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Film Sales Company Assistant

Film sales is the perfect mix of creative flare, business acumen and intuition. If you have all this and a passion for films, working in film sales could be the path for you.

My First Job in Film: How to become a film sales assistant
Stage
1

Whilst studying look for work experience and internship opportunities. Research all aspects of the industry to know how the film business works and what sales companies do.

Stage
2

Research sales companies and apply for jobs via MFJF and other resources. Make sure you research their body of work, are they aligned with any other companies, producers and filmmakers?

Stage
3

Expect to be working as an assistant/co-ordinator for at least a year before promotion. Take your time as an assistant to understand the markets and how the sales people negotiate them.

WHAT IS A FILM SALES COMPANY?

Working in film sales is a tremendously skilled job. Traditionally sales companies make deals which place the correct film in the hands of the right distributor dealing in the right market. While this is still true, many sales companies have expanded over recent years to incorporate film finance and distribution into their remit. Sales executives are investing in films or sourcing investment, developing scripts, packaging and casting, and essentially acting as producers or at least executive or associate producers, making sales companies far more involved in the filmmaking process than ever before.

The sales executives (also known as sales staff) act on behalf of the company to represent producers and filmmakers who seek a distribution deal.  Pre-sales (another term for a distribution deal) before the green light can be a vital asset for filmmakers looking for finance, not only ensuring revenue to enable production they act as added security to other potential investors such as banks, private investors or co-producers. A distribution deal can also be sought once the film has been made, or is in production.

Film sales executives take the pitch package to the film markets (global film industry events) and proceed to licence the theatrical and ancillary rights to a film to distributors around the globe, usually country by country. As part of the package, sales companies also put together a forecast of advances the film could achieve within the marketplace, which gives financiers an idea of what to expect from their investment. This estimate is also known as the Minimum Guarantee, or MG for short. Sales executives work around the clock at the markets to represent the interests of the producers, while simultaneously making sure the distributor is well catered for.  Sales companies and distributors are often engaged in long-term relationships, which are grown over time and can be beneficial to both parties at certain times. For example, if a sales company has a challenging film that needs to find a deal or the distributor needs a favour, they often reach reciprocal arrangements. It's important to remember the long-term relationship when negotiating individual deals.

Film markets, not to be confused with festivals (although many film markets and festival operate in tandem) are not only for viewing and selling films, they attract a cross section of the filmmaking community who attend events, workshops and networking opportunities. In addition to the film sales companies, you will also find, distributors, exhibitors, festival directors, film financiers, lawyers, members of the press, directors, producers, and writers. Producers and the studios use the film markets to keep tabs on upcoming releases and trends, which in turn help plan out their next 18 - 24 months.

The primary film markets are:

  • European Film Market or EFM (February. Associated with the Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival).

  • Hong Kong Filmart (March. HK/Asia)

  • Marché du Film (May. Associated with Cannes International Film Festival).

  • Toronto International Film Festival (September. Not a formal market but an active informal one. Toronto).

  • American Film Market or AFM (November. USA).

WHAT WILL THE FILM SALES COMPANY BE DOING AT A FILM MARKET?

Sales execs and assistants will have been busy preparing and researching who is going to the market, setting up meetings and arranging screenings. As a rule, all meetings are by appointment only, and as sales executives can be involved in 20 meetings a day, they work hard to close deals and stay on schedule. Before they attend, they will have produced a set of projected sales estimates to go with each script or treatment. Most likely each sales person will be representing some or all of the company's slate, which means intensive planning and preparation. Part of their prep includes working out how much they can ‘ask’ from the distribution company and how much they are willing to ‘take’ for the rights, also known as the’ highs and lows’. The ‘takes’ are what matter most, this is the price that will form the correct valuation of the project, and on what financiers and investors will base their decision on whether to get involved with a project or not.

It’s the job of the sales company to ‘position’ the film in the international marketplace. To do this, they will create a marketing campaign, making a feature of the talent attached to the project and the track record of the screenwriter and director. The marketing can also involve utilising teaser artwork, stills, and if the film has been shot, they will cut a sales promo (different from a trailer which is for the public, the promo targets distributors). When they arrive at the market the sales executive will be:

  • Licensing the rights to the following territories, which break down into five main sectors: North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America and what are classified as ‘others’ (Middle East, Africa and any other country that does not fit into the above 4 ). The “licence” is for a particular period, or window, defining the various aspects such as theatrical, TV, DVD/streaming, each has different terms and percentages to be negotiated.

  • Individual members of the team (usually the MDs or heads of the company) will also be broaching conversations and forming key relationships with financiers, private equity groups, banks, and members of the national film boards (e.g, Screen Australia, Creative England, BFI). Due to the changing nature of the sales company they are now handling these relationships to source finance for films.

  • The first step once a deal is agreed is to sign a Deal Memo. This lays out the principle terms of the agreement and is followed up by a more detailed contract known as the Long Form Agreement. Typically the Deal Memo will define: MG (Minimum Guarantee), payment terms, term of contract, territory, holdbacks, division of gross receipts and expected P&A commitment and limitations on spend which can be deducted before revenue sharing.

  • Once the market is over sales executives return to the office with a significant amount of paperwork that the assistant will no doubt be handed. It's then up to the executive to follow up on the Deal Memos and make sure the Long Form Agreement is signed sealed and delivered.

WHAT ARE THE ENTRY LEVEL ROLES IN FILM SALES?

Finding work at a film sales company can mean applying for work experience and internships before you find full-time employment. Both will add that significant experience to your CV and give you a flavour of what working in sales can entail. It’s a very particular area of the industry that might not be suited to everyone. For many candidates, however, it’s the perfect mix of business acumen and creative flair, which can see sales executives going on gut instinct while brandishing a spreadsheet of figures. Opportunities to work in a film sales office, or for an independent salesperson can include: 

  • Office assistant
  • Film sales assistant
  • Sales and marketing coordinator 

WHAT are the other positions in film sales?

Larger sales companies will have some of the departments below, whilst smaller operations may outsource the work to specialist boutique companies. At one of the larger sales companies you can expect to find:

  • Film sales executives. Salespersons negotiate the licensing of theatrical and ancillary rights with each distributor in each separate territory. They build relationships with global distribution companies and filmmakers.

  • Acquisition. The primary goal of this team is bringing projects from producers into the company. It's vital for them to build strong filmmaker and producer relationships to ensure that their agency is the producers home of choice. Members of acquisitions will be reading scripts, following the markets and using internet resources to see what is in production.

  • Marketing and publicity. The role of the marketing department within film sales fulfils two purposes. Marketing of the sales company itself within the film industry, establishing the company's ‘slate’ and credibility of its personnel to attract attention from producers and financiers. The marketing team will also be responsible for positioning the film in the marketplace. They will pull together materials to place the film in the right light at the festivals and film market. The marketing team in this environment do not market to the film's intended audience, which is the role of the Marketing Department within the distribution company. In this context they provide the distributor with the materials to do the job, such as:        

    • Produce teasers/sales promos and posters, used to convey some of the key elements of the film such as genre and tone.

    • If going to market with the completed film a publicist will arrange junkets, press screenings and generate publicity creating a 'buzz' around the film. Getting a film noticed is essential to locking in a deal with a distributor. 

    • Liaising with talent over arrangements for personal appearances and press junkets at film festivals.

  • Legal and business affairs. This is where you will find the legal team, in smaller companies, this will be outsourced to legal firms or freelance paralegals. A majority of the documentation such as licensing requires tailor-made terms and conditions that need to be factored into each separate contract.

  • Delivery. This is most often outsourced to a specialist company that assembles, stores and, subject to the Minimum Guarantee being paid to the sales company, delivers to the distributors the physical and digital film elements and marketing materials of the film. This includes the print (film or digital), M & E (music and effects) prints to foreign territories, marketing and the huge amount of documentation necessary to accompany the finished product.

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF AN ASSISTANT IN FILM SALES?

You will be working very closely with sales executives, especially if employed by a larger company with a larger slate. The more there is to manage the more heavily the assistant will be involved in the workload. Regardless of how many films they represent execs work tirelessly to get each film noticed and sold. Some of the tasks you will be called upon to fulfil in your capacity as an assistant will be:

Answering the phones.

Lining/queuing up calls for the sales staff. When not at the film markets they can be found working the phones for the majority of the day, chasing up Deal Memos and sending out contracts.

Making travel and accommodation bookings.

Numerous markets and festivals take place throughout the year, not just the top 4. Sales companies will be present at the markets that offer the best opportunity to sell the films they represent on their slate.

Updating the company database.

This is where your excellent Excel skills will come into play. While this is a tiresome job, foreign distributors often have revolving doors with their staff intake, and they often form mergers or new companies quickly. Therefore it’s vital that sales execs are taking meetings with the most relevant people or businesses for their projects. Updating the company and film entries in external industry databases like Cinando.com and those connected to other markets or trade publications.

Running errands.

This could be collecting documents or dropping off research. The job will be varied in its remit if some of it feels menial just enjoy the time out of the office.

Taking on research projects and analysing data.

If working with the acquisitions team, you may be called upon to cover film scripts, research the slates of other companies, look at trends or analyse box office figures to see what similar titles have achieved.

Liaising with Acquisitions and Marketing Departments.

While running between the departments, or desks if it is a smaller operation, remember to introduce yourself and get to know everyone.

Office diary management.

Outside of the film markets staff members diaries can still be packed with appointments with producers and production companies; you can be lining up appointments via the phone as well as making reservations or booking meeting rooms in town.

Market diary management.

A single salespersons diary can consist of 7-8 days of back to back 30 min meetings, including lunches, drinks and dinners. An assistant will need to secure these meetings, confirming them the day before. Managing this schedule with an efficient, ordered system is key to learning who the distributors are and who are the most important.

Pre-booking lunch meetings.

Space is at a premium at the markets, especially for dinner reservations.

Cross checking all material.

Including printed flyers, brochures, electronic materials like ipads loaded with trailers and business cards, lots and lots of business cards.


HOW DO I GET A JOB IN A FILM SALES COMPANY?

If you are looking to pursue a career as a film sales executive you will most likely hold a degree or have a strong background in sales, business or finance, a love of films and a genuine interest in how the business side of the film industry works. If you're coming into the film industry as a career change you need to know that your initial experiences at a junior level are not going to be well paid, neither are the internships, so don’t give up the day job just yet. If you already have a strong business background and wish to move your skills into entertainment then internships may not be necessary, but you will need to do your research on the film industry.

Work Experience and Internships

Film sales is a small area of the UK film industry, so you need to be proactive about getting work experience. Work experience placements provide an excellent opportunity to meet people and learn about the industry. You want to be applying for these placements while you are still studying, don't wait to look for work experience on the first day of the summer holidays - the same can be said of internships. An internship should provide you with some task and projects to get your teeth into, interns are paid NMW, work experience is mostly unpaid, but you will be remunerated for your expenses. As the industry is so compact it's not unusual for companies to ask for recommendations from other companies before advertising a position, a promising intern who was memorable due to their can-do personality, competence and work ethic could easily get a call. Both placements can provide you with reference for your CV, having someone vouch for you at a reputable company can go a long way. 

CV

When working on your CV check it through (or ask someone else to) to see it reads well and is correctly formatted. You can use the CV advice and CV builder to help create a CV and covering letter, and you can check your CV against our example CVs to make sure it includes all the relevant information. You're going to want to keep your CV short and to the point, as many employers will be ‘scanning’ rather than reading, cut out the chaff and try to keep it down to one page, if you're applying for work experience this won't be a problem. Always find out who to send your CV to and address them directly, this can be as simple as picking up the phone to ask who is in charge of recruitment, HR or the department you wish to enter.  

If you can, follow up a week later to check they received your CV. If you sent it without there being a job advertised you will most likely be told they will keep your CV for future reference, however, you could get lucky and they might be recruiting that week, or you can make a good impression on the phone. Use your common sense, if they sound busy they probably are, but if you get chatting ask for some advice, they might be able to refer you to another company who are looking for staff. 

Alongside opportunities listed on MFJF, social media is a great way to find out what companies are up to, and when they are recruiting for positions. Keep an eye on Twitter, LinkedIn and follow what the sales companies are doing at the markets or what films they are representing. While you are researching companies look at the other areas of the industry where a sales team are employed, such as distribution, film finance and film production companies.

If finance allows you could go to a film market as a spectator to understand how sales staff operate in the feature film business. There are plenty of panel discussions and seminars that take place, so although unlikely to be offered a job (salespeople will have their schedule and not much time for anything else) you will be provided an educational visit. This can be a costly enterprise, however, so again, do your research!

Research

A knowledge of how the film industry works is going to be essential when working in film sales, one of the first things you are going to need to be familiar with are the magazines and online resources the industry use for information such as:

Check these websites and get to know how to use them, or how best to search for information. If you're asked in for an interview, you need to be able to demonstrate your eagerness to learn on top of your interest in the industry. If they ask you the last film you saw, they don't want to know if you watched Casablanca on Netflix last night. Employers want to know that you are interested enough in films to pay to see a current release in the cinema and know, for example, if it was critical hit but box office flop. Alongside researching and understanding back to front the Film Value Chain, you may also wish to continue your reading to further your knowledge of film production:

You could also dip into the classic biographies and film industry essential reading such as:

Taking time to research your chosen occupation is going to inform what you put on your CV and how you present yourself in your interview. When you're asked for an interview make sure you have done your research on the company and how they work, you will also need to know you can answer the fundamental questions such as:

  • What does a film sales company do? 

  • How is a film financed? 

  • What interests you about film sales – which area of film sales do you like? 

  • What is the process when taking a film from script to screen? 

  • What is the difference between film sales and the Sales Departments in distribution, production companies and finance companies?

  • When are the film markets on, who goes and which one is best to sell a particular genre of film?

Personality and Attitude

If you wish to work in film sales, you will most likely be looking for a job in London, and everyone knows living in London can be very expensive. So, to provide for yourself while on the search for experience, and a full-time job, you're going to have saved money, or you'll need to work in the interim. Temping can offer you the flexibility of work to take on internships here and there; you will also get a chance to hone your Excel and office skills. If you take a full-time job make sure you're gaining those skills you need in film sales, keep it relevant to the area of film sales you wish to enter. Working for a Marketing Department in a non-film related industry still enables you to work in the right discipline. 

Applying for positions and sending out CVs can be a full-time job in itself. Some people will get lucky, finding work almost instantaneously after graduation. Some may have put in the hours (work experience/internships) while they are studying, some people might just be in the right place at the right time. Whatever situation you find yourself in, the resounding advice from professionals working in the film industry is to be persistent; persistent and relentless in the pursuit of your chosen career. Keep applying for positions, gaining experience, sending emails, dropping off CVs at company reception desks, and calling in to see if they have any vacancies.

At points it can feel frustrating when you’re not getting the roles you want, keep in mind the advice on being relentless and go back to your CV, think about what you can do to make it better, what experience could you gain in another capacity to start ticking boxes for potential employers. Reflect on the possible reason your CV is not being chosen for roles; it could be a lack of experience, the way your CV is presented or if you’re sending in generic CVs and covering letters - you should give yourself the best possible chance by tailoring each one to each job role.

Although the industry is incredibly flexible when it comes to changing career, if you’re applying for positions in another area of the industry you will need to be clear why you want to make the change, and give examples of what you have been doing to facilitate the move.


 

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WHAT IS THE CAREER PATH?

If you have a few internships under your belt, you will be looking for assistant roles. The role of office assistant or sales assistant will most likely be your first paid job within film sales. Once you've been working in this capacity for a few years, it’s time to consider branching out.

Working in film sales can offer you other options as you progress your career, the skills and contacts you make could potentially take you anywhere in the film industry. What you're bringing with you from the sales background is a solid knowledge of what it takes to makes a film work, knowledge of the industry, contacts, business experience, and a grounding in how to sell what is ultimately a concept.  You could use your experience in sales to progress as/in:

  • Producer.

  • Sales or acquisitions in distribution.

  • Film finance.

  • Marketing.

  • Head of development or development exec within a production company.

WHAT IS FILM SALES LIKE TO WORK IN?

A sought after and busy sales company is never a quiet place to work. With film markets held every few months all over the world, the work of the sales team is ceaseless, especially if their slate keeps growing. During markets and festivals, the sales office operates at maximum capacity, providing support for the sales executives working away, and dealing with the significant amount of paperwork when they return.  

Life in the office between markets will be spent preparing for the next market; researching who is going to be there, what the sales executives need regarding package and marketing materials and researching potential new acquisitions. There should never be a dull moment, especially for junior members of the team whose remit will expand daily to fit the multitude of tasks that can be thrown their way.

As a junior member of the team it may be daunting being confronted with large personalities in the workplace, but try to take it in your stride. When being introduced always make sure you can reciprocate a firm handshake and try to keep eye contact when you say hello. If you have designs on a career in film sales, you are going to need a robust personality.

WILL I NEED ANY QUALIFICATIONS TO WORK IN FILM SALES?

There are no formal requirements for academic qualifications to work in film sales. However, if you're entering the business side of the film industry with a degree in business, sales, marketing, finance or MBA it can put you at a significant advantage. Higher education can signify to potential employers that you have the required analytical skills to fulfil the role, look closely at any job advertised to see what the requirements are.  

Relevant experience will always help your cause, for example, experience working within broadcast, distribution or a film company within their Sales and Acquisitions Department. If you are entering the workplace at assistant level passion, hard work, commitment and a love for films can hold equal weight. You will find that sales agents love films too and feel passionate about many of the films they represent, so you too need to demonstrate the passion for cinema alongside solid business skills.

To gain more experience you could take a short course such as:

WHAT PAPERWORK/SOFTWARE SHOULD I BE FAMILIAR WITH?

Working within the office environment will require you to have strong IT and administrative skills. You would be at an advantage if you have:

  • A strong knowledge of both Mac and Windows operating systems.

  • A good working knowledge of MS Office, specifically Excel.

  • Being able to collate, store and analyse data using software can become a crucial part of your job.

  • A knowledge of another language would be useful as you will be dealing with foreign distributors, but it is not essential.

  • Long Form Agreements.

  • Deal Memos

10 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR NEW ENTRANTS WORKING AS ASSISTANTS IN FILM SALES.

The coffee run.

Make your peace with going on the coffee run and use it to your advantage. The coffee run is an excellent way to introduce yourself to people and strike up a conversation. It's better to be known as the person who gets the coffee than the person no one knows.

Remember everyone's name.

It sounds simple but can be harder to master than you may think, especially when you are introduced to the whole office on your first day. Everyone finds their way of remembering, try to find yours.

Reading contracts.

Learn how to read contracts and watch how senior members of the team negotiate deals. If you get the opportunity, take some time to go through the Deal Memos and see how they are translated into Long Form Agreements.

Who's buying?

Develop detailed knowledge of distribution companies around the world, who are the main buyers in each territory. Start by looking at successful indie films on IMDB, then see who represented the films distribution in each territory.

Who's going to be at the film markets?

Study the attendee guide that will come with the badge for the sales executive. Make sure the list tallies up with the one the company will have already if there are any new faces make the executives aware of this.

Going to a film market.

If you get the chance to go with the sales executives to market take the time to talk to people, as many as you can to find out what they are doing and why. Gather information, but stay focused on carrying out your tasks too.

Watch films.

When kick starting your career in the film industry, you're going to need to look at a lot of films. If you are working at a sales company, you will need to delve a little deeper when viewing a film. Ask yourself questions such as how much did the film make, why was it received badly by critics but still made money? What was the marketing campaign, was that successful, why?… The list could go on. Analyse films, not only engaging with them as a member of the audience, look through all aspects of why it was successful or why it bombed.

Personality.

If you want to work as a salesperson, you will need an abundance of enthusiasm and confidence. Enthusiasm for the films you're selling and exceptional people skills for negotiating with first-time business associates and old friends.

Commercial awareness.

Commercial awareness is a skill you can develop over time, but you want to be able to demonstrate that you have a grip on the market, or more importantly can identify what the market is.

Networking.

If you're a natural networker and socialiser, then this can be one of your greatest attributes when working in film sales. If you find social engagements a challenge watch how your senior colleagues navigate this process and emulate them. Initially, it may feel a little like acting, but once you have navigated the water a few time you'll find yourself naturally able to strike up a conversation.


​ PHRASES EVERY NEW ENTRANT SHOULD KNOW.

  • Territory. Refers to a country or a group of countries the sales executives will license to the distributor.

  • Slate. When a company refers to their slate it's in reference to the films they represent.

  • Pitch package. A selection of contracts, documents, agreements and of course a script or treatment. Attached above the line talent are made a feature of, many films attracts a distribution deal on the reputation of a directors last film. 

  • Hot film. A film that is desirable to distributors could be due to cast who have signed on, a notable director with a great track record, finance already in place, all three or more.

  • Delivery. After the film’s completion the sales company will only ‘deliver’ the film to the distribution companies once all funds have cleared and paperwork has been signed.

  • Promo. A teaser that a sales company can show at film markets, not the same as a trailer, which is created or commissioned by the distribution companies for audience consumption.  A promo may include uncleared music so may be shown in private but not published on the internet.

  • Minimum Guarantee (MG). Amount paid by the distributor as an initial (non-refundable) advance against future share of revenues for the rights to the film.

  • Payment terms. When and how the MG will be paid e.g 20% on Deal Memo and 80% on Notice of Availability.

  • Term. How long the distributor will have the rights for.

  • Division of Gross Receipts. Often called the ‘back end’, it refers to how revenues from each media are split between the producer and the distributor e.g TV 70% to producer and 30% to distributor.

  • One Sheet. Executives use these flyers at the film markets, to sum up a film in a nutshell. An image giving the visual representation of the film is on one side, with a treatment and any secured talent laid out on the other. These are becoming less popular for reasons of sustainability and because younger buyers are less inclined to carry away information in paper form that they can find online.

  • Overage. When the film has recouped all the financial investment and begins to turn a profit.

  • Deal Memo. Signed by the distributor at the market to be followed up by the sales company. They send out the Long Form Agreement which will be drawn up by the legal team. Until the official contract is signed, the distributor can still back out at any point.

  • Theatrical rights.The distributor who purchases the theatrical rights to a film has the legal right to work with the theatrical exhibitors (cinemas) to exploit the film (show the film).

  • Ancillary rights. The ‘ancillary rights’ give the distributor the legal right to use or ‘exploit’ the material (film) in other media after the theatrical release such as TV, VOD, Pay per view, DVD. This may also include creating other forms of content which differ from the original source such as merchandise, soundtrack CD’s, web content, related literature (magazines, novels, comics), etc.

  • P & A. The print and advertising budget is set by the distribution company.

  • Comps. Comparing proposed new films to previous ones that have similar a genre, top line cast and directors to predict their future box office performance. This can vary territory to territory due to different audiences preferences to a certain genre, cast or concept.

  • Windows. Periods of time during which the film may be exploited (or marketed) in specific media (theatrical, TV etc). Often there is an exclusive "window" for theatrical when VOD and DVD are not available. This is also sometimes called a "holdback" because those media are held back until another medium has had its run.  A subscription TV service may have the right to start offering a film on a specific day but be prohibited from marketing the fact that it is upcoming any earlier than a month before. Industry common practice sets most windows, but in some territories, they are established by law. Proponents of simultaneous releasing in all media describe as "the pirate window"  the gap between the end of a theatrical run and the legal availability of a film online. Windows are the topic of hot negotiation and heated debate.

FAQ’S

What hours will I be working in film sales?

Your contract will probably state a standard 40 hour work week, but film sales can be a very involving occupation. If you are asked to work at a film market, you may be called upon to work longer hours as the sales executives day is dictated by the schedule, meaning you will follow suit. This could mean you start work at 8am untill at least 7pm, and then potential screenings, networking drinks and dinners. If you are back in the office, you will most likely be working your hours with an hour lunch break to boot. Expect to start work at 9.30am and finish at 6.30pm.

How much will I earn as an assistant working in film sales?

An assistant working at a film sales office can earn between £18 - £22k depending on the size of the company and their location in the UK. If you have just left school or university you can expect that figure to be at the lower end of the spectrum as you won't have the required work experience to be up and running on day one. Interns typically earn just over NMW or the London Living Wage. Work experience placements are unpaid and can last 4 weeks or 160 hours spread over three months, with reasonable expenses paid such as travel and lunch, however, their importance in gaining knowledge and contacts can not be underestimated.

What's it like working at film festivals and film markets?

Film festivals and markets are often a hectic two weeks of meetings, handshaking and deal making. It’s going to be noisy, packed to the rafters and if it’s your first time at one of the big three you are going to need a map! If you're working for a company who are regular attendees you will most likely have been involved in pre-booking everything; meetings, restaurants, evening drinks, films, events and panel discussions. 

If you do attend a festival or film market, it will most likely be the EFM or Marché du Film. You will normally work over weekends at these events and can be unlikely to receive time off in lieu. The EFM held in Berlin is going to be chilly, actually not just chilly close to freezing. Take a good winter coat and make sure everything is waterproof, turning up to the next meeting drenched is not a great start. If you get a chance to watch some films while you're there you’re going to be glad of that coat, as the queues can meander round the block. The EFM spreads itself out over the city so take comfortable shoes as you will be doing a fair amount of walking, but what a city to walk around! 

On the flip side, Cannes will be extremely warm, extremely busy and held in an extremely small area. The small town with a population of 75,000 will hold anywhere from 250,000 to 300,000 extra people during peak times of the festival/market. Take everything you would associate with summer, sunscreen, hats and once again equip yourself with a map and a good pair of shoes; if you are feeling very organised a light raincoat. If you get a chance take a step back from the festival to appreciate the beauty of Cannes, it’s a slice of the French Riviera that is steeped in history and a glamour of its own that can’t be replicated.

What's the difference between a sales executive and a producer's rep?

If you are working in the UK in film sales, you are unlikely to work with a producer's rep as they are mainly found in the US dealing with domestic distribution, leaving US sales people to deal with international. Even though it will not be part of your world it’s good to know what a producer's rep is responsible for, should you ever get the opportunity to cross the Atlantic. 

Despite the overlaps between the roles of the sales company and rep, they can perform two very separate functions. The rep will become involved with a project in its infancy and can help the producer to: 

  • Help put the ‘package’ together to take to market, or the sales executive to sell internationally. 
  • Help a producer develop the sales strategy. 
  • Advise on which festivals to enter, being able to identify which festival or category in the festival the film may fit. 
  • At a festival or market they can help with publicity and set up screenings.
  • If the producer is new to feature filmmaking a rep can work with the sales company, using their experience to assess the offers received from distributors. 
  • If the producer is happy the rep may be able to negotiate deals on the producer's behalf, thus negating the need for a sales company. For this to happen a great deal of trust would needed to be bestowed upon the rep.

What trade papers should I be reading?
  • Screen International 
  • Variety 
  • Hollywood Reporter 
  • Deadline 
  • Indiewire

What are the industry bodies that represent film sales in the UK?

Film Export UK is the trade body responsible for representing UK companies with offices selling, marketing and distributing independent films world wide. They are involved in running training schemes and events so see what they have to offer and use their resources. You also need to be aware of UK Government’s Trade and Investment department, who outline the Government's approach to increase the number of exporters and inward investors to the UK.

thank you's ...

My First Job in Film would like to thank Charlie Bloye and Greg Martin for sharing their experience and giving up their time to offer advice for this career guide. 

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