European Distributors Discuss New Trends in Euro Distribution at San Sebastian Int'l Film Fest

by Sydney Levine
September 26, 2010 4:20 AM
3 Comments
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By guest blogger Peter Belsito


Photo from left to right: Luisa Grave, Project Coordinator EFP Hamburg; Jo Muhlberger, Project Director EFP Hamburg; Martin Dale, Variety; Bea Cuttat, Look Now! Filmverleih, Switzerland; Kevin Feng Ke, Executive Producer, Shanghai Film

On Tuesday September 21, under auspices of the San Sebastian International Film Festival, a meeting of important European Distributors was organized by European Film Promotion's Jo Muhlberger, Project Director EFP Hamburg.

The problem being discussed by European distributors has been stated thus by EFP: The majority of exciting films made in Europe still can't be seen in cinemas outside of their home countries. This panel brought together ten independent distributors from ten different European countries to discuss the potential of new technical formats, social community platforms and business models.

“Distribution these days is confronted by enormous changes”, says Renate Rose, managing director of EFP. “It is a great challenge deciding which will be the successful way of distribution for the future and how to improve international circulation. EFP sees the need to support the discourse among these professionals who must operate with creativity, courage and sensibility in order to strengthen their position in a complex market dominated by the major studios.”

Martin Dale, Variety, moderated the meeting discussion.

The main question of the day was posed as the current possibilities of distribution on a European level, or, as Martin Dale, in his introduction, succinctly stated, 'Do we have films worth tweeting about?'

One after another, the participant distributors stated similar problems in the current commercial film environment. The traditional theatrical business is changing. Audiences are dwindling. Income from specialty films is down as 'mainstream, commercial cinema' is actually increasing.

The fundamental problem was also stated in another way, 'How do we overcome the contradictions in today's cinema business world to reach young audiences?'

While digital cinema has opened vast possibilities of new ways to reach audiences, the digital (download, streaming) income levels are low currently as compared to other, perhaps more traditional windows (DVD).

Right now the VOD / Video On Demand deals are in flux for Distributors as subscription services, VOD services and different platforms compete for films on the one hand and paying viewers on the other.

The meeting also focussed on marketing concerns. Marketing dollars are being spent today on traditional means (newspapers, which are in decline everywhere currently) and also through blogging and various internet platforms. But so far no one has come up with any magic formula to entice targeted audiences to pay for digital
content in significant numbers.

The meeting ended with the consensus acknowledgement that we are passing through a time of great ferment in the business and the new methods of doing business, i.e. attracting paying viewers for content, are still being worked out everywhere.



(left to right in the above group photo) Thorsten Frehse (Neue Visionen Filmverleih, Germany), Panos Martakis (Feelgood Entertainment, Greece), Katrina Mathsson (Folkets Bio, Sweden), Oli Harbottle (Dogwoof, U.K.), Ditte Daugbjerg Christensen (Ost for Paradis, Denmark), Didier Costet (Swift Distribution, France), Line Daugbjerg Christensen (Ost for Paradis, Denmark), Martin Milinkovic (Continental Film, Croatia), Simona Calcagni (Bolero Film, Italy.
not pictured: Michael Stejskal (Filmladen, Austria), Bea Cuttat (Look Now! Filmverleih, Switzerland).

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3 Comments

  • SydneyLevine | September 30, 2010 10:05 AMReply

    To Adeline Monzier, Manager of Europa Distribution: Thank you for the comment. I will contact you and follow up with a blog as I know your organization is looking for ways to increase the exposure of European films internationally within Europe itself.

    This should be imitated by the Americas in promoting Latino programming in U.S., Canada and Latin American countries who support film.

    We will be in touch! I know the readers would be interested in knowing more. Thanks again!

  • Adeline Monzier | September 27, 2010 2:16 AMReply

    This event was organized in partnership with Europa Distribution. Europa Distribution is a young European network that brings up together 80 independent distributors from 24 countries. The association is headed by the Dardenne Brothers. We act as a lobby, a think tank and a network. www.europa-distribution.org

    We also have developed an online database called CIDINET (www.cidinet.eu). Cidinet lists - for each movie - the European distributors who've bought the film, the release dates, the promotional and technical material created for each national release. It aims at promoting the sharing of information and costs at European level.

    I would be very happy to let you know more about the association and this tool if you're interested. And we would love to be listed on your blog!

    Thanks
    Adeline Monzier
    Manager

  • Don Franken | September 25, 2010 5:03 AMReply

    I have seen the success of IFC and Magnolia recently with VOD. While there seems to be no current solutions for smaller Independent films lacking distribution by the mini- majors, and major P&A, wondering how VOD is doing in Europe as it gets more difficult for Indies to grab screens and get a theatrical audience in Europe and the U.S.? Wondering also how Fox Searchlight, SPC, and Focus are doing on VOD and how much this is replacing declinind DVD sales for Indies?

    The VoD has not replaced the decline in DVD sales ... yet...And in Euorope I think VoD is less than in U.S. I wish I knew Fox, SPC and Focus numbers...The major studios do not break out numbers in the stock holder reports and I've read no news on their figures.

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