So you’ve shot and produced your first feature film. You’re proud of it. It looks great and can’t wait to show the world. But then a distributor calls you and says they’re interested in acquiring your film. What do you do?
All major distributors track the movies that have been listed in the trades or have been in the news, and if you’re one of these movies, you’re going to get a phone call. The distributor will express strong interest and ask to see your film. Do NOT send them the movie. And especially do NOT send them a rough cut. You’re likely not going to get your distribution deal.
In order to give your film a chance at getting the best distribution deal, you must “unveil” your movie in the right place at the right time such as a film festival. You want more than one buyer to be interested in your film, not just the first one that comes knocking. And when you do get buyers interested, you want your sales agent to broker the best deal for you. Movies do not get picked up for theatrical releases that have been sent on a DVD to a distributor. So when they call asking to see a screener, you’ll say “It’s not ready, but I appreciate your call. Check back with me in a month or two.” (And you’ll do this every time they call, until you’re ready for the grand unveiling.)