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The brand new and updated Producer’s Insider Guide to Selling Films – North America Edition 2016 is now available in our online store.
Buy the e-book guide now and get access to up-to-date insights as well as latest data on what companies are actively looking for new content.
Learn how to submit your work to over 250 companies, sell your short- or feature film to interested buyers and get your film seen on the big screen!
Creating a brand around your package and turning it into a product that looks like it is intrinsically salable make distributors want to take a closer look at your film. Also, distributors love existing property, like an already selling novel for which you happen to have an option.
Find out if the selected production companies would be interested in the genre that your film is in. Additionally you should always go to their website and see what films they are currently selling. When you have distilled the list of companies you think would show interest in your film, your next step is to prepare a calling list.
But before you call anyone – remember this: it is crucial to introduce yourself to distributors as a professional filmmaker / producer. If you are an insurance agent in real life, you are wasting everyone’s time and money if you mentioned that to them. The film and media industry attracts a lot of wannabes and time wasters, and the working professionals are aware of that. Professional filmmaking is neither a hobby nor a passion. It is a commercial business and should be treated with respect and professionalism.
Did you know that if you are an American filmmaker, European distributors are much more likely to consider distributing your film and vice versa?
It is true that most filmmakers won’t get their films into distribution in their own territories. But that is because these distribution companies assume that you have nothing new or exotic to show. Audiences demand to see films that let them experience something new, something they do not know. They want to be taken to exotic and miraculous places that they have never been to, and perhaps never will be able to go to.
A film about a teenager in Kansas going on a road trip to experience a coming of age moment, is not going to be anything a movie distributor in Los Angeles will not have been pitched to a hundred times before.
But the same film will gain a thousand times more interest with European or Asian distributors.
A European film about a rural farmer falling in love with a millionaire heiress in Poland will not strike a deal with German distributors, as they have seen it all before.
But the same film will get a thousand times more attention by an art-house film distributor in New York, to who rural Poland is as exotic as it gets.
Our Film Distribution Guides have everything you need to gain access to oversea territories, and are your best bet to get your film seen by a wider audience.
The modern film industry is brand- and market-oriented, almost exclusively aimed at selling established names along with high-concept ideas. Creating a brand around your package and turning it into a product that looks like it is intrinsically salable makes distributors want to take a closer look at your film. Also, distributors love existing property, like an already selling novel for which you happen to have an option. Your poster is your entry ticket and what usually makes or breaks a sale at the box office. Distributors are a placeholder for your audience and act accordingly. You have to seduce them into watching your film based on the packaging or they will walk away from it, just as your audience would.
A good package includes a poster, a brief biography of the people involved and a short synopsis (not longer than a page), along with a trailer of your finished film. The presentation brochure should include headshots and short biographies of the participating producers, crew and cast, as well as your contact information. Ideally you will include a link to a trailer and an online version of the film before you submit to distributors. And don’t forget to give them a quick call, letting them know that your package is on the way.
In order to secure a distribution deal, consider that distributors are looking for a finished product that takes the risk out of the equation. In general, distributors deem it risky to invest time and money into a production that is not finished. It means more work for them and they will want to take a big share of your property if they come on board. It is also likely that they will ask you to pay them a producer’s fee for their role as executive producer, as well as money to promote the finished film at film markets like the AFM, Cannes and Berlin.
To get to those bankable names and have them star in your film is almost impossible for the aspiring producer from Littletown, TX. A better route would be to get a name director interested in your property and rely on this name to attach A-list talent without shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for pay-or-play offers that will likely go nowhere.
Another way to work around this old adage is to watch the movies you grew up with and find out which of their stars are still alive but have not made any successful films in years. Approach them to ask if they want a role to top off their life story, reinvigorate their career, and return them to the silver screen in all its glory. Remember Quentin Tarantino? He made his appearance on the world stage by exhuming John Travolta for Pulp Fiction and making the long forgotten and troubled former movie star an overnight success, and effectively ended up an overnight success himself.