Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

International Presales of U.S. Indies by Non-U.S. Companies

Photo of Sydney Levine By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz November 5, 2012 at 11:12AM

On a panel Howard Rodman, VP of Writers Guild of America - West moderated a panel filmmakers, an agent, Film Finances and yours truly discussed how to make a film without the notorioius interference of studios (they should all be so lucky as to have this problem). In other words, the panelists discussed their experiences making films with Russians and Chinese. All agreed that working abroad, and especially with international sales agents who also produce allows for greater freedom of vision (In China the reward is in the writng so that China censorship does not interfere because one has written to their specifications). All agreed also that there is a certain cross-cultural divide one must discover in order to work effectively
0

I participated in a Dreamago panel moderated by WGA-West VP and USC film writing prof and an artistic director at the Sundance Institute Wrting Labs, Howard Rodman.  

Shanghai Calling Daniel Hsia Janet Yang
Other panelists included Vince Fischer who, having been educated and working in Paris, Montreal, New York in business and advertising, event production, and creating the endorsement agency GlamCom which initiates deals between celebrities and products, such as he did with George Clooney and Nespresso, has gone on to create Artistic Alliance ECI which represents screenwriters, directors and actors with offices in Beijing, L.a. and Paris, to match people and projects abroad.  Daniel Hsia, the writer/ director of Shanghai Calling, (ISA: Aldamisa) a U.S. - China co-production distributed in China by China Film Group and in So. Korea by Sookie and due to be released in Norht America in 2013 works with Janet Yang and is eager to do more co-productions in China though he admits to difficulties with censors, etc.  You can see the trailer of Shanghai Calling here.

Neil Landau who wrote Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, the 3D animated feature Tad: The Lost Explores from Paramount which is the highest grossing animated film in Spain's history and the #1 Spanish box ofice movie of the year, is now working on its sequel and another animated feature by the same director.  His latest screenplay is being produced by Cary Brokaw for Avenue Pictures (The Player, Closer, Angels in America).  He is curretnly developing an original miniseries for HBO for the Russian Market and a crime drama for Sreda in Moscow.

Paula Manzanedo-Schmitt is VP of Film Finances Inc. the world leader in completion guarantees.  She has been involved in more than 1,000 films and TV programs internationally and in U.S. She spoke of the various cross-cultural requisites in film production abroad.

The discussion centered around whether filmmakers could make a film without the notorioius interference of studios (they should all be so lucky as to have this problem).  In other words, the panelists discussed their experiences making films with Russians and Chinese. All agreed that working abroad, and especially with international sales agents who also produce allows for greater freedom of vision (although in China the reward is writng so that China censorship does not interfere because one has written to their specifications).  All agreed also that there is a certain cross-cultural divide one must discover in order to work effectively.

My suggestions for finding a way to create without corporate interferences are listed below:

** Coproduce with Canada who has the most coproduction treaties in the world, or go directly to producers or sales agents who do not rely on treaties.

** Work with international sales agents who produce international coproductions which include U.S., or with the producers of those films who now have established track records.

Take a look at Level K, Tine Klint's relatively new Danish company which is preselling films from U.K., Canada and Australia:

The Turning Cate Blanchett
30 Beats

French sales agent Films Distribution is selling

Other French companies are doing likewise.

Studio Canal is selling

  • Liz Garbus' Love, Marilyn - though this was picked up complete at TIFF 12.
  • Don Mazer's I Give It A Year from the U.K. and produced by Tim Bevan.  It began presales in Cannes.

Celluloid Dreams is selling

  • Greetings From Tim Buckley--U.S.-TIFF 12 Special Presentations World Premiere  - Director: Daniel Algrant
  • The Comedian a U.K. comedy by Tom Shkolnik
  • Francis Ha  - U.S. - TIFF 12. by Noah Baumbach
  • Satellite Boy - Australia
  • The Conspiracy - U.K.

SND is preselling The Love Punch an English language French comedy

Wild Bunch is selling 

  • Blood Ties written by James Gray, directed by Guillaume Canet, Cast : Billy Crudup, Clive Owen, Marion Cottillard, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Producers: Alain Attal (Les Productions du Tresor), Hugo Selignac, John Lesher. 

This very American sotry takes place in New York, 1974. Chris Pierzynski has just been released after years in prison for his part in a gangland murder. Waiting reluctantly outside the prison gates is his younger brother, FRANK, a cop with a bright future. Chris and Frank have always been different, and their father, who raised them alone, has always favored Chris - despite all his troubles. Frank has known this since they were kids, and it eats at him like nothing else.

It has presold to Belgium-Lumière, Scandinvia -Scanbox Entertainment, Netherlands-Lumiere, Romania-Independenta Film, Switzerland-Frenetic Films, Turkey-Codex Media, Ukraine Top Film Distribution

Global Screen (Germany) has many English language films, some originating from U.S. and English speaking countries and others from non-English speaking countries.

 No Place on Earth (The Cave)  by Emmy Award winning director Janet Tobias a U.S., U.K., German co-production. the doc tells the longest recorded underground survival story in human history, when 5 Jewish families descended into a pitch black cave to escape the Nazis for 511 days. 

Hungaricom Ltd (Hungary) has the English language animated comedy feature The Secret of Moonacre and Immigrants - L.A. Dolce Vita both produced by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo, and Gabor Kalomista, a Los Angeles based company with Hungarian born principals.  The synopsis of Immigrants is worth repeating: More people immigrate to America than to all other countries in the whole world combined. Why? Is it because they love hot dogs and hamburgers? Or because they want to meet Snoop Dogg or have a close encounter with Pamela Anderson? Maybe. But the real reason is – immigrants go to the U.S. to chase the American dream.  Immigrants is the story of Vladislav (a Russian), and Joska (a Hungarian). Both are immigrants and best friends, living and chasing the American dream together. Vlad has a daughter, Ana, who’s adapting to life in America at the speed of light, while her dad is in complete culture shock. They stay at the Vista del Mar, an apartment complex run by an old failed actress, Greta Knight, who is always after Vlad for sexual favors. The building is home to immigrants from all over the world: Flaco, a friend from Mexico; Mr. Chea, who runs a Chinese family restaurant; Nazim, a former Pakistani nuclear scientist who drives a tour bus; and Mr. Splits, an old black pimp.  We follow Vlad and Joska in their adventures… through their encounter with the American capitalist company Glut-co, through their attempt to open a Russian/Hungarian restaurant, and as their friendship is put in jeopardy when they hit the L.A. night scene. All the while Vlad is looking for a way to make a life for himself and his daughter; and Joska… well, Joska is mainly looking for women. 

If Niel Landau's adventures in Russia appeal to you, but you don't have the connections there, visit Rosskino and the L.A. based Eleonora Granata Russian Film Commissioner or produce in Russia through international sales agents which were founded by Russian-Americans who know both cultures such as Aldamisa (where longtime Disney acquisitons VP Jere Hausfater is now looking for projects), 108 Media who has Myn Bala the Kazahkistan submission for Best Foreign Language Academy Award nomination is Canadian owned, or Red Sea, all of whom are Russian – American and/ or Canadian owned.

Singapore is looking for Looking for copros and Icon has stepped up to the plate with James Wan Presents House of Horrors, an English language U.S. horror film now in pre-productions.  In the aftermath of a horrific massacre, lead Detective, Mark Lewis, and the police department’s psychologist, Dr. Elizabeth Klein, question a suspect for the brutal murder of five college students. This has been preselling at Cannes 2012 (Line up), AFM 2011, Cannes 2011 and Berlin EFM 2012. Directed by Javier Guttierrez, written by James Wan and Max La Bella it will be distributed in Singapore by Cathay.

British companies are also packaging and preselling U.S. films:

Content is selling American indies 96 Minutes, Hick, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God by Alex Gibney

Stealth Indie (Michael Cowan) is selling two U.S. indies, Crave and The Giant Mechanical Man

Bankside has a deal with New York based Killer Films for Innocence, now in post.  This thriller is a modern-gothic vampire story where a recently bereaved teenage girl finds herself the focus of everyone’s attention at her elitist private school where life is steeped in tradition and ceremony.It has been preselling this at AFM 2011 and 2012, Toronto and Cannes 2011 and it has presold to Le Pacte for France, Videovision for So. Africa, Umut Sanat Filmcilik for Turkey, Shooting Stars for UAE.

Ealing Metro is preselling 

  • Nina directed and written by Cynthia Mort, a U.S. production, a biopic about Nina Simone, a tormented genius who eventually finds love and peace. Produced by Barnaby Thompson, Stuart Parr, Mark Burton and Ben Latham Jones, it has presold since Toronto 2011 to Orlando for Israel, Entertainment One for Benelux, Cinesky has U.S.
  • Better Living Through Chemistry directed and written by David Posamentier, a U.S. comedy now in post-production.A straight-laced pharmacist's uneventful life spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a dangerously seductive customer who takes him on a joyride with explosive consequenses involving sex, drugs and possibly murder.  Starring Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan and Ray Liotta, produced by Felipe Marino, Joe Neurater and Keith Calder, it has presold to Metro Pictures of India.
  • Bailout is being presold. One morning Matt Prior wakes up to find himself jobless, crippled with debt, convinced his wife is having an affair and six days away from losing his home. Bailout is a hysterical, heartfelt tale of how we can reach the edge of ruin and begin to make our way back.

Salt is preselling Welcome to the Jungle, a U.S. comedy directed by Rob Meltzer, written by Jeff Kauffman, produced by Justin Kanew and Luillo Ruiz and starring Adam Brody, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kristen Schaal, Megan Boone and Rob Huebel.  A group of co-workers including Chris (Adam Brody) get stranded on a desert island when their nutty teambuilding coach (Jean Claude Van Damme) is mauled by a wild cougar. in the spirit of "lost in the wilderness" comedies such as Tropic Thunder and workplace comedies like The Office, Welcome to the Jungle is a rare beast in today's market: a comedy that delivers on the laughs - both the high and the lowbrow.  It has already presold to Front Row for the Middle East.

Westend is preselling Joe which will start shooting this month be delivered in 2013.  It is to be directed by David Gordon Green, produced by lisa Muskat and stars Nicholas Cage.  Joe is the story of a man who becomes the unlikeliest of role models to 15-year-old Gary Jones, the oldest child of a family ruled by a worthless father. Together they try to find a path to redemption and the hope for a better life in the rugged, dirty world of a small Southern town. Joe is the story of the last hold-out of the cowboy age, when it was okay to shoot up a bar room or tell a lady what to do.

This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit: Production

E-Mail Updates