As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Jack Campbell, President of International Sales at Spotlight Pictures, located here in Hollywood, CA.
He's responsible for "licensing feature films and documentaries to distributors, brokers, and television channels/networks worldwide. Basically, producer’s need the services of a company like ours in order to get their films sold on a global scale. We structure deals with video distributors, theatrical distributors, other sales agents/brokers, television channels and networks and license films for a specific period of time in exchange for a monetary sum. Our job is to get the best deal possible for the producer. These deals come from long-term relationships with buyers worldwide."
HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?
HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?
JC: Growing up as a kid, I was always interested in the entertainment industry. In middle school, I was in my first play, The Sound of Music and throughout high school and college I was always part of the theatre and music programs, singing and performing in their respective show choirs, touring as far as Russia and around the western United States.
While living abroad in college, I decided that “life is too short” to not take some chances, so after graduation, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career. After that floundered for about 2 years, I decided that the acting side of the business wasn’t for me and moved to Las Vegas. While working at a restaurant and going back to school for digital video editing and production, I met an independent producer/sales agent who gave me an intern position with his company. After a few days of working with them, I was offered a full time job.
After working for a year with this small company, I ended up moving to New York City to take on a job with the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival, IFQ Magazine and ITN Distribution. This was a small operation but was able to give me some legs to take my career to the next level. After working with ITN for two years, I was offered a job by the US Home Video distributor, Maverick Entertainment. They hired me to implement and run a foreign sales division, Maverick Global. I worked there for three great years after finally moving to Los Angeles in September of 2008 to take my current position of President of International Sales at Spotlight Pictures.
HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?
JC: I suppose the biggest challenge that I’ve faced to date is the overall decline of our industry and having to find a way to reinvent our company in order to just stay in business. The global market is changing at such a dramatic rate for independent feature films right now, everyone is scrambling to figure out where the next revenue streams are going to come from. It’s a problem that we’re dealing with on a daily basis and although VOD is the wave of the future, it’s time has yet to come. Replacing the home video/DVD boom is going to be a long, arduous task for all sales agents and distributors and we have to find creative and innovative ways to get the stories told and exploited in order to recoup investments for producers. It's a very difficult and challenging time right now.
HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into the position you're in?
JC: It’s extremely important that any young person understands technology and the ever changing buying/viewing trends of the general public. The kids are changing the way films are screened and it’s important to have a finger on that pulse. Film rentals and buys are down, as there has been a major shift to consumers now watching reality programming, people are just not watching as many feature films as they had in the past.
More directly, I’d advise them to go to their local video store (if there even is one anymore), take a look at some of the distribution companies who are still releasing product, contact their human resources department and try to get their foot in the door as an intern, work hard and hopefully be able to gain employment thereafter. There are no schools who teach film distribution and sales as a career; it’s more of a “who do you know” type of career.
You can also attend film and video festivals, film markets and get your name and face out there as a person who can be depended on and who is known for a professional demeanor. I'd also advise them to try and get a job working on a film set or television show, in whatever capacity they can. Once you prove yourself as a dependable worker, the doors will start to open up for you.
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