Tips and tricks for negotiating your film's production
Once a year at BAFTA, Film London hosts a great event called Market Place Live. The idea is that an imaginary film project is fully developed, from concept to exhibition by a panel of experienced industry professionals.
This year the professionals in question were producer Olivier Kaempfer from Parkville Pictures; Deborah Sathe, former story producer at EastEnders and now with Film London; private financier Adam Kulick, partner at Orchard Capital; International sales issues dealt with by Claire Crean from The Works; online distribution and VoD rights were discussed by Dave Shear from Shear Entertainment and Claire Binns represented the big screen as director of programming & acquisitions at Picturehouse Cinemas.
Together they worked out how to produce and market Footprint: a drama in which an unexpected story of romance emerged as the police analysed the digital footprints of suspected terrorists in order to establish their whereabouts.
I won't go into too much detail about the whole format and content of the event as it's not all relevant (though I will say the event was good fun). What I will share are a few of the cited tips and tricks that are almost universal and will hopefully give you a little edge when making a film.
- Try to work with people you have worked with before - form a team.Producers and financiers like to calculate their chance of success before deciding a project is worth investing time and money in. So if you have a proven track record as a team - showing off as a director/producer that you can handle a production - then this is an advantage.
- Are you collaborating with a first timer? Then make sure that the rest of the crew is more experienced - ensure you balance your team.
- Take the time to learn from similar projects to your own - both those which flopped and those that were successful.
- Make sure that as a producer you can deliver a financier with all details about budgets, pre-sales and total funding already in place.
- Are all of the financiers free from emotional attachment to the film? If so then you will have a stronger case when you are asking other financiers for money.
- Is your topic suitable for international distribution? If the film is only sellable to the UK and one or two other territories this will likely affect the amount of funding you will be able to receive.
- Start conversations with sales agents and distributors early - it can help with extra funding and sometimes you will find out that a small change to the script can seriously increase your chances of getting the film to a broader audience.
- When talking to distributors make sure you are clear about the back-end terms, the minimum guaranteed royalties and discuss P&A costs (print and advertising). There are a variety of distribution deals available, some more common than others so make sure you get the best deal possible and don't lose money because you didn't check the small print (there's more on distribution deals here and here). The same goes for your other contracts - make sure you check that you don't end up with a deal in which the film makes money but you don't.
- Where are you planning to s