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Dear Collaborators and Friends,

We hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and Chanukah for those who celebrate either.

We at TFC were thankful for the fact that transparency in film has become more of an expectation than an aberration. As most of you know, The Film Collaborative launched in January 2010 and has modeled and pursued transparency in film ever since. We are pleased to see some taking inspiration, for whatever reason. We also want to keep the pressure up and the analysis sharp.

With that in mind, we offer some recent observations from The Film Collaborative staff:

Regarding FilmBuff’s recent commitment to post weekly Multi-Screen Gross (MSG) numbers that are received from distributors for their day-and-date titles.

“While I applaud any entity for taking a step toward greater transparency in the film industry, I think FilmBuff could be doing more with this reporting. The same 3 films they released numbers for on November 19 are the only ones still listed, but I think as a sales agency/distributor, Cinetic/FilmBuff must be handling many more titles and seeing the revenue statements of all. Why not add more of their own titles at least?

If anyone would like to see an example of transparent reporting for film releases, have a look at 3 reports prepared by UK based SampoMedia and the British Film Institute on the impact of day-and-date releasing of 3 films (click to see each film’s report, in PDF format): A Late Quartet, What Maisie Knew and A Field in England. (One additional film report will also be released…see their announcement about the reports.)

All give in depth information not only on multiplatform revenue, but the positioning, marketing spend and tactics used to release those recent films. THAT’S the transparency we need in order to be well prepared for releasing the films being produced. Gross revenues don’t actually tell creators or investors anything about how recoupable or profitable a film is, only how much top line revenue was generated. Study those reports well! Let's see what US based entity will take on reporting titles like this.”

—Sheri Candler

“While it may appear to be a wonderful step forward for transparency it is more likely a publicity stunt to highlight three modestly successful films (one of which will undoubtedly be a money loser due to its almost 1/2 Mil price tag). Companies have always been happy to tout massive successes (Bachelorette, Margin Call, etc), but if this were really about transparency, RADIUS and Film Buff would reveal how all of their recent releases performed. As such, the need for proper reporting of VOD numbers is still sorely lacking.”

—Bryan Glick

“In general, while some companies know they have to share more in order to gain trust now that the standards have changed, I still see resistance to revealing real numbers, both on the filmmaker side and on the distributor side. In helping filmmakers do deals, I see distributors still withholding details about middle men services and fees and also about the marketing and their splits on the Cable VOD-front. Knowledge is power, filmmakers. The more you share, the more you will know to make the best decisions moving forward. Don’t take no for an answer. Demand complete transparency. If everyone does, every filmmaker will benefit and there is no losing in that model.”

—Orly Ravid

Answering the question, “how much money can one’s film make from Festival screening fees?”

The Film Collaborative has always shared all revenue and expense information with its filmmakers and also with anyone who asks. Since not all filmmakers want their data broadcast, we decided to share information per category of film.

This information was culled and is presented by Jeffrey Winter:

The Film Collaborative is well known these days as one of the leading companies distributing films to the Film Festival circuit, helping to maximize both potential market value and potential revenue that can be earned directly from Festival screenings.

As such, we are asked all the time, “how much money can my film make from Festival screening fees?”

Of course, as always in this business, the answer is highly specific to each individual film, especially in terms of quality-of-film, niche, and often most important, where the film actually premiered on the Circuit.

While the over-arching answer to the festival revenue question is probably $0 - $100,000 (or slightly more), to offer some guidelines, here are some statistics that we have put together from films we have handled in the last three years.


A) Premiere @ Sundance Film Festival:
Range: $13,500 - $72,000
Median: $32,650
B) Premiere @ SXSW Film Festival:
Range: $22,000 - $87,000
Median: $34,483
C) Did not premiere at an "A level" Festival:
Range: $0 - $30,690
Median: $12,825
D) Social Justice / Human Rights films:
Range: $6,217 - $56,000
Median: $12,400
E) Environmental films:
Range: $4,925 - $18,197
Median: $8,645
F) LGBT-themed films:
Range: $4,925 - $87,000
Median: $20,282

In considering the question of potential Festival revenue moving forward—these are probably the three most important questions to ask.

  1. Where did my film premiere (or where is it most likely to)…because, simply put…premiere matters.
  2. How many niches does my film fit into? Because niche festivals matter…and the more niches you fit into, the merrier.
  3. Do I know how to handle the Festival circuit myself, or will I need a representative to advocate for me?
After considering these questions…you'll find you probably fit somewhere into the statistics above. In truth, most average, non-niche films will probably not command significant revenue on the film festival circuit, but for special films that are well-handled, the upper level of our ranges are certainly realistic and in fact may even be exceeded.

A big happy shout out to our Spirit Award nominees!

Pit Stop (John Cassavetes Award)
James M. Johnston, producer of Pit Stop (17th Annual Piaget Producers Award)

A River Changes Course (19th Annual Stella Artois Truer Than Fiction Award)


The Foxy Merkins from Madeline Olnek (20th Annual Someone To Watch Award)

TIDBITS: News You May Have Missed

  • Uber sales agent Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment gave a great interview at the Toronto International Film Festival called The Art of the Deal. Anyone working in documentaries should listen to what he says about split rights and what the consequences are; how to work with a sales agent for your film; and what if your film doesn't have an attractive positioning statement for a sale (ex Searching for Sugarman, Act of Killing).
  • Speaking of distribution case studies…producer Ted Hope has started compiling a master list of low budget independent film case studies on his Hope for Film blog. If you are a producer, you need to be aware of this distribution reality for many low budget films in order navigate new release waters. If you have written such a case study, submit it to his site so that we may all learn from it.
  • And last but not least, TFC will be supplementing Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul with new blogs and case studies, with an eye focused on Europe, starting January 2014!