Everything Filmmakers Need To Know About Negotiating A Distribution Deal – Glen Reynolds


Film Courage: How does film negotiation work? 

Glen Reynolds, Founder of Circus Road Films: Usually if a distributor wants a film they’ll reach out with terms. Everybody does it a little bit differently. Some people will poke at me and say Well, what do you want? Some will just send me an email saying Okay, here’s what we would do for the film, here’s the distribution fee, and then either they have a term sheet or they just type it into an email. Usually the next step is I present that to my filmmaker, explain the company to them and what they’re about, introduce them so they can hear from the horse’s mouth so the distributor can tell them exactly what they’re going to do with the film and how much they like the film, etc. Then we repeat that process with any other offers coming in and then I usually try to help the client make a decision in terms of which way they want to go. Depending on which way they want to go there are some distributors that have come at us exactly where they want to be and I just know from experience there’s no negotiation. They’ve come at me with the lowest distribution fee they ever offer, the lowest cap on expenses, they’ll do the lowest term, and then there are some companies I know that they’ve come at me a little higher than what they’ll do and I know what the wiggle room is ahead of time. Depending on who the client has chosen I’ll tell them Okay, here’s where I think we can move the contract on this. If they give me the green light then I usually call the distributor and say They like you best but only if you can make these terms and then if they agree then we’re good and we go to a long form and then there’s a long form to negotiate as well but usually I’ve seen most of the long forms for all the companies that I’ve dealt with and some of them I’ve redlined before and already got a pound of flesh and I know exactly what they’re going to agree to or not. There really is no need to get into that in order to make the deal. We can just make a deal based on the deal memo or the email and then worry about the long form after the fact. If they don’t agree to whatever I’m proffering in terms of a counter, I go back to the client…(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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