Got a Distribution Deal. What's next?


Getting a distribution deal is not the end of the line. You need to actively participate in marketing your film. Distributors have a number of films to market so you need to do your best to give your film as much push as you can. Treat the distributor as your partner and do not hold back on suggestions for marketing. Make sure you keep up to date on your deliverables, providing the distributor with all the materials it needs for marketing. Your film’s success depends on your efforts.

Understand that it will take a while before the money starts rolling in. Being familiar with the dynamics of distribution cash flow will help you project realistically when dealing with distributors and planning for your next project.

For an all-rights deal, your first check will be a percentage of your advance, and will probably hit you around three to six months after the contract has been signed, your master has been QC’d and all deliverables are in the distributor’s hands. The remaining balance will be paid in installments.

For traditional DVD deals, 50% is paid upon contract signing. The remaining balance is issued upon receipt of all deliverables and QC of the master. Some distributors will attempt to negotiate for balance payout several months later, for instance upon film release. This option is not recommended as it will take you many months to to get your second payment. Also try to negotiate to get your royalty payments quarterly, which will allow you to recoup your money sooner.

With traditional broadcast deals, 50% is paid upon contract signing and master QC, and the remaining balance is paid on the first date of airing, which means you’ll be waiting for up to a year before receiving your payment. You might attempt to negotiate for full payment upon contract signing, or to move the airing date up, but the distributor will most likely not agree to these terms.

If you are dealing with reputable DVD companies and broadcasters, the cash flow situation in foreign distribution deals can be very promising. Use common sense to find the right companies to deal with.In many cases, you will get 50% upon contract signing. What’s more, you get to draft the contract yourself using standard AFTA/IFMA templates, which cuts down on the waiting times. Some companies will even give 100% up front. In any case, try to negotiate for as much up front as possible and avoid spread-out payment plans. Remember that there are no royalties with foreign distribution. Make sure you stay on the ball and follow your payments closely. Bear in mind that payments via wire may take a week or longer to reach you.

With VOD (video on demand), cash flow depends on the platform. Some pay monthly by direct deposit, others quarterly or a couple of times a year. Always check the fine print for payment details. Digital aggregators will take care of collecting revenue you are owed and paying it out to you quarterly. Cable VOD pays after 60-90 days after a two to three month run but the aggregator will handle revenue collection and pay you accordingly.


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