As we’ve explored many times before here on Current Artisan, there are many elements of filmmaking that don’t often see the light of day.
These are the finer details of making and distributing a movie that the general public often doesn’t see, and maybe isn’t even aware of.
We’ve talked about how producers are absolutely crucial to the overall feel of a movie, and we’ve talked about score composers and their ability to complement a movie’s visuals.
But we’ve never spoken on the subject of sales and distribution, a stage in the process that, for obvious reasons, is necessary for audiences to find and see a film.
When it comes to the major studios, distribution is often handed off to another department within the studio. From there, distribution professionals simply make use of the inroads they already have with different film markets and theater chains.
But for independent filmmakers and production companies, distribution is more of an uphill battle. Each film has to be sold on its own merits.
That’s where sales and distribution experts come into the picture.
Out in the Field
Kalani Dreimanis is currently the Director of International Sales with Epic Pictures Group, and as you might have guessed from her title, Dreimanis’s work involves an extensive amount of traveling and pitching.
Dreimanis’s overall goal is to make sure that impressive and unique movies are able to find an audience. But she also enjoys focusing on working toward greater diversity and representation in media.
The inherent subjectivity of movies makes this a highly creative process. Fortunately, Dreimanis has years of experience in the field, making her the person to talk to when trying to learn more about the work of getting as many eyes on a movie as possible.
Below you’ll find our interview with Dreimanis, as well as information on where you can learn more about her past work and Epic Pictures Group.
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The Basics of Film Sales
How would you describe the basic premise of film sales and distribution to someone who isn’t familiar?
We are basically a sales agent for your independent film. A lot of producers can use their relationships and connections to sell their film to a domestic distributor and even get partial financing from a domestic distributor, so we are there to take your film to the rest of the world.
We have relationships with distributors all over the world and can match your film with the best international partners who know how to reach the widest audience for your film in their country or region.
How do you get a better sense of which audiences or demographic groups would most enjoy a particular movie?
It’s really all about meeting with the international distributors and learning directly from them what kind of cast, genres, and themes work best in their market. I do not need to tell anyone that this industry is constantly changing, so meeting with our distributors regularly helps us stay current with the market needs.
We also learn distribution trends in each region, for example, which audiences are paying to see what kinds of films, and what kinds of casts they are paying to see.
Working with Filmmakers and Diversity in Media
So how closely do you work with filmmakers and producers when finding distribution for a film?
We work very closely with our filmmakers, and as a result, we regularly represent multiple films from the same filmmakers. We will always have our directors and producers sign off on any artwork before we take it to a market, including posters and stills, and any trailers or “first-look” footage.
If we are pre-selling a title before production has started, we look into the cast and put together tiered lists of talent that would work for an international market.
We also regularly review dailies and give notes.
Can you tell us how you got started with Epic Pictures Group?
I had been working in development and production both in the USA and Canada for years, and I noticed a need in the international market for films with different countries of origin, other than American.
Many regions around the world now have quotas where they can only import and distribute a certain number of American films per year.
Epic Pictures has a lot of international co-production partners, including a number of Canadian films, so it was a great fit for my Canadian production background.
Are there any major conferences for film sales professionals? If so, how do these conferences inform your work?
The major film markets are the European Film Marker in Berlin in February, which is held in conjunction with the Berlinale. Then there’s the Marche du Film in May, held in conjunction with the Cannes Film Festival, and the American Film Market in Santa Monica in November.
TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, is also popular. These are where we regularly meet with buyers, not only to sell the films we represent but to learn from our buyers about market trends around the world.
The Importance of Passion
How important is it to believe in the value of the movies you promote?
We would never agree to represent a film that we didn’t think had international value. We have strong relationships with our distribution partners around the world, and this is because the films we sell them perform well, and as a result, they trust our judgment and taste for future titles.
When it comes to the actual content of films, we represent titles of all genres, and of course not every genre will be your favorite, but generally, I am a fan of all the movies we sell.
Can you tell us more about how you decided to become involved in the entertainment industry?
My love of film came from books and absorbing good stories. We are constantly reading scripts, and whether they end up being good or bad, it is still remarkable to think that someone out there had this idea for a story, took the time to put it on paper, and is now working even harder to actually get it made into a film.
It’s inspiring, and it helps me work even harder to find audiences for truly great films.
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Kalani Dreimanis is the Director of International Sales for Epic Pictures Group.
You can find links to Dreimanis and her work here: