Cannes Film Festival and Market wrapped up last week. I spent 6 very busy days at the Film Festival/Market.
The reason I attended is my film Tabernacle 101 is near completion. Therefore, I wanted to have advance meetings with the worlds top film distribution and sales companies.
My personal goal on arrival was to qualify 30 companies to see my film on completion. This of course involved considerable meetings. In all, I had way more than 30 meetings. I had certain criteria that I used in assessing the suitability of any company for my film.
First it is important to determine the difference between Film Buyers and Sellers that inhabit the Film Markets.
Film Sellers are the film middlemen. They sell films to the buyers and are commonly known as Sales Agents. Buyers, particularly at the top end only want to deal with reputable Sales Agents.
Film Buyers are the companies that represent territories such as the UK or Japan or America or Australia. They buy the film for their territory and then release the film in different windows such as Cinema SVOD and TVOD and DVD in their territory. They are commonly known as Distributors.
The Film Producer is the producer of the content, the maker of the film. That is me in the case of Tabernacle 101
My goal at the film market, is to maximise ROI (return on investment) and maximise the audience. If I could do this on my own, I would certainly do it. But in reality and practice, no matter who is telling you otherwise, it is exceptionally challenging to self-distribute. This would be a last ditch effort if all else failed and as a general rule is practiced by filmmakers who have not found a top film sales company or distribution.
If I was one of those lucky people who have a million plus subscribers on Youtube or an email list of that size, of course I would keep the rights to market that list. Most people do not have that sort of list, so therefore top film companies that specialise in the area of film distribution, do become a necessity. This will maximise the return on investment and find the biggest possible audience.
Even though my film Tab 101 is not complete, I still attended Cannes. This was to build advance interest with the very best 30 companies in the world for my film Tabernacle 101.
As we will finish postproduction at the end of June 2018, it is essential to have these companies ready and totally aware of the film. Hence, I worked nonstop having relevant meetings with different sales companies.
These companies like to view your film in its totality so as to assess market potential and return. This is a necessity for low budget films.
When the film is complete, I will send a Vimeo link to my list of qualified film companies. I let them know that I will be back to them within 10 days to see how they went with the film. Alternatively, they can contact me anytime they have seen the film and are prepared to make a deal.
This will give your film the best possible chance to get the best possible deal.
If the company loves your film and wants to do a deal, they will get extra enthusiastic if they find out other companies are genuinely interested in the same film.
This builds the best case scenario for getting the best deal. If companies love your film and they desperately want the film, they will do their best to outbid other companies to gain the exclusive rights to your film. They will place skin in the game and this will help with the release of your film. This company will want to maximise return and audience.
Once a deal has being locked down, then it is over to the companies whether distributor or sales agent to maximise the return to you the producer. Your film will keep returning money over many years to come, provided you have done your homework and
- Qualified the company as a world class film company
- Created a favourable win win contract with the film company.
You will keep some rights. I for example keep the rights to sell my film from my website. I will always invest money with an Entertainment Lawyer who will vet the contract and make appropriate corrections. I also add in a performance clause stating that the film company has one year limit with review to sales performance. If they are doing well, I will extend the contract. It is all about building relationships for the current project and future films.
Finally how do I qualify a film company?
IMDB Pro is my favourite tool. IMDB gives you a company rating and a list of their past titles. I can see how the film has done and contact the producers to see how they went with their film. This due diligence is important before signing any contract with any film company.
Colm O’Murchu Director
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