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I always love my trips to LA – Warm Summer Days and the heart of the Film Business

June 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Kriv Stenders at the A List Film Seminar

To those of you who read my posts, this is an extra special generous article where I will reveal my secrets for attaching Distribution Guarantees at the international Market.

It has been a very busy patch recently. On Saturday May 26th we had the A Lister's Seminar with Kriv Stenders,(Director Red Dog)  Greg Reid (The Eye of the Storm) and Enzo Tedeschi (The Tunnel)  in Sydney.  The day was very successful and we will post video highlights very soon on Youtube.  The questioning was well organized and drew the best out of our Film Makers.

The Aussie A List Film Makers Reveal Seminar will now become a once per year event with only people who are signed up to International Film Base website or former students invited to the event.

On Monday 28th May, I headed off to Melbourne to help with Casting for  the 4 month Film School.  On Tuesday I flew to LA and I am always amazed at the feeling of taking off from Melbourne Airport on Tuesday 29th May 11am and arriving 13 hours later in LA before you left at 8am Tuesday 29th May .

At Cine Expo at Paramount Studios

I always seem to have a great time in LA meeting  many people I have met before in the film business. The weather is stunning at the moment with most days about 27C and cool nights due to the desert. I am very much enjoying the week of summer before returning to Sydney on Tuesday.

We currently have two projects in development .  Absolute Freedom  shooting in October and The Lima Connection ,a $5 million dollar production shooting in Miami and South America when financing completes. At the moment,  I  can not go into details about who is financing but it is suffice to say that Lima Connection is advancing very well indeed.

A DG is a guaranteed Distribution Deal. A really good  DG will come with a minimum guaranteed $ value but in many cases now it just a guarantee of distribution. International DGs of course help the film finalize the finance and therefore they are very important particularly if the company is a reputable company such as Lionsgate or Millenium Films.

Camera attached to this Flying Device at Cine-Expo in Hollywood

LA is still the centre of the business and when you want to finance films, there are many Distributors and Sales Agents worth seeing over here. However getting in the door to see a distributor is a challenging job.  They are inundated with thousands of projects and they generally suffer overwhelm.  So they have found ways of cutting through the workload. Their primary method is to ignore any cold or unsolicited inquires. Taking this approach is like beating your head off the wall.

What I want to talk about now is how to approach Distributors.

1 Get a referral. The business works on "Who you Know"  so it is very important to get to know the right people. Do not phone Distributors unless you have a referral. Referrals from someone who knows you and also knows the distributor,  will always get you a meeting to pitch your project. It gets you past the mass of people cold calling who have zero chance of getting a meeting. Get the referral meeting and then it is over to you to do a great pitch which will get the executive to ask for a copy of the script and read it. If they love the script you have DG and the film is getting closer to shooting.

2 Go to Pitch Seminars. Right after I complete this article I am off to the Great American Pitchfest . On Saturday, there are a whole lot of entertaining and informative seminars and on Sunday everyone has a chance to stand in line and meet production companies and pitch your project. Many of the Production Companies have deals with the major Distribution Companies and Sales Agents. If they love your pitch, they will ask for a script and then a deal with the writer to develop the film ensues with the film eventually going into production.

3 Go to the Film  Markets and the Seminars attached to the Markets

Yesterday at the Great American Pitchfest

Film Markets are where all the Film Executives go to sell their film product. The big two markets are the AFM in Santa Monica in November and Cannes Film Market in May.  Email four to two weeks in advance all the Sales Agents and Distributors relevant to your film that are attending the AFM or what ever Film Market you attend. This also applies to films that are completed and do not have DGS.  Do a blanket coverage of the Sales Agents and Distributors.  When you register to attend the AFM they will give you a list of Sales Agent and Distributors that are at the AFM.

You should get about one in five of your emails responding. Set up several meetings a day and then at night network and socialize. Make friends with the Sales Agents and Distributors at the Parties that happen every night and then a meeting will evolve from the networking.  A Word of warning. Stay sober. Executives want to avoid alcoholics.

Yes it takes determination and persistence to get your films up and running Keep away from cold calling and be smart and rise above the many film makers taking the wrong approach. Remember it is "who you know" that will always work the best mixed with talent and a great project.

I am off to Pitchfest now and as a final word, take the two prong approach whether you are making short films or feature films. Always have a micro budget film in production  that you are doing now and then a second project the $5 million bigger budget production that seeks finance from the Distributors and various funding bodies. In the case of the short film, seek funding from Screen Australia or your State funding body. Making a film  now is so important and sustains you as you work on bigger budget films that may take years to make.

Nothing beats learning on real live film productions or the fun and the camaraderie. Nothing beats a really good Film School. 

I hope to see you soon


Colm O'Murchu - Director Australian Film Base


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