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The Director's Chair Issue #37 – July 28, 2003 (Beginning the Deal)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

July 28, 2003          Scene 4 – Take 6

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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1.  Introduction
2.  FREE Bonus for Subscribers
3.  Action-Cut-Print!
4.  Feature Article – “Beginning the Deal”
5.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
6.  Quote of the Month
7.  Out Takes – Movie Cliches: Bars and Drinking
8.  Share This Ezine
9.  Suggestions & Comments
10. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
11. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #37 of The Director’s Chair (July 28, 2003).

1) This month’s feature is the third article in a series by Mark
Steven Bosko called “Beginning the Deal.” Regardless if you are
talking about a feature film or a script, initial discussions
with a buyer are all about “feeling” the other party out. You
want to know what the distributor, agent, executive or producer
can do for you and your project just like they want to know if
you’ll be able to hold up your end of the deal.

2) MovieMaker Magazine: GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES – In addition to
the upcoming Fall edition (due out November 4th), MovieMaker
Magazine is presently working on their first annual bonus issue,
“MovieMaker’s Complete Beginner’s Guide to Making Movies.”
Taking readers from conception to exhibition, this reference
guide will tell budding moviemakers how to get their stories from
script to screen – and the many companies who can help them do
just that. In addition to regular how-to features and celebrity
interviews, this issue will also feature an extended Reference
Guide at the end of the book (informing readers of where they can
find, buy or rent just about any service or product for the
production of their film), and will feature a “Marketplace” for
companies looking to reach out to this very specific market.

3) http://www.indieproducer.net – check out this website for
contests and services offered to the independent producer.

4) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute articles,
tips, links of interest, industry news, interviews, special event
dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair please email:



Peter D. Marshall


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4. FEATURE ARTICLE – Beginning the Deal

“Beginning the Deal” by Mark Steven Bosko

Regardless if you are talking about a feature film or a script,
initial discussions with a buyer are all about “feeling” the
other party out. You want to know what the distributor, agent,
executive or producer can do for you and your project just like
they want to know if you’ll be able to hold up your end of the
deal. What this means is a buyer that calls and says, “I’m
interested in your project, let’s talk,” isn’t offering you a
deal. You’re a hell of a lot closer to one than you were two
minutes before that phone call, but you’re not there yet. With
that in mind, some cautions to avoid:

Don’t tell the world – Sure, you can get excited. But don’t go
nuts. When soliciting an independent film I produced called Pig,
I was getting close to a deal with home video distributor. They
liked the film, identified a market and we talked about a
contract. This distributor wanted some visual and audio content
changes, which was fine with me and the other producers. We
wanted an advertising commitment and a solid per unit price (it
was going to be a direct-to-video deal), but were excited at the
fact that the film would receive wide distribution from a buyer.
After all of our hard work, we couldn’t help but “leak” the news
of the imminent deal to several web and print media. Well, as
soon as the news hit the Internet, I got a non-too-friendly fax
from this interested buyer asking me to stop promoting what
hadn’t yet happened. While our actions didn’t kill the deal, it
didn’t help our side of the negotiations. It’s O.K. to tell
friends, family and those close to the project. Just don’t call
the media yet.

Don’t be impatient – I know it’s been a long trip and you are in
a hurry to become famous, but don’t rush a buyer during this “get
to know you period.” Most likely, you are not the only director,
producer or scriptwriter he’s working with. People like to do
business with people they like, especially in a long-term
arrangement like film development and distribution. Both he and
you want to trust each other, and if he tells you it’ll be a
couple of weeks until he can call you, don’t call him at 8:00
a.m., 15 days later wondering why he hasn’t called. You’ve waited
this long, don’t blow it now by goading this person toward a
decision. Chances are it’ll be one that you don’t like.

Don’t forward any materials – Sure, in script development deals,
you must send the script. But with finished (or nearly finished)
films, it’s a little different. Most reputable distributors won’t
ask for anything until the contract is signed. There are,
however, some companies doing business that will ask for art and
high-quality masters of your project to inspect before putting
all their terms in writing. This isn’t the way the industry
works. Never send anything when you are just discussing possible

If you are at the deal stage, you should have done research on
any company you’ve solicited with a pitch, script or finished
film. Even so, you may want to dig a little deeper. Check out
other projects this company has in development, movies they’ve
produced and films they have released, and answer the following:

Do they look like quality products?

Are you familiar with the projects’ marketing materials
(packaging, posters, advertising)?

Have they received good reviews?

Are the company’s films or projects well-respected in the market?

Do their products sell or rent well?

Are they afforded a lot of shelf-space?

Is the company a brand name in the business?

Do their films or video get publicity?

Is the company a niche marketer?

Any information collected in this step will help you further
analyze a potential suitor, sizing up their capabilities and
potential in providing the level of exposure, income,
distribution and sales you deem necessary to want to work with

If further research produces encouraging results and early
conversations are positive (on both sides), you’ll likely proceed
toward more serious contract discussions and even begin the
negotiating process.


Mark is a producer, marketing consultant and author of
“The Complete Movie Marketing Handbook.” His book gives street
level instruction and real-world examples on how to promote,
distribute and sell your productions. From landing a distribution
deal and getting free media coverage to staging a low-cost
premiere and selling your productions to video rental chains and
through the Internet, “The Complete Movie Marketing Handbook” is
a ‘must-have’ for any independent film or videomaker looking to
seriously sustain a career in the entertainment industry.

You can check out Mark’s book at:

In addition to his direct filmmaking and distributing experience,
Bosko works as a public relations and marketing professional,
assisting the promotional campaigns for his own and other
filmmakers’ product through the Independent Film and Video
Marketing Group, a company dedicated to assisting independent
filmmakers reach their promotional, distribution and sales goals.
Recent work includes Michael Wiese’s upcoming feature “Bali
Brothers” and the Web site http://www.Itsonlyamovie.com. You can
email Mark directly at mailto:markbosko@IFVMG.com.


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


“Have a drink. Just a little one to lessen the differences in our

Noel Coward to Lulie Haydon in “The Scoundrel,” 1935

7. OUT TAKES – Movie Cliches: Bars and Drinking

Every time some guy walks into a bar, usually the hero, he gets
into a fight. Usually right under a BUDWEISER sign (see “product

Likelihood of fight increases if country music is playing in the

Movie heroes in a bar will either order strong alcoholic drinks
and swallow them down like iced tea or will ask for milk. The
latter will always provoke sarcastic remarks and a fight will

When men drink whiskey, it is always in a shot glass, and they
always drink it in one gulp. If they are wimps, they will gasp
for air, then have a coughing fit. If they are macho, they will
wince briefly, flashing clenched teeth.

A cup of black coffee/splash of cold water in face is enough to
render the most inebriated person stone cold sober in a split
second (see several thousand westerns, and “Peter’s Friends.”)


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Peter D. Marshall
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