As a Producer’s Rep, one of the questions I get asked the most is what exactly do I do? The term is somewhat ubiquitous and often mean different things to different people. So I thought it might be a good idea to settle the matter. In this post, I’ll outline what a producer’s rep is, and how we interact with sales agents, investors, filmmakers, and direct distribution channels. But first, we need a little background on some of the terms we’ll be using, and what they mean. These terms vary a bit depending on who you ask, but this is what I’ve been able to gather
DISTRIBUTOR / BUYER
A distributor is someone who takes the product to an end user. This can be anything a buyer for a theater chain, a PayTV channel, a VOD platform, to an entertainment media buyer for a large retail chain like Wal-Mart, Target, or Walgreens. The rights Distributors take are generally broken up both by media type and by territory.
For Instance, if you were to sell a film to someone like HBO, they would likely take at least the US PayTV and SVOD rights, so that it could stream on premium television and HBO Go/ Now. They make take additional territories as well.
Conversely, it’s not uncommon to sell all of France or Germany in one go. It should are often sold by the language, so sometimes French Canada will sell with France. This is less common as of late.
Generally, these entities will pay real money via a wire transfer, and almost dealing directly only with a sales agent. Although sometimes to a producer’s rep, and VOD platforms will generally deal with an aggregator. The traditional model of film finance is built around presales to these sorts of entities, but that presale model has recently shifted.
A Sales agent is a person or company with deep connections in the world of international sales. They specialize in segmenting and selling rights to individual territories. Often, they will be distributors themselves within their country of origin. This business is entirely relationship based, and the sales agents who have been around a while have very long term business relationships with buyers all around the world. That’s why they travel to all of the major film markets.
Examples on the medium-large end would be Magnolia Pictures international, Tri-Coast Entertainment, and Multivissionaire. WonderPhil is up and coming as well. The Weinstein Company, Lionsgate, and Focus Features would also be considered distributors/sales agents, but they’re very hard to approach.
Aggregators are companies that help you get on VOD platforms. The most important service they provide is helping you conform to technical specifications required by various VOD platforms. This job is not as easy as you would think it is, which is why they charge so much. Additionally, they have better access to some VOD platforms than others. These days, it’s very difficult to get on iTunes without one.
Generally, charge a not insubstantial fee to get you on these platforms, and they offer little to help you market the project. Companies like this include Distribbr, Bitmax, and more listed in the link below.
There are merits to going this through this route, but they can be expensive, often costing about one thousand USD up front and growing from there. Check the link above for a much more thorough analysis.
Producer of Marketing and Distribution.[PMD]
If you’re an investor reading this, you want any film you invest in to at least have access to a PMD or Producer’s Rep.
In the independent film world, the traditional definition of an executive producer is someone who helps you package projects by attaching distribution, bankable talent, and with luck financing. They’ll also help you design a beneficial financial mix, [I.E. where can you best utilize tax incentives, presales, brand integration, and equity, and gap debt.] in order to help your project have the best chance of success.
Often, they’ll take a percentage of your raise, and you’ll have to have some money to pay them up front. Not an insane amount of money, but some.
I’ll go into this much more deeply next week, But Producer’s Reps are essentially a connector between all of these sorts of people and companies. Producer’s Reps will connect you do sales agents, aggregators, buyers, and investors. But more than that, a good one will help you figure out how and when to contact each one. For a more detailed analysis of what exactly a Producer's Rep does, Check out THIS BLOG!
Want to more about Distribution? Check out this book.
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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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