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Insiders ViewPoints Sales Agents & Producer Reps: What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care? Film News And Views - Insiders ViewPoints - Sales Agents & Producer Reps: What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care? Insiders ViewPoints,,Sales Agents & Producer Reps: What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care?,recommendation,shopping,advice,simple,movies,films,film news and views,news and views,film industy,movie reviews,film news,film,news,views,television,made for tv movies,interactive entertainment,hollywood,hollywood news,celebrity news,insiders perspective,film reviewer,watch film,film trailer,new releases,new release,new release movie,new release film,movie reviewer,opinion,viewpoint,forum,discussion
Sales Agents & Producer Reps: What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care?

by Jerome Courshon on Jul 20, 2009

 

Producers and directors who are submitting to film festivals with a completed movie, are frequently queried by Sales Agents and Producer Reps (short for "Producer's Representative"). Mostly Producer Reps, but some Sales Agents too.

Why does this happen? Once you've been selected by a particular festival, these reps/agents get a list of films to be shown, accompanied by contact info on the filmmakers. Then some of you get calls or emails.

 So let's discuss the distinction between these two types of sales people, as I’ve found many filmmakers don't understand the difference -- and there is a BIG difference.

 "Sales Agents" are those people who work for (or own) a sales company -- frequently referred to as a "foreign sales company" -- and this company will work to sell your movie to the international territories outside the U.S. & Canada. What they actually do is license your movie to another company from a territory, say, a German company for Germany, who will then handle it for that territory. And this is done for as many territories as the sales agent can license to.

 "Producer Reps" are those who will work on selling your movie to a domestic (U.S.) distributor. Some of them will license the movie right from you and then go sell it to whoever they can domestically. And some of them will just have a contract with you stating the percentage they earn when a deal is secured.

 Sometimes Producer Reps will also act as Sales Agents, and vice versa. And over recent years, some Producer Reps are referring to themselves as Sales Agents. (Those that do this are attempting to avoid the negative connotations associated with being a Producer Rep.) Ultimately the vernacular used doesn't matter; what matters is, who is approaching you and what are they wanting to sell to? The U.S. and Canadian markets? The markets outside the U.S. & Canada? Or all of the above?

General rule of thumb: This is not an absolute, but you don’t want to sign a contract with either one of these people for the whole World. Sales Agents are not that good at securing domestic deals (with some exceptions, of course), and most Producer Reps are pointless for the international territories. All a Producer Rep can do for the international territories is hook you up with a Sales Agent for this -- which you can do yourself! It’s not that difficult. Really. It is not difficult if you have a decent movie or it's the right genre. If you let a Producer Rep hook you up with a Sales Agent, then you're just giving up another slice of your pie to another middleman. (Not to confuse you, but the main exception to splitting up your domestic and international rights will be when a major studio comes calling, because most will want worldwide rights and won't accept only some of those rights.)

So it's important to know this distinction, and important to know who you've been approached by and what they want to do. You don't want to: a) Contract and lock up rights with someone that won't do you any good for certain markets; and b) Contract and lock up rights with someone who will just be a second middleman eating more of your pie.

At some point in your journey, a Sales Agent is absolutely necessary to get your movie sold into the international territories. Can you get some overseas markets sold on your own? Yes, it’s possible but not the easiest thing to do. Overseas buyers tend to rely on the relationships they have with the Sales Agents they know, and are not inclined to make one-time deals with unknown filmmakers. This area of the market is one where relationships actually mean something.

On the other hand, is a Producer Rep necessary to get your movie sold domestically? Absolutely not, and in fact they often do more harm than good by shotgunning your movie along with 20 others to everyone they know. Frequently there's no care or personal attention given -- that many movies require to be successfully sold in the U.S.

Also, relationships mean less here. Domestic sales are more about the product -- the movie you've made -- and less about who's selling it. Many Producer Reps would have you believe otherwise, namedropping companies such as Lions Gate or Miramax that you've heard of to get you to sign with them. They’ll say “We have relationships with them.” And while they're promoting their "relationships," I've got some incredible oceanfront property in Malibu to sell you for $50 an acre!

 

Jerome Courshon is an award-winning Producer/Writer, whose critically acclaimed first movie “God, Sex & Apple Pie” was released by Warner Bros. His challenging journey to achieve meaningful distribution led to his creating a groundbreaking seminar in 2006, “THE SECRETS TO DISTRIBUTION: Get Your Movie Distributed Now!”

Since then, Jerome has assisted hundreds of filmmakers with securing real distribution through his seminars, speaking engagements, and consultations. He has been profiled in the Los Angeles Times, interviewed on iFilm.com (now Spike.com) and Film Threat, and has written articles on film distribution for MovieMaker Magazine, Indie Slate Magazine, and Film Festival Today among others.

For more information on Jerome’s seminar, visit:

http://www.Distribution.LA” Secrets To Movie Distribution

  March 18, 2019

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