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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Spiller

Tips for selling your film at the American Film Market

Updated: Dec 31

A picture of someone holding a clapboard at a film shoot

If you're a filmmaker, selling your film at the American Film Market (AFM) is an essential step in the distribution process. However, it can be difficult to know where to start or what to do. That's why we've put together these tips to help you sell your film at the AFM and get the best distribution deal possible.

Make sure your film is finished and polished

To sell your film at the American Film Market, it is best to have a polished and finished product. No sales agent has time to market ideas or concepts or treatments. They want a concrete product that they can work with to sell. This means that your film should be completed and ready for release before you try to market it. Have a strong and compelling story, high-quality visuals, and a well-rounded cast and crew to make the most of your opportunity at the American Film Market.

Have a sales strategy

To sell a film at the American Film Market, you need to have a clear and concise sales strategy. The strategy should include all of the important details about your film, such as who the target audience is, what genre it falls into, and what kind of marketing materials you have created to promote it. You should also have a clear idea of what distribution deals and money you are willing to accept. By having a well-thought-out sales strategy, you will make it easier for sales agents to understand what your film is all about and why they should represent you.

Find the right sales agent

Finding the right film sales agents can be a daunting task, but it is important to do your research and find the right fit for your project. There are many databases and resources available online, such as The Film Collaborative or IMDbPro, which can help you find agents that are right for your project. Once you've identified a few agents, reach out to them directly and send them a pitch or treatment of your film. be sure to highlight why your project is unique and what makes it a commercial prospect. Be sure to send them a pitch deck and query letter outlining your project, and be prepared to answer any questions they may have. If you have a completed film, be sure to include a screening link or DVD screener. If the agent is interested, they will get in touch with you to discuss further. Following these steps will help you secure the representation you need to sell your film.

Be prepared to negotiate

When it comes to the business of film, don't be afraid to negotiate. Film sales agents will often tell you that certain terms are standard, but the truth is that nothing is standard. Make sure you have an entertainment lawyer in the wings to help you vet the terms, as distribution deals can be notoriously unfavorable to the filmmaker.

Get help from an entertainment lawyer

Entertainment lawyers are invaluable in negotiating distribution deals with sales agents. By having a lawyer represent the filmmaker, the filmmaker can be assured that they are getting the best deal possible. A lawyer can also help to protect the filmmaker's interests in the event of any disputes with the sales agent.

Lindsay Spiller with friends at the American Film Market
Lindsay Spiller with friends at the American Film Market

Build direct relationships with buyers

The American Film Market (AFM) is the perfect opportunity to get to know film buyers from around the world. Although you need to take care not to interfere with the efforts of your sales agent, building direct connections with film buyers from various territories can help you market your next film. By attending screenings, meeting with buyers in person, and networking, you can build relationships that will benefit you in the long run.

Get busy

Should you succeed in engaging a sales agent be prepared to be busy. You will have a limited time to deliver the deliverables to them and any delay can be expensive. Make sure that you can deliver a clean chain of title to the distributor along with an E&O policy. An entertainment lawyer can also help you with that.


By following these tips, you will be well on your way to selling your film at the American Film Market. Remember to have a sales strategy in place, be ready with a finished product, and be prepared to negotiate distribution terms. With the help of sales agents and entertainment lawyers, you can successfully sell your film and, most importantly, get it seen worldwide.

Spiller Law is an advisor to startup businesses, entertainment and media companies, and artists. Feel free to schedule a free consultation.


Spiller Law is a San Francisco business, entertainment, and estate planning law firm. We serve clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and California. Feel free to arrange a free consultation using the Schedule Appointment link on our website. For other questions, feel free to call our offices at 415-991-7298.


The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers are advised to consult with their legal counsel for specific advice.


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