The worldwide marketplace for releasing movies, also known as the Foreign Market -- I prefer the International Market -- is the bazaar of the independently produced movies. Here B-Movies rub shoulders with A-Movies. You can get a movie star's autograph or say hello to a studio head.
You can walk up to major studio executives and chat with them while they're having a drink at the bar. You can't do that in Hollywood, unless you know someone.
There are three international markets that dominate the foreign distribution business: AFM (American Film Market, held in Los Angeles now in November,) CANNES, (held in Cannes on the French Riviera in the middle of May,) and BERLIN (held in Berlin, Germany, first week of February.) These three markets transact 90% of the independents' movie business.
Major studios used to ignore the foreign markets before the mid-eighties, what with their international offices in world capitals doing all their foreign distribution, but after a while they realized that the foreign market was the best place to sell the their B-Movies.
Ironically, the majors pushed the independents into the B-Movie business originally by overpaying stars, and whenever an independent came up with a gem, they either bought the independent out, or if they couldn't, they locked him out of theatrical distribution. They could simply out-spend most of the independents when it comes to prints and advertising. No theater owner could put the interests of the independents ahead of his bread and butter business.
The foreign market is also a terrific place to sell video rights. When they found out that this was the case, the majors came in like gangbusters. They've driven the participation fees of the once reasonable foreign markets into the stratosphere, and they've glutted the markets with their B-Movies, and they've even thrown in their A-Movies.
Despite all that, the foreign market still provides an opportunity for independents; however, we ought to form special distribution companies that will represent us exclusively. I've always called for this type of co-operation among independent filmmakers. I believe we should have such companies or even associations that are especially aimed at nurturing the independent spirit.
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