REEL Ladies chats with Film Distribution GURU, Stacey Parks!
Stacey Parks is an expert in the area of independent film distribution, with over 13 years experience working with independent film producers. As a Foreign Sales Agent she has secured distribution for hundreds of independent features and programs worldwide. She has sold independent films and programming to HBO, Showtime, Starz, PBS, A&E, BBC, SkyTV, NHK (Japan), RTL (Germany), Canal Plus (France), and countless others.
Her clients films have premiered at Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW, San Sebastian, and other major film festivals. Her clients include Sundance and SXSW award-winning filmmakers and producers who have secured studio and mini-major distribution.
Stacey is the author of ‘The Insider’s Guide to Independent Film Distribution” (2007 Focal Press), the founder of Film Specific, the educational resource and community for independent filmmakers focused on helping independent filmmakers get their works distributed, and she is an adjunct professor in the Entertainment Studies department of UCLA.
Stacey has been profiled and interviewed in MovieMaker Magazine, Student Filmmakers Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has spoken on numerous panels including the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, the American Film Market, Slamdance and the Alliance of Women Directors, has presented lectures or workshops at the British Film Institute, UCLA, Women In Film, and the Raindance Film Festival, and frequently writes articles for MovieMaker Magazine, MovieScope Magazine, and Student Filmmakers Magazine.
READ BELOW her interview with REEL Ladies!
RL: How did you get involved in Distribution?
SP: I STARTED OUT AS AN AGENT ASSISTANT AT WILLIAM MORRIS BACK IN THE EARLY NINETIES. I ALSO WANTED TO BE THAT PERSON WHO WAS TRAVELING THE WORLD TO ALL THE FILM MARKETS AND FESTIVALS – SO I WENT INTO DISTRIBUTION AND BECAME A FOREIGN SALES AGENT!
RL: As a sales agent, what were some things that you were looking for in a film?
SP: THIS SOUNDS SILLY BUT ‘SALEABILITY’. WHAT MAKES YOUR FILM MARKETABLE AND SALEABLE? ARE THERE RECOGNIZABLE CAST ATTACHED? IS IT A GENRE THAT SELLS? IS IT BASED ON A POPULAR TOPIC? AND FINALLY – WAS IT EXECUTED WELL. DOES IT LOOK LIKE IT WAS DONE PROFESSIONALLY AND SHOT IN A HIGH QUALITY FORMAT? IS IT JUST DIALOGUE, DIALOGUE, DIALOGUE, OR IS THERE A LOT OF ‘ACTION’ IN THE FILM? THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE THINGS I LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING WHETHER OR NOT I CAN SELL A FILM.
RL: Tell us about your company Film Specific and its conception.
SP: I GOT FRUSTRATED BEING A FOREIGN SALES AGENT AFTER A WHILE BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF INFORMATION OUT THERE TO ACTUALLY TEACH FILMMAKERS HOW TO MAKE A FILM THAT SELLS! SO I LEFT THAT PART OF THE BUSINESS AND WROTE “THE INSIDERS GUIDE TO INDEPENDENT FILM DISTRIBUTION” WHICH LATER GOT PUBLISHED BY FOCAL PRESS. I STARTED DOING A WEEKLY NEWSLETTER FOR FILMMAKERS OFFERING THEM TIPS ON DISTRIBUTION, AND KEPT GETTING REQUESTS TO POST ALL THE TIPS IN ONE PLACE. SO FILM SPECIFIC WAS BORN AS AN ONLINE RESOURCE BANK…A ONE STOP SHOP FOR FILMMAKERS TO GO AND LEARN ABOUT FINANCING, MARKETING, AND DISTRIBUTING THEIR FILMS.
RL: What is the VERY FIRST thing a filmmaker should do when looking for distribution?
SP: DO THEIR HOMEWORK! RESEARCH THE COMPANIES YOU WANT TO APPROACH BEFORE APPROACHING THEM AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE RIGHT FOR YOUR FILM!
RL: Tell us about the Going Global Bootcamp.
SP: I CREATED GOING GLOBAL AS A 2 DAY BOOT CAMP, HELD APRIL 25 & 26 IN SANTA MONICA, WHERE FILMMAKERS CAN COME GET A ‘POSITIVE’ DOSE OF REALITY WITHIN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIENT. THERE’S SO MUCH DOOM AND GLOOM OUT THERE – ME AND MY TEAM OF GUEST EXPERTS ARE GOING TO SHOW FILMMAKERS HOW TO GET THEIR FILMS MADE, SEEN, AND DISTRIBUTED WORLDWIDE…IN ANY ECONOMY!
RL: Why should filmmakers invest in this workshop?
SP: BECAUSE IF YOU CAN GET JUST ONE NEW IDEA OR PERSPECTIVE, OR MEET ONE NEW PERSON WHO CAN HELP YOU, THE BOOT CAMP WILL PAY FOR ITSELF MANY TIMES OVER. LOOK – YOU WANT TO SPEND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OR EVEN MILLIONS MAKING YOUR FILM, IF YOU’RE SERIOUS ABOUT MAKING A FILM THAT GETS DISTRIBUTION, YOU CAN’T NOT AFFORD TO INVEST IN THIS BOOT CAMP.
RL: You talk a lot about filmmakers having a strategy, how important is it?
SP: LET ME PUT IT TO YOU THIS WAY – IF YOU DON’T HAVE A ROAD MAP (IE: A STRATEGY), HOW DO YOU PLAN TO GET WHERE YOU WANT TO GO? YOU NEED A STRATEGY BEFORE YOU EMBARK ON MAKING YOUR FILM – OTHERWISE YOU’LL END UP IN THE SITUATION WHERE YOU’VE SPENT ALL THIS MONEY TO MAKE A FILM AND FIND OUT LATER, IT’S COMPLETELY UNSALEABLE.
RL: What would you like to see from women in film & entertainment?
SP: I WOULD LIKE TO SEE WOMEN STEP UP AND START INVESTING IN THEMSELVES AND IN THEIR CAREERS THE SAME AS MEN DO – AND TAKING THEMSELVES AND THEIR CAREERS SERIOUSLY AND TREATING FILMMAKING AS A REAL BUSINESS. IN MY EXPERIENCE WITH FILM SPECIFIC, MEN ARE THE ONES WHO ARE OUT THERE TAKING RISKS AND REALLY INVESTING IN THEIR KNOWLEDGE, AND THEREFORE ARE SUCCEEDING AT A MUCH HIGHER RATE THAN MY FEMALE CLIENTS. I WOULD LOVE TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH MORE FEMALE CLIENTS!
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE GOING GLOBAL BOOTCAMP!
Going Global 2-Day Boot Camp: Don’t You Want Global Distribution For Your Film?
Attend the weekend Boot Camp where you’ll learn the most effective ways to get your projects made, seen and distributed worldwide!
April 25 & 26, Los Angeles, CA
Early-bird discount in effect until March 15 – Save $75
GET STARTED NOW
At this Bootcamp you’ll discover:
• Exactly what you need to do to move your script or completed film forward to the next stage
• How to get the best deal for your competed film
• How to avoid nasty pitfalls when dealing with sales agents and distributors
• The benefits/drawbacks of working with sales agents vs. going directly to distributors
• How to find the right sales agent
• How to negotiate the best possible deal with sales agents
• What to look out for in sales agent and distributor deals
• A breakdown of distribution deal structures
• ‘Outside the box’ international financing and distribution models
• How to project revenue for your project
• How to launch and market your film competitively in the global marketplace
• How to effectively leverage international film markets at all stages of production
• How to cast and package your project to gain the attention of investors, agents, and financing partners
• How to prepare your script for raising money
• How to prepare a realistic business plan
• How to create a great package to present to potential investors
• How to get international financing and international co-production partners on board
• How to create a strategy for your film’s distribution, specific to YOUR film and YOUR audience, at any stage
• WHY a new way of looking at old distribution models is the way for you to retain control of your films, and your career
• How to nail down a system that you can apply to each and every project in your production slate
Stacey will be covering all of this, and much more, in painstaking detail at the Going Global Bootcamp and placing clear emphasis on practical and pragmatic solutions for getting your films distributed globally.