Industry Report: Marketing
Films Crossing Borders in Cannes 2007
by Boyd van Hoeij
11/06/2007 - The European (EFCB) and Mediterranean Films Crossing Borders (MFCB) programmes always occur in tandem with major festivals, and after Berlin the initiative settled in Cannes for a new – and in the case of MFCB, last – edition. The president of the Spanish Fundación Autor (SGAE) that organises the event, inaugurated the three-day frenzy of English-language seminars, meetings and one-to-one sessions designed to fast-track talented young industry professionals.
Topics discussed included the art of negotiating a co-production; the film festival circuit and markets; how to sell, present and market a project, the art of pitching and a case-study of Oscar nominee and international co-production Paradise Now.
The Europeans also benefited from an explanation of the MEDIA programme, while the Mediterranean group had seminars on funds for their countries linked to festivals and a presentation of the Euromed Audiovisuel II programme.
One of the goals of EFCB/MFCB is to accelerate the development of new talents and facilitate distribution of their films abroad. Cineuropa spoke with tutors and participants about this year’s Cannes edition.
Teaching a new generation
The EFCB and MFCB initiatives are propelled by group lectures and individual sessions and work in small groups with the young filmmakers who attend the course. The tutors are all experts in their respective fields and many have been involved from the start, such as Spanish producer Antonio Saura.
“We’ve evolved from teaching the basics to implementing the basics,” explains Saura, who teaches both groups. “We went from ‘you need money’ to actual marketing campaigns and business plans”. On the difference between the European and Mediterranean students, the producer says: “They Mediterranean group has different necessities. The EU students mostly benefited from the English experience, but the Mediterraneans are closer to the French experience. We reshaped the programme and cut it to their measure”.
Isabelle Fauvel, manager of Initative film and a tutor of the MFCB group, explains: “Often they feel lonely or isolated. It could be real, geographically speaking and also in terms of connections in the film world, but sometimes it is not really so. Here they get a chance to exchange ideas when they most need it”. Since she started as a tutor, she has noticed “a bigger conscience of the international market and the fact that their work needs to be positioned in that market”.
Renate Roginas, former executive secretary of Eurimages, says she is privileged “because I do one-to-one sessions. It allows me to go deeper into the person and the project”. Roginas also shares a concern of many, about the challenges for distribution of films abroad: “There are enough distributors and sales agents, but at the end of chain there is a huge hole – there is no audience. Probably prices for tickets would need to be lower to attract more people. At the moment, there is EU money available for distributors, but not for cinemas. We need to create package deals for audience that will make the people want to come back”.
Young voices from both sides of the Mediterranean
Though the institutions and tutors involved in the seminars are of course important, they would be nothing without its intended audience: the young filmmakers who come from the Southern Mediterranean basin and across the European continent. Reactions to three days of intensive work.
“I went to film school in US but always wanted to make films in Europe,” says Spain’s Luis Fernandez Reneo. “For my co-production I would need to meet the people I meet here and at the same time I am being educated about co-producing in Europe. I feel like I’ve learnt more in one day here than in six months of research on how to develop a co-production”.
Documentarian Galina Shtarbeva came to the EFCB programme from new EU member Bulgaria. “I heard about it from the MEDIA desk in Sofia,” she says. “I thought it would be suitable for me because of the venue, the festival and the tutors”. The experience has not let her down: “I liked the presentations of the tutors a lot; they are industry people that also give a lot of practical advice and approach you as friends. As someone from a new EU country, it allows me to learn how to best reach the EU market”.
The Italian-born, Paris-based producer Alexandre Mroz Tastardi came to the EFCB with a film in post-production. Says Tastardi: “I got a lot of things out of the seminars: how to sell and market a movie and some great advice on post-production – also from other trainees. I have access to a German sales person here, which is great because my film is in German. In the market this would be more difficult”.
Tastardi’s project was directed by the Turkish director Ismail Necmi, who attended this year’s Berlin edition of MFCB. He was also in Cannes for the film market, where he explained: “Everybody has good projects and you need to get yourself noticed. After completing the programme, I am at a different level and know how to talk to sales companies or producers”.
Nisan Katz, an Israeli producer-director of documentaries, was part of the MFCB programme at Cannes. He explains that for his work “Israeli distribution is not a problem; we have two documentary channels and they know me. One broadcaster from Israel already bought the rights for my next project, but only now do I start to get an idea of what it means to be distributed outside of my own country. It is very big. It’s huge”.