Global strategies for film financing and distribution tackled at Cannes
by Birgit Heidsiek
- CANNES 2015: The Annual International Film Finance Forum brought together leading producers, financiers, distributors and sales agents
At the sixth Annual International Film Finance Forum in Cannes, which was presented by Winston Baker, speakers addressed global strategies for film financing and distribution in the on-demand era but also offered some advice for producers. Danish director Lone Scherfig (An Education [+see also:
film profile]) pointed out in her opening speech that she doesn’t like traditional test screenings. Instead, she prefers her filmmaker colleagues to take a look at her finished film and come up with suggestions.
As Micah Green, co-head of the Film Finance and Sales Group, Creative Artists Agency, underlined, it is important to do some research on potential production partners before a producer signs a contract in order to give away certain rights. It is also essential to structure a production in terms of financing sources and profit sharing, and to get sales estimates that can be compared with the costs. “What are co-producers bringing to the table?” is a key question for British producer Robert Jones, co-managing director of The Fyzz Facility. The various tax incentives that are granted in many countries still play a crucial role. “Most of the films are financed by foreign pre-sales,” explained Milan Popelka, CEO, FilmNation Entertainment. “You combine pre-sales and tax credits.”
The new copyright strategy for the Digital Single Market introduced by the European Commission is threatening the territoriality principle: “It would turn everything pretty much on its head in terms of how films are distributed and marketed,” emphasised Jones. “There is a lot of lobbying in the EU,” stated Javier Méndez, head of content at the Madrid-based Mediapro Group. “Who gets the profits of the big corporations such as Google?” Another issue at the conference was how big data are used by companies such as Google, Amazon and iQiYi in China. Data are also the most important asset for Ray Bell, founder of the business platform Digital Film Cloud Network, which attempts to bring buyers and sellers together. “They can negotiate the terms,” explained Bell. “We have not automated the contracts yet.”
“There has to be a connection between the distributor and the content creator,” remarked Vincent Grimond, CEO of Wild Bunch, who reported that he is constantly in touch with The Weinstein Company. “You have to understand who your distributor is,” added Lisa Schwartz, executive vice-president for distribution at IFC Films. In the age of “anything, anytime and anywhere”, many industry representatives fear that some big films might generate huge revenues while life will become more difficult for the smaller producers. “I don’t think so,” summed up David Glasser, president of The Weinstein Company. “Look at Netflix. They just paid $13 million for Beasts of No Nation [for the global rights to the new film by Cary Fukunaga]. There is competition in the market place. Amazon is out there buying movies.”