Industry Report: Distribution and exhibition
Alfred Sesma • Distributor
by Christian G. Carlos
- With over 35 years’ experience in the world of cinema and education, Drac Màgic has become a name of distinction on Barcelona’s vibrant cultural scene, and has been instrumental in establishing and promoting various film festivals and activities for schools through partnerships with institutions such as the Filmoteca de Catalunya. The company’s latest venture, Pack Màgic, aims to introduce Spanish audiences to the many European projects that, until now, have struggled to find a niche here. In the driver’s seat of Pack Màgic is Alfred Sesma, who is able to draw on his previous experience working for the International Animation Film Festival of Catalonia (ANIMAC) and other projects, such as Barcelona’s Toon a Ville.
Cineuropa: European animation has never found sustainable success in Spain, nor a big-name distributor. What do you think has been missing?
Alfred Sesma: The policies that have been put in place to support film production, and even distribution, have not been matched by effective measures to ensure that they are actually shown. Even major European films produced with public funding can’t compete with the enormous amounts of money that the multinationals are able to invest in publicity. When public media outlets are made complicit in the promotion of these communication strategies, the discrepancy becomes all the more acute. We have seen that, where productions have been able to secure the backing of the media, they have been very richly rewarded.
Since the company was launched in 2015, you have already released three feature films and various collections of shorts. How has it been going?
We think of ourselves as still being at the stage of finding our place within the market; helping people to understand what we are trying to do and building our network of supporters and collaborators. At the moment, we see our work essentially as a kind of investment, which will hopefully lead to positive financial returns in the future.
In your catalogue, films from France and the Nordic countries feature very strongly. Does the Spanish public show a preference for these countries, or is it a question of what is available on the market?
Fundamentally, it's a consequence of the company’s intentional leaning towards European content. It just so happens that most European productions of this kind come out of France and Scandinavia. We have no special affinity towards these countries, and in the future, we will also be distributing films from Germany, Belgium, Italy or whichever country produces them. Our focus is on the quality and the appeal of the production, not its provenance.
The two most important releases (Phantom Boy [+see also:
film profile] and Long Way North [+see also:
film profile]) were accompanied by a range of activities and collaborations with various organisations. What was your strategy for distribution in each case?
We can’t compete with the huge publicity campaigns of the multinationals, and there is no effective way for us to reach the mass media. Instead, we work by tapping into our own community of supporters, seeking to strengthen our relationships with them - and very often, this leads us to discover ways of making connections between the content we are distributing and specific groups of viewers with a potential interest in it.
Pack Màgic’s films can be seen in cinemas, bought on DVD and even viewed on VoD platforms. How have you found the public’s response to each format?
It’s too early to draw conclusions. To answer this, we would need a certain amount of hindsight as well as more experience with different kinds of content. Right now, we believe that there is a certain interest and curiosity around the films that we distribute, but we haven’t been in operation long enough to come to firmer conclusions. We’re also aware that our films aimed at children and families are governed by a different set of consumption patterns than those operating on content for adults. Only with time will we be able to get a clearer picture of how all of this is going to work.
Finally, tell us about your plans for the future.
Our plan for the future is to reach a point where we are able to consolidate our offering of quality content for children and families. We see this as the first step in establishing a core network of cinemas that regularly screen this kind of film. We will then be able to focus on cultivating an audience of curious, intrigued and delighted fans.