Saturday, December 12, 2009

Before You Close That Distribution Deal...!

Jerome Courshon over on the Linked In Animation and Film Jobs discussion site has started this topic.

Here's what he has to say: Too many producers & directors don’t know what questions need asking, when talking to distributors. Don’t make that mistake and “fall in love” during courtship... make sure your distributor will be the right one! Then it links to his site that has the usual ins and out - he's selling a course. Here's the link.

Fair enough as far as it goes. But really, it doesn't go far enough, so here's what I've added. Please feel free to suggest a few from your own experiences.

You'll probably be too excited about the deal and will sign your life away - but just in case you're not, here are a few things to check out:

Do your homework:

Does your distributor have a history of optioning projects and then shelving them? Do they have any similar projects on the go? Might your option fee be their way of eliminating competition?

Does your distributor provide accurate annual sales reports?

Does this distributor believe in paying ROYALTIES???
It doesn't matter what your contract says. Unless you have the $$$ and the stones to enforce it in court - they can rob you blind. So ask around - check with other people who have dealt with them - do they pay royalties?

Here's another one:

Does your distributor "get" your project? Do they understand what it's about?

Lemme explain: I don't like baseball.. Not that I don't really like it - I just don't get it. Sure, I understand the rules and how the games played. I even understand some of the subtleties of strategy, but the passion for the game eludes me.

My brother-in-law on the other hand is a baseball fanatic. He visits all the historic parks. He's made the pilgrammidge to Cooperstown. My nephew plays on a rep team. They live and breathe baseball.

Who would you rather have represent your baseball show and pitch it to buyers? The guy who gets it or the guy (who despite his best intentions) doesn't? Talk to your prospective distributors carefully - DO THEY GET IT?

IS IT A GOOD DEAL? Sometimes distributors simply offer crappy deals. I recently got up from a boardroom table, thanked everyone for their time and walked away from a deal. Why? It was a crappy deal. It stunk on ice and only a fool would have taken it. Know when to walk away.


  1. New post coming soon? Could be a good late late Xmas present. Hey, it's still December.

  2. How can you find out if the distributor pays out royalties. Is there a secret group of pitch me conngregate and share info like this?

  3. Sorry for the typos. Is their a group of pitchmen who share this info?

  4. Hi Everyone - I'm back from vacation. Hope that everyone had a great Holiday Season*.
    My computer is on the fritz at the moment, but a new post will be coming soon.

    To answer Mr. Anonymous' question: how do you know if a distributor pays out royalties? Easy, if you're in contact with someone who created a particular show - and it's easy to find people with the internet and - ask them. If they're happy with their deal, you'll probably get the thumbs up, or they'll brush you off bacause it's none of your business. If they're NOT happy - trust me, you'll hear quickly enough.

    *Note my feeble attempt at political correctness.