How do you find film buyers ready to make a deal? That is the question. And if you’re like most film producers, you’ve spent the last few months focused on making your film. And now that you finally finished your movie, you want to sell to the highest bidder. Except you have no idea what to do next.
What if there was a place where you could post your film online and suddenly get dozens of offers? I wish negotiating film distribution deals were that easy. Even though we are well into the digital era, most film distribution deals are still done face-to-face between established sales agents and film distributors.
Film Buyer Relationships
Established sales agents and distributors have strong personal relationships with film buyers from around the world. They know who buys what. And they know how to close deals smoothly. Since you don’t yet have a track record, you’ll need to be extra prepared if you plan to approach film buyers directly.
Since most film buyers deal in volume and fast transactions, selling your single feature film will be incredibly challenging. If a buyer tells you they only work with sales agents and distributors, don’t be surprised. When this happens, a good strategy is to find a sales agent or distributor to represent your film.
The best way to meet sales agents and distributors is by attending popular film markets. These markets include the American Film Market, Cannes, Toronto, and Berlin. By attending these film markets, you will have the opportunity to meet people who can help you negotiate a great deal on your film.
Popular Film Markets
The American Film Market takes place in November in Santa Monica. If you’re attending, make sure to be there for the first few days because that’s when most of the buyers are in town. AFM also offers a great place to meet other film producers, financiers, and film industry heavyweights.
The Marché du Film takes as part of Cannes every May. Unlike the American Film Market, many of the attendees are film festival programmers and film buyers. There are also a lot of celebrities and famous film directors that walk the red carpet. The Marché du Film also runs Cinando, which is an awesome database of film buyers and other industry professionals.
The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in the world. It happens every September. And unlike Cannes, most of the attendees are film fans and general moviegoers. However, there are still plenty of film industry professionals that come to Toronto do make deals.
Berlinale, also know as the Berlin International Film Festival, happens in conjunction with The European Film Market every February. Is one of the most important markets for European films. If you’re looking to sell your movie in Europe, Berlin is an incredible experience.
Film Buyer Deals
Once decide on the film markets you plan to attend, research sales agents and distributors who previously attended. If they deal in your type of movie, reach out to them with an email or telephone call. Introduce yourself and your film. And then ask if they would be interested in meeting at the market.
While it is not guaranteed, sometimes the distributor or sales agent will want to evaluate your film before the market for possible representation. If your film is a good fit, they will make an offer. At this point, you will want to do your due diligence. Ask for referrals. Talk with the other film producers. And get your attorney to review the paperwork.
Assuming everything looks good, you will no longer attend the market “hoping” to meet film buyers. You’ll attend the market with the professional credibility that comes with representation. As long as you are easy to work with and professional, you will begin to build your own long-term personal relationships. Check out my film distribution course if you’d like to discover additional strategies.