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AFM ISA of the Day: Christian De Gallegos of International Film Trust

AFM ISA of the Day: Christian De Gallegos of International Film Trust

Coverage of ISAs (international sales agents)
resumed for the American Film Market. This segment follows leaders, innovation
and successful new startups in the world of international film sales and
distribution.

The Beverly Hills based International Film Trust (IFT) was started
in April 2013 by
co-founders Michael Benaroya of Benaroya Pictures and Miscellaneous
Entertainment principals D. Todd Shepherd and George Waud.

Since
its inception at Cannes in 2013, IFT has acquired 12 films with another
set for Berlin 2015. The first titles were successfully presold last year and
have since been scheduled for theatrical release.

IFT President Christian De Gallegos brings a wealth of
wisdom and experience from his background in the talent agencies and as a sales
agent for Voltage Pictures, working on Oscar winners like “The Hurt Locker” and
“Dallas Buyers Club”.

De Gallegos talks
about the progress of this fairly new sales agency and shares some of IFT’s upcoming
films:

How did IFT start?

Michael Benaroya had been an active producer and financier
for years, outsourcing international sales to the leading independent companies. His
slate was growing and international distribution remained crucial to his business
model, so he knew that starting an international sales agency would be financially
efficient and would give him a more thorough market awareness which is invaluable when
packaging.

MB: I worked with the top international distributors at Voltage
who have thankfully supported IFT since day one and we’ve been lucky to partner
with powerhouse companies like Sony, eOne and Universal who are currently
scheduled to release half our slate, having come on board in pre-production.

The majority of our lineup to date has been within the US$ 10
million dollar range, shot with soft money and internationally viable casts,
keeping budgets to a reasonable level so presales without confirmed U.S. theatrical distribution are realistic. We comfortably retain production value which
validates theatrical upside.

We’re excited to step up to the next level this year. We have
two films in which we’re involved with financing and distribution: one at US$ 33
million and another at US$ 35 million.

What are some new
projects that you’re excited about?

“You Shall Know Our Velocity”, based off Dave Eggers
best-selling novel, will start shooting April 2015 with Daniel Radcliffe. Also,
we have a film called Cymbeline” with Dakota Johnson as
the lead (from “Fifty Shades of Grey”), which premiered at Venice this year. Grindstone
will theatrically release it in early 2015.  

What do you look for
when considering a film?

Interesting concepts and relevant topics with the right
financing structure. I’ve been involved with the passion projects of A-list
actors which can be exciting as they attract great ensembles, cameos, crew and
their enthusiasm usually leads to a better movie.
 

How did you enter the
business?

I started in the talent agency world, working at Paradigm in
film, music and TV. The agencies are the epicenter of the entertainment
industry; there you’re exposed to all sides of the business, so it was just a
matter of time before I learned about international sales and figured it would suit
me best. I found an opportunity at Voltage Pictures working as Nicolas Chartier’s
assistant in 2007. After a few months he promoted me to sell on his behalf. I
worked there for six years, sold about 100 movies and was lucky enough to be
part of great films like “The Hurt Locker”, which won eight Oscars, “Don Jon”,
and “Dallas Buyer’s Club”. The founders of IFT approached me early 2013 and
I’ve been thrilled to be a part of our growing company ever since.

What do you love the
most about your work?

I love deal making and the satisfaction it brings me, whether
it’s a quick handshake or a challenging spin on a tough topic. I love the
partnerships I’ve formed and friendships I’ve developed, with both clients and
competitors. I love the markets but prefer visiting what is a very nice network
of people on their home turf, traveling the world to see firsthand where our
influence reaches.

More about International
Film Trust:

International
Film Trust (IFT) is an international sales and distribution company launched by
co-founders Michael Benaroya of Benaroya Pictures and Miscellaneous
Entertainment principals D. Todd Shepherd and George Waud to represent the
theatrical feature film productions from the founding company’s own banners as
well as titles from other producers and third party productions. With over
twenty years experience in producing, finance, international sales and
distribution, IFT has the knowledge and relationships to cultivate strategic
partnerships with A-list producers and filmmakers. Transparent by design in
their business practices, IFT is a company that understands and honors the four
pillars that sustain the global film marketplace: Creativity, Finance, Sales
and Distribution.

Making
its debut at Cannes 2013, IFT’s slate includes YOU SHALL KNOW OUR VELOCITY
based on Dave Egger’s best-selling novel and starring Daniel Radcliffe; Mark
Polish’s HEADLOCK starring Polish, Andy Garcia, Dianna Agron and Justin Bartha;
Michael Almereyda’s CYMBELINE starring Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Dakota Johnson
and Milla Jovovich;  the action
thriller CELL starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, and to be directed by
Tod Williams (PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2); THE KING OF THE KASTLE starring Clive
Owen, Academy Award Nominee Jacki Weaver and Asa Butterfield; YOUR VOICE IN MY
HEAD based on Emma Forrest’s best-selling novel; and the horror thriller EXISTS
directed by Eduardo Sanchez (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) and which was released by
Lionsgate in October.

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