Hammering out Movie Distribution Agreements is like Boxing
Movie distribution agreements can be overwhelming if it is your first time dealing with them.
It is mentally like putting on the gloves and getting into the ring to handle business. Punches will be thrown and landed on both sides.
The less prepared you are the more likely your opponent, who is the movie distributor, will either KO you or TKO you fast or wear you down.
Losing a split decision is a moral victory, but holding your own and winning feels better when dealing with movie distribution agreements.
All the creative energy, sweat and money it takes to get an indie movie done from screenplay to post leads to producers wanting to land a movie distribution deal.
Self-distribution is cool and you can make money for your work. But I have not met an indie producer that wants as many eyes possible watching their entertainment.
Making movies that no one outside of family and friends see is like shadow boxing. The hungry indie movie producers and filmmakers I know want as many people as possible to see their movie.
Movie distributors remind me of boxing managers and promoters. Any contract signed is usually slanted in favor of the boxing manager and promoters and not the fighter who in this case is the producer and filmmaker.
There are times in the fight game that boxing managers and promoters truly think of fighters and treat them fair on the money end of deals.
Same goes for indie cinema.
Movie distributors that specialize in working with indie producers are all different.
Some are shady crooks fueled by greed and others respect the entertainment game and understand without indie producers and filmmakers they would have nothing to sell, so why screw them on money.
I’ve seen movie distribution agreements that were only 3 pages and other movie distribution agreements over 30 pages.
Legalese (law jargon) in movie distribution agreements can be confusing to understand. Slice of Americana Films has signed various movie distribution agreements over the years and to be honest it never gets easier.
Through experience I have a general understanding about hammering out movie distribution agreements after having read enough of them.
Knock on wood every project Slice of Americana Films has produced has been offered deals. The downside is some of those deals were not good and some were really outstanding.
Many movie distributors that release indie produced entertainment will offer what they call their standard movie distribution agreement.
If your budget can swing it hire an entertainment attorney or a film sales agent.
The best deals we have got that paid and put in money in our pockets came from working with two entertainment attorneys that watched my back like nobody’s business and a films sales agent who know the score on the sales market of indie entertainment.
The reality is lots of indie producers of cutting-edge entertainment never budget for costs after the project is done.
Like me, most indie producers are just happy to have a completed project. Indie entertainment is boxing. Finishing a project doesn’t mean the fight is over.
You have to sell it. You have to pay back your film investors. Real film investors can get mean and nasty on delays of finishing a movie and getting paid on their investment. The crowd funding crowd are not the same at all.
When I go to the store I get pitched on help this cause and this cause. I buy candy from the pushers outside the entrance, drop money in a bucket or military ammo change collector never expecting anything.
Making movies with donated money is completely different than dealing with hard cash from film investors.
Donators to a movie are like rabbits and real film investors are wolves. Put crowd funding donators and film investors in a room and see what happens.
In the world of indie cinema if you do not make people money you are out of the game unless you are one hell of a hustler that can keep people donating money for a project that sometimes never sees the light of day.
I was talking to another indie filmmaker last night. She made a great point, so I thought; she said more indie filmmakers are focused on donations for their movies and missing the business part.
In boxing it would be compared to a boxer being fed a series of tomato cans to inflate their record, when they came up against a real fighter you know the outcome –KO.
Don’t let movie distributors hammer you on length of the movie distribution agreement. I’ve seen some that have 25 years that’s a rip-off.
Unless they are paying you hard cash advance you can spend pass on that deal. Stand up movie distributors only normally ask 5 years rights with an option you can decline or they decline to push it another 2 years.
Never sign a movie distribution agreement that wants to own the copyright to your franchise or the name of your program. That’s yours as long as you filed the proper legal paperwork.
I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t have an entertainment attorney or film sales agent you need to look at the Definitions section of movie distribution agreements.
It should be clear in deal points on front page, but not always. You’re going to hit with a cost maybe you didn’t see coming. Selling movies is boxing. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE OUT