The film markets are serious Business
Films distribution and exhibition rights are sold for either "North America" (USA and Canada), or for "Foreign" (non-North America), or sometimes for "World Rights".
Independent film sales for North American distribution generally occur at large film festivals or directly through distributors located mostly in Los Angeles or New York.
Any film that has been licensed to distrubutors in North America can probably be licensed for sale to the rest of the world. These foreign licenses can bring in 2/3 of the total theatrical distrubution income for the film.
Film are generally sold and distributed internationally through special film markets. The three big markets are:
- American Film Market held in the winter in Santa Monica, California
- Cannes held in the spring at Cannes, France
- MIFED held in the fall in Milan, Italy
Some secondary markets include:
- IFFM held in the spring in New York
- London Screenings held in the fall in London
- Raindance held in the fall in London
- Munich held in the summer in Germany
- Berlin held in the winter in Germany
- MIP Asia held in the fall in Hong Kong
Film markets are not related to film festivals in any way. Festivals are about fun, networking, parties and awards. Markets are hard-core selling. Independent filmmakers belong at festivals. They do not belong at markets. That being said some of the markets run together with a film festival such as Cannes. All of the secondary markets also run with an associated festival.
Individual filmmakers rarely attempt to sell their films at markets. The sellers are about 100 distributors and sales agents that have the clout and experience of working with foreign companies. However, if you are able to sell your film for North American distribution you will also want to get foreign licensing and will probably negotiate the details of this aspect of your sale at the same time as you sell the North American distribution rights.