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“This is what we want to do: work with quality, with festival films and be able to position them on the sales circuit"

Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming

Francesca Delise • Sales agent, Illmatic Film Group

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We discovered in more detail the activities of the young Italian production and sales company, its rapidly expanding catalogue and how the profession of the sales agent is changing

Francesca Delise • Sales agent, Illmatic Film Group

We took the opportunity to interview Francesca Delise, head of sales at the young Roman company Illmatic. During our conversation, we talked about the company's production and sales activities, its catalogue of titles available and the current developments of the role of sales agents in the European context.

Cineuropa: Could you talk about the editorial policy of Illmatic?
Francesca Delise:
Illmatic was founded about three years ago. It is a very young but competitive company. The core business was initially the production of video clips for artists such as Måneskin, Blanco and the best known rappers on the Italian scene. This core business led Jacopo Pica to open up to the world of cinema, starting with the production of short films. We have now finished our first horror feature film, Resvrgis by Francesco Carnesecchi.

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The director of La partita [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]

Exactly. We were involved in this film in the running. [...] We sold it to Netflix for the whole world and now we are 100 per cent on this project, which has just closed. At the same time, a year and two months ago I was offered by Jacopo to open the international sales department. We did the crazy thing of starting an editorial line from scratch. To date, we have acquired some 20 titles in just one year. The films are doing well. A few titles were in Venice - for example, Alessandro Capitani's I nostri fantasmi [+see also:
trailer
interview: Alessandro Capitani
film profile
]
was also sold to Showtime in America, thus becoming the first Italians to make a sale with the American network. We also had a small film at Biennale College, which is receiving discrete acclaim, namely Come le tartarughe [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, a debut feature by Monica Dugo. We had a documentary in Tallinn, The Invitation by Fabrizio Maltese. In addition, we just closed a deal with 102 Distribution. We picked up some of their titles for sale. Among them is Presencias by Luis Mandoki, brought to Ventana Sur along with other films. We have been to AFM and are attending all the markets. In short, in our own small way we are moving – we are just starting up and we cannot yet count on big budgets for guaranteed minimums – and this is what we want to do: [that is] to work with quality, with festival films and manage to place them on the sales circuit.

How many of you manage sales?
In the sales department, it's me and Francesco [Moccia], who acts as sales assistant and takes care of the festivals. We have a materials guy, Gabriele [Fabbri], a person who handles administrative tasks, Camilla [Pica], a coordinator, Beatrice [Guglielmi], plus Jacopo [Pica]. There are five of us.

You have already partly answered this question. Do you invest in new titles from production?
I'll tell you. Resvrgis by Carnesecchi, we did it without ministerial funds. We participated as producers and found two co-producers in the process, Red Carpet by Iervolino & Lady Bacardi Entertainment and Beetlefilm.

You are a very young company, it is true, but how has your work changed in the last two years?
Personally, I come from ten years of previous experience. Illmatic was born after the pandemic so we are working as if there was no pandemic and we are trying to forget about it. Of course, the guaranteed minimums have changed, they have dropped dramatically. Now there is a new need for content even though there is overcrowding. Production has restarted strongly. Everyone has to produce, everyone had projects in the pipeline... Production has opened up a lot and that means that we sellers are full of stuff and we are often reduced to closing package deals that bring in immediate money, but if you look at the breakdowns, they are not comparable to a single sale a few years ago. In my opinion, especially for independent film sellers, things change from year to year. I remember when I started in 2012: there were figures that halved in five years.

Regarding the role of the sales agent in the strict sense, how is your job changing?
We definitely have to be more prepared regarding platforms and digital distribution. We have to be alert to changes in the market. This, in my opinion, involves studying outside of work: seeing what works, what doesn't... Unfortunately, the eight hours we have in the office are never enough. In this case I accepted a [major] responsibility, so when you carry out your projects you get some satisfaction but you also have a lot to do. We are a very young team with resilient minds, but we also need to be trained on different aspects.

How do you work in terms of diversity of voices and content as well as within your company?
In the beginning, we worked a lot with socially oriented documentaries. They were easier to acquire. Now we are trying to throw ourselves a bit more into commercial works because we obviously need to make money. However, we try as much as possible to give a voice to directors of first works and we try to bring them forward by following their subsequent projects, creating loyalty and trust to form a stable of talent. Same thing with producers: we try to create preferential relationships. Right now, we are working very well with the Manetti Bros, we have taken two of their films and one was recently presented in Turin – Pappi Corsicato's return to feature film, Perfetta Illusione [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
. I cannot tell you that we are trying to build an editorial line in a single direction. We try to differentiate our offer as much as possible in order to intercept as wide a poo as possible.

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(Translated from Italian)

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