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Rodney Perkins • Fantastic Market Director

“We want to find the movies that are most likely to succeed”

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- In the lead-up to the first edition of Brussels’ Frontières Market, Cineuropa talks to Fantastic Market director Rodney Perkins

Rodney Perkins  • Fantastic Market Director

On the eve of the first edition of Brussels’ Frontières Market, Cineuropa talked to Austin’s Fantastic Fest lead programmer and Fantastic Market director Rodney Perkins about the factors that can make a genre-film market successful, in terms of making the films and the talents behind them visible. The Fantastic Market/Mercado Fantastico, whose call for submissions is now open until 31 May, is held as part of the United States’ most important fantastic film festival and is aimed at filmmakers from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, as well as Latino filmmakers in the US itself.

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Cineuropa: Why have a market within Fantastic Fest?
Rodney Perkins:
We’ve always had a large group of Spanish-speaking and Latin American filmmakers at the festival – Eugenio Mira, Nacho Vigalondo… We wanted to start a market. We decided that, since we had strong ties to filmmakers from these countries, we would initially focus on Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries.

Why not aim it at English-speaking filmmakers?
One of the reasons is because Fantasia’s Frontières Market covers the North American and European industries, and we wanted to put our own stamp on this market. We try not to overlap, but rather to be distinct and complement what they do. So we decided to really focus on that region. There are a lot of talented filmmakers in these countries that won’t get as much attention as filmmakers from other countries. There are so many people doing interesting things that it seemed a great opportunity to try to expose these filmmakers to the world.

The market reaches Spanish and Portuguese talent, and the festival is a member of the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation. Do you think fantastic film has a bigger niche in Europe than in the US?
Our core audience is from the US, but on the other hand, most of the films we programme are not from the US. Our films are more international, from Europe, South America or Asia. In a sense, we’re bringing all of these films from all around the world to a US audience. And I think that’s one of the things that make us unique and separate us from other festivals of any kind in the US, and maybe in North America. In Europe, there’s more of a unified industry. Here, in the US, everything is market-driven, controlled by Hollywood and its whole business – the ones who care about the genre films here are the fans. They want to see and support the movies; they dedicate websites to genre movies. America’s genre-film market is driven by both industry and fans. The industry knows that there are people out there who want to watch these movies. It is a combination of fan demand and industry interest in reaching those fans. But I think it’s a different kind of dynamic in Europe.

The genre-film world might also be different from non-genre films…
Correct. It’s not like there’s a dedicated website for dramas. There are people who want to see certain kinds of movies; those are the people we draw on, those are the people the industry is trying to connect with – which is very genre-specific, I think. 

What do you look for in projects in order for them to be selected for the market?
I think there are a few factors – but, mainly, we want to find the movies that are most likely to get made and completed, and, eventually, to succeed. You can look at a number of factors – who’s involved, the budget… – and try to get a sense of how viable the project is. Actually, the first film from last year’s market to be completed is in post-production at the moment. It was presented at the market, and it’s almost done. We have some other movies that have also found partners and producers, so there are tangible, concrete results to come out of the first year.

What are the improvements for this year’s edition of the market?
The biggest change is that we’re going to have a works-in-progress section. We’re going to take those in addition to pitches. That way we can follow the filmmaker’s cycle, from pitches to work-in-progress to post-production stage to the final stage, where the filmmaker may be looking for finishing funds, or something else, to complete the film. Hopefully, we’ll have this whole cycle where films will start and films will get completed.

Are the post-production stages becoming the most important ones in genre markets?
I think it is important to have films at the final stage, because it is a definite sign that the films that come out of the market are progressing. And it’s a signal to the industry attendees that shows that the market has movies that they can see, which are not at their early stages. They can actually see something in this market, something tangible that they might want to get involved in. I think sales agents and producers might want to get involved in the project earlier, but this makes it a lot easier for distributors.

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