Getting a distributor interested in your project can be a difficult task.You know that your horror movie is a thrilling and original cinematic tour de force, but how do you convince a distributor that has seen 20 other slasher movies that week alone? Here are a few tips:
• Marketable elements. As we've already seen, the single most attractive element to a distributor is your choice of cast. (See SAG, p. 149.) Unfortunate, but true: a well-known actor in a mediocre film will attract more distributors than an unknown actor in a good film. If you're reading this section before you've cast and shot your film (and kudos to you for planning ahead), try and hire recognized actors. If you've already shot your film with unknown actors, and are struggling to land a distributor, try submitting the film to film festivals or working with a producers representative.
• Film festivals. When you win a film festival, distributors will tend to come to you. Some festivals will only consider films that have not been screened at other festivals, so your first task should be to develop a strategy over which film festivals you submit your film to.Winning at Sundance is obviously more prestigious than winning at the Podunk film festival. IMDB.com has a helpful list of film festivals, organized by month: http://www.imdb.com/festivals/. Make sure to budget for the festival entry fees, travel, and accommodations.
• Producers Representative. A producers representative is like an agent for a film. For a fee, the producers rep will try and place the film with a distribution company. The rep will find and negotiate the distribution agreement, leaving with the producer the final decision over whether to accept the deal with the distribution company. As payment, the producers rep often takes 15% of what the producer makes on the film (including 15% of any advances). In addition to fees, the producers rep will also require the producer to reimburse him or her for the costs and expenses of attracting the distributor.
• Make sure any fees paid to the producers rep are calculated based on of the producer's share of the film's proceeds, rather than from the distributor's share. After all, the only money you truly have control over is the producer's share. (See Distribution Financial Terms, p. 229.)
• Negotiate a cap over the producers reps expenses.
• Never give the rep the final say over whether to accept a particular distributor's deal—always keep that right for yourself.
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