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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview with Sales Agent Carlos Rincon @ Premiere Entertainment Group


Interview with Sales Agent Carlos Rincon @ Premiere Entertainment Group

Sales Agent and Producer Carlos Rincon has been working world markets for a decade, having started his career with international sales and distribution company Spotlight Pictures, where he worked on dozens of film titles including James Franco's films 'Sal' (2011) and 'Child of God' (2013). He now works for Premiere Entertainment Group as VP of Development & Acquisitions (Executive); the company has been in business for 15 years and has distributed film like 'The Painted Veil' (2006), 'The Illusionist' (2006), 'Scenic Route' (2013) and most recently 'Amanda and Jack Go Glamping' (2017).

Carlos attends all major international film markets. I recently interviewed him about his experience with Premiere Entertainment Group. Here is what he had to say:

How did you get your start in the film business? Did you know you always wanted to do sales?

CARLOS: My journey in the film biz began in late 2008 when I quit my job of nearly 10 years as a webmaster for a small business in order to pursue my passion - a job in the film industry. Whatever that meant. I enrolled in the Los Angeles Film School where I was able to gain production experience by working on several student films in different capacities within the three stages of filmmaking (pre-production, production, and post-production). Upon graduation, a stable job in distribution with a steady income began sounding more appealing. After a few internships, I somehow stumbled into the world of film sales. I had no idea what a sales agent was! 


Can you explain the function of the film market (AFM, Cannes, Berlin) for people who don't know?

CARLOS: Essentially the film markets are big trade shows where distributors (aka 'buyers') from all over the world gather to meet with sales agents (aka 'sellers') for the purpose of licensing content for their respective territories. Our job as a sales agent is to secure the best distribution deals possible which will bring the highest exposure to our films and make the most money back for our producers. We literally go territory-by-territory and meet with major distributors to pitch the films that we represent, and set up several screenings during the markets. Sometimes we might throw an after-party for buyers, if we think it will help push the film and land solid distribution offers. The film markets are the best setting to negotiate and close deals. Also, I think distributors feel more pressure to acquire films here than anywhere else; nobody wants to come home empty-handed. 


Can you tell us about the history of Premiere Entertainment Group and how it came into business?

CARLOS: Premiere Entertainment Group was formed in 2012 by CEO & President Elias Axume. Elias has a wealth of knowledge and experience having worked in film sales/distribution for close to 20 years. He was the head of sales for Myriad Pictures and Maya Entertainment, and began his career working for Elie Samaha at Franchise Pictures.


Can you name some of the titles the company is most proud of having worked on?

CARLOS: We are genuinely proud of every title that we have worked on. Otherwise, we never would have acquired a film if we didn't like it in the first place. Some of my favorite Premiere titles include this year's Tribeca premiere DEVIL'S GATE starring Milo Ventimiglia; AFTERNOON DELIGHT which won the best directing award in Sundance for Jill Soloway; and SXSW premiere SCENIC ROUTE starring Josh Duhamel. Also, it's hard not to mention the Bob Yari films that we have sold including Academy Award winner CRASH; THE ILLUSIONIST starring Ed Norton; Naomi Watts starrer THE PAINTED VEIL; THE MATADOR with Pierce Brosnan; and HOSTAGE starring Bruce Willis.


What does Premiere look for when considering acquiring?

CARLOS: There are many factors used to determine whether or not to acquire a film. We take into consideration the cast, genre, production value, and ultimately whether it is a good film that we enjoyed. We are not afraid to take a risk on a smaller indie that might appear tough on paper, as long as we believe in its potential. Above being sales agents, we are cinephiles first.


What are the many things Premiere can do when working on a film? (i.e. help make offer for talent and distribution, etc.)

CARLOS: Premiere can get involved on a film in numerous ways. If there is a project that we really like, then we can option the script and raise the financing to produce the film. We can also commit funds towards star talent that we would attach on projects that have private equity in place. We can pre-sell packaged projects. However, our bread-and-butter is acquiring completed films. There are hundreds of indie films that are being produced each year. There is nothing quite like discovering a new film or talented filmmaker which we believe to be on the verge of breaking out. For example, in 2012 Premiere acquired the Sundance film MIDDLE OF NOWHERE directed by little known filmmaker (at the time) Ava DuVernay, who ended up directing the Academy Award nominated SELMA as her next feature film, and she is currently in post with Disney's A WRINKLE IN TIME.    


Many producers think they can handle distribution alone. Why should a producer use a sales agent?

CARLOS: The bottom line, it takes a full sales team working 24/7 and attending constant markets to get films sold. Most of the producers that I know are busy with a full slate of projects they are developing and have no time to change career paths as a full-time sales person. Also, producers do not have the same type of relationships that we do with distributors, who often prefer not to negotiate a film unless there is a sales agent involved. It is the same reason why an athlete doesn't represent himself, but hires an agent to handle the negotiating on his behalf with the sports teams. 


Does Netflix and all the digital platforms out there threaten the business of sales agents in the future?

CARLOS: Yes and no. While Netflix and Amazon have recently begun making a big splash by offering boatloads of money for exclusive rights to films premiering in popular festivals, the reality is they are acquiring such a small percentage of the overall indie films that are being produced. I think the digital platforms are much more concerned about producing their own original content versus acquiring something that is already completed where they have no creative input. There is also a growing myth about producers needing to choose between a digital platform or a sales agent; it's not an either/or. We, as the sales agent, go directly to the digital platforms (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube Red) all the time as potential buyers. So, there is no question that digital platforms such as Netflix and Amazon are helping more than hurting the sales agents. Plus they provide another outlet for indie films.


Was the AFM market a good one for Premiere?

CARLOS: Indeed. It was a successful and busy market with well over 200 meetings for the company. We were able to secure some solid deals for films that we screened and generate a lot of interest for our newer titles which are still in post-production. Much of the market success is largely attributed to the quality of films that each sales agent represents.


What are some new projects Premiere will be working on?

CARLOS: Currently, we have a couple of films in post-production, including a co-production of an action/sci-fi film titled INCOMING starring Scott Adkins. We have optioned a few scripts which we are currently packaging, including a suspenseful female thriller titled LOCKED IN. Also, we will be introducing the romance drama FOREVER MY GIRL to the international market; the film will be released domestically on over 1,000 screens in January. Plus some exciting new projects which are under wraps, but stay tuned!


Finally, what are your top ten favorite films that have influenced you the most?

1. 2001: A Spade Odyssey (Kubrick)
2. City Lights (Chaplin)
3. 400 Blows (Truffaut)
4. Sunset Blvd. (Wilder)
5. Los Olvidados (Buñuel)
6. Forbidden Games (Clement)
7. Germany Year Zero (Rossellini)
8. Once Upon A Time in the West (Leone)
9. The Shining (Kubrick)
10. Stroszek (Herzog)


Interview by Vanessa McMahon