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Old 12-17-2004, 10:22 AM   #1
Misnomer
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Question First short film and distribution offer! please advise

Hi,

Just joined this forum and was hoping that someone might be able to advise me. I recently had my first film (12mins) screened at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival (phew, quite a mouthful)! Anyway, I have recently been contacted by ITN Distribution in the US (I am in the UK), who have offered me a distribution deal on my film. This would involve me parting with $2500 market expenses and some additional expenses should my film sell. According to ITN they have already had 3 parties interested in my film. However, they need the contract signed asap due to everything kicking of in January.
Basically, what I am asking is if this sounds like a good thing. Of course in paper it does, but as a struggling filmmaker trying to work out funds on my next project $2500 is a lot of money. Is this the norm on Short Film distribution? I am not expecting to really make any money out of short films but haveing a distribution deal is only a good thing and could at least help me on future projects. Sorry for the length of this post but I am in need of some good advice. Thank you in advance.

Rachel
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Old 12-17-2004, 10:32 AM   #2
Will Vincent
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They want you to pay $2500, plus additional sales expenses? How much are they offering you in return? Something about that just doesn't sound right to me.. but what do I know.

Oh, and by the way.. Hope you enjoy your time here.. everyone is friendly and very helpful.
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Old 12-17-2004, 10:48 AM   #3
Misnomer
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Oh dear, this is starting to scare me now. ITN are calling me back this evening to talk about this. I guess I need to find out exactly what the $2500 is for exactly. According to the contract they have e-mailed me it goes
" Expenses: The market expenses (US$2,500) are for NAPTE 2005, CANNES 2005 & AFM 2005. THe US $2,500 covers all the expenses, due upon signing of this contract. There are no additional market expenses".
I just don't know if handing over money is the norm on Short film distribtution! HELP!!!

Thanks for the welcome by the way.

Rachel
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Old 12-17-2004, 10:54 AM   #4
Will Vincent
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I don't have a lot of experience here.. so I'm not trying to scare you. It's cool that they could get you into cannes though.
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Old 12-17-2004, 11:17 AM   #5
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1) That festival is a known **** (I won't use the word scam, since the tend to file lawsuits against those that do).

2) That distribution deal sounds shady.

Google is your best friend
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Old 12-17-2004, 11:28 AM   #6
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Hi there. This is sounding very crap now! Why is that festival known as a ****? I agree about being in two minds about the distribution deal. Handing over money for my own film etc. Can you tell me anymore about this? You can e-mail me privately if you prefer as I would very much appreciate it.

Rachel
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Old 12-17-2004, 11:36 AM   #7
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It's known within the film community, try a search engine.

What did you pay them, over $400, right?
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Old 12-17-2004, 11:43 AM   #8
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$300. Did a Google search on them and ITN and they all seem affiliated with the real prestigious festivals! I was more dubious about the distribution deal and Googled ITN and found quite a lot listed for them but nothing negative so that is why I thought I would try a Forum.
What are they know for? Is this just with overseas filmmakers as there were so many films at the festival. I was supposed to go but a slight technical problem as having a baby has stopped me!
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Old 12-17-2004, 11:55 AM   #9
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I can only speak for what I've read and heard about the festival, as far as the distribution company, I know nothing. Maybe some members will reply. Good luck!
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:01 PM   #10
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Thanks for your replies. I will keep on trying to find out about this. Any more info would be greatly appreciated. Cheers.

Rachel
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
This would involve me parting with $2500 market expenses and some additional expenses should my film sell.

WHOA NELLY!

If they expect this money up front - then RUN TO THE HILLS! SCAM SCAM SCAM! Unless your short film is a 35mm, never been on the Internet, or broadcast anywhere short - There is no market anywhere that can recoup $2,500 in profit. The only places paying significant money (beyond $1,000) for short films is HBO and SHOWTIME, and they require all rights and won't touch anything with a full website or has been broadcast in anyway and they will not consider any 16mm or DV. This is according to my sales rep at my distributor.

I work with and have signed 11 short films with BIG FILM SHORTS, a distributor in CA, and they do not charge me a dime for anything they do to sell my movie & work on commission only.


Sounds really bad. I can't say for certain, but anyone who wants expenses up front from you has no motivation to sell or lift a finger. IF they only make money if they do their job (meaning if they HAVe teh ability to do any of the thigns they promise), they won't need any $$$. Now, if they want that $2,500 from sales they make on your behalf, then it's okay. If they have people liend up to buy your movie, then they shouldn't need any $$ from you at all and will make their money on the sale commission.

Call BRITSHORTS, a London based distributor of short films (the largest in Europe I believe) and ask if it's normal for them to get $2,500 from filmmakers to cover expenses...

Last edited by sonnyboo; 12-17-2004 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
Thanks for your replies. I will keep on trying to find out about this. Any more info would be greatly appreciated. Cheers.

Rachel
Rachel,

I haven't seen your film, but getting into Cannes is like gold. The thing is I can't put together you paying them $2,500, for them to distribute a "golden" film. That doesn't seem right.

Now I know that major distribution companies pay you up front (many times never reaching that price in the end) so your advance is generally all you'll get. Putting that information together, you spending $2,500 maybe all you'll get. Maybe you should be more agressive and tell them that you'll consider their proposal, but you want them to pay you an advance of the $2,500. So no money changes hands until THEY start making money. Then the first $2,500 of your cut goes to them.

Another thing that bothers me is generally when you pressured to let them know NOW. Here's a contract, sign it now and send it to us because... Those tend to be too good to be true, and too often too good to be true things aren't true at all.

BUT, I don't know anything about the company etc.

As for your missing the screening of your film due to child birth...I'm amazed. You can have a baby anywhere, but the premier screening of your film only happens once!!

Chris

P.S. Either way that you go, I wish you the best of luck!

Last edited by cibao; 12-17-2004 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:28 PM   #13
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Hi Rachel,

The problem with any distribution deal is that the distributors want to make as much money as possible, but without incurring any risks.

I would question what your $2,500 fee is going to do for you in terms of distribution. If it is to enter your film in festivals and then publicise it, these are things you can do yourself, probably cheaper and better. Plus, if they've already got people interested in your film, without the $2,500, what do they need the additional marketing money for?

If they are legitimate, they will completely understand your need to ask lots and lots of questions about how the money is to spent and what you'll get out of it. If they're not legit, they'll try to imply that you need to make a decision right now, or you'll lose the deal. Film business is done year round, the New Year stuff sounds like nonsense.

One more thing, don't sign the contract until a professional media lawyer has read it through. You're UK based, call Richard Finlay of Todds Murray in Edinburgh and ask him for a quote to look the contract over (They are an incredibly good firm of media solictors/lawyers and well worth knowing). Tell the distributor that you can't sign until your solicitor has gone through the contract. My guess is that all of a sudden the deal will disappear.

Good luck
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:36 PM   #14
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OK. I have been brought way back down to earth with a bang, but this is far better than living in cloud cuckoo land. All of this information and advice as to who to contact and the what questions to ask is very much appreciated. Something did not sit right with me either, but then I am a cynical person!!

As for the baby thing, yes I should have gone to the screening but 1st baby nerves got the better of me. I can only hope my work improves so I get more screenings at more festivals. Thanks.

Rachel
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:42 PM   #15
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This is actually very simple.

Distributors pay YOU for the rights to distribute. The filmmaker never pays the distributor. Look at it on a financial level - you know THEY do.

Why would ITN work hard to get your short out there? They have already made $2,500. If they use YOUR money to make posters and buy advertising they take the risk of losing some of that money. If they don't - but tell you they are working hard - they lose nothing. Of course they can keep asking you for money - to print more posters, to submit to more festivals, to buy advertising to promote your movie.

They are out nothing.

Imagine if even 2 filmmakers a month fall for this. That's $60,000 a year they make.

If they really have 3 parties already interested in your film then you are in a good position to make deal: tell them you'll take $1,000 up front for all rights.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
I am not expecting to really make any money out of short films but haveing a distribution deal is only a good thing and could at least help me on future projects.
You can't lose. You aren't looking to make any money, only to see your film distributed. If they buy all rights and then make $25,000 on your film you won't see any of the money, but you will be able to use the fact that you made a short that earned ITN a lot of money - and that will help you on future projects.

At least ITN will work hard on getting your film out there if THEY are spending money.
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