Dealing with Movie Distributors You Have to be a Lion Tamer or Get Eaten
Unless you are giving away your work for free you will be dealing with movie distributors that are all business.
Movie distributors are in the entertainment business to make money and that money comes from acquiring the rights to movies made off your sweat and creative mojo.
Do not get pissed off at them because they are lions. Movie distributors will always try to cut the best deal possible for their side and take a pound of flesh out your producer ass (money).
Ever see a nature show where lions are eating their prey? That is the game and business with entertainment.
I can only speak from the independent entertainment level on movie distributors. Many independent producers are out there on their own and do not have the cash to have an entertainment attorney or film sales agent watching their back when it comes to selling their product.
Sorry, I do call all entertainment products and not art. Movie distributors are lions. The first move (bite) is to offer a producer the standard deal.
In defense of the movie distributor lions some movies are only really worth the standard deal. In other cases the movie distributor lion will downplay how valuable your product is.
They would not even offer you a movie distribution agreement if their bean counters did not already know they would make money off your work.
In the entertainment business there are no free rides or warm fuzzy hugs. It is always about money. I had one movie distributor blow so much smoke up my ass I knew I would take a hit when it came to paying me money, passed on them.
As a producer you need to be able to also be a movie distributor lion tamer. Realize a movie distributor needs to make money off your product or they would go out of business.
Very cool real estate developers told me once always leave enough on the plate so everyone eats and you can do business again.
Most movie distributor lions do not think this way. As a producer you have to be the lion tamer.
Always ask for advance money for your entertainment product based on your hard cash spent.
If the lion wants it bad enough they will be willing to pay you upfront money. Backend deal money rarely arrives because some movie distributors have creative accounting not in your favor as a producer.
The movie distributor lion next bite will be length of your deal. As a lion tamer you need to decide how many years you want to deal with a movie distributor.
Only from my view 5 years with an option to extend the contract another 2 years seems to work for both sides.
Giving the movie distributor lion anything over 10 years they basically own your product at its most earning power.
Flip side is if the movie distributor lion paid an advance that was over your hard money spent then give them 5 years with a 2 year extension option both sides have to agree on, if it was a decent advance go ahead give those 10 years.
Some will put 20 years plus in the movie distribution agreement. No go, unless they really paid you. Digital distribution deals run shorter. From my experience they usually only ask for 2 years. There is a short shelf life for VOD or PPV.
This is only advice at the indie film level and not the big studio dog deals where millions are given out like dollar bills at a strip club.
It will sound simple, but the two worst things any indie producer can do are overestimating the value of their product or underestimate it.
Straightforward it is a pain in the ass to deal with movie distributor lions, but it’s part of being in the entertainment business if you’re really trying to make money and not give away your work for free.
The Hollywood big shot actors, producers and directors that say they do it for the art and not commerce can only say that because they got paid big on commerce first and can afford to put time into pet projects.
If they really only did what they loved for the art they would not get paid what they do. Nobody honestly works for free in the entertainment business.
Indie producers I know are not in that position to do pet projects to give away. They have to earn money or they and theirs do not eat.
It is a cost to hire an entertainment attorney and a film sales agent, but well worth it for an indie producer that wants to get paid.
Movie distribution lions put so much “Aquí wa wa wa” in their contracts it gets confusing.
When an indie producer has to go it alone without an entertainment attorney or film sales agent best bit of advice I have is too check the definitions section of your movie distribution agreement to see if what fees are going to hit you.
Honest movie distributors put major deal points on page one. How can I put it? Yeah, just put it. Shady movie distributors try to hide fees in the definitions section of a movie distribution agreement instead of page one deal points.
At the end of the day it is your product you are selling. Movie distributors help get it to movie viewers, but without you creating your product they have no product to sell. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE TO BLACK