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Markets v. Festivals
Spring Seminar with Mark
Mark Litwak Superlawyer 2016
January 22, 2016


The Difference Between Markets and Festivals
by Mark Litwak, Esq.

Markets and festivals are not the same. Some filmmakers may find the difference confusing because the Berlin and Cannes Film Festivals operate concurrently with an adjoining film market. Sundance is a festival but an informal market of sorts has grown up around the festival with distributors bidding to acquire rights to some films. 

 Markets are generally only open to the trade, and the fee to attend limits attendance to industry professionals. A member of the public usually cannot buy a ticket to see a film at a market or participate in it. At markets, films are screened for buyers. Actually, it would be more accurate to call these buyers "licensees" since they usually do not buy ownership of a film, but license distribution rights for a term of years in their country. A buyer might be a German broadcaster interested in acquiring films to distribute on his cable television service. Another buyer might be a theatre-chain owner who wants to exhibit films in Turkey. Some buyers want all media rights (including theatrical, television, digital, and home video) in a territory, and may sub-license some of those rights to other distributors.

Markets are an opportunity for buyers worldwide to interact with those who license film rights. These licensors are usually sales agents acting on behalf of producers. In the course of a market, a buyer can talk to many sales agents and view multiple films. Deals may be signed during the market or afterwards. The market is also an opportunity for sellers and buyers to socialize, and to build relationships with people with whom they often transact business by email or phone.

Festivals, on the other hand, are open to the public. Anyone can buy a ticket to a screening, although at the most popular festivals, there may not be enough tickets to go around. Festivals can provide a test of a film's audience appeal. A festival screening may be the first opportunity for the filmmaker to see how typical moviegoers react to the film.   Of course, festival-goers tend to be better-educated and wealthier than the average moviegoer. Nevertheless, a festival screening does provide some good feedback.

Festivals serve several important functions. First, they expose films to distributors. Acceptance at a top festival will induce many acquisition executives to take a look at a film, either at the festival or by asking to screen   the film   outside the festival. Winning a top festival may make a film highly desirable in the eyes of distributors, and may lead to a bidding war.

Festivals can also generate publicity for a film and draw the public's attention to it. Thus, once distribution has been secured, the distributor may want to screen the film in festivals to build awareness and perhaps generate good reviews. If the timing of the festival is near the release date for the film, participation in the festival may help publicize the picture.  Alternatively, if the film is not going to be released for another six months, publicity now may not be helpful, and can be harmful. That is because when the film is released, the prior coverage will have been forgotten by the public, and the news media will consider the film old news. The media may not review the film again or write articles about it.

Mark will once again be presenting his seminar: 
in New York City on April 29, 2016 with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.   

Mark Litwak  named 2016 Southern California Super Lawyer 

Mark Litwak has once again been named to the Southern California Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in Southern California for 2016. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are designated  Super Lawyers.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-­-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. Super Lawyers magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, go to superlawyers.com.

The first Super Lawyers list was published in 1991 and by 2009 the rating service had expanded nationwide. In February 2010 Super Lawyers was acquired by Thomson Reuters the world's leading source of intelligent information for business and professionals. This is the seventh  time that Mark Litwak has been included in the Southern California Super Lawyer Edition.


Law Offices of Mark Litwak & Associates
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Mark Litwak is an entertainment attorney, author and expert witness  based in Los Angeles, California. His practice includes work in the areas of copyright, trademark, contract, multimedia law, intellectual property, and book publishing. As a Producer's Representative, he assists filmmakers in arranging financing, marketing and distribution of their films. He is an Adjunct Professor at U.S.C. Gould School of Law

Law Offices of Mark Litwak & Associates

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