PRODUCERS REPS – INDIE FRIEND OF FOE?
I’ve seen a lot of scary things in Hollywood. I’ve met some Producers Reps.
I have seen it from both sides, as a distributor and as a filmmaker. They are a interesting types of people, some are lawyers, some were agents, some have a background in distribution, some have worked as film producers. Many love cinema. Many are great advocates for the producers and are essential for finding and negotiating a deal for a film. In my experience, just as many are predatory and just want to make a fast buck at the filmmaker’s expense.
Hollywood is a relationship business, and if you don’t have the relationships, some rely on Producers Reps to bring your film to the right people.
A Producers Rep is an advocate for the film they represent. They contact film festivals for possible placement. They interface with domestic, international distribution companies and they work to secure distribution. They help negotiate distribution deals and help with the maze of paperwork that is generated with the deal. Those are quite valuable and essential tasks in hollywood.
Some Producers Reps are also starting to provide distribution services, or service deals for filmmakers. I have seen Reps offer everything from Theatrical to Online distribution.
In theory it is perfect. The Rep does all the work for you. In practice it is quite messy.
SOMETIMES YOU NEED IT
If you have a film that has hit major film festivals and the studios are clamoring for it, having the right Producers Rep is a very good thing. They can really help get the film the right deal and they can help you understand the contracts and paperwork, delivery requirements and make sure you sign a fair contract. Some studio contracts can be hundreds of pages.
SOMETIMES YOU DON’T
Some Producers Reps have a rather aggressive sales pitch, having their agents contact filmmakers to represent their films. Many Reps ask for an upfront fee, anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 plus at percentage of the films earnings.
In some cases, some unsavory Producer Reps might take on films that really doesn’t have an economic future but they will do it anyway because they are getting cold hard cash directly from the filmmaker. In the end, they might dump a filmmaker's film with a low end, substandard distributor to justify their work.
I personally thank that you shouldn’t give any money upfront to someone to represent your film. If they believe in your film, they should just take a percentage. 10-15% is usually the going rate.
I have also seen where some Producers Reps have an inside relationship with certain distributors and they make deals with the absence of the Producer/Filmmakers best interests in mind.
MAKING A DEAL OR DOING IT YOURSELF
If you decide to make the commitment with a Producers Rep pay special attention to the terms, and make sure you have performance clauses so that the rights of your film come back to you if they are not meeting their side of the bargain. Like anything in life, you have to be careful when dealing with people you don’t know especially when it involves money.
Contact other filmmakers, who have worked with these specific reps, ask them about their experience. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. If you have certain distribution requirements, make sure that everything is put down in paper.
As the film world is moving online and there are increased ways for filmmakers to get their film noticed by distributors or for them to distribute the film themselves, doing it yourself is a viable option.
That’s all for now…