I see many people are still confused over Distributors vs. Sales Agents vs. those who do both – yes, some sales agents are now also distributors (VOD, DVD, even theatrical) and some distributors have started selling internationally like sales agents (and renting sales suites at markets like AFM and Cannes). So yeah, I can understand the confusion…..
Also, I feel like many producers and filmmakers still believe that a small film with no names and no big festival premiere should be submitted to places like Lions Gate and STX and A24….which are studio level distributors for all intents and purposes.
If they didn’t fund the film outright, or your film isn’t premiering at Sundance or Toronto or Cannes, they aren’t interested!
Another key question that comes up once everyone realizes that VOD distribution IS the main form of distribution for independents… (not broadcast, not DVD, and not theatrical… VOD!)… – is how much money can be made in VOD distribution.
After talking to a handful of my distributor friends I can tell you that the more successful films are making over six figures per quarter NET….. some are making closer to 10K per quarter net.
Yes, that’s a pretty big variance and it’s hard to predict which end of the spectrum your film will fall until it hits the market …AND a major variable is how much self promotion you’re doing that’s actually effective.
Which is why in either case I recommend carving your VOD rights out of a sales agent deal, and is what I always aim to do for my clients. Let the sales agent take foreign and you keep VOD rights since you can control that piece of the puzzle more. I say you can control it more because you can scale up your promotional efforts and audience engagement efforts to drive sales that you reap the benefits from.
I was talking to a producer who just got back from Berlin meeting with a bunch of sales agents for his completed film. He wants to jump on board my Film Market Consulting, even though he made so many contacts of his own at EFM, because he said that clearly, the devil is in the details with dealing with these companies – plus who to pick? Who is telling the truth? Who is the best choice for the type of film? How to negotiate a fair deal with these guys?… and on and on.
Oh and another tid-bit I’ll share with you – after talking to some of my sales agent contacts post Berlin, they are all saying the next batch of films they want to pick up for Cannes… they are looking for clear marketing hooks. So even for their job of licensing films to foreign distributors, they are having to up their sales game and not rest of cast and genre alone….especially for the smaller films which often are more challenging to market.