Elliot Grove lists five common scams that unscrupulous con artists pull on filmmakers.

1. The So Called Festival Consultant

Who would ever think that you, a filmmaker, needs to employ someone to take you around to film festivals. You’ll be told that they have the necessary inside connections to get your film in, but at the end of the day, quality shows – if you’ve made a good film, it will get screened. If you think your film needs a consultant to get it in, and you’ve the money to spend on one – well, maybe it’s not such a great film (and why didn’t the money go into production?)

The Gambit:
 The festival consultant hangs out at a few film festivals, socialises and networks, prints up a business card and then opens up shop waiting for a naive newbie with money to wander past. They spring out, pouring hyperbole on the filmmaker’s work, and pretend to be well connected. They then promise a festival strategy which will virtually guarantee a filmmaker success, with the vague (and totally fake) promise of a distribution deal, and often an Oscar nod.

Another variation of this gambit is to hodwink a couple of film organisations into thinking you have a valid service and convince them to promote their services in a vain attempt to get publicity. Beware.

The End Result

After weeks or months of fruitless representation, and after lifting money from the filmmaker, the phoney consultant blames fickle festival programming policies for their failure to deliver.

Cut the grain from the chaff:

There are some really great producer’s reps and festival consultants out there. They have years of experience, and their CV’s and business cards are filled with testimonials from satisfied filmmakers and festival programmers. They specialise in the major film festivals like Sundance, Cannes, Raindance and Toronto. Don’t get stuck with an amateur. Check their credentials. Speak to past or existing clients. Call festivals to verify credentials – if they’ve worked with them before they’ll be happy to recommend them.

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There is some truth to this post, but not entirely. Not every rep is a huckster and this makes it sound like every one is except the old timers. Do your due diigence, ask around. Like hiring for any position, you need to find a match to your needs (if you need one) that comes with references. A good rep does more than pour hyperbole, for sure..


Thanks for posting this article. I’d say “I can’t believe”, but I can certainly believe these hucksters are out there. Now people know what to look out for.

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