Hi everyone. I hope you had a fun and productive week. Welcome to our sixth edition of our Reader Q & A series. Since last week’s fifth Q&A article, I’ve fielded several more great questions from you, the readers. So, in an effort to help clarify the questions you may ponder about our crazy industry, here are some answers.
How long are markets, should filmmakers attend, and if so, should we go for whole time?
Wow! There’s nothing quite like a three-part question to get us going today, so I’m going to answer it in three parts:
a) Most film markets range from three to 10 days, depending on how established and popular they are and how much money they generate in film sales. The more established and popular ones, like The Marche Du Film (a.k.a. the Cannes Film Market) and the EFM in Berlin, coincide with major film festivals like the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, so they benefit from having tens of thousands of film professionals in attendance. However, since the world financial crisis arrested the earth’s cash flow in September 2008, film buyers and sellers alike attend film markets for a much shorter period of time. For example, The Cannes Film Market may be listed as a 10-day event, but after day five or six, it becomes a ghost town as far as film sales are concerned. Usually, the only relevant sales that occur in days eight, nine and 10, are those, which were initiated on days one, two and three. Of course, there are the “bottom-feeder” buyers who will show up on days nine and 10, and offer your sales agent $500 for your film when they should be adding a couple of zeroes to the offer, but few take those guys seriously.
b) Filmmakers may want to attend film markets for educational purposes, but probably not to sell your own film. If you choose to sell your own product without a sales agent, do so online or through direct sales. This is because most buyers, who will deal with filmmakers directly at film markets, are buyers who lack the best of intentions. Furthermore, you will be offered far less money than established sales agent could wrangle for you.
c) If you do attend a film sales market as a filmmaker, and you can’t afford the time or money (or both) to be there for its entirety, choose to be there on the opening weekend as opposed to the closing weekend. All buyers will be there in the market’s first several days, before they scurry away to their next commitment.
Isn’t this film market thing just a big scam? I’m curious because they’re always in vacation destinations like Cannes and Berlin.
First of all, Berlin is a beautiful and cultured city, but it’s certainly not a “destination” in February, because it’s frigid cold and snowy. Having said that, film markets are in amazingly hip cities like Cannes, Berlin, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Santa Monica, because they have to entice buyers to get on a plane and travel to their city. In other words, it’s all about a city’s “global perception.” For example, I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, and the Kansas City area has more to offer than just great barbeque. But, that’s not their global perception. People think all Kansans live on a farm and love “The Wizard of Oz” (well, the latter is probably true). But, trying to get a film buyer from Europe to spend 10 days in Kansas City for a film market is like me trying to get my beloved Los Angeles Lakers to replace their newly acquired gem Dwight Howard, with me, in their starting five. Simply put, it’s just not going to happen.
What’s your take on producers’ reps?
While I know and respect several producers’ reps, I believe their usefulness has been severely depleted in recent years. Of course, this is not their fault, and most producers’ reps are instilled with an incredible knowledge base. However, indie films are selling to distributors for a lot less money these days, so the “cushion of profit” filmmakers used to have to be able to afford the producers’ reps fees, is gone. Furthermore, since there are now several platforms where filmmakers can display their work, like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and countless others, film festivals are no longer a “make or break career game-changer.” Thus, it no longer makes sense to pay a producers’ rep $10,000 or more to help you get into a major film festival.
You’ve always said not to pay distributors upfront to represent our film, but so many of you bastards want $5,0000-$10,000 before you’ll lift a finger. Why?
I’m proud to say that I am not one of those “bastards,” because my company does not charge one penny to filmmakers, just to be in business with us. The simple rule here is that you should never sign with a distributor who asks for upfront money. Thus, if they won’t lift a finger without cash, they certainly won’t lift a finger after you stuff a roll of cash in their pocket, either. Well, okay, maybe they will do a bit of work, but nowhere near the amount of work they would be charging you for. Just remember, if you pay a distributor to distribute your film, before they actually distribute your film, then they will have absolutely no incentive to do a good job.
Every now and then in these articles you say how short you are. Are you really that short, or are you like, 6’8” or something?
Damn, I wish I were 6’8”. If I were, I’d change my name to Kobe and try out for the Lakers. But, in all seriousness, I’ve been blessed with the fantastic height of 5’4”. I’m not tall enough to grab items on the highest shelves when I’m shopping at Target, but I am tall enough to ride roller coasters, so life’s good!
Well, that concludes this 118th edition of “Going Bionic.” Thanks for all of there great questions, and I encourage you to keep them coming! I’d also like to thank you once again for lending me your eyes and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.