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CANNES 2020 Marché du Film

Žofie Strachotová • Head of acquisitions, Artinii

“Our system delves deep into understanding communities, and their specific demands, values and interests”


- CANNES NEXT: New community-driven platform Artinii aims to enhance distribution channels, and we talked to head of acquisitions Žofie Strachotová to discover more about its use of machine learning

Žofie Strachotová  • Head of acquisitions, Artinii

Artinii, which is shorthand for “Art in Intelligent Interaction”, unveiled its community-driven distribution platform recently at Cannes NEXT, during the Marché du Film, becoming the first-ever Czech start-up to do so. Cineuropa talked to Žofie Strachotová, the company’s head of acquisitions, to discover more about niche film distribution and how the platform employs machine-learning technology to recommend viewing, thus promoting an alternative model of distribution.

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Cineuropa: How did the demand for community-driven content distribution come about, especially if Artinii is not conceived as a competitor to traditional theatrical distribution or personal VoD?
Žofie Strachotová:
Community-based content, or community building, is more required on social media on account of its authenticity. Artinii understood that the future does not lie in offering people what is popular, but what is authentic. Artinii basically aims to plug the gap in the current distribution system. We believe we are not in competition with VoD or theatrical distribution, firstly because we are targeting a slightly different type of audience. Secondly, we work non-exclusively with a type of rights (non-theatrical, single public screening rights) that are often left unused or which nobody has enough time to deal with. And most importantly, Artinii sees potential in films, regardless of their position in the distribution chain – we can help with the worldwide community premiere of the film, we can target extra audiences that otherwise wouldn’t be reached by VoD or theatrical, and we can also breathe life into old films. There are thousands of existing movies as well as new ones being made every year, and many of them are very niche. And on the other hand, there are millions of people around the world with specific interests. We want to connect the two – filmmakers and audience – because they often don’t know about each other’s existence, and they don’t have the opportunity to reach one another. Artinii intends to support filmmakers, and mainly the auteurs of the more niche titles, so that they are not forgotten and they can bring extra revenue to the filmmakers.

Artinii could play a role in extending the life cycle of a film, but is the platform based on a demand-driven or an offer-driven model? Do producers just upload the films and provide the rights they wish to share, and then wait for anybody wanting to screen the movie, in a sort of passive approach to distribution? Or do they upload the film once they have figured out the distribution strategy?
Artinii works with both models. We are currently driven by the demand of certain communities as well as certain events, anniversaries and so on. However, we are still growing our own network of communities, so even if we acquire films without basing it on that, we are still creating new communities and offering the titles to them. The movie can be uploaded any time during the distribution process by whoever owns the rights for single public screenings, so it could be a producer as well as a sales agent or distributor. When the film is uploaded, both parties can approach the potential audience and contribute to the marketing. The filmmakers are more than welcome to approach the communities themselves and direct them to Artinii – that way, they don’t have to deal with invoicing or delivering the film file for each screening. Artinii also offers another model for rights holders, festivals, cinemas or basically anyone working with the distribution of audiovisual content.

You revealed during your Marché du Film presentation that the revenue that comes in through your platform is shared on a 50:50 principle. How does Artinii work when it comes to institutions or communities wanting to use the alternative distribution channel? How does the pricing work?
The screenings are ordered and paid for on an individual basis. In the spirit of simplicity, we respect the fact that each film is different; therefore, the price differs, too. We let the rights holders choose the prices themselves. When adding a film to Artinii’s database, they simply select a price for one sold licence from one of the six pricing schemes we offer. Pricing takes into account three country categories (based on their purchasing power) and the number of seats at each screening. The producers and rights owners can track all screenings online, and they get 50% of the income on their account quarterly.

Machine-learning technology is supposed to be implemented to enable a sophisticated recommendation system. How does it work, and can it really pinpoint very niche films – even the more bizarre ones?
Artinii understands that not every community can be clearly labelled. We don't work with genres or topics alone, but rather our system delves deep into understanding communities, and their specific demands, values and interests. Our interactive search engine analyses data on all existing films. And it is different from the one that VoD offers. We are not basing it on popularity, but on your specific taste, activities and interests. The engine is specifically founded on a mixture of various analyses combined with machine learning, where every film is positioned in a multi-dimensional space, using multiple vectors. At the end, we are able to measure the distance between various films, even without any obvious logical connection. You will search for a well-known film, but our system realises that very close in that space there is a niche or even a bizarre one, and offers you those as well.

What are your strategic plans for the foreseeable future?
As I mentioned during our Cannes NEXT presentation, only around 5% of films get distribution. Artinii was created to bring films that don't get into the existing distribution channels to the community audience, and to help filmmakers connect their movies with this audience. At the same time, we are bringing new, innovative technology to the film industry – an ideal form of single film storage and a point of distribution. It’s something that would make the distribution of audiovisual content worldwide easier, more efficient and more eco-friendly. We have been developing the Artinii platform and the technology for the last three years. Since we are Czech-based, our initial steps were obviously geared towards Czech films, the Czech audience worldwide and Czech film festivals. Now, we are ready to enter the international market; we have started negotiating with producers, sales agents and other potential partners from Europe as well as overseas. At the same time, we are targeting audiences from other parts of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic is inevitably changing people's behaviour, but the need and desire to experience things together definitely won’t disappear.

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