How to choose the right sales agent for your film – GET INVOLVED!

Cannes 004 Since I began making films, I have been frustrated at the lack of good information about sales agents. Sure there are a number of existing resources, such as the ‘Blue Book’ that you get if you pay the full price for your pass in Cannes (which we never do as it’s hundreds of Euros – see our workshop video for details on how to get a pass for 50 Euros). There is also the Screen International product guide which is published every market, listing all the sales agents who are attending (and therefore active and doing business). Both are great, BUT both publications only list details, they don’t really give a sense of the companies MO – are they proactive? Do they have a great stand? Do they engage with passers by? Are they even present (believe it or not, some sales agents list themselves as being present by buying the pass, but don’t attend)?

And so this Cannes, I am going to attempt to database EVERY sales agent present. And not just a list of their names, but a photo of their booth, their business cards, rating their presence, rating their engagement with buyers, and many many other factors giving us REAL metrics…

Cannes Film Festival 2010 It’s these factors that I would consider essential when looking for a sales agent to represent my team's hard work, my investor's money and my future career. Make no mistake, this is a mammoth task. But I do have helpers. Everyone who comes along on our Cannes workshop will be invited to get involved, and so we will have an army of film makers collecting and collating that data (often with multiple visits from multiple people to a sales agent's stand to get a mean average value for their presence and engagement – remember, this is vital info as anyone can get a list of sales agents, but really, what does it mean unless you know how seriously they take themselves).

And we will be executing a number of cunning tactics to get this data – but for now, our plans are all under wraps (to be revealed in detail in Cannes). One thing is certain, if you do get involved, you will have a real world experience of film sales in the international market place. No more wondering how on earth it works. No more confusion about who you should be doing deals with. You will have real knowledge and experience and therefore power.

In due course, we plan to expand this database to include feedback from the film makers whose films have, in the past, been repped by these sales agents. This is the essential second step.

Cannes Film Festival 2010b We still haven’t decided how this data will ultimately be made available, but one thing is for sure, if you get involved in the creation of the data, you will get access to it. The only way you can do that right now is by coming to Cannes, either under your own steam (maybe you have been before and need no help) or by coming on our workshop which will help get you there for the first time (click here for details). Either way, we would love you to be involved. If you intend to come to Cannes and want to get involved but are not part of our workshop, drop us an email. If you are on our workshop, you will be invited to participate as part of the deal.

Why get involved? I have been saying for years, we are all in this together, and we need to start behaving as such. The fact that there are many unscrupulous sales agents in the market is simply down to a lack of credible and detailed data on their business practices and trading history. No-one has every carried out a survey like this. And so sales agents who screw film makers are able to keep doing just that.

We believe this survey and database will change all of that and give YOU the information you need to find the right home for your movie. Remember, the relationship with your sales agent is like getting married. Sure the first date is always great, even the marriage, but will they turn out to be slackers, cheaters or bunny boilers!

Get involved! Sign up to our workshop now, or if you are already going to Cannes, drop us an email to say ‘HECK YES, I AM IN!’

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

3 Responses to How to choose the right sales agent for your film – GET INVOLVED!

  1. Chris Pinches March 1, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    When choosing a sales agent their website is always a good place to start as it will tell you a lot about the agent and the sort of films they represent – how would your film fit in with those they already have. A good match?

    Your proposed data collection exercise is a very good idea but Cannes is not the only big film market. Now if this could be repeated at all the major markets you would certainly get a much better picture of which agents are working hardest by going to them all.

  2. Chris March 1, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Agreed – and we are planning to add LOADS of more data. This is just the big first step.

  3. Dominic Took March 1, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    What I really want to know Chris – is whether Sales Agents are like literary agents. Put aside a huge product, that’s got massive market potential and looks as if it could sell millions for a moment. What I meant with my first question was, can you go around Sales Agents, cutting out their comission and get as good a deal which also means you can maintain more control and more cashflow.

    I know literary commission is between 15 and 25% (20-25% worldwide). I wouldn’t ask this question of a huge product that’s likely to sell millions as that’s then a nightmare without a sales agent, but even so many Producer’s negotiate with distributors directly and it seems easier than Publishing – so what’s the true benefit of a sales agent?

    Be interested to know what you think.


    Hey – well in short, as really this is a bigger conversation, I think we film makers should take care of some territories ourselves, such as home, USA, Germany etc., and leave the rest of the world to an agent to mop up. Of course, it’s all in flux so every project will have a different strategy.


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