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phoebe luella
Video Distribution
on Mar 3, 2015 at 11:17:27 pm

Out of curiosity. Can any of you share your experience when going through a distributor for a series (13) half hour episodes.
What commission did they charge?
What did you experience to be their "out of pocket" expenses? Did some of you cap the out of pocket expenses? If so, what did you cap it at?
And, when the money came in and the distributor took his commission first and after the expenses were recouped...did you make the money you thought you were going to make?

Do you have any tips to offer??


Thank you!


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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Video Distribution
on Mar 4, 2015 at 12:57:39 am

Hey Phoebe,

With my limited experience based on UK distribution companies:

[phoebe luella] "What commission did they charge?"
You will be looking at anything from 30% to 70% - although the contract may only say 30%, the small print can be worse than that of a record company taking on a pop-idol. By the time you have paid for QC, legalising, re-formatting, conversions, subtitling, marketing, advertising, copies for distribution, postage, more marketing, discounted package sales and even more marketing in the form of champagne receptions - you will find yourself earning no money. In worst case scenario you will end up paying money to have it shown.

[phoebe luella] "What did you experience to be their "out of pocket" expenses? Did some of you cap the out of pocket expenses? If so, what did you cap it at?"
As above + do get a watertight contract that have been surveyed by an I.P./commercial lawyer. Yes, you can cap expenses. You can also propose to give the distributor a larger share of proceeds in return for you paying no extras - however, the distributor may have a model that earns more money out of doing work for you, rather than selling product.

[phoebe luella] "And, when the money came in and the distributor took his commission first and after the expenses were recouped...did you make the money you thought you were going to make?"
A recent horror story from a good producer friend: Established distributor estimated earnings of 150,000 on his series. Instead it only provided 15,000 worth of sales, which never got paid on time. However, the wheels fell of the wagon when one of his colleagues was staying in a hotel in Eastern Europe (location not important, could be anywhere - but not at home), where the program suddenly appeared on a local station. A station that had not been declared as a sale... The distributor is no longer in business, but the people who worked there might be in a new location. My suggestion is that none of your programs can be broadcast unless the money is in your account - that way you are also holding the end-client liable for not breaching your copyright. One that none of them will like, but if your product is good, they will accept it.

All the above is rather bleak - it does not have to be, but you have to count your fingers when you leave the room. There are plenty of plus sides to use a recognized distribution company, as there are for a musician using a record company.

Before going there; if you don't have it, get a broadcaster to take your series. Once you've one, and if is an established one, more will be interested. At that point you can drive hard negotiations with the distribution company, as you have already got money in the bank (I hope).
The other side to that coin: If you are still looking for finance, having a letter from a distribution company that says they like your idea and would love to distribute, could help you raise production finance from broadcaster, bank or private investors.

Above all: the more, the better! A distributor will like you more if you have many programs to distribute, so start planning for 26, 52 and 104 episodes - this will be easier for them sell bulk into obscure cable and VOD channels.

Hope this helps?

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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phoebe luella
Re: Video Distribution
on Mar 7, 2015 at 10:44:13 pm

Thank you so very much for your input! Very helpful. I suppose the last question I have is...how does a producer assure themselves or find out if a distributor sells their product without telling the producer and keeps that money?? Is that known to happen by any chance?


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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Video Distribution
on Mar 8, 2015 at 11:09:26 pm

Hey Phoebe,

[phoebe luella] "Thank you so very much for your input! Very helpful. I suppose the last question I have is...how does a producer assure themselves or find out if a distributor sells their product without telling the producer and keeps that money?? Is that known to happen by any chance?"

You are very welcome.

The only way to have assurance is to find a distributor that you can trust. Find web-tools that will trawl global TV listings for keywords related to your program. Get a third party to add a digital finger print your masters and monitor it (Getty Images are good at doing this with photos). Or do it yourself.

Bottom-line - there are no fire sure way of doing it. If you don't trust the other side in a business transaction, then you should not be doing it in the first instance.

Do keep in mind, although my previous doom-&-gloom post, that there are many respectable distribution companies out there who is not out to cheat you, but who does have real expenses related to selling your program.
Get an honest appraisal from them about how much your programs will sell for? And what their fees are?
Get it in writing, and if the future doesn't match that, then you should ask "why?"

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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