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ODESA 2020 Film Industry Office

Filmmakers are advised to have a realistic vision during Odesa’s panel

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- Industry experts gathered online to discuss how to “Promote Your Film Abroad Effectively”

Filmmakers are advised to have a realistic vision during Odesa’s panel
The panel participants

Part of the educational networking event promoLAB – organised by the Ukrainian Institute and the Odesa International Film Festival – the panel discussion entitled "Promote Your Film Abroad Effectively" featured NOISE Film PR co-founder Mirjam WiekenkampEuropean Film Promotion managing director Sonja Heinen, consultant and film producer at asterisk* Vicky MihaKarlovy Vary International Film Festival programmer Lenka Tyrpakova, and Cineuropa’s Vassilis Economou

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Moderated by Natalie Movshovych, the conversation addressed some of the pressing questions asked by filmmakers trying to, indeed, promote their film abroad, with the participants also explaining the role of their companies. “The goal was for national film promotion institutes to understand that, if we go outside of Europe, we are stronger together” – said Sonja Heinen, describing European Film Promotion as “a bridge”. “Our target is to help sales companies and producers find an awareness outside of Europe,” she noted, while stressing the importance of finding the right collaboration partners, especially the ones with their own network already in place. Also in the time of the pandemic. “We need to be spontaneous, but we are all in the same boat. That’s the good thing about the crisis.”

Vassilis Economou admitted that the best time to start promoting a film, at least from a journalistic point of view, is early — although it always depends on its nature. “In our case, it's when a film enters production, since by that time everything is confirmed. This helps us get a wider overview before it reaches the audience,” he said.  “Talking about marketing should happen from the first minute of embarking on a project,” added Vicky Miha. “Producers should know why they make a film and for which audience. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to go and promote the film the moment you receive the first synopsis.”

The participants agreed that in order to make a lasting impression, it’s important to think about the visual aspect of the work. “Apart from the quality of the film, which is always a key factor, we tried to create a brand. The artwork we created was reproduced a lot on different platforms. It was very effective and it transmitted a clear message,” said Miha, mentioning Locarno premiere Space Dogs [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Elsa Kremser, Levin Peter
film profile
]
as a successful example, with Sonja Heinen echoing the sentiment. “Strong visuals are very important. I see stills of a new Mads Mikkelsen film [Another Round [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
] everywhere, so even if I don't know the title, it’s already intriguing.” But having a strong production and sales team helps as well. “Who is behind your film and who is partnering with you on this journey is crucial. It's always a question of how to stand out.”

Mirjam Wiekenkamp noted that getting a publicist helps finding the right journalists, ones who might be interested in writing about the project, as well as shaping the material. “For Roman Bondarchuk’s Volcano [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Roman Bondarchuk
film profile
]
, it was very important to get all the materials in order and frame the whole setting of the film. We tried to reconnect with the journalists we were already in touch with for Ukrainian Sheriffs [+see also:
trailer
film profile
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,” she said, referring to the director’s previous work. “The biggest challenge now is getting this festival buzz and word-of-mouth campaign. Any kind of budget that you can spend on online promotion, that already helps a lot.”  

But the most important thing, it was stressed, is to know the final goal, be it a festival premiere, a review in an important publication or securing international sales. “It’s good to have a realistic vision. If your film doesn’t get a premiere in Cannes, it doesn't mean it will be less successful,” said Tyrpakova, also mentioning popular local title My Thoughts Are Silent [+see also:
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trailer
film profile
]
. "They were not in Cannes, but they reached different goals. When I started out, it was hard to find Ukrainian films that would stand out, but in the last few years, that really changed.”

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