Monday, February 16, 2004

So, I am about to ink a deal to sign with a sales rep going to the American Film Market in two weeks.

The AFM is one of the biggest film markets in the world. It’s best known for anything that would be considered "genre" films: kids movies, horror movies, family movies, Christian movies, educational, cable docs... Those movies you see on late night Cinemax with Eric Roberts or Rutger Hauer and lots of boobies and cars exploding get bought and sold here. But so do all sorts of movies, including festival fare like us, and more well-known movies: “House of Sand and Fog” and “The Cooler” are screening there, to sell foreign rights. Buyers from all over the globe attend to pick up content - this is where you sell your movie to Thailand TV.

In our case, we haven't sold any territories yet. No distributors have even seen our film. That's the end goal of all these festival screenings and stuff, of course: to get it in a theatre or on the shelf in a video store. To do the DVD commentary. And, hopefully, to make my investors' money back.

The guys I'm signing with are a company called Brazos Productions. They're just starting out, which is one of the reasons I'm doing it: they're very passionate. To be honest, I don't know any filmmakers personally who have a good story to tell about a sales rep. It's always, "I never ended up seeing a cent" or "they basically put their name on it and didn't do anything..." I've heard this about the top companies, who are very respected. It's a tough business. If you have a movie that's something of a hard sell (i.e., doesn't have Drew Barrymore or Vince Vaughn in it), then it's easier for them to rep your film with forty others and see what hits, instead of doing a lot of work on your behalf.

These guys have a very different approach - they've attended the market for years as filmmakers and learned the ropes. They've got a slate of five films, and they're working hard for all of them.

This all came about because one of the guys, Stephen Purvis, is close friends with one of the judges at the Deep Ellum Film Festival who was a big champion of our movie. And they know someone at our premiere who spoke highly of it. And, since we just uploaded the trailer two weeks ago, they were able to go online and watch it, and that sealed the deal. It was a mad rush to come to an agreement, since my film was getting in so last-minute. When we met last Monday and hashed out the specifics of the contract, they didn't even have a copy of the movie yet. We talked for two hours, I said I thought it was going to work, and one of them shook my hand and said, "We're very excited. We really love your trailer."

(Fortunately, they have since watched the movie and loved it as well.) So, that’s it: a week-long blur of contracts and promotional meetings, and we’re going to the AFM.

BTW, I saw “Bubba Hotep” last night – outstanding. They took a totally absurd premise and committed to it with utter seriousness. Terrific fun. It reminded me a lot of “Donnie Darko”, in the way it utilized horror movie conventions and put an original, quirky spin on them that heightened the eeriness as well as the humor.

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