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Underdog
01-24-2012, 09:48 AM
This will probably sound like a newbie question...

I know the usual route to distribution is to have a finished film and then send it out to distributors to see if they will pick it up, but is it possible to get a distribution deal before the movie is actually filmed? From the strength of the script, cast, and crew?

Would there be any upfront money available that would help with the production?

Nick Soares
01-24-2012, 11:02 AM
This will probably sound like a newbie question...

I know the usual route to distribution is to have a finished film and then send it out to distributors to see if they will pick it up, but is it possible to get a distribution deal before the movie is actually filmed? From the strength of the script, cast, and crew?

Would there be any upfront money available that would help with the production?

Yea that one is tricky, I personally have never done it. Here is why, If you have a A list actor attached to your script and have a reputation of finishing your films you can most likely get a letter of intent. But to get that lead actor attached there must be an AMAZING script or there is a large upfront fee, so lets say you go to example only; Brad Pitt, he says give me 10 mill and ill sign, then you go to your investors and they say have him sign first then we will give the 10 mill, Ive had one experience like this, not with Brad Pitt :) but a great name and i couldn't get it done, this happens everyday. So without one ore the other there was no chance to get to a distribution company to get a signed deal before hand.

^^^ this is referring to Large Distribution companies.

Small distribution companies are much easier to get a "First Right of First Refusal" document, but to get a deal that pays you before you film is still tough even with low budget distributors.

Hope this help

Nick Soares

Underdog
01-24-2012, 11:29 AM
Thanks for your insights, Nick. Yes, it would seem that it would be difficult to get anything upfront without already having money or the name.

ACEntertainment
02-03-2012, 11:14 PM
Suzanne Lyons talks with Ilde Tote, president of Altadena Films about American Film Market (AFM) held yearly in L.A. where you presell your project to sales agents and sales representatives (distribution folks) for funds to get started.

She advised, at a seminar I attended, to get your distribution team involved early as possible.

They discuss pitching at AFM here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Tq87AQNJvE

Nick Soares
02-04-2012, 12:51 PM
While I agree with being prepared if your going to pitch a project, I disagree with their view on AFM. Most of the companies their are trying to sell their own titles.

Just a heads up.

Many companies only send "Sales" teams

The "Sales" teams rarely communicate with "Acquisitions Team" so if even if you have a completed movie, and drop it off. Chances are (exception to very low budget companies that have their whole team there) your film wont be see. -- And this is for completed films

ACEntertainment
02-04-2012, 01:25 PM
I "roger that" wholeheartedly. Which is exactly your mission, by going to AFM: to finance your film by way of pre-selling.

Ducks gotta be in a row, for sure. Try googling, "films financed by pre selling at AFM."

I'm no finance expert, and packaging/preparing for an event like that is still a mystery to me, but I found the seminar I attended by Suzanne Lyons, on AFM, an eye opener.

If I had the resources, I'd definitely attend this year.

Larry
02-04-2012, 04:18 PM
AFM is a good place to meet people, its a different story if you want to get distribution by going to AFM.

I know lots of people that said they went to AFM and found someone that is willing to distribute all of my produced completed movies, finding distribution for completed movies is not hard and people get way to excited about this then they should. Finding a distribution company that will pay advances, on time royalties etc... now that is something to brag about.

Bottom line, you can still take a script, but successful companies wont read unsolicited scripts, as stated somewhere else on this forum.

M5Boss
02-04-2012, 06:38 PM
From our last AFM Trip, morning time - right before the hotel rooms open, picture says a lot really - that's a directory of the people at AFM, it was game or go home time...

ACEntertainment
02-04-2012, 06:59 PM
[at] Larry,

I guess I'm mistaken, but I was under the impression that sales agents and producers reps are the folks who secure distribution for you, so preselling to them locks in your distro in whatever markets they rep.

Can you set me straight?

[at]M5Boss Are you alluding to the empty beach or the rather thick book of contacts on your lap? You find any success? What was the general attitude of the buyers and how open were they to schmooze?

Thanks, guys!

Nick Soares
02-04-2012, 09:14 PM
[at] Larry,

I guess I'm mistaken, but I was under the impression that sales agents and producers reps are the folks who secure distribution for you, so preselling to them locks in your distro in whatever markets they rep.

Can you set me straight?

[at]M5Boss Are you alluding to the empty beach or the rather thick book of contacts on your lap? You find any success? What was the general attitude of the buyers and how open were they to schmooze?

Thanks, guys!

Sale agents do rep projects, but they are there to sell "their" films to other territories, their goal is to leave with sales made, not more films to sell, so lots of them are interested in selling their films, not buying films. There are companies there that take completed features.

Nick Soares
02-04-2012, 09:16 PM
ACE, we were actually there to purchase competed films.

Nick Soares
02-05-2012, 05:59 AM
Remind me to tell you guys about the story of this australia girl who wanted to pick her script. I want to talk about that

EuropeanDistributor
02-18-2012, 03:54 AM
This will probably sound like a newbie question...

I know the usual route to distribution is to have a finished film and then send it out to distributors to see if they will pick it up, but is it possible to get a distribution deal before the movie is actually filmed? From the strength of the script, cast, and crew?

Would there be any upfront money available that would help with the production?

Pre-sales are done all the time.

I would say it is the most used and safest way to finance an independent movie in the $1M - $3M range, even under $1M.

Pre-sales are secured mainly with name talent attached.
If you have packaged a movie with 3-4 strong names whose movies have consistently performed well in the Direct to Video market, and you have a decent script and a crew attached you can get pre-sales.

Forget about AFM, like Nick said, sales agents are there to sell, not to acquire new productions.
Sales agents and distributors work all year round, they acquire new movies all the time and pre-sales are done all the time as well.

If you are serious about getting pre-sales, and you don't have a track record of producing complete features before, here's what I would do.

Research, research, research.
Study the market and how it works, look at movies that are released direct to DVD and Blu-ray, you will see the same names constantly, these are usually the names that sell. Cuba Gooding Jr., Christian Slater, Val Kilmer.
These are the names that can and will secure you pre-sales if you have a good script and a concept, in this case Action/thriller is the way to go.

These guys work in movies budgeted under and over $1M all the time. most of them financed through pre-sales.

It's good to remember though, you need at least 3 strong sellable names in your package, one doesn't cut it, unless you have someone like Steven Seagal or Van Damme, they can still in most cases sell a movie alone.

Budget your film, around $1M will do fine, out of that at least half should go to three strong names. I would say try to get each actor for a week.
They have their weekly quotes.

You should film the movie in a state that offers tax incentives, like Louisiana, where it seems like most of these low budget action flicks are shot nowadays.
You will get about 20-25% of your budget back through that.

At least half of the budget should come from pre-sales. The rest is financed by gap financing, which you will pay off with the money you will get from selling the movie to unsold territories after it's finished.
Since you can only pre-sell to certain territories, usually the english speaking part of the world.

The way getting financing with pre-sales basically works is, you pre-sell the movie through a reputable sales agent, let's say they sell the movie to a buyer for $100k, the buyer would at the most pay 10% on signature, and the rest when you deliver the finished movie.
You will take that distribution agreement to a bank and they will loan you the $90k based on the assumption that they will pay you once the movie is finished.
The sales agent will of course take their commission off of that, which is usually at the most 25-30%.

If you have never produced a movie before, just do the packaging as far as you can.
You can get quotes from sales agents even if you don't have any money or experience, just don't tell them, they don't know that.
They will tell you what names sell in the market.

After you have a well thought out business plan and a budget, go to a producer that has done this kind of thing before and present your plan to him or her, if they are interested try to get in to a collaboration with 'em.

It's good to remember though, the prices that buyers pay for movies is at an all time low right now, it is extremely risky producing any movie over $1M.
And never over pay your name talent. Sales agents will tell you what kind of money you can expect with names, only pay them based on that.

And last but not least, always research well before you get into an agreement with any sales agent. There are a lot of crooks out there who will sell your movie but not pay you.
Always ask for referrals.

It's not rocket science. These DTV movies don't cost as much as people think, and the actors don't make as much as people think either.

Nick Soares
02-18-2012, 04:00 AM
It feels so good to see other experience producers join on here :)

I will sleep well tonight :)

EuropeanDistributor
02-18-2012, 04:09 AM
It feels so good to see other experience producers join on here :)

I will sleep well tonight :)

Thank you! :)

I think it's wonderful that up and coming and even experienced filmmakers have these kind of forums where they can get valuable information.

I have learned from my mistakes I have done. I hope other people can learn from places like these and don't have to make the same mistakes themselves.

Sharing information. That's what it's all about.