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Old 04-11-2010, 06:56 AM   #1
Pasquali56
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Default Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

An up-and-coming producer/director has an option on one of my screenplays. He has two letters-of-intent from fairly well known character actors for supporting roles. He also has a commitment from a production facility to shoot the entire film using their facility on their dime. The budget is around $2 to $3 million. Without telling the screenplay's concept, I will say that it has elements that make it extremely viable in foreign markets (in addition to domestic).

What the producer/director doesn't have is financing. He has gap financing available, but I take it that's not all that difficult to find if one can secure the first fifty percent. I've encouraged this guy to get creative and try to pursue product placement opportunities and things like that. The story lends itself perfectly to that kind of thing. Frankly, he's not very creative in that sense. His main focus is trying to get an attachment/LOI from a name actor for the lead role. Of course, that's a lot harder than getting an LOI from a character actor -- especially without money on the table.

My other thought is to try to bring on a sales agent to try to pre-sell some foreign territories. Question: How feasible is it to bring on a sales agent (on a contingency/commission basis) with just a screenplay and attachments? I understand that if you have a produced film that's getting buzz at festivals, it's certainly easier -- especially for producer's reps. In fact, my understanding is that producer's reps normally won't come on board unless/until a project has name attachments with financing in place -- or preferably a completed film with lots of buzz (as mentioned above). But what's the story on sales agents? Anyone here with experience along these lines? I know it's all difficult, but is it any less difficult to pre-sell foreign versus domestic?
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Old 04-11-2010, 09:53 AM   #2
Ernie Santamaria
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_finance#Pre-sales

The link is specific to pre-sales, but the entire article (from the page-top)is a nice overview, albeit brief, about general principles and variety of options available to producers for film financing.

Ernie
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:17 AM   #3
Geoff Alexander
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquali56 View Post
An up-and-coming producer/director has an option on one of my screenplays. He has two letters-of-intent from fairly well known character actors for supporting roles. He also has a commitment from a production facility to shoot the entire film using their facility on their dime. The budget is around $2 to $3 million. Without telling the screenplay's concept, I will say that it has elements that make it extremely viable in foreign markets (in addition to domestic).

What the producer/director doesn't have is financing. He has gap financing available, but I take it that's not all that difficult to find if one can secure the first fifty percent. I've encouraged this guy to get creative and try to pursue product placement opportunities and things like that. The story lends itself perfectly to that kind of thing. Frankly, he's not very creative in that sense. His main focus is trying to get an attachment/LOI from a name actor for the lead role. Of course, that's a lot harder than getting an LOI from a character actor -- especially without money on the table.

My other thought is to try to bring on a sales agent to try to pre-sell some foreign territories. Question: How feasible is it to bring on a sales agent (on a contingency/commission basis) with just a screenplay and attachments? I understand that if you have a produced film that's getting buzz at festivals, it's certainly easier -- especially for producer's reps. In fact, my understanding is that producer's reps normally won't come on board unless/until a project has name attachments with financing in place -- or preferably a completed film with lots of buzz (as mentioned above). But what's the story on sales agents? Anyone here with experience along these lines? I know it's all difficult, but is it any less difficult to pre-sell foreign versus domestic?
It is standard to try and pre-sell a project with attachments. Foreign Sales companies do this all the time. The problem may be that your producer doesn't have the contacts, and doesn't know how to pursue this angle. If they did, I can't think of why they wouldn't, as it is an integral part of putting together independent production financing. The other problem may be that your attachments are too weak to get any foreign traction. The good old days of being able to sell things foreign with an remotely recognizable American actor are long gone. And, in my (relatively limited) experience, it is much easier to sell foreign territories than domestic, simply because there are so many options in foreign markets.
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:55 AM   #4
Pasquali56
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

Thanks for your feedback. I'm also wondering how common it is for a sales agent to come on board with just a screenplay and a few attachments in hand? I know sales agents are reviewing completed films all the time, but does anyone here have any personal experience with sales agents and screenplays? Again, mine has talent attachments for supporting roles, and those actors are recognized here (in the U.S.) -- but not necessarily abroad. With that said, I understand that we stand a much better chance at foreign pre-sales versus domestic. Any thoughts? Thanks again.
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:02 AM   #5
Ernie Santamaria
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquali56 View Post
Thanks for your feedback. I'm also wondering how common it is for a sales agent to come on board with just a screenplay and a few attachments in hand? I know sales agents are reviewing completed films all the time, but does anyone here have any personal experience with sales agents and screenplays?
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It's not at all uncommon for a sales agent to come on board based solely on attached actors and the screenplay (sometimes an attached name director also figures into the mix). As you read in the first paragraph of the Wiki article:

"Pre-sales is, based on the script and cast, selling the right to distribute a film in different territories before the film is produced. This is the primary means of film financing."

The major caveat is one that I think you've already realized: the perceived marketplace value in given territories, of the attached actors.

Something you might work on, and it has been done many times and rather easily, is to find out what higher-value actors the ones you've already attached have worked with in the not-too-distant past.

Many times the lesser known actors have formed a solid off-camera friendship with their more-recognized colleagues and can get one or a few -- who are of course, appropriate to the material -- very interested in your project. Their comments to such colleagues to whom they send the script, carry a kind of entree, credibility, and pre-validation that your reps or the producer often cannot achieve.

Ernie
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Old 04-12-2010, 05:49 PM   #6
Pasquali56
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

Ernie, you'd be a better producer (or manager) than the producer I have. Unfortunately, this guy is creative in everything except sales -- and that's what it takes to get a movie made. If you want the job, PM me!
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:43 PM   #7
Ernie Santamaria
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

Pasquali,

Go to IMDb.com and under the search option for Plots, enter the word “Christmas”

You’ll come up with several hundred Christmas stories that have been produced as films, and as MOWs. Winnow the list down to the ones done within the last 6 or seven years, then pull up those titles one-by-one and get the producers’ and production company(s) credits.

Then, assuming you don’t already subscribe to IMDb Pro, take out the free trial they offer, and get contact info for these production companies and the individual producers involved.

These producers and the prodcos have clearly had success with one or more holiday stories. Many of them will be interested to hear about your holiday-centric screenplay based on the true story, and *very interested* to hear as well, that you own the rights to that true story for a stipulated, and likely renewable, period of time.

Ernie
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:41 AM   #8
Pasquali56
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

Thanks again, Ernie. These are actually two different projects. The one I bought the rights to is the holiday drama. The producer I'm dealing with is a well known TV producer and has done several holiday MOWs. The other project is a family sports-comedy that lends itself well to foreign markets. I talked to that producer yesterday and urged him to start talking to sales agents and exploring pre-sales. I agree that imdb is a great resource -- as is Done Deal Pro.
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:43 PM   #9
Geoff Alexander
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

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Originally Posted by Pasquali56 View Post
Thanks again, Ernie. These are actually two different projects. The one I bought the rights to is the holiday drama. The producer I'm dealing with is a well known TV producer and has done several holiday MOWs. The other project is a family sports-comedy that lends itself well to foreign markets. I talked to that producer yesterday and urged him to start talking to sales agents and exploring pre-sales. I agree that imdb is a great resource -- as is Done Deal Pro.
Is it Larry Levinson?
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:51 PM   #10
Pasquali56
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Default Re: Sales agents/foreign territories pre-sale

Not Larry Levinson, but he seems like a good one.
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