Harsh Truths About Selling A Movie – Glen Reynolds

Glen Reynolds, Founder of Circus Road Films: They know all films are not going to work but they’re playing the long game of making multiple films over the course of a year and they know that the winners will pay for the losers.

Film Courage: Why is your advice to filmmakers to not make movies for money?

Glen: It depends on the level of investment of a film and my advice changes film to film for sure and filmmaker to filmmaker depending on their goals and what they’re doing. If your passion is to make a film about growing mushrooms and you want to spend an hour and a half just watching the mushrooms grow, you shouldn’t tell an investor you need $150,000 to shoot that movie and it’ll get on Netflix. But if you can go out and do it for your own pocket change and you can do it on your iPhone and then you can put it in an art museum, okay great. That’s your passion, you have found an interesting way to film those mushrooms. The point there is I guess that if you make something low-budget and because it’s your passion and everybody knows the high-risk of whatever you’re spending, then great. Everybody is going in eyes wide open but ultimately most films just monetarily fail (overwhelmingly fail) and that’s not because of distributors being crooked (although there’s a little of that in places). It’s not because they spend too much money advertising or putting it in their pockets or have exorbitant deals, it’s because there’s an overwhelming amount of content out there for consumers to consume and just no way to monetize every independent film that everybody makes in a way that makes sense vis-a-vis the budget. I’m in the position of seeing the results for intimately over a thousand films in 25 years and overwhelmingly most films fail, that’s just the reality of the marketplace.

If you look at (not to name names) but if you look at a decent art house distributor, one of the ones that distributes 20 to 25 films a year and has a prominent brand and well-thought-of and everybody wants to be with, if you look at their box office for each of the films that year, there are a couple that get over a million dollars and there’s about 20 that make 200 to a few thousand dollars and they’ve spent money to try to make those films into something and it just didn’t work. That’s why everyone should approach filmmaking as a business with a huge amount of caution because it’s better to put your money in a mutual fund. Film is not a great investment and so if you are making a film for in the two-to-three million dollar range, there are ways to go about it without just taking someone’s cash and blowing it that to amortize the risk or to…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).



Glen Reynolds founded Circus Road Films in 2006 to provide strategic advisory services to filmmakers. Circus Road guides filmmakers through the festival and distribution process and negotiates licensing agreements on their behalf. Glen has participated in the sales of over 900 narrative and documentary feature films with many of them premiering at Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW, Cinequest, Tribeca, Hot Docs, Fantastic, Telluride and Toronto. Distributors of these films include Fox, Sony, Warner Bros, Universal, Lions Gate, Magnolia, IFC, Strand, Oscilloscope, Drafthouse, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Lifetime, ESPN and Syfy.   Some favorite films sold include the first films of some successful filmmakers such as Absentia, written and directed by Mike Flanagan (Midnight Mass); Pop Skull, written and directed by Adam Wingard (Godzilla vs Kong); and Newlyweeds, written and directed by Shaka King. (Judas and the Black Messiah).   Recent work includes Clean (Tribeca/IFC) with Adrien Brody, My Dead Dad and 18½ with Willa Fitzgerald (101 Films).   Glen has also co-produced twenty films to date including his favorite Conversations with Other Women which premiered at Telluride and stars Aaron Eckhart, Helena Bonham Carter, and Olivia Wilde.  Other great production experiences include developing two projects with Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) and co-producing five films with Ram Bergman (Knives Out, Star Wars: The Last Jedi).   Glen holds a JD from the University of Texas at Austin, a BA in English from NYU and is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. He serves as a judge for the UCLA Screenwriting Competition and on the jury for the Woods Hole Film Festival.







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