Behind the Scenes at FilmTrack With Mike Zinsmeister


In the dynamic world of media and entertainment management, FilmTrack stands as a symbol of innovation. Global Head of Sales, Mike Zinsmeister, is one of the company's top business leaders and brings extensive expertise in advertising and software to help drive company growth. In this exclusive spotlight, we explore Mike's experiences, FilmTrack's remarkable growth, and the exciting future ahead. Welcome to the world of FilmTrack, where creativity meets commerce, and Mike Zinsmeister's expertise shines brightly.

Tell us about your background in the industry.

MIKE: My career began in Colorado, where I worked in advertising within newspaper and television stations before transitioning into the software industry. Over the next two decades, I found myself in New York leading sales for an ad tech software company, and later, in North Carolina, I played a pivotal role in developing a premiere Ad Sales & Technology company. My path led me to FilmTrack in 2022, driven by a desire for new challenges and a shift in focus from content monetization to the creative aspects of the industry. 

Today, I have the privilege of actively working on the creative side, ensuring content creators can maximize their sales and manage payments, receiving the recognition and rewards they deserve, a passion that perfectly aligns with FilmTrack's core expertise.

Can you provide an overview of FilmTrack operations?

MIKE: FilmTrack stands out in the tech landscape due to a unique balance rarely found in technology companies. Newer tech firms can offer the latest cutting-edge technology, but that newness can come at the expense of comprehensive functionality—while startups often boast new tech and sleek user interfaces, they may lack the depth of capabilities that come with implementing and serving many clients with unique needs. 

FilmTrack, however, has been innovating for many years and, in 2019, reached a turning point following its acquisition by City National Bank. FilmTrack was in an advantageous position after the acquisition, with a new owner who encouraged them to concentrate nearly entirely on revamping their product, leveraging deep capabilities and knowledge while elevating it to the forefront of technology and user experience in a mere three years. This transformation is highlighted in our current advertising, emphasizing that if you haven't seen FilmTrack in recent years, you haven't truly seen the next evolution, which is a combination of rich and robust capacities combined with an easy-to-use, modern, and intuitive User Experience. Our competencies and functionality have evolved tremendously, delivering a more customer-centric experience. 

Our primary focus now is communicating this evolution to potential clients and continuing to learn from existing clients, innovating additional tools to help them navigate the complex challenges of the ever-changing media landscape, from the proliferation of media outlets to the fluidity of distribution channels. 

FilmTrack's mission revolves around investing in our clients' success, ensuring that they, in turn, can thrive. We understand that by providing the tools for our clients to prosper, they will choose to work with a partner who understands the industry and equips them for success.

What does FilmTrack do really well?

MIKE: FilmTrack's team grasps the daily challenges media companies face and has crafted a solution to maximize their profitability, mitigate risks, and seize every opportunity. Essentially, the core issue revolves around three key buckets: content contracts, timing, and geography.

When an entity holds the rights to a piece of content, they can potentially sell it to various parties. Intellectual property attorneys meticulously dissect these rights to optimize revenue. In this first bucket, they delineate content contracts for DVD sales, movie rights, SVOD, AVOD, pay-per-view rights, and more.

The second bucket deals with timing, specifying when content can be sold and factoring in considerations like hiatus periods. The third bucket focuses on geography, defining rights on a geographical basis.

Even a media company with just a few dozen titles can grapple with millions of combinations based on these three buckets. The challenge lies in manually tracking everything that has been sold or is available for sale—a task that often leads to errors, inefficiencies, and liabilities, posing a significant hurdle for content owners.

Enter FilmTrack. FilmTrack serves as a comprehensive repository for this complex web of information. We enable you to ingest contract details, interpret them accurately, and efficiently manage your content to maximize revenue.

We assist media companies in understanding their inventory—what's available, what's sold, and what's upcoming. Additionally, we offer financial support, including handling waterfalls, participations, royalties in, royalties out, and other complex financial calculations, all completed in a unified, (rather than integrated) platform which communicates seamlessly between Sales Opportunities and Financials.

Our value proposition centers on two core elements: Save time by enhancing operational efficiency to manage a growing library with all the inherent complexities and revenue growth by identifying available and upcoming inventory opportunities. 

Our diverse client base spans large enterprises to boutique firms, encompassing sales agents, distributors, studios, and networks who all share the common goal of buying and selling content. FilmTrack enables them to track, manage, evaluate inventory, and optimize revenue.

Our unified approach sets us apart; we aren't merely an integrated solution between sales and finance. Instead, we provide a seamless user experience by operating as a single, unified system. This means that as media companies evolve and require more advanced financial tools, they can seamlessly return to us without requiring extensive reimplementation.

Many of our larger clients turn to us after outgrowing systems that solely offer contract and avails management. They seek our expertise in implementing financial solutions, particularly for managing royalties and other intricate financial aspects—an area where FilmTrack has excelled for over two decades. 

Another critical advantage of FilmTrack is our cloud-based platform, allowing access from anywhere and providing continuous updates without client IT department involvement.

How would you describe FilmTrack's company culture? 

MIKE: We’re in a sweet spot where we're small enough for our team to build and maintain a genuine connection with our clients but large enough to support complex, multinational media companies with large teams, unique capabilities, and requirements. Our staff understands the business intricacies and exudes a deep passion for it, fueled by their love for the business. We love Movies and TV and it’s rewarding to participate by helping to ensure these people can easily track and get paid for their work! 

Yet, FilmTrack also boasts the scale required to meet the rigorous expectations of large enterprises. With a robust team comprising dozens of developers and a global support squad catering to clients worldwide, we proactively ensure our clients' satisfaction and meet their system requirements.

Our technological foundation rests on the strength of Amazon Web Services, assuring clients of uninterrupted service. Moreover, we reinvest the vast majority of our revenue into refining and improving our solutions, consistently growing alongside the industry's transformative shifts. We don't merely cling to the status quo but actively invest in shaping the future.

FilmTrack's founders, who remain engaged despite changes in ownership, possess deep industry expertise and a crystal-clear vision for the road ahead. They're approachable, collaborative, and embody a collective ethos of rolling up our sleeves and pitching in to work. As a cohesive team, we prioritize the well-being of our clients and consider FilmTrack a client and employee-centric organization.

Are There Any Misconceptions About FilmTrack?

MIKE: With over two decades of history, FilmTrack has undergone several transformations. However, those who haven't experienced our platform in recent years haven't witnessed our true capabilities, the substantial investment, and the value derived from our partnership with City National Bank, a world-class institution deeply committed to the Media & Entertainment Industry and the organizations who comprise it.

We've evolved significantly over the past decade, becoming far more valuable and powerful than we were ten years ago, offering our clients a wealth of new opportunities.

What sets FilmTrack apart is our unwavering dedication to understanding and addressing our clients' and prospects' perspectives and needs. Our desire for growth and revenue doesn't solely drive our evolution; a genuine commitment compels us to empower our clients with the tools they need to thrive in the industry.

City National Bank's investment in us isn't just financial; it's an investment in the success of media and entertainment companies. They've taken an active equity stake in our industry, ensuring their clients' prosperity. Our collective desire fuels the prosperity of the entire media and entertainment sector. City National Bank recognizes this and has chosen FilmTrack as one of the instrumental tools in its mission to invest in the industry and the Media & Entertainment clients they serve.

What are some developments on the horizon that you're looking forward to? 

MIKE: We've embarked on transitioning our clients to our new, enhanced user interface, and I'm eagerly anticipating the moment they witness the substantial value added in recent years.

Our open APIs are now more intuitive, streamlining the user experience and reducing unnecessary steps to access essential features. In an era of increasing business complexity, we aim to simplify and enhance our tools, making them more efficient and user-friendly, ultimately facilitating a seamless adaptation process for our clients.

Our commitment extends to delivering a user experience and interface that is not only more enticing but also highly adaptable. We prioritize value by aligning our product implementations with our clients' end goals and visions, ensuring a more collaborative and client-centric approach. We don't simply provide our product and leave clients to figure it out; instead, we are deeply invested in their success.

Do you have any advice for those starting out in this industry?

MIKE: Embracing the Wayne Gretzky philosophy, it's crucial to aim not where the puck currently resides but where it's headed. Looking toward the future and understanding how the industry evolves and transforms is key. Identifying the players best suited to support clients amid these changes is paramount.

Discover an industry that truly captivates your interest because it provides an ongoing learning journey. There's a vast realm of knowledge to explore, with myriad components converging to create the art of movies and TV shows. When you're genuinely intrigued and curious about an industry, the journey becomes far more enjoyable, allowing you to cultivate skills, gain experience, and ultimately define your professional path.

While it's acceptable to change roles as you embark on your learning journey, I typically advocate for staying within the same industry whenever possible. This continuity allows your experience and expertise to complement your overarching career. It's a logical progression that enables you to continually build upon your prior knowledge, enhancing your overall value.

Want to Learn More About FilmTrack?

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All trademarks are the property of their respective owner(s).

FilmTrack is an RBC Company and subsidiary of City National Bank Member FDIC. City National Bank is a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. 

This article is for general information and education only. It is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of FilmTrack. FilmTrack does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates or projections given are those of the authors or persons quoted as of the date of the article with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change. This article may not be reproduced, distributed or further published by any person without the written consent of FilmTrack. Please cite source when quoting.

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