GETTING INTO BED [with a distributer]

You’ve been seeing a lot of each other for a few weeks now. He calls you all the time, takes you out to nice meals, specifies Grey Goose when you order a vodka martini. He tells you all the right things, says you’re like neo-Fellini with a leitmotif of Cassavetes, yet still distinctly unique: a real find.  He always tells you what a great match the two of you would make: how he’s the only one for you. You know what he wants, but are you ready?He is pretty dreamy. You’ve heard mind-blowing stories about his prowess: how deeply he can penetrate the marketplace, how skillfully he knows your genre, how powerful he can create a release. But on the other hand, he has a reputation. He’s been seen around town with a lot of people, makes a lot of promises he can’t keep. Does he really want you, or will he drop you after you sign on the dotted line; onto the next one with bigger cast, easier marketing potential, tighter plot?Making the decision to go with a distributor is a big choice. On one hand, it can be a joyful union, full of thrilling pleasure, empathic compatibility, and front page iTunes placement. On the other hand, it can leave you feeling low and compromised, your film flung out into the ether without any marketing or strategy, something sacred and treasured now gone from you for the next ten years.

The bottom line is that you and only you are the one to choose what happens to your body of work. When you sign a deal with a distributor who plans to take all of your rights, be sure you are aware of what you are agreeing to and know that you are asking them the right questions. For example, ask: Do you actually have avenues into all of the platforms and operators that you claim to? Does signing a deal with you cut off my ability to sell the film from my website? If I absolutely want to be on Netflix no matter how paltry the license fee, will you listen to my wishes? When it comes to the way you and your distributor will proceed together, will your voice be included in all the decision-making?…

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