experts but here is what we learned from the process while making our feature Durant’s Never Closes. Let’s start with why you need a DCP:

  1. Most distribution and sales agent companies will require a DCP of your film (and trailer) when you make a deal with them.
  2. Most mainstream (non-Art House) theaters will ONLY play your movie with a DCP or strongly recommend it.
  3. It’s also an acceptable way to submit to festivals and most filmmakers (including Michael Mann) will vouch for DCP being a great transfer of your film.

So now the big question, how the hell do you make a DCP? We had no clue! So we started with our editing program and sure enough Adobe Premiere has a DCP exporting function in its latest version. But guess what…

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It sucks!

We hate to say it but our favorite software for cutting films isn’t up to par when it comes to making DCPs. Adobe, get on that fast! Every DCP we exported from Premiere failed to play at the theater our film Durant’s Never Closes opened at. We tried several methods of exporting from the program with no luck… So now what? Well…

  1. Most other DCP programs cost lots of money.
  2. There are services that offer to make DCPs for you and charge per minute. One filmmaker friend of ours recommended these, saying “when it comes to DCPs, I don’t want to mess up”. He’s right. But we knew there had to be a way to get it done for free.
  3. Some programs offer trial versions but these are usually very limited in terms of what you can do and testing what you made.

After countless attempts to solve this problem, we had a breakthrough. One of the technicians at Harkins theatress recommended we try DCPomatic. What was this? In all our searches we hadn’t heard of it. Here’s what DCPomatic is…

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  1. A free program to make DCPs
  2. DCPomatic actually produces DCPs that work! We haven’t had an issue since…
  3. The site features an online community that is very helpful with troubleshooting DCPs.

Did we mention it’s free? This was like the best thing since sliced bread. It’s literally the Jesus of DCP. Again, we are no experts about this but hopefully this blog will help you skip some of the frustrating steps we had to go through just to make a DCP that played.

-Travis Mills