Matthijs Wouter Knol • Director, European Film Market
by Birgit Heidsiek
- Matthijs Wouter Knol, director of the European Film Market, spoke to Cineuropa about how he approached his new role and the new initiatives for this year’s edition
Cineuropa chatted to the director of the European Film Market, Matthijs Wouter Knol, to find out more about how he stepped up to his new position and to discover what the main improvements have been for this year’s edition of the industry event.
Cineuropa: What is your approach as the new director of the EFM?
Matthijs Wouter Knol: The first thing I started doing when I joined the EFM team was to listen to what has been going on over the past years, and which new plans have been developed. I know the market from different sides because I have been working at the Berlinale and even attended the EFM before as a producer. I looked very carefully at the wishes of the visitors who came to the EFM, and to what extent the team had already anticipated them. Every year, we do a survey with McKinsey; we made decisions about which points we could improve about the European Film Market.
So what are the main improvements?
We have over 8,000 participants at the EFM every year. Many of the visitors work at a stand or attend screenings as buyers. But at every film market, the visitors benefit from navigating through what the market has to offer. We decided to embrace groups of people and give them a very visible spot in our venues. A lot of producers at the EFM are attending the Berlinale Co-Production Market and the MEDIA stand, but there are also producers who are looking for matches, co-production partners and financiers for their projects on a European or international level. With the EFM Producers Hub within our venue, we want to offer them a better service so that they can connect with each other more easily. That is important because the landscape of production, distribution and sales is changing very rapidly. It is essential for a film market to connect actively with producers in addition to focusing on distributors and sales agents, which are the main backbones of a market.
Have you approached any specific target groups?
We reached out to ACE and the German Producers’ Alliance, and we keep talking to the European Producers Club. We want to keep a close eye on producers because they are producing the content that the rest of the industry is dependent on. For me, it is also important to position the EFM more strongly as a market that is based in Berlin. The EFM has a close connection to the festival and its various initiatives, but we also want to catch up with the creative industries that are based in Berlin and are growing exponentially. We selected ten start-up companies from the city in order to connect them with EFM participants to inspire them with their ideas and innovations.
What kind of impact are you looking for with the introduction of series?
With the Drama Series Days on 9 and 10 February, we want to acknowledge the fact that the boundaries between classic film production and top-quality series are becoming blurred, and more and more film-market visitors are involved in both fields. The TV industry has changed and has quickly regained a fairly vital role in the production of high-quality content that is watched not only on TV, but also on different devices nowadays. I think a film market should look at how the industry is evolving. We decided to dedicate part of our programme to drama series. This year, 11 drama series from different parts of the world will be showcased as regular market screenings. We have been in touch with producers, TV channels, buyers and online platforms which will be coming to Berlin and which pride themselves on being involved with high-quality drama series. The market participants who have been focused on film can also benefit from the presence of this new part of the industry. The EFM is adapting to what is happening around us in the world – that is what a film market should do.