Movies appeal to different people for very different reasons. Large Hollywood studios do extensive market research and focus testing to find out which age groups and demographic categories will be most likely to see a given film.
Oftentimes, those same studios can afford massive marketing campaigns for their movies. Millions of people absorb that advertising and decide whether or not they’d like to see the movie.
In other words, major studios can afford to cast a wide net to find a movie’s audience. But in the realm of the diverse and exciting indie scene, filmmakers and distributors have to know exactly where in the international market their film will perform well.
Distribution and sales professionals like Kalani Dreimanis (who is currently serving as the Director of International Sales for Epic Pictures Group) specialize in finding exactly the right audience for each movie they represent.
We interviewed Dreimanis recently to learn more about how movies find their way into theaters all over the globe.
If you’d like to learn more about Dreimanis’s past work and Epic Pictures Group, click here.
What are some of the challenges you face in your line of work?
Dreimanis: The success of a film is generally unpredictable, so people tend to stick with what has worked in the past, whether that’s certain cast members or types, filmmakers, or stories. It’s tough to convince people to take measured risks on good content that you believe in, especially if it falls outside traditionally successful formats. It’s totally understandable though because it takes a lot of money to distribute a film and almost impossible to know if you will make that money back.
Do you prefer working with certain genres over others or do they all have their strengths in the market?
Dreimanis: At Epic Pictures, we specialize in horror and science fiction content, so our distributors know to come to us for these types of films. There is a home for every film, not necessarily in every region of the world, but the right sales agent will know the market for your film and the best distributors for it.
How can the cast of a movie be used to market the film and gain distribution?
Dreimanis: For distributors of independent films, where advertising and marketing budgets aren’t as high as those at studios, casts with a large social media presence significantly help a film’s exposure. It also helps to have a recognizable and notable face on your poster.
How crucial are international markets in the contemporary entertainment landscape?
Dreimanis: There is a lot of great content out there, so getting as many eyes as possible on your film will obviously maximize your profits. It is crucial to coordinate international releases with a release in the U.S. because once a film is available on digital, piracy is a problem.
Do you enjoy traveling to sell a movie? Do you have to adjust your methods at all in foreign markets to account for minor or major cultural differences?
Dreimanis: Travel is the best part! You meet so many interesting and different people from all over the world, and you are all there ultimately for the love of film. There are countries and regions where we know a particular film will do well, so we may focus our efforts in that region or highlight aspects of the film that we know will appeal to those sensibilities.
What is one of the most significant lessons you’ve learned since entering the entertainment industry?
Dreimanis: Attention to detail. One of my first bosses told me that if I couldn’t get her lunch order right, how could she trust me to produce a film? That has stuck with me ever since and has helped me in everything from reviewing contracts to putting together materials for a film market.
You’ve also hired interns in the past. What do you think is most important for an aspiring film professional?
Dreimanis: One of the things I like about the film industry is that you have to work your way up. Everyone started as an intern, in the mail room, or as a PA. In my experience, the industry rewards hard work, and it’s not easy, but if you’re doing it for the love of movies and you remain positive, I have found that over time you will get there.
When seeking acquisitions, what do you look for above all else?
Dreimanis: Quality. I mentioned before that there is a lot of content out there, so a quality film is what will stand out from the rest. I have never screened a good film and said we should not try to acquire it because maybe it is a little niche or unique. Audiences still look for and respond to quality above all else.