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.
This is one of those blogs I should probable start out by saying that I’m not a lawyer. Always talk to a lawyer when looking at a film or media distribution contract. With that out of the way, I’d recommend we get started.
At its core, a license for an independent film or media project is the right to exploit the content for financial gain. Every other piece of a license agreement is clarifying the limitations of that license.
A licensor is the person or entity that is licensing the piece of media to another entity to either distribute or sub distribute their content. In general, this is the filmmaker when the filmmaker is dealing with a sales agent or producer’s rep, or the sales agent or producer’s rep when they’re dealing with distributors.
The License is the entity that is acquiring the content to distribute it and exploit it for financial gain. In the instance of filmmakers and sales agents, it would be the sales agent, in the instance of sales agents and distributors, it would be the distributor.
Books on Film Distribution
4. Producer’s Representative (Producer’s Rep)
An agent who acts on behalf of a filmmaker or film to get the best possible sales and distribution deals.
5. Sales Agent
A Company that licenses films from sales agents or Producer’s Reps in order to sub license the film to territorial distributors around the world.
A company that directly exploits a film in a given territory on agreed upon media right types.
8. License Fee
A license fee is a set amount of money paid by a distributor to exploit media in a defined territory and set of media rights. Unlike a minimum guarantee, a License fee is the total amount of payment the licensor will receive over the course of the license, regardless of financial success the film goes on to achieve. License fees can be paid in one lump sum, or over the course of the license.
9. Revenue Share
Revenue share is the other most common way films can receive payment. Revenue share essentially means that the licensee will split revenue with the licensor according to an agreed upon commission generally after they recoup their expenses.
10. Producer’s Corridor
A producer’s corridor is an alternate payment waterfall of money a filmmaker is paid prior to the licensee recouping their expenses. This generally means that the producer is paid from dollar one.
Term is the length of time a contract is in place. For most independent film sales agency contracts, the term is generally 5-7 years.
In the instances that generally apply to traditional distribution in the modern day region refers to a set of territories that a film can be distributed in. While they vary slightly sales agency to sales agency, they are generally English Speaking, Europe, Latin America, Asia/Far East, and other.
When it comes to film distribution and international sales. territories are areas within a region that add greater specificity to where a sales agent can parse rights. Latin America is both a region and a territory.
14. Media Rights
The sorts of media that a distributor has to exploit in a given territory or set of territories.
Related: Indiefilm Media Right types
A territory consisting of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
The act of renting theaters in order to screen your film in them. It generally involves a not insignificant up front fee, and as a result all money returns to the licensor.
17. Community Screening
An alternative to a theatrical run for films with a strong niche or cause. See below for more information.
18. Payment Waterfall
When it comes to independent film distribution agreements, a payment waterfall is contractual representation How many flows from stakeholder to stakeholder. If there is a producer’s corridor or some other non-standard modifications of a license agreement, there may be more than one waterfall in said contract.
19. Collection Account
A collection account is an account that a sales agent pays into which pays out all other stakeholders according to a pre-defined set of parameters.
In the context of independent film distribution and international sales agreements, a report is a statement made monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually that states all incomes and expenses for a film. Generally, this is accompanied by a check one is due.
21. Payment Threshold
When it comes to film and media distribution, a payment threshold is a minimum payment owed by a licensee in order to issue a payment to a licensee. This payment amount is generally dependent on what payment method is being utilized. For instance, the minimum is for a wire transfer is generally higher than a check which in turn is generally higher than for a direct deposit.
22. Recoupable Expense
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.