Reel Opportunities

Sales Agent

Also known as: Film Sales Executive

What does a Sales Agent do?

Sales Agents, or sales companies, act on behalf of the Producer to sell the rights to an independent film or TV drama to Distributors, who then release films on different platforms (cinema, TV, DVD, Blu-ray, streaming platforms like Netflix or Amazon). An independent film is one that has not been produced by a Hollywood studio or ‘major’. Their productions are distributed by their subsidiaries worldwide instead. Sales Agents negotiate with the Distributors, based on the sales estimates and detailed assessment of the production’s commercial value.

Sales Agents are also responsible for promotion. They promote the films they represent at festivals and film markets, invite Distributors to screenings and hold premiere parties. They assemble and organize the delivery of any physical film materials and are usually involved in developing the marketing plan.

The point at which Sales Agents get involved in a production varies. Unknown Directors, who usually need an Agent, might have to finish their film before they can find someone to take it on. In other cases, a Sales Agent might sell a film to a Distributor as a concept, a draft script, or at the filming or post-production stage. Funding for a film is often dependent on the deals the Sales Agent has managed to broker at the start.

Sales Agents are continuously acquiring new content to sell from filmmakers and they build relationships with Distributors all over the world, so the job usually involves travel.

What's a Sales Agent good at?
  • Commercial awareness

    Have an awareness of cultural trends, understand and predict the market both globally and within individual countries, have an eye for talent that fits this (with the ability to read scripts quickly and thoroughly)

  • Knowledge of the film-making process

    Understand all aspects involved in making a film, from script to finance to post-production

  • Marketing

    Be enthusiastic with strong sales skills to secure competitive deals, be able to outline the story of a film in a succinct and engaging way face-to-face, have an understanding of digital marketing and social media

  • Networking

    Establish good relationships and communicate constantly with distribution outlets and festival programmers as well as with filmmakers, use language skills to travel and embrace other cultures, have a wide knowledge of film festivals and markets

  • Negotiation

    Be flexible, able to negotiate conditions, draw up contracts, understand licensing, copyright

  • Finance

    Deal with figures, have the financial knowledge to make sales predictions, negotiate funding and handle a budget

Who does a Sales Agent work with?

Sales agents communicate with Distributors on behalf of Producers so they work closely with both of these groups. They also collaborate with other people in sales and distribution like Marketing Managers and Publicists.

How do I become a Sales Agent?

Sales Agent roles are senior positions. To become a Sales Agent you need to have a high level of knowledge and experience of the industry. Occasionally companies will take on film Sales Assistants. Another good route into sales roles is as a Marketing Assistant.

Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: A degree in film studies, law, business studies or media and communication is a good way into this field. You would also benefit from studying film production, film history or film finance.

Educational requirements: Courses in business studies, economics, English, film studies or politics are useful.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. It might also be worth looking for a job as an apprentice in an industry that uses similar skills, such as literary agent in publishing. This could help you develop your craft and create a body of work for a portfolio that you can use to find your way into the Canadian film industry at a later point.

Take a short course: Learn more about the process of getting a film funded to improve your knowledge of business and finance relations within the film industry.

Look outside the industry: Consider law, finance, business, or marketing roles in any industry as work experience in film sales is highly competitive. A background in sales, business, or finance will show you have the necessary analytical skills for this role.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

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