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Jan Naszewski • Sales agent, New Europe Film Sales

"It is important to have a discussion about marketing during a project’s early stages"


- Cineuropa sat down with New Europe Film Sales owner Jan Naszewski during the CineLink Project Development Workshop to learn about the role that a marketer can play for a project in early development

Jan Naszewski  • Sales agent, New Europe Film Sales
(© Diana Lelonek/gazeta festiwalowa Na horyzoncie)

With a catalogue that includes award-winning films from major festivals such as Cannes and Berlin, Oscar-shortlisted movies and Karlovy Vary competition titles, Warsaw-based boutique world sales company New Europe Film Sales is regarded as one of the most successful in the European film industry. Cineuropa sat down with its owner, sales agent and festival organiser Jan Naszewski, during the CineLink Project Development Workshop to learn more about the role that a marketer can play for a project in early development and whether a “correct” strategy for filmmakers from South-Eastern Europe actually exists.

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Cineuropa: How can a sales company help projects that are at this very early stage of development?
Jan Naszewski:
I believe it is important to have a discussion about marketing during a project’s early stages. In this way, the director, producer and distributor, who are all working on the same film, will also have the same vision about the possible shape of the final product. I also feel that if these kinds of conversations do not take place at this stage, then it could lead to frustration later on during the process of filmmaking. Undoubtedly, every director thinks his project is unique, and that is of course true, but in marketing, we tend to identify all the benchmarks of a work and examine similar films by using different techniques, such as by looking at their posters and so on.

Do you believe that this procedure can also influence these people, too?
I think this is a very eye-opening procedure, especially for the directors and producers, who, sometimes for the first time, ask themselves, "Is this how the audience will look at my film?" For me, it is important to explain to them that they have the freedom to create a film exactly as they want it to be. But at the same time, they should realise that certain artistic choices will have an impact on both the marketability and possible audience attendance of the film. So this strategy is usually quite reassuring for the filmmakers, as it helps them to formulate and define their intentions early on, and certainly in a more economical way.

What was the strategy that you tried to follow with the CineLink Workshop participants?
In this case, with the participants, it was more about “what do you intend to do and then achieve?” rather than “what do we already have, and how can we use it?” We mainly focused on discussing ways of pitching a project, primarily to potential partners and investors, and not directly to the final audience. For example, some of the projects need to have a teaser or even a mood board to fully explain their nature and, as a result, to define their pitch. In addition, some ideas will be embraced more fully by the market if they already have a strong cast attached to the project. Usually, these kinds of conversations clear up a number of issues and help you decide whether further development of the project makes sense or not.

Do you believe that the projects coming from South-Eastern Europe share any common themes?
I have seen that today we have many “coming back home” stories and tales about people who are trying to discover themselves. This is usually a trend exhibited by young Balkan filmmakers, who often grew up abroad or live in big cities, and they miss the simple rural life or they just need to narrate their own personal stories. We have already seen that this kind of film rarely works. Another major trend that we are observing in the region is a range of more esoteric, almost dream-like stories, where usually very little dialogue is used. They tend to feature subject matter revolving around, for example, people who get lost in nature, or who wake up and have lost their connection with reality or where fantasy ends. These films can appeal to a certain niche that I define as the “Rotterdam/New Horizons/BAFICI crowd”. Without a doubt, this is a valid niche to belong to, but the films need to be extremely precise and, more importantly, aware of other similar works that are being produced around the world; they are coming especially from Asia and Latin America. So, the question that always pops up for these films is “what new elements can they bring to this genre?”

Could you suggest a genre that the market really needs from the region?
Personally, I would encourage more stories about adults with grown-ups’ problems and fewer coming-of-age stories. Films like Mirjana Karanović’s A Good Wife [+see also:
film review
film profile
or My Happy Family [+see also:
film review
interview: Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon G…
film profile
by Simon Groß and Nana Ekvtimishvili are some good recent examples of that type of story. Regarding the sales aspect, we have also seen that even the international audience can be interested in and connect with them.

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