Many Filmmakers, like everyone else effected by COVID-19 are itching for some level of a return to normalcy. Unfortunately, like many others think that there may never be a full return to normal. It may well end up as a pre-COVID and a Post COVID period. Similar to how the world changed before and after the great depression, 9/11, The internet, or World War II. Societal traumas tend to leave lasting scars, and that tends to effect the market as a whole and certain industries in meaningful ways. So let’s look at what one executive producer thinks is likely to happen in the film industry as a result.
If you’re going to read and understand your distribution agreement, then there’s some terminology you have to grasp first. So with that in mind, here’s a breakdown of some key terminology you ABSOLUTELY need to know if you’re going to get traditional distribution for your film.
2019 was a quite a year for most of us, and while we’re entering 2020 with more stable an economic footing than we’ve expected, there are definitely some notable industry trends heating up that I thought weigh in on a bit and let those of you who frequent my tiny corner of the internet know my thoughts on the matter.
AFM this year will be interesting. Here’s the current state form someone who’s been going for 10 years, and has been a Practicing Producer’s rep for 6 years. Two quick things before we get started. First, You should definitely go to AFM at least once. It’s eye opening, and if I hadn’t done it I probably wouldn’t have a career.
Second: These opinions are mine alone, and have not been approved, endorsed, or otherwise condoned by the International Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) owner of the American Film Market. (AFM is also a Registered Trademark of the IFTA.)
Much of my job as a producer’s rep is negotiating deals on the behalf of filmmakers. However, now that I’m doing more direct distribution, I’m realizing there are several things about this process that most filmmakers don’t understand. As I tend to write a blog whenever I run into a question enough that I feel my time is better spent writing my full answer instead of explaining it again, here’s a top level guide on the process of negotiating an independent film distribution deal.
Filmmakers Ask me about Recoupable Expenses all the time. A lot of filmmakers think that recoupable expenses mean money they have to pay. Except in some VERY limited circumstances, that’s not the case.
A recoupable expense is simply an expense that a distributor or sales agent fronts to your film. Another way of looking at this is that your distributor is your last investor, as they’re putting in a zero interest loan in the form of paying for fees and services necessary to take the film to market. Most of the time, the distributor will need to get that money back before they start paying the filmmaker. Distributors and sales agents have businesses to run and general put money into anywhere between 24 and 60 of films every year. Without the ability to recoup what we put in, distributors would not be able to continue to invest in new films.
If you want to understand how best to market something, you need to first understand the steps that a customer would take in buying it. This isn’t just true for film, it’s true for everything any entrepreneur might want to sell. It’s called the purchase process or purchase cycle. Here’s what it looks like for film.
I get A LOT of questions about how best to make money with short films. It’s something that I think is inherently appealing to most filmmakers, to start making a little bit of passive income from every project they make. Unfortunately, while possible, it’s not that easy, and the reasons why are relatively simple.
The Distributor’s job is largely to make your film available for sale, and set it up in such a way that people are likely to buy it. Some will work to market your film, but most won’t. Even when they do market your film, you helping market your work will make the marketing your distributor does much more effective. However, there are some basic rules that you should follow to make sure everything goes as well.
If you think your work is over when you finish making your film, and someone will just give you a few hundred grand more than it cost to make it so you can make your next one then you’re in for a real wake-up call. Sadly, there’s no money in making films, only in selling them, and the work of selling them is no longer solely on your distributor. Or, at least you shouldn’t count on it being that way. Here’s why.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing about and how we used to market movies, vs what works in marketing them now. So to expand on that, here are the most important things in marketing your movie in todays day and age.
A lot of filmmakers I’ve worked with don’t know enough about distribution to really make a career making creative content. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as it’s a something film schools tend not to teach. That being said, there’a a part of the equation most people just don’t talk about, and WHY it takes so long for filmmakers to get paid. This blog addresses that.
I try to stay active in at least a few facebook and LinkedIn groups, and one question that comes up more often than I thought it would was why distributors need to know your social media numbers. The argument that generally follows is something like “just because people follow us doesn’t mean they’re going to buy our movie.” For the most part, we get that you probably have a lot of filmmaker friends, and your filmmaker friends are often surprisingly difficult to get to buy your movie. That’s not the only, (or even the primary) reason why we need to know about your social media. Here are 6 reasons why
Last week I examined the rise and fall of physical media for the film industry. As promised, this week I’ll outline WHY that matters, and the practical aspects of the current independent film industry. Well, the answer to that (and so many things in both this industry and in life) is that it’s all in how you do it. What follows is an examination, looking to lend guidance to that question. Here are the ways you can still make money with independent film.
If you thought that I missed a few genres in my blog last week, it might be that they’re more classically sub-genres. The biggest difference between a genre and a sub-genre is that a genre is generally a tone or a feel of a film (and sometimes some elements related to those tones) and a sub genre is more related to Themes, Settings, Style or niche audiences that targeted largely by those themes settings, or style. Some sub-genres pair better with certain genres than others, and it’s common to have more than one in a film. More as we go through them.
So most filmmakers are at least passingly aware of the importance of genre in independent film distribution. (If you’re not, read this.) But even while most filmmakers have a cursory understanding of what defines a genre, the lines are often less bendable than many filmmakers think they are. So with that in mind, here’s what distributors mean when they say a certain genre.
Part of what I do through the consulting arm of Guerrilla Rep Media is review peoples Decks and business plans. One thing that I keeps coming up in these documents is that entirely too many filmmakers list their distribution strategy as sole their festival run. There’s a lot of issues with this line of thinking, so as I do with any question that keeps coming up I thought I would write a blog about it. So without further adieu, here’s why you probably won’t get distribution from your festival run.
Many filmmaker and even more film consumers just want to know when work will be on Netflix. In recent years, this has become more difficult than it was previously. IT used to be that it was a relatively easy sale to get on Netflix, although the money wasn’t very good. More recently, the bar has been raised substantially, and the money you get for it hasn’t increased as much as we may have liked it to. What follows is an outline of how to get your film on Netflix, both as an original and as an acquisition.
Last week I shared a few different types of printed materials to use at film festivals. This week, I thought I’d follow up with a post on the essential components of Indiefilm Electronic Press Kit. I will say that this is one thing where reasonable people can disagree, so if you think there’s something I missed, comment it below and I might change the post to include it.
Seeing as how a majority of my business still comes from representing filmmakers to sales agents and distributors, it’s unsurprising that a question I get at my events and in my inbox quite often is when is the best time to approach a producer’s rep, sales agent or distributor. Well, as with many things I tend to blog about, there’a a short, true, and mostly unhelpful answer to that question. There’s also a longer, more nuanced, and more correct answer. This blog attempts to answer both in under 800 words.
In a follow-up to last week’s blog on self distribution platforms, I thought we would step back for a minute and try to understand what filmmakers should consider before they decide whether or not to self distribute their movie. This blog is a list of potential parameters you might want to go by. It’s not the only things you should take into account, but they are some factors you’ll need to consider
I’ve recently stepped into the world of direct US Distribution. This is primarily due to things I’ve learned from several other US Releases I’ve overseen as a Producer’s Rep. One of the most common questions I get is what platforms to release a film on. So, instead of answering the same thing over and over, I’ve decided to put my thoughts into a blog.
Even though the delivery materials in the first 3 parts of this blog seemed pretty thorough, there are still more that may be required to fulfill an international sale. Generally, these deliverables are only required if requested at a later date, and sometimes they’re created by the sales agents as an additional recoupable expense to be paid before the filmmaker begins taking their cut.
Distribution deliverables are far more than simply technical requirements. As we saw last week, there are also substantial marketing materials that you’ll have to provide to the distributor, and more that they may have to generate themselves. This week we’re covering the basics of legal distribution deliverables.
So there’s a lot of questions about what’s involved in Distribution Deliverables for an independent Film. So I’ve scoured a few contracts to find a very thorough list of what you might need to provide for a distributor or Sales Agent if they take your film. Since this list is quite expansive, there may be some stuff on here that most distributors do not ask for, but If figured it best to know what you might have to be able to provide
My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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