Filmmakers, producers, and financiers can really be held back by distribution contracts. If they don’t understand the language or terms, are passive or held hostage by a feeling that they may be getting ripped off, or simply do not have the support system to advise them or the knowledge to know what to fight for, they can find themselves at an extreme disadvantage. In many cases, the excitement of the "someone likes my movie/let's get it out there" mentality supersedes common sense. And that alone can lead you into giving away your rights, accepting horrendous percentages or agreeing to terms that lock you and your project up. Don't fall into these traps! You worked hard on your film. You sacrificed time and likely money to get to this point. While most might think this is time to hit the gas pedal, it's actually time to tap the brakes. You want to be sure you're doing everything humanly possible to not only protect yourself, your investors and your team, but maximizing your film's potential in the marketplace. Anna Darrah is an experienced film buyer, negotiating with and licensing over 800 films in her 12 years working for Gaiam and Spiritual Cinema Circle. She has been an active player on the festival circuit and currently advises filmmakers on custom distribution strategies. Anna is also a filmmaker who produced two documentaries that aired on The Sundance Channel, and directed a music video and the short film THE MATTER OF MAGIC. She also produced a feature-length documentary about Helen Schreider (www.THEHELENMOVIE.com) while also making short films for the ZILLOW.COM series, HOMEMAKERS. Anna has enjoyed jurying and participating in film festival panels and workshops here and abroad and is currently offering a Film Distribution Workshop co-taught with Jilann Spitzmiller. Now Anna brings her knowledge and teaching prowess to Stage 32. Anna will begin by breaking down theatrical and broadcast rights as well as exclusive and non-exclusive deals. She'll dive into breaking down deal points including term, territory, rights and compensation. She'll discuss standard terms and point out red flags within and speak to what you should negotiate to assure you get the best, and most fair, deal. She will even look at the negotiation process from the other side of the table so you can understand what a distributor truly wants out of a deal. Thinking outside the box, Anna will even discuss going the DIY distribution route or a hybrid DIY/traditional distribution path. All this and much more. It’s incredible how each contract is like a snowflake -- totally unique and yet similar in some very important ways. I will help you understand the entire distribution arena so you can sleep well knowing you've made the best deal for you, your partners and, most importantly, your film. - Anna Darrah Praise for Anna "Excellent overview of terms to be aware of when negotiating or reviewing a distribution agreement." - Valerie N. "Anna was great, the information she shared was so very useful!" - Christian C. "For a complex subject, Anna made it all so simple and easy to follow. Excellent webinar!" - Drea P. "A knockout." - Mana W.
As the world becomes flatter and technology brings us closer together, opportunities for international cooperation continue to abound. For producers or creatives looking to find or bolster their next indie project, there’s a huge amount of potential in joining forces with companies or teams from other countries and pooling your resources together, creating something larger than the sum of its parts. Forming an international co-production can give you access to more funding and financing opportunities, more access to locations, actors and crew, and more sales and distribution opportunities after the film is finished. But while international co-productions can reap great rewards, they also present unique challenges. After all, each country has its own set of rules and regulations, its own red tape, and its own processes for getting things done. Navigating this transnational world requires a set of skills and wherewithal that can be hard earned but is hugely valuable. International co-productions are becoming more common in both mainstream cinema and the indie space. But while it yields results, it’s not a science. Collaboration never is. If you have your sights set outwards and are interested in working across country lines to create your next film, be prepared for some unique hurdles. For one, how do you even get started? How do you find international talent or partners in the first place? And once you find them, how do you woo them into working with you? How do you manage financing and how do you make compromises that make all parties happy? After all, collaboration is challenging no matter what, but working with people in another country, people who might not even share the same first language as you, amps that challenge up to another level. Birgit Kemner is a French-German producer who has headed up successful co-productions for nearly a decade. All her productions have been selected and awarded in renowned festivals such as the Cannes or Venice Film Festival. Birgit was previously Head of Marketing and Festivals at the MK2 group and has worked on international releases of over 50 films directed by filmmakers such as Gus van Sant (ELEPHANT, LAST DAYS, PARANOID PARK), Olivier Assayas (SUMMER HOURS) and Gela Babluani (13 TZAMETI - Lion of the Future at Venice, Jury Prize at Sundance and European Discovery at the European Film Awards) as well as numerous international film retrospectives of directors such as Charlie Chaplin, François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol. Birgit is bringing her years of successful co-production experience exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Birgit will use her extensive background to walk you through every step of creating a successful international co-production. She will begin by discussing tips on how to choose good projects in the first place and how to identify the right partners for you and your vision. She’ll teach you how to network and attract partners, especially in international markets when you often have ten minutes or less to make an impression. Birgit will then go over the challenges of funding and the resources available, especially in European markets. She will then talk about strategies and tips for your transnational partnership to survive and thrive, including tools to communicate, effective contracts, cash flow schedule, and how to determine who does what when. Finally, Birgit will delve into steps to take after the film is complete to bring it to the international market, get it into festivals, and optimize both marketing and sales. Simply put, you will be learning from one of the best. Birgit will illustrate all of these points by using two of her own films as case studies, HUMAN CAPITAL, which played in competition at Tribeca Film Festival, and EL ARDOR, which was an official selection at Cannes Film Festival. Praise for Birgit's webinar: "Birgit gave me more information about international co-productions than I even knew existed. I now feel totally prepared and energized to tackle my next project" -James R. "Great slides and great information!" - Marisé S. "Awesome! Birgit covered the bases and inspired me to look outside the box." -Clint A. "Very informative, helpful information and guidance to take our next step into making our film. Thank you!" -Anastasia C.
Welcome to the final Writers' Room webcast of 2019! The last broadcast of the year was the Write Now Challenge: Plot Twists! This month you were challenged to write a scene in 3-5 pages that tells a story with a major plot twist. This is no easy feat and perhaps the most difficult challenge we have faced to date! There is also a special question and answer session during the broadcast, where members asked me anything about the industry, the craft, the business, your screenwriting career or any other burning questions you may have!
Let's face it, executives, producers, managers, agents, financiers, and gatekeepers in general are busy. Between meetings, reviewing content and business plans, and working with their clients and colleagues, time is at a premium. But, that doesn't mean they're not on the lookout for new material and talent. In fact, that's their job! Still, to sort through all the people and content that they confront and are presented on a daily basis can be a daunting task. They want those people and material that stands out immediately. And that's where a killer query letter or a memorable and meaningful cold call can make a huge difference and set you apart from the crowd. Talk to any executive and they'll tell you that they receive dozens if not hundreds of query letters a day. Because most of them don't have an attention grabbing subject line or little to no personalization, almost all end up in the trash. But, any executive will also tell you that if a subject line grabs them, or if the query letter shows the recipient that this was a personal, non-mass, attempt to get their attention, you have a very real shot of doing just that. The same holds true for cold calls. Having a solid, wise approach and knowing exactly what to say will give you the best chance of breaking the ice and securing the conversation you were hoping for. It's all about creating intrigue, interest, and value while approaching your subject from a place of selflessness and thoughtfulness Wendy Kram has over 20 years of experience as an entertainment industry executive, consultant, and producer, developing and producing projects for Disney, Universal and Sony Studios, HBO, Showtime, Lifetime, NBC, ABC, CBS and USA Networks. Her credits include Mad Money with Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes, the award-winning miniseries Sally Hemings: An American Scandal for CBS with Sam Neil, and current projects she's producing with Anonymous Content (the company responsible for True Detective, Mr. Robot, The Revenant, and Spotlight). As the founder of L.A. FOR HIRE, an international consulting firm, clients come to Wendy for her expertise in script development and the ability to connect projects with Hollywood A-list talent and decision-makers. With longstanding industry relationships, Wendy understands buyer and creative talent needs, and has direct access to principals at the major studios, networks, streaming providers and agencies. Creative Screenwriting Magazine ranks Wendy and L.A. FOR HIRE as one of the industry’s premiere script consulting firms. Wendy will teach you all the tips and trade secrets she's learned pitching projects and dealing directly with executives. She will show you how to craft a logline, pitch, and powerful statements for just about any situation. She will show you how to deliver your message with power and control while being engaging and confident. She will instruct you how to not only get by the gatekeepers, but to get them to remember you - to become an ally. She will show you how to avoid novice mistakes that will lead to dead ends. She will teach you how to develop leads and then how to create and nurture these relationships. Wendy will show you how query letters and cold calling can become powerful tools in your arsenal. Wonderful class - simplified and helpful information that can be applied immediately for better results. The examples at the end are totally worth it. - Cate C. One of the most generous presenters imaginable; outstanding! - Virginia Y. Wendy was really excited to be involved which was great! - Brent B. Very interesting and engaging. I loved it. - Jason A. Wendy was terrific, on point, and insightful. The Q&A was incredible. Thanks again. - Maria L.
Your pitch deck is the most important tool in your initial stage of obtaining financing for your script. A pitch deck is also used as an aid to attaching an actor or director you are interested in. As a tool, your deck is the first impression of your film condensed so the investor can become familiar with your project and determine if this is an opportunity for them. To close the deal or at least garner meaningful consideration and interest, your pitch deck has to stand out. It has to not only tell the story of your project, why it should be attractive to talent, and what the true potential audience may be, but, most importantly, it needs to show a true and realistic path to profitability. And this is where so many decks fail. Sure, you want to paint a rosy picture with your investor pitch deck. But here's the thing, most investors who have put money into films before know BS from reality. They will know if you are overshooting your estimates (an extremely common tactic), whether your film comps are ridiculous (they almost always are) and if you're exaggerating who your potential audience will be (nearly always the case). A great investor pitch deck is filled with equal parts optimism and reality. Sure, every investor wants to dream of unbelievable riches and success, but what truly makes them open their wallets is believing in the team, the project, and being presented a realistic worldview as to the potential return on their investment. Michelle Alexandria knows a thing or two about raising money. As a producer and Head of International Sales and Acquisitions for Glasshouse Distribution, Michelle has raised or assisted in raising funds for dozens of films and other projects. She has personally worked on 25 feature films $6MM and under and 3 television projects in various capacities including producing, line producing and executive producing. Michelle has spoken on the topic of raising financing at the Cannes Producers Network and other prominent film festivals and markets including MipCom, Berlin, Buenos Aires, UniFrance, Sundance, and AFM. Her knowledge is extensive and her advice actionable, and now she's here to deliver the goods exclusively on Stage 32. Michelle will teach you how to create an investor pitch deck that doesn't have that same dusty feeling of so many decks and which fits the current climate of raising funds. She will show you what elements truly matter for an investor and which you can leave out of your deck entirely. She will discuss the value (or lack thereof) of artwork and posters. Additionally, she'll dive into loglines and synopsis to assure that you are giving your potential investors the true vision of the project. She will teach you how to put together a realistic cast list and film comps. She will discuss budgets, scheduling and how to incorporate those elements into your deck. She will talk to you about putting together the right team and how those team members can send the right or wrong signal. As an added bonus, Michelle will share examples of pitches decks that have helped secure millions in financing! "Clear, concise, and brilliant." - Mario D. "No BS, straight to the point information. Loved every second." - Patricia H. "I have a deck for my film. It's going in the garbage. I will be starting over tomorrow with this wealth of information flowing in my head. Remarkable job, Michelle!" - Phil M. "Sure, everyone wants Leo or George in their films. Sure, everyone thinks their film is the next My Big Fat Greek Wedding or some other independent blockbuster. Sure, everyone believes that they have THE idea that is going to get them the money. Michelle just gave me the map as to HOW to get the money by being REAL. I can't wait to get started and to bounce ideas off my team. This was so much fun. Thank you!" - Denise P.