Film and TV drama
Also known as: Film sales executive
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 production 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 organise the delivery of any physical film materials and are usually involved in developing the marketing plan.
The point at which agents get involved in a production varies. Unknown directors, who usually need an agent the most, 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.
Sales agents communicate with distributors on behalf of film 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.
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. Go to the marketing assistant profile for details on how to do this. Increasingly sales agents are also coming from backgrounds in law.
At school or college:
If you want to go to university, A-levels or Highers in business studies, economics, English, film studies or politics are useful. Or you might want to take the following Level 3 vocational qualifications:
If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will equip you:
Get an apprenticeship:
Apprenticeships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. However, it can be challenging to find jobs as an apprentice with production companies as many are not able to take people on for a whole year, which is an apprenticeship requirement at the moment. It might 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 film and TV drama at a later point.
These are the relevant apprenticeships that might be available throughout the UK
You might be able to find degree-level apprenticeships through the following frameworks:
Creative Pioneers is a good source of apprenticeships in these fields. This will not necessarily get you into the film industry but will put you in a stronger position to apply for marketing roles.
Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.
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 an MBA in film production, film history or film finance. Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses in film and TV. We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the film and TV industries.
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. Good examples are:
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.
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