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FILM DISTRIBUTION TIPS FROM PRODUCER'S REP PAGE OSTROW
WAIT UNTIL YOUR FILM IS COMPLETED BEFORE SHOWING IT AROUND
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Acquisitions executives will ask to see your rough cut and or any footage available of your film. This is not a good idea. It is important to wait until your film is finished.
SCREENERS OR SCREENINGS WHICH DO YOU CHOOSE?
There are varied schools of thought on this. Most producers reps will tell you that some of their deals are made after screenings and some are orchestrated once the distributor receives a screening copy of your film. Most acquisitions executives take films home over the weekend to screen. Many executives have great home entertainment centers these days and would much prefer to screen your film in the comfort of their own home. However if your film is truly exquisite you are likely to get into one of the major film festival competitions such as Sundance, Toronto or Cannes film festival. In this case you may use this venue to pack the theater with a responsive audience and invite acquisitions executives to the screening thereby creating a sense of competition amongst them.
It is important to leverage one company's interest against another in order to create a bidding war. This is what producers reps are typically known for. It is important to be tactful when negotiating a bidding war. It is not necessary to name specifics of the deal that the competing company is offering since much of the information is confidential and should be treated as such. However it is possible to give a competing distributor an idea of what range they need to bid in at in order to stay in the game.
PENNY PINCH POUND POOR
Hire a professional team. If you are truly a professional filmmaker and or producer it is important to surround yourself with other professionals who will enable you to excel in an effective and timely fashion. You get what you pay for so it's important not to be cheap when seeking the right team. You will want to have an attorney to go over contracts, a strong producer's rep great at negotiating with numerous contacts and pre-existing relationships, a public relations firm to get great press about your film at festivals and to announce deals made on your behalf, and a good shrink to keep you on an even keel through the rollercoaster ride.
It is always helpful to have loyal contacts in any business but especially in the film industry. It is a pocket sized world when it comes to entertainment and all the executives travel the circuit between major festivals and markets seeing one another more often than their own relatives in many cases. The travel schedule can be hectic and grueling. Most executives can sympathize with one another because they are all out there together slugging it out. Long hours, late departures, endless flights, screenings and business dinners have a way of bonding everyone together. If you are a filmmaker who has not developed relationships by joining in on this routine for years on end you have little clout with the distribution executives. You're best bet is to work with someone who has formed these pre-existing relationships in the trenches.