You've made your movie. You've even applied to some great film festivals, and maybe they've been encouraging. Now people are calling you, asking to see it, and offering to license it on your behalf. How do you determine whom to collaborate with? What questions need to be asked BEFORE you make a deal? The best thing you can ever do is talk to other filmmakers who have worked with the rep -- and not just the ones that the rep recommends. Make those calls. The second best thing you can do is to have a face to face meeting with the proposed rep. The personal approach matters. Look them in the eye. Connect. Have a beer or a cup of coffee. Ask yourself if you'd like to have dinner with them a year for now.
Now start to ask some questions, ask for some help, and gain a better understanding of both the process and the individual or company you are considering.
- A good Producers' Rep will help you understand the process better. Have them walk you through how they think the deal will go down. Beware of the seduction but listen to what they reveal about your film and their thoughts on the industry.
- Hopefully they will give you insight into difficult situations. Where might there be conflict? How will they protect your investors? What to do if a deal is better for the investors but seems worse for the film or filmmaker? What are examples of these scenarios?
- Can they give your film the attention it needs? How many other films will they be handling during this market period? Do these other films enhance or detract buyers' interest in your film?
- Good films sell themselves, they say, but can they be helped? What do the reps suggest the filmmakers do to further enhance the potential of the film to connect with audiences & Buyers (i.e not with the film, but with other promotional aspects)?
- What can They do to further enhance the potential of the film to connect with festival programmers, critics, and buyers?
- Are there any deal aspects beyond advances and fees they suggest we pay close attention to? Why? There are a boatload of issues to consider and how the Rep portrays these will reveal a great deal.
- What other festivals do they think the filmmakers should consider? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various film festivals? Even if they are only repping US, how do they think the filmmakers should use the international festivals.
- Are there press agents domestically & abroad they recommend the consider and why? Can they help get a better deal?
- How would they position this film with buyers? Why?
- What do they see as the marketable aspects of the film?
- Which distributors do they see as potential buyers for the film?
- Who do they see as the best home for the film, and why?
- What are their thoughts for a strategy for the film in North America and world wide?
- Is this the right size of film for the Rep? Some are better with big movies, others with small? Why are they the right fit?
- How do they feel about a hybrid approach for distribution, aiming for separate deals for different forms of distribution? Does it make sense for your film?
- Do they have any potential conflicts of interest? For instance, of the Rep does foreign sales in some territories, how do they make that work for films that they sell? If they also manage some clients and not others, how do they make that work?
This list is by no means exhaustive. It is just some thoughts to get the ball rolling. Please give us more suggestions.