Docs for Sale for first-time visitors

    New to the market? Let us help you get acquainted!

    We are happy to welcome you to Docs for Sale. As you are new to our marketplace we thought it would be a good idea to help you get acquainted with our service and help you on your way to a successful edition of Docs for Sale. 

    We've also asked renowned sales agents Salma Abdalla (Autlook Film Sales) and Jan Rofekamp (Films Transit) to give some advice on how best to set out a plan for a film based on his own experiences. Scroll down for these interviews.

    Before

    Before the festivals starts the first thing you need to do to prepare is go online.

    • Firstly check the industry program. Schedule your meetings around the most relevant programs. 
    • Research the guest list on all the people who are attending. Decide who you would like to meet and why. See what Jan Röfekamp and Salma Abdalla have to say about this.

    During

    Getting your film the attention it deserves is really up to you; filmmakers who make the most effort are the most successful. 

    • Bring your business cards. 
    • Have your film available with you on an iPad, tablet or laptop, so you can show it to interested people.
    • Attend the Industry Talks and Industry Sessions, you will learn a lot. 
    • Attend the Meet the Pro's sessions at Docs for Sale.
    • Check out the consultancies available at the Industry Office, where you can discuss the strategy of your film with experts. 
    • Go to the daily Guest meet Guests and get informed about the various other social events; drinks and parties are plentiful! 
    • And meet as many people as you can.

    After

    Immediately after the festival, you will receive a final viewing report with a complete overview of every screening of your film(s) during Docs for Sale. 

    • Get in touch with parties who have shown an interest.
    • Send invites to registered viewers who have not yet seen your film.
    • Get in touch with festivals whose profile suits your film.
    • Continue to view your film page regularly and check viewings. Your film will be online for two years. Also download the online viewing reports on a regular basis. Please note that these are based on the online viewings, NOT the viewings on location during the festival.

    Interview with Salma Abdalla, CEO at Autlook Film Sales

    When your film has been selected for Docs for Sale, what should be the first thing you do?
    Get ready to market your film. Docs for Sale is one of the most watched libraries for documentaries with a wide reach of potential viewers. Make sure that as many people as possible find your film. Write the perfect short synopsis, which explains the originality of your film, design catchy artwork, choose the most representative three pics and write to all broadcasters/distributors/festivals about the availability.

    Supposing you are not quite familiar with the festival how would you go about acquiring information?
    IDFA grew enormously, since our first time ten years ago, which means you need to be prepared to get the best out of your stay. Take a look at the program and arrange meetings in time. Being there doesn't mean you automatically bump into people you want to see (which was the case ten years ago). Take a look at the website, call people who have been there, attend newcomer events. Attend Industry Panels and use the Docs for Sale facilities (round tables, pre-arranged meetings) to meet broadcaster, sales agents, et cetera.

    Docs for Sale provides the platform for you to sell your film. What would you advise filmmakers to do to get the most out of it?
    First of all make sure synopsis and pics are inviting to screen your film on the platform. Choose buyers/distributors/festivals who might be interested and inform them via email. Keep in mind that many buyers screen films which are selected for the IDFA program first and that many look at the sales agents catalogues first. If you want to work with a sales agent, many want to be attached already before IDFA (at least we wish to sign before IDFA).

    The list of registered viewers is available online. How do you go about selecting potential buyers?
    It's important to know the profile of your targeted companies and slots your buyers are programming; you can read more in IDFA's Delegate Guide and a lot of information is provided on EDN's website. At the same time, if you meet people always ask about their needs, their company/slots can always undergo major changes. Don't forget that many people can screen on Docs for Sale, even though they are not attending IDFA. Some have a yearly subscription to this online B2B platform. We advise to contact them already before IDFA starts.

    Can you give an indication how to best go about promoting your film? Is this very dependent on the type of film you are trying to sell?
    Docs for Sale is a B2B tool. You are talking to people who are screening hundreds of films every year, so make sure you know why your film is original. In marketing language: find for your Unique Selling Point. Of course you have to think about each film individually.

    Could you give some advice on planning out a strategy for the course of your film? What should be your main focus? Festivals, TV rights, distribution? Maybe for a fledgling film maker finding a sales agent would be the best way to go?
    This very much depends on your film and your target. If you decide to work with a sales agents, I suggest to contact them already before IDFA. It's the last big market before the end of the year and we don't want to miss the chance to co-present the film with you there. If you decide to sell your film on your own, you have to decide for a sales strategy before contacting: theatrical or not; TV sales often requires a short version; one shot through Netflix worldwide; digital self distribution... There are endless options today. Whatever strategy you find best, it's very likely that festivals will be involved.

    What can you expect from a sales agent? What will they be able to do?
    Sales agents developed a broad network within the industry, with all different platform, distributors, festivals, VOD platforms, and broadcasters, on an international level. They have relationships and a good overview on the market situation, other reference films on the market, license fees, et cetera. With this knowledge they help navigate your film and in best case create a buzz, monetize and find the widest possible audience.

    What's your feeling on VOD platforms? What would you advise?
    VOD platforms pay license fees, just as broadcaster do. The main difference is that their contracts are ten times more complicated. Other platforms are rather a technical tool, where you can get revenues if your film has a clear target audience and you know how to reach them or your film profits from the marketing efforts of a theatrical release or extensive festival screenings

    Are there any other pieces of advice you wish to impart?
    Don't forget to go watch films – despite all the business and networking duties, it's all about the "art of documentary" and the festival experience to screen in a packed cinema with an enthusiastic Q&A afterwards.

    Interview with Jan Rofekamp, President and CEO of Films Transit International Inc.

    Your film has been selected for Docs for Sale, what would be the first thing you do?
    1) Find out which buyers will be there, get a list from IDFA or download it; email them and make sure the SUBJECT in your email is VERY GOOD!
    2) Write a damn good synopsis for the DFS catalogue.
    3) Decide if you want to do this yourself or get a sales agent.

    Supposing you are not quite familiar with the festival how would you go about acquiring information?
    1) Seek out fellow filmmakers with experience.
    2) Decide if you want to do this yourself or get a sales agent.

    Docs for Sale provides the platform for you to sell your film, what would you advise film makers to do to get the most out of Docs for Sale?
    1) Find out which buyers will be there, get a list from IDFA or download it; email them and make sure the SUBJECT in your email is VERY GOOD!
    2) When you talk to the buyers and learn from their world, see what they want and of course try to get them to see your film. 

    The list of registered viewers is available online. How do you go about selecting potential buyers?
    Learn how to read the guest list: most of them have a name of where they work, identify: broadcast buyers, festival programmers, theatrical and non-theatrical distributors etc. Set your priorities.

    Can you give an indication how to best go about promoting your film? Is this very dependent on the type of film you are trying to sell? 
    In the end it is the subject that counts and the buyers DO READ the DFS guide, so write a damn good synopsis with a very good opening line. For instance, if you have a doc on the Middle East, you must realize that there are 30 of these subjects every year and that yours needs to stick out: if you write a synopsis that reads like all the other films, you get nowhere.

    Could you give some advice on planning out a strategy for the course of your film? Would should be your main focus? Festivals, TV rights, distribution? Maybe for a fledgling film maker finding a sales agent would be the best way to go?
    1) Again, decide if you want to do this yourself or get a sales agent.
    2) I would go for a) festivals first, b) broadcast sales second as they have money and the rest third as this will costs you time and brings in no money (new media etc).

    Are there any other pieces of advice you wish to impart?
    The filmmaker approached a buyer during the cocktail hour and is about to pitch his or her film... then the buyer stops him or her and says: ASTONISH ME! Some filmmakers seem to forget that this is what it is all about!