Here’s a quick primer for independent filmmakers on how to navigate the international markets.
Films are usually sold individually to the world markets. This is because as a commodity, each film is different than any other (the exception to this is genre films, which buyers often view as all the same, and which can be sold as “packages of films”). There are about 60 international territories and these can be individual or multiple countries. For example, the North American territory includes the U.S. and English and French speaking Canada. Germany includes German-speaking countries in its territory, which means Germany, Austria and German Switzerland. Scandinavia is a territory comprised of 5 countries, including Iceland.
By examining the recent sales of films that are similar to or resonant of your project and researching which territories they were sold to, you can begin to get an idea of possible outlets and international markets for a film like yours.
Once you’re ready to take the plunge, what should you look for in an international sales agent?
Firstly, look for a personal connection. Meet them, chat with them, and see how it feels. Do you like them? Do they make sense? Are they excited or compelling when discussing what they do and what films they see and sell? It is also a good idea to check out their company’s website and research which films they are currently handling. Their roster of films indicates who they know and do business with in the buyer world. This also gives you a clue as to what their public image is and will help you determine whether or not you want your film associated with that type of company.
Lastly, gather some first-hand information about them by reaching out to the producers of films the company has recently sold. Ask them if they were happy with deal – what were the results, the reports and the incoming money? Ask around discretely and you’ll get the info you need to determine the right company to sell your film.