For years, sales agent extraordinaire John Sloss has been the lawyer for film festival breakouts like Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater. It's one thing to have been a power player during the '90s, that seismic time in the history of American independent film; it's another to keep at it, decades later, while remaining attuned to the evolution of the business. By creating FilmBuff in 2008, Sloss pushed his company into the emerging digital marketplace, but he never stopped finding ways to give exposure to out-of-nowhere scrappy indies on the festival circuit -- like he did for "Escape for Tomorrow," one of the major discoveries at this year's Sundance. "It's a good time for making creative deals," Sloss said.
"Before Midnight," which Sloss' company sold to Sony Pictures Classics in January, opened nationally on Memorial Day weekend at the same time as "Fast and Furious 6," which was directed by Justin Lin -- who's represented by Cinetic Management. "Having a weekend with the best reviewed film I've been involved with and the most expensive film I've been involved with is certainly a high point," Sloss said.
Dealing with a more difficult marketplace as more talent agencies took note of the film sales business and locked up titles during their financing stages rather than after their competition. "That created a really adverse competitive environment," Sloss said.
Figuring out the appropriate deals for films in an ever-fragmented marketplace. "I think the model of taking all rights and making large price acquisitions versus the idea of pumping the media up and making a series of separate deals for different windows has been a challenge," he said.
Sloss' company continues to diversify. With FilmBuff, they take an innovative lead role in distributing movies
across all digital and VOD platforms as well as traditional theatrical
releases. In addition to continuing to rep films on the festival circuit, Sloss has plans to remedy "deficiencies in the Canadian marketplace." He also hopes to experiment with crowdfunding, which, he says, "has not necessarily been used in the clear, optimal way that it could be."