Magazine article Screen International

Producers Doing It for Themselves

Magazine article Screen International

Producers Doing It for Themselves

Article excerpt

An increasing number of producers are choosing to bypass sales agents altogether and negotiate directly with international buyers. As a producer points out, it can make sense to sell your own film -- but only in special cases.

Stevan Riley's recent feature documentary Fire In Babylon -- about the all-conquering West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and early 1980s -- has been sold theatrically to several territories without a sales agent attached. UK producers Charles Steel of Cowboy Films and John Battsek of Passion Pictures enlisted consultant Mia Bays of production company and marketing outfit Missing In Action to devise a sales strategy for the film.

Fire In Babylon sold to several territories without a sales agent attached

"I was charged with finding a sales agent and UK distributor," Bays recalls of her initial brief. But after conversations with the film's main investors and executive producers, businessmen Ben Goldsmith and Ben Elliot, she decided to take a different tack. The estimates they were being given by potential sales agents were "really underwhelming"; the team was ambitious for the film, ready to put marketing money behind it at the outset -- and decided to do it themselves.

Their interest was not so much in a big advance from a distributor as in "as much of the back end as possible".

After the film's launch at the London Film Festival in 2010, half a dozen UK distributors were vying for the film. Bays and her team eventually opted for Revolver.

Crossing boundaries

Bays and Battsek also had strong relationships with leading Aussie distributor Madman, which bought the film. …

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