Independent feature film producer Franco Sama has Executive Produced an impressive array of over twenty (20) independent feature films including cult favorite “Guns, Girls and Gambling” starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook; this film was released into theatres and acquired a worldwide distribution deal from Universal Pictures. Sama boasts a remarkable and extensive history in public speaking, public relations and a decade of independent film development, production and financing. Other films Sama has produced include; “Black Limousine” starring David Arquette, Vivica Fox and Bijou Phillips, “Tooth and Nail” starring Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones, “The Penitent Man,” starring Lance Henriksen and Andrew Keegan and "Paid," starring Corbin Bernsen and Tom Conti. Sama also serves as Executive Producer on the recent film festival darling “Petunia” starring Thora Birch, Brittany Snow and Academy Award winner Christine Lahti. Sama has spent the first quarter of 2014 traveling back and forth to Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies working closely with government officials, film entrepreneurs and Question Mark Entertainment in an effort to help revitalize the film industry in that country. Sama is currently seeking a script that can be shot in Trinidad for $1M (USD). His shingle “Samaco Films” is currently funding a slate of several independent feature films, including "Bless Me Father" starring John Turturro, Michael Rapaport and Michael Rispoli as well as a moving military drama titled "Through My Daughter's Eyes" being directed by Dallas Burgess, starring ingénue Avi Lake as well as "Jarhead" and the "The Island" veteran actor Martin Papazian. Samaco Films releases two films in 2015, the first, "The Livingston Gardner" stars James Kyson the beloved "Ando" from the NBC television hit series "Heroes" and the second, "3 Days In Havana" starring Ally McBeal alum, Gil Bellows; both of which have been released through Samaco Films' sister company, Synergetic Distribution and have been released via all digital and Video on Demand (VOD) platforms world wide. And the company's latest film "Game of Aces" directed by Aussie director, Damien Lay and starring former "American Pie" star Chris Klein alongside Victoria Summer (Transformers: Age of Distinction") and Werner Daehn ("Valkyrie", xXx) was released in 2016. Full Bio »
In today's global climate filmmakers need to consider their options for distribution, which ultimately begins at the development phase. While your project is in development, packaging the right talent (actor, director, casting director, etc.) play a huge part in the pre-sales process, and ultimately have a hand in the successful distribution of your project.
Distribution changes constantly and there are not many people who have their finger on the pulse like Executive Producer Franco Sama from Samaco Films. Franco has EP'd an impressive array of over twenty (20) independent feature films ranging in the "sweet spot" $5MM and under range, generally releasing 2-3 films each year.
We've brought Franco in to teach this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar on Packaging & Pre-Sales For Film Distribution. In this information packed webinar Franco will go over the entire development process from how to attract A-list talent and the offers they require, how to acquire "must have" international sales estimates, working with vertically integrated distribution companies, breaking down distribution options and much more. This is a go to guide to package with an eye towards distribution!
Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.
Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.
Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer
Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.
Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year! For a live webinar, you will be given the link within 2 business days after the live session.
For many independent film producers and filmmakers, approaching financiers and securing financing for your project presents one of the biggest challenges in the entire filmmaking process. How do you build your team, bring in development funds, attach name talent and work with rebates, sales estimates & distribution to attract financing all while compiling a plan to mitigate your financial risk? It can be overwhelming for a producer, especially given the ever changing landscape and the increasingly competitive nature of independent film. Your goal as a filmmaker or producer is to make your project more financially attractive to investors over everyone else presenting projects to them. What many filmmakers and producers don't know is that there's a "sweet spot" in a film budget range that will help you raise funds successfully and get the ROI your investors are looking for. Setting the budget for your feature film at between $250,000 and $2 million it opens up a variety of options for you to be able to attach the talent you're looking for, the distribution you need and make your investors money. But first, you have to understand the financial blueprint to get you there. Franco Sama has produced 25+ successful independent feature films between $250,000 - $2MM. He has worked with Oscar winner Christine Lahti, Dane Cook, Christian Slater, Gary Oldman, David Arquette, Brittany Snow, Vivica Fox, Michael Madsen and many more. He's worked with first time directors and experienced directors and has seen all scenarios when it comes to putting together financing for films. Franco knows first hand every step of the financial model needed to make a movie profitable and he's bringing this knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community. You will learn how to approach your film from the investor’s point of view so you can not only get the money you need for your project but, most importantly, how your investors can get that money back with profits. You will learn how to build a team around your project that will not only make investing more attractive, but also assure you don't make mistakes when you go after funding. You'll learn the type of funding that is available to you and how to approach the investors attracted to and interested in each type of financing. You'll dissect how to get agents on your side to attach talent to your project and how to work with attorneys. You'll also learn the most effective distribution options for this type of film budget. Drawing from his nearly two decades of experience, Franco will teach you how he gets his dozens of projects financed, distributed and turning a profit, and why he stays in the “sweet spot” range between $250K-$2M. Give yourself the competitive advantage to understand the types of investors you need to approach, how to approach them, how to get talent attached, and, ultimately, how to get your film made, distributed, and profitable so your investors return again and again!
Learn directly from Franco Sama, 15-year expert of film financing and distribution with 25+ successful independent feature films to his name, including Guns, Girls and Gambling (Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook) and Petunia (Thora Birch, Brittany Snow and Academy Award winner Christine Lahti)! As a filmmaker you may find yourself at the mercy of distributors and the existing archaic, chaotic convoluted distribution system(s) that ultimately ends up costing the you profits and, more importantly, creative and financial control of your project. With many new options becoming available for your project to be seen, self-distribution is becoming an increasingly beneficial option. In this webinar we go over the self-distribution model of limited theatrical and limited platform release. We've brought in 15-year financing and producing expert Franco Sama to draw on his experience with over 25 successful indie films in which he has secured distribution. Franco will teach you step-by-step how to release your film in multiple theaters across multiple cities throughout the Unites States. Plus, he will take it a step further and show you exactly how to incorporate the release into your business plan as part of your development process so you can benefit your investors and increase your film’s international value. You will leave this webinar armed with knowledge and ready to self-distribute your film via limited theatrical or platform release.
Having a known or in-demand actor in your independent film can make all the difference in whether it succeeds or not. A name actor gives your film a sense of legitimacy, which attracts new investors and more interested distributors. It also gives your film more opportunities for press and buzz, and will convince more people to watch it once it is released. That famous actor is very likely what you need to clinch your film, actually get it made, and have it ultimately find an audience and a home. But there’s a big, glaring problem with this truth: You need a name actor to get funding, but you need that funding in order to get the name actor. It ends up being a vicious circle, a catch-22 that can come across as frustratingly insurmountable, a barrier for entry that no independent filmmaker can get beyond. Let’s not mince words. Landing high level talent for your film is HARD, especially if your funding hinges on that actor saying yes. But at the same time, this isn’t the unsolvable puzzle it may at first seem. It comes down to finding the right investors and giving them what they need to say yes. This means pulling out all of the stops, preparing correctly, and doing the hard work. You’ll never be the only filmmaker going after top level talent, but you might be one of the few who’s able to do it the right way. First, it’s vital to understand what the “right way” actually is and what you need to know to do this right. Acquiring a talent is always going to be a hustle, but knowing what it takes and how to navigate this world can give you a serious edge. Independent feature film producer Franco Sama has produced an impressive array of over twenty independent feature films including cult favorite GUNS, GIRLS AND GAMBLING starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook, which was released theatrically acquired by Universal Pictures. Other films Franco has produced include; BLACK LIMOUSINE starring David Arquette, Vivica A. Fox and Bijou Phillips, TOOTH AND NAIL starring Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones, THE PENITENT MAN, starring Lance Henriksen and Andrew Keegan and PAID, starring Corbin Bernsen and Tom Conti. Franco’s company Samaco Films continues to fund and develop independent films from burgeoning filmmakers. After nearly two decades of experience in film finance, distribution and packaging, Franco has come to understand how to crack the code and attract top level talent to independent films. He’s ready to share what he’s learned exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Franco will go in-depth on how exactly an independent filmmaker can find both cast and funding for their project. He will begin by explaining what budget range you should be aiming for to allow you to acquire the talent you’re looking for. He’ll then teach you the steps you must take before reaching out to either talent or investors. He will explain how to tap into an investor’s mindset and use it to your advantage, including why it might be easier for you to raise $5 million than $500,000, and how you should frame your project as an opportunity for investors. He’ll explain what development funding is, how it works, and why it’s now necessary in today’s landscape. Next, he will delve into how you should be building a strong team for your project before you start approaching talent. He’ll lay out the seven critical people you will need to bring on from the beginning, why you need an executive producer, how to choose the “right” director and casting director, and whether you can attract major talent as a first time director. Franco will explain the importance of acquiring international sales estimates and will lay out what your presentation deck to investors should look like to find funding and gain the cast you’re looking for. He will also talk about how pre-sales work and how many you need to be seen as successful. He’ll then start talking about the actual casting process, including how to create a realistic actor’s wish list, deciding between “A-List” and “B-List” actors and whether or not they pass Franco’s “Parentheses Test”. He’ll explain casting with an eye towards sales and then explain the difference between letters of intent, letters of commitment, and phone verification when going after talent. He’ll also break down contingency investments and how to know when to employ deferment and back-end offers with actors. Franco will explain how to make legitimate offers to actors and agents and how to ensure they’re never empty offers. He’ll go into how “pay or play” works in this world and why going out too early to actors can destroy your casting choices. Finally Franco will explain how you can use tax incentives to help with casting. Expect to leave with a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the steps you need to take to bring on your dream actor. Praise for Franco's Stage 32 Webinar "One word - Invaluable." - Larry S. “Head & shoulders above the usual webinars on film distribution and finance. Franco actually knows his stuff and has a track record to back it up. Really good presentation.” – Scott B. This was incredibly illuminating and really entertaining at the same time. I'm so glad I watched this" -Glenda T. Wow. I cannot believe how much I learned from this webinar. Franco is the best. -Terrence R.
Anyone who has ever tried to produce and cast a feature film is aware of the quagmire that attaching “A” List level talent represents. On one hand, you need the star power of a “name” actor in order to acquire funding and on the other hand you need the money in order to acquire the name talent. It's enough to drive even the most seasoned filmmakers crazy. Don't worry, there are proven strategies to solving this puzzle and assuring that your project is top of mind for managers, agents, and their talent. The reason why so many first and second time producers, writers and directors find themselves in this situation is simple. In most cases, they are attempting to approach “A” List celebrity talent to their film much too soon with the hopes of using that “name” to attract investors; a strategy that rarely works. The reality of the situation is that "A" List talent and the representatives get dozens of offers a month. And with more and more name actors working in television, streaming series, limited series and now even digital series (hello, Quibi!), the competition is even higher. But you CAN compete and still attach "A" List talent to your project even if you don't have all your funds raised. Franco Sama has produced over 25 profitable independent films ranging from micro-budget to films up to $5MM. Franco is considered a pioneer in the world of film financing and casting. He speaks all over the world on the subject and has mentored thousands of filmmakers and producers on how to attach the best talent to their independent features. Just some of the actors Franco has cast in his films include: Gary Oldman (Oscar Winner, Darkest Hour, Oscar Nominee, Dark Knight) Christine Lahti (Oscar Winner) Christian Slater (Golden Globe Winner) Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) Chris Klein (American Pie) David Arquette (Scream) Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) Dane Cook (Comedian) Franco has also been a consulting producer on many films with many more in active development. Many top producers in the game turn to Franco to get their films off the ground. And now he's bringing his over 2 decades of knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Franco will teach you everything you need to know about attaching top talent to your film including a bullet proof method for ensuring that managers and agents not only put your script in the hands of "A" List talent, but that they read the material! He will show you how to make sure your script is attractive to "A" List talent. He will teach you how to turn a Letter of Intent into a Letter of Commitment. He will instruct you as to the proper timing to make your offer, so you assure that everything is in order and that you're in a position to answer all questions. He will dissect a physical offer so you know exactly what you should be presenting. He will discuss pay and play offers, deferred payments, using credits as currency and back end point deals and how you can identify which of these offers and strategies to deploy. He will go over proper etiquette and how to make sure everyone is happy so that you win the trust of the gatekeepers assuring you can return to the same managers and agents again and again. Franco will take away the fear, anxiety, and, most of all, doubt, that comes with the desire to attach name talent to your project. You will learn all the proper strategies and methods to assure success. "I had the pleasure of seeing Franco speak live at one of Stage 32's live education events. He was so inspiring, so confident and so willing to help, this webinar became an instant signup. Even with my high expectations, I was floored by the wealth of information and the explanation of the strategies within. My fear, and let's face it, my insecurity of approaching talent was crippling. Not any more. I've put in 2 offers on 2 different features this morning and I'm already lining up my next move. Can't wait for the next one, Franco! And thank you, Stage 32!" - Pamela R. "One word - Invaluable." - Larry S. "This was a stunning presentation. One of the best yet." - Antonio H. "I have seen the light and I am ready to make offers. Try and stop me." - Lydia W. "Empowering. I'm going to watch it a 2nd and 3rd time just to make sure I got it all down. Then, I'm working the phones. Great job, Franco and Stage 32." - Reese K.
As an independent filmmaker or producer, you likely start working on a new endeavor for creative reasons—the chance to tell an amazing story, build worlds, create something of cultural value. Yet this is, of course, not the only element of filmmaking. Like it or not, your independent film is not just a creative endeavor; it’s also a business. You’re sourcing financing and bringing in investors, building a team, and creating a property that will (hopefully) ultimately make money not only in the present, but for years to come. In short, you’re not just a making a piece of art; you’re also running a business. To operate successfully in the world of independent film and continue to make films that you’re proud of, you need to be able to think like an entrepreneur and understand the dynamics and the relation between financing, distribution and recoupment of film investments. Further, you need to open up your creative mindset to the myriad opportunities available all over the world including hot markets found throughout Latin America. The business side of films is often especially difficult for filmmakers and creative producers, but the more you understand, the better your chances of finding a production partner or investor to take your vision forward. Latin American film production is booming right now, diverse with a variety of production hubs all over the region. Big budget international films shoot alongside local films with relatively low budgets, all created for both local and international audiences. Working in the Latin American market, especially with films in the sub-$1MM range can offer you opportunities you haven't thought of before and give you a path to profitability. But to take advantage of this surging market, you need to understand the variety of production and financing options available and how to tap into them. Whether it's hard money, soft money or other methods toward financing and securing the necessary pieces to greenlight your project, getting a handle on the in's and out's of how to proceed will put you in a powerful and advantageous position. Understanding and executing this business model will open new doors to other productions around the world and serve to create a portfolio of proof that will serve as a calling card moving forward. David Zannoni is an international business specialist for Fintage House, the world's most respected company for revenue and rights protection for industry professionals and companies. David negotiates agreements for films and television series and is involved in business development and relationship management specifically in the US, Latin America and $ope. As an international film business specialist David is continuously present to make deals and speak at international film markets, festivals and conferences, including: the Cannes Film Festival, the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin, the American Film Market (AFM), Ventana Sur, the Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM), and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and travels regularly to the United States, the Netherlands, Europe, and all over Latin America. David is intimately familiar with how independent films are financed and made profitable all over the world and will share what he knows exclusively about the Latin American market with the Stage 32 community. David will focus on the Latin American market and walk you through what you need to know to finance your independent film, $1MM or less, and leave profitable. He will begin by explaining what a $1MM or under budget looks like in the Latin American region and whether it’s considered a small film. He’ll delve into how film financing works specifically in Latin America, including a breakdown of soft money sources versus hard money sources, local vs international productions, forming a co-production as a financing tool, tax and location incentives, taking advantage of government support, and working with film commissions. He will highlight how Latin American film financing is different compared to other regions and how both Spanish speaking and English speaking content works within the region and will go over the notable platforms and TV channels available as well as how they differ. David will outline the production capacities in the region, including for in-house production, co-productions, production servicing, and work-for hire. He will then teach you what specifically Latin America can offer foreign productions, including incentives, co-productions, talent, and shooting locations. He will also discuss how Latin America has its eye on the US, Spain, and the rest of Europe. David will explain how to approach your film as an asset, how to see yourself as an entrepreneur, and how to see filmmaking as a business. David will then go over the continental circle of financing, distribution, and investment recoupment and will explain how revenue and right management works as well as managing your recoupment. He will spend time delving into Latin American film contracts, including distribution agreements, CAM agreements, and sales agency agreements. David will ultimately illustrate whether Latin American films can be profitable and how, and analyze with you when a Latin American film can be considered successful, whether it breaks even or finds profitability. Plus, David will show a case study of a real $1MM Latin American film to illustrate how a film of this leve l can be profitable and exactly how the money flows through from beginning to end. He’ll show financing documents and spreadsheets to illustrate the financing structure and demonstrate how money flows in and out. Through this detailed and practical demonstration, you will leave with strategies and a deep understanding of how to approach your own $1MM film as an entrepreneur and build a finance structure that will leave you and your investors profitable. This Stage 32 Webinar is Part 2 in David’s "Think Like an Entrepreneur" series. Click here to check out David’s webinar on being profitable in US marketplace with a sub-$1MM film and click here to check out his webinar on being profitable in the European marketplace Praise for David's Previous Stage 32 Webinars "David is incredible and lovely and clearly knows his stuff." - Cynthia P. "Eye-opening information. A no-brainer approach that wouldn't be so obvious to the uninitiated." - Gary O. "By far, the best class I've seen on the subject." Kirk K. "David is a fantastic teacher. And what a voice! I could listen to him all day. More importantly, I learned so very much!" - Isabella T.
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.