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Ask Yourself If You Need a Sales Agent

You worked incredibly hard to complete your film; you spent years editing and begging people for favours, especially when your project had no budget for anything; the years of hard work have finally paid off and now your film is finished. You believe in your project and your talent, and deep down in your heart, you know that your film is going to be the toast of countless film festivals, which will make finding a sales agent to represent your film much easier.

Well, in the old days of gatekeepers and pre-Internet days that was surely the way to “make it” in our industry and to be noticed as a talented filmmaker. But since the Internet revolution, a lot has changed for everyone in the industry. And having an agent to represent your film is not a must any longer. However, some filmmakers still would like to find a sales agent to represent their perfect work. Before you embark on your research, read my short text below:

  • Patience. It takes a long time to find any sales agent. But it will take even longer to find the right one, who is going to love your film at least 50% as much as you love your film. This activity is going to consume a significant amount of your time and energy. On the other hand, you could use that time smarter and start building your online following. Often agents find talent and projects when the online audience is significant.
  • The sales agents sell films in bulk. It means that your film is not going to get any special treatment above other titles the sales agent already has in their portfolio.
  • Your financial return, if any, will be much smaller than if you decide to go with the creative distribution of your film. If your film gets sold with the bulk of others, that money will most likely go towards covering the costs the sales agent endured while representing your film at different markets.
  • Some sales agents ask for a retainer. If they do that, what’s the point of paying them, instead of using that money to hire marketing and promotional producer, or even a team to help you grow your following and exposure.  Besides, most sales agents asking for a retainer will do squat to sell your film, as there will be no incentive for them to do so. (Personally, I would never go with a sales agent, who asks for a retainer.)
  • Often the sales agents will make a deal with distributors that are nothing more then aggregator companies. That aggregator company will charge you money for putting your film on VOD platforms. Something that you can easily do yourself.
  • Since sales agents sell in bulk, they will never care for your film as much as you do and as much as they should.
  • Sales agents usually hold the rights to sell your film for a certain amount of time. Even if it’s a year contract, during that year you can do very little with your film. And that year could be pretty crucial for your project and for making sure it finds the right audience and exposure it deserves.

I’m not saying that having a sale agent for your film is a bad idea. It’s not by default. What I’m trying to say, is that we are living in very exciting times, when you, the filmmaker, can be in charge of your own destiny, without having to leave everything up to other people to make your production successful.

You should surely explore the possibility of becoming your own sales agent or becoming your own producer of marketing and promotion.

If you decide that you don’t need a sales agent to represent your film, you will:

  • Save a ton of time by not making enquiries. That time can be used towards building your online following or organizing community screenings for your project.
  • Give all the love your project needs and deserves.
  • Work hard to make sure your project is seen by as many people as possible.
  • Learn new skills; meet new people and experience filmmaking from the perspective of a marketer. That could lead you to make your next film more commercial (think about the hook of your upcoming film from a commercial sale point).
  • Keep all your contacts such as email addresses to yourself, which you can use to reach out, while you are making your next project.
  • Keep all the financial awards for yourself, without having to share your hard-earned money with other people who will never, especially at the start of your working life, do for your film as much as you could and would.

Before you spend months solely devoted to finding the “perfect” sales agent, I would urge you to make a Pros and Cons list, look at it and decide what is it that you want for your project and what will allow you to make it as successful as possible.

While you are here, you might also be interested in Creative Distribution.

Filed under: sales agents

About the Author

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Magda Olchawska is an award-winning independent filmmaker, writer and screenwriter. She writes not only about making films and writing but also about financially independent and sustainable lifestyle. Her current projects include Ecotopia Universe and School Runs.

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