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Rapporto industria: Distribuzione, esercenti e streaming
Léo Teste • Venditore, Film Constellation
La società con sede a Londra e Parigi ha sviluppato una politica editoriale basata sulla promozione di voci registiche forti e sulla promozione di nuovi talenti
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Ahead of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, we caught up with Léo Teste, head of Sales and Distribution at Film Constellation. We zoomed in on the firm’s editorial policy, its financing activities and how the role of the sales agent is developing.
Cineuropa: Could you talk to us about your editorial policy? How is the company staffed?
Léo Teste: Film Constellation is a London- and Paris-based sales, production and finance company. There are seven in-house team members, and a business-affairs and servicing team at our sister company Playtime, who support our efforts. Our editorial policy is led by strong directorial voices, as we champion films of various budgets and nationalities, from prestige dramas to horror, from thrillers to animation. Our ambition and guiding principle for our acquisitions is to work with exciting voices, whether from new or established talents.
Last year, we had the privilege of launching four strong new filmmaking voices: Saim Sadiq’s Joyland, which was awarded the Cannes UCR Jury Prize and the Queer Palm, and was the first Pakistani film to premiere at the festival and to be shortlisted for the Academy Awards; Lotfy Nathan’s Harka [+leggi anche:
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We’re also working with established filmmakers such as Academy Award winners Fernando Trueba and James Marsh, and the multi-Goya-winning Isabel Coixet, plus we have had the chance to work previously with celebrated filmmakers like Werner Herzog and David Lynch. This mix of talents, combined with a genre-agnostic editorial line, makes for a dynamic line-up and allows us to have a wide reach with distributors across the world, indies and studios alike.
How many titles do you represent each year? How many do you have in your catalogue?
The number of titles we handle varies every year, but usually it’s around 12-15 films. We manage a catalogue of 50 titles, which we are always looking to further enrich, adding films from talents we have already worked with, or re-launching classics that are important to our collective cinematic history and that have undergone restorations. One example of this would be Return to Reason, a new 4K restoration of films by Man Ray with a new original soundtrack by Jim Jarmusch, which we are presenting in Cannes Classics this year.
Do you invest in films from the production stage, or help to fund movies?
We can work on projects at different stages, depending on the specific needs of a film. For the majority of the movies we champion, we get involved very early on and are a driving force in their financing, with an MG investment and pre-sales to begin with, but also by structuring co-productions and raising soft money and private equity to get them green-lit.
We have also been amping up our own production arm out of the UK and France, with a number of projects currently in production. One of our latest productions, The Lesson, starring Richard E Grant, Julie Delpy and Darryl McCormack, will be bowing at Tribeca in June, with Bleecker Street and Focus Features on board to release it in the USA and internationally, respectively.
How has your work changed over the past two years?
If we are talking about the impact of COVID-19, it has and it hasn’t changed. We were fortunate enough to adapt very fast to the new challenges posed by the pandemic. We were the first company, for example, to organise digital market premieres for buyers back in March 2020, with hundreds of buyers tuning in simultaneously all across the world. So in that sense, business could continue as usual. We adapted our sales strategy, combining theatrical-led distribution in territories where cinemas could open, and working with studios and platforms for the rest of the world – this was the case on films like Natalie Erika James’s Relic, which ended up being one of the biggest indie horror US box-office hits of 2020.
How is the role of the sales agent developing in Europe?
Working as a board member of Europa International, we are facing many new challenges, one of the key issues being that the role and the scope of the work of sales agents are still misunderstood, and thus not always adequately supported by our institutions on a European level. Both the strengths and the weaknesses of our profession lie in how big the scope of our actions is, the diversity of companies that exist, and the wide perimeters of what they can offer. And even more so, with the increasing number of sales companies also involved in financing and production, the lines can get blurred. Collaboration and communication between sales agents is very important, so the work of Europa International is crucial in that regard to make sure our voice is heard and that no one is left behind. Film Constellation is continuing to adapt to market fluctuations and its new developments. Our goal remains the same: to be a green-light partner for producers, allowing projects to materialise from script to film and reach the widest audience internationally.
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