I would definitely make use of the 7D while you've got it available though, too. It's a great tool when used properly, and there are enough people using it that avoiding using it is a bad idea, because you never know when it'll pop up as what you need to use. But as far as focusing on telling a story and learning video gear go, definitely the XH A1.
The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros
This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.
I've been approached by a distribution company in Europe regarding my first documentary film.
I've never gotten to this stage before and am looking for advice on international distribution. I would really appreciate any and all information, from basic to specific.
My main specific questions are
-Is it normal / OK to give exclusive distro rights for all of Europe or internationally to one company? Do you often pick distributors based on countries and break it up that way?
-What are some questions that I can ask them to discover what level of a distributor they are? WHAT SHOULD I KNOW? How can I make sure they have the contacts / experience / can get my film out there...
-What % is normal for a distributor to take as a commission of sales and pre-sales?
Angela, first of all, congrats for getting your first film made, and for doing it well enough for there to be interest from a distributor.
For U.S. filmmakers, it's pretty typical to have a distributor (and sometimes even a sales agent, if there's theatrical potential) for domestic distribution and another company handling sales for international distribution (especially, broadcast). Since most of your international sales will be to broadcasters, you don't need a distributor in each country. You just need one sales agent who can approach all the broadcasters at markets like the EFM in Berlin and MIP in Cannes.
The best ways to tell if this company is legit are to check out the films they have in their catalogue, check out their website to see how well they promote the films online and contact the producers of some of their films and see what their experience has been like. Did the company work hard for them and make sales? Have they been reliable in their reports and payments? Were they easy to communicate and collaborate with? Stuff like that.
I've found it pretty typical for an international sales agent (or distributor acting as one) to charge a 30 to 35% fee for their sales. I think it's generally less for pre-sales (25%?), but I'm not sure how common it is anymore for them to actively look for pre-sales.
Thanks so much, that's the best feedback I've gotten thus far in my quest. So, it is normal to contact past producers that worked with them? I've gotten this advice before. Most are European films that I'm having trouble hunting down contact details for, would I / could I ask the company for referrals?
This company is pretty small, so trying to determine if that can be a good / ok thing.
Angela – It's absolutely acceptable and normal. And if the company is reluctant – that ought to be a red flag.
I agree with Laura, and they'll steer you to the producers who they know are happiest. You might want to use your internet detective skills to track down other producers they don't list.
In the meantime, you should register for professional membership here, which will give you access to all 50 of our discussion topics.
In reply to Angela Snow's post on Mon 14 Feb 2011 :
... where you can list a couple of titles, and we in Europe may know the people who made the films.
In reply to Daniel McGuire's post on Tue 15 Feb 2011 :
HAHA. Amazing. Could always be worse.