Choosing A Sales Agent For Your Film

As a new producer, I am a sponge, learning as much as I can for our project, "Final Frequency," starring Charles Shaughnessy (The Nanny), Richard Burgi (Desperate Housewives) and Lou Ferrigno Jr. (SWAT). For a film like ours, an agent is critical as is the local film market, AFM (Oct-Nov 2018).

Choosing a sales agent for your film is like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears.

You need one that is just right.  Remember, you are now family and you need them to treat you as such and that is a two way street.

John David Ware at the American Film Market

I've met with dozens of sales agents over the past year and I am excited about the one we finally choose. Can an agent be too big? Yes, you can easily get lost the wrong agent for a number of reasons.  You need to ask a number of questions and as I always  do, pray about it.  This is by no means an exhaustive list.

1. Are they fair and honest?
2. Are they knowledgeable about the market, the buyers?
3. Do they have a good reputation?
4. Are they too small, too big?
5. What kind of films do they represent?
6. Do they have a passion for my film?
7. Do they have a personal connection with me and my crew?
8. Where do they go to sell?
9. What is their general plan?
10. What is their social media plan?

Many of the contracts for sales agents look very similar.  But you must look at the fine print on every one and make sure they only change as agreed. Always negotiate on every contract, but remember, you need them to perform for you, so if you try to grind too much, they may not do the deal or if they do, then they maybe lacking in the motivation department, especially if they have a higher percentage on a similar film.

You can never be totally sure until you’ve done a deal. But, you’ll know a lot once you start negotiating the contract with them.

Do they do what they say they will do? Do they keep changing things unexplainably?  A moving goal post is a fatal sign and you should run for the hills. You don’t have to give them all of the marbles either.

You can do certain carve outs, like DVDs on your website, North American Theatrical or the "Faith Market."  But, consider this, if you stagger different geographical releases too much, you could be hurt by piracy of your film.

Piracy will happen.  You do not want a long lead-time between your first release and foreign markets.

Always be learning!