How do I prepare a sales pitch for a documentary

by Jihan Achkar

Question: I want to sell a documentary movie that won awards to Arabic TV stations. How do I present it, what questions should I ask and how much do I charge for it?

Answer: Have you considered contacting a sales agent? These people already have relationships with various television outlets. They will know how much your film is worth and can negotiate deals for you. You pay these agents a percentage of the sale -- usually about 10%, or 15% if they are a lawyer.

So how do you find a sales agent? Very simply, ask around. Call up other documentary filmmakers who's films have been broadcast on the stations you want to approach. Ask them how they did it. You could even contact the TV station and ask them to send you their guidelines on how they choose programs.. or to recommend sales agents that they have relationships with. It's important to interview several agents and make sure you choose someone who seems to truly care about your project. Find a law firm that specializes in entertainment.

I highly recommend two resources to learn more about the distribution process and how to sell your film:

Documentary Production 101: Film Festivals and Distribution - This is "Part 5" in a five-part audio series from award-winning documentary filmmaker Jilann Spitzmiller. Learn how she got her films into the Sundance Film Festival and broadcast on national networks like the BBC and PBS.

Take Action! The Independent Producer's Guide to Digital Self-Distribution -- By Jason Brubaker -- Jason Brubaker is an Independent Motion Picture Producer based in Los Angeles and an expert in internet movie distribution. Read my interview with Jason. He does a fantastic job laying out all the options for creating multiple streams of movie-making income.

Click here for other resources on documentary sales and distribution.

*Please understand that I may make a small commission if you purchase any of the above products. But I ONLY recommend products that I have personally used or thoroughly reviewed and believe are excellent.

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