Independent’s Day: How much can I expect to get for my Indie Film?
By Karina Halle
 
Everyone has heard of the success of Open Water. Made for an estimated $130K, the film went on to gross an incredible $38.5M worldwide. So, was its success just dumb luck, or was it a matter of finding the right distribution?

Currently, the overseas market for indie film distribution is booming, which means big opportunities for you. According to The Hollywood Reporter, there are over 35 territories around the globe that you could potentially sell your film to and each territory can net you a certain amount of money. Based on the reported minimums below, if you can sell your film to all the overseas markets, that’s a potential $637K you can make. And now is the time, for there are certain overseas markets that are absolutely booming, particularly Brazil, Russia and Germany, whose film industries are picking up after a long downfall.

Estimated Overseas Market*

EUROPE
Budget: $750-1m $1m-3m $3m-6m $6-12m
France
Germany/Austria
Greece
Italy
Netherlands
Portugal
Scandinavia
Spain
United Kingdom
$40-80k
$50-100k
$5-10k
$50-100k
$20-40k
$10-20k
$50-100k
$40-80k
$40-80k
$80-160k
$100-300k
$10-30k
$100-250k
$40-80k
$10-20k
$100-225k
$80-150k
$80-200k
$160-400k
$300-600k
$30-50k
$250-550k
$80-125k
$20-40k
$225-350k
$150-400k
$200-500k
$400-850k
$600-1.2m
$50-90k
$550-1m
$125-250k
$80-150k
$350-700k
$400-1m
$500-1m

ASIA/PACIFIC RIM
Budget: $750-1m $1m-3m $3m-6m $6m-$12m
Australia/New Zealand
Hong Kong
Indonesia
Japan
Malaysia
Philippines
Singapore
South Korea
Taiwan
$25-40k
$5-15k
$10-15k
$50-100k
$5-10k
$5-10k
$10-15k
$30-80k
$10-40k
$40-75k
$15-25k
$15-30k
$100-300k
$10-25k
$10-35k
$15-30k
$80-275k
$40-100k
$75-125k
$25-75k
$30-50k
$300-600k
$25-75k
$35-75k
$30-75k
$275-500k
$100-200k
$125-225k
$75-125k
$50-100k
$600-1.3m
$75-125k
$75-125k
$75-125k
$500-950k
$200-350k

LATIN AMERICA
Budget: $750-1m $1m-3m $3m-6m $6-12m
Argentina/Paraguay/Uruguay
Bolivia/Ecuador/Peru
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Mexico
Venezuela
$10-20k
$5-10k
$20-50k
$5-15k
$5-10k
$15-50k
$5-10k
$20-40k
$10-20k
$50-100k
$15-25k
$10-20k
$50-100k
$10-20k
$40-75k
$20-40k
$100-200k
$25-40k
$20-35k
$100-225k
$20-40k
$75-120k
$40-60k
$200-400k
$40-75k
$35-75k
$225-450k
$40-75k

EASTERN EUROPE
Budget: $750-1m $1m-3m $3m-6m $6-12m
Czech Republic/Slovakia
Former Yugoslavia
Hungary
Poland
Russia
$10-20k
$5-10k
$10-30k
$10-30k
$30-60k
$20-50k
$10-15k
$ 30-60k
$30-75k
$60-175k
$50-75k
$15-25k
$60-100k
$75-125k
$175-350k
$75-175k
$25-50k
$100-200k
$125-200k
$350-600k

OTHERS
Budget: $750-1m $1m-3m $3m-6m $6-12m
China
India
Israel
Middle East
Pakistan
South Africa
Turkey
$5-20k
$10-20k
$5-10k
$5-10k
$2-5k
$10-15k
$15-35k
$20-40k
$20-40k
$10-15k
$10-20k
$5-10k
$15-30k
$35-60k
$40-75k $40-60k
$15-25k
$20-40k
$10-20k
$30-50k
$60-125k
$75-150k
$60-125k
$25-50k
$40-90k
$20-30k
$50-90k
$125-175k
*Estimated prices are courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter and are not intended for professional use


The above figures refer to theatrical release. However, the reality of the business is that your film is not likely to have a theatrical release in other parts of the world. The numbers reported are what you could expect for all rights in that territory. In other words, Germany may pay you $50K for your completed film but that would just be for the rights for a certain period of time. This time period could last anywhere from three to 15 years. At the end of that term, you can re-sell the rights of your film in that territory to the previous license holder or re-sell it to a new company altogether.

As for selling your baby in North America, the sky is the limit. You could see your film breaking even or fetching rates into the millions. According to Fox Searchlight, it’s nearly impossible to get a ballpark figure on the acquisition of independent films. Like any film, the better quality the film is, the more likely you will attract distributors, as buyers only tend to purchase independent films they feel will perform well theatrically as well as on video.

During the Adam & Evil shoot
low budget indie Adam & Evil Our very own Andrew Van Slee produced the low budget indie Adam & Evil for a mere $250K, shot in just 12, 12 hour days. The film had a theatrical release in Italy. It also ended up getting a minimum guarantee (MG) of $100K from a major Hollywood distributor in a video only deal. It’s all about the MG, which is the key to getting as much money upfront as possible.
So, if you are a newbie producer and you’re talking to a distributor, the buzzwords you should be using are "what’s the MG?" If a distributor is not even willing to buck up an MG, you’re probably better off passing on the deal and looking for another distributor. An MG should be used as a barometer of interest in your film. If the distributor is willing to shell out $100K plus for your film, it’s a good sign that they are going to stand behind it and push for a release. The MG is fully recoupable by the distributor, so that the more money they pay you upfront, the more faith they have that your film will sell. In fact, if they are going to pay you a couple of hundred thousand upfront, you best be sure that they already have deals in place to move your film into the marketplace for at least that much money.

If the distributor doesn’t have any financial interest in your film, it’s probably just going to collect dust somewhere. You also need to factor in the distributor’s commission. Distributors generally make 20-30 per cent off of the top. So, if you had a $100K deal in place, you should count on the distributor taking a $20K cut of the deal.

Van Slee’s V Releases Corp has distributed a number of films overseas. Below is a chart listing Adam & Evil’s worldwide pricing. In my opinion, this chart is more realistic for today’s indie filmmaker than the figures reported by The Hollywood Reporter. If you are shooting a small film on a $375 - $500K budget, the numbers below more accurately reflect the going rate for small indie films.

Pricing for Adam & Evil*

EUROPE
Territory: Asking Price All Mins TH/VID Mins TV Mins
France
Germany/Austria
Greece
Italy
Portugal
Scandinavia
Spain
United Kingdom
$40k
$100k
$6k
$65k
$10k
$40k
$50k
$40k
$20k
$50k
$3k
$37.5k
$5k
$20k
$25k
$20k
$5k
$5k
$1.5k
$7.5k
$2k
$5k
$5k
$5k
$15k
$35k
$1.5k
$30k
$3k
$15k
$20k
$15k

ASIA/PACIFIC RIM
Territory: Asking Price All Mins TH/VID Mins TV Mins
Australia/New Zealand
Hong Kong
Indonesia
Japan
Malaysia
Philippines
Singapore
South Korea
Taiwan
$40k
$10k
$20k
$80k
$6k
$6k
$6k
$40k
$10k
$20k
$5k
$10k
$40k
$3k
$3k
$3k
$20k
$5k
$5k
$2.5k
$3k
$20k
$1.5k
$1.5k
$1.5k
$10k
$2k
$15k
$2.5k
$7k
$20k
$1.5k
$1.5k
$1.5k
$10k
$3k

LATIN AMERICA
Territory: Asking Price All Mins TH/VID Mins TV Mins
Argentina/Paraguay/Uruguay
Bolivia/Ecuador/Peru
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Mexico
Venezuela
$40k
$6k
$40k
$6k
$10k
$30k
$8k
$20k
$3k
$20k
$3k
$5k
$15k
$4k
$5k
$5k
$5k
$1.5k
$2.5k
$5k
$2k
$15k
$1.5k
$15k
$1.5k
$2.5k
$10k
$2k

EASTERN EUROPE
Territory: Asking Price All Mins TH/VID Mins TV Mins
Czech Republic/Slovakia
Former Yugoslavia
Hungary
Poland
Russia
$6k
$6k
$6k
$15k
$16k
$3k
$3k
$3k
$8k
$8k
$2k
$1.5k
$1.5k
$4k
$3k
$2k
$1.5k
$1.5k
$4k
$5k

OTHERS
Territory: Asking Price All Mins TH/VID Mins TV Mins
China
India
Israel
Middle East
Pakistan South Africa
Turkey
$10k
$10k
$12k
$10k
$5k
$12k
$20k
$5k
$5k
$5k
$5k
$2.5k
$8k
$10k
$2k
$2.5k
$2k
$2.5k
$500
$3k
$2.5k
$3k
$2.5k
$3k
$2.5k
$2k
$5k
$7.5k
* Chart courtesy of V Release Corp.

So what does this mean for you?
By using this information to work backwards from the marketplace, you can factor in what route would produce the most profits for your film. For example, if you have a great horror script, don’t spend over $5 million making it. Based on these figures, you’d never get your money back. The indie films that have beaten all the odds and have been huge successes have had a relatively low budget. So, the lesson for you here is that it’s not about the money you spend on a film…it’s about having a great script, the right execution and a knowledge of the marketplace, all of which determines your film’s success.

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