HFM Boat Sessions #1: Sales & Distribution

We need a bigger boat  Between mean­ingful metaphors comparing the selling of a film to the selling of a house (appar­ently a house sale is an alto­gether more trans­parent trans­ac­tion) and navi­gating a wide boat through a very narrow tunnel (at the end of which there may just be some light), HFM guests and experts got to grips with the busi­ness of sales and distri­b­u­tion Sunday 29 September. The standing-room only discus­sion took place on the self-same wide boat and was moder­ated by Mathias Noschis from Berlin-based boutique social media agency Alpha­panda. Topics ranged from the inter­na­tional appeal and market ability of Dutch cinema, the amount of monies set aside for marketing across all budgets of film, an inevitable assess­ment of Netflix as a force for good for or bad vis a vis Euro­pean arthouse content, and a brief overview of the kids genre during which Joram Willink of BIND Film described his successful 3‑year campaign to get his award-winning My Extra­or­di­nary Summer With Tess into Berli­nale Gener­a­tion. The film bene­fited from an accord between the Dutch and German indus­tries to boost the range and quality of co-produc­tions made for kids. Other key contri­bu­tions were from Trustnordisk’s Silje Niko­line Glimsdal who advised against selling a project outright too cheaply to the likes of Netflix when indi­vidual sales across global terri­to­ries can net consid­er­ably higher aggre­gate returns. The most vocal contri­bu­tion was made by XYZ Films’ Todd Brown who addressed the ques­tion of the crossover film’, ie the arthouse project with commer­cial poten­tial, stressing how thinking commer­cial in the first place should be an axiomatic prin­ciple. Crossover is a bull­shit term, and it ties back into the first ques­tion about whether Dutch­ness is the limiting factor in Dutch films trav­el­ling, and the answer is no, it isn’t,” he said. When it comes to the market­place, basi­cally there is English-language film and there is every­thing else. Dutch film is no more disad­van­taged than any other non-English film. The issue is that people aren’t asking the ques­tion of who is the audi­ence for the movie. This is a medium that demands an audi­ence to work. If you are not asking who your audi­ence is when you are devel­oping it then you are doing wrong. It really is that simple.” I believe 100% that there is a place for art film, it matters,” he continued, before adding a big but’. Things like the Hubert Bals Fund are incred­ibly impor­tant in terms of bringing voices to the world. The down­side is that I think it is creating a culture here that is driving the types of films that are being devel­oped, and the reality of the HBF films is that, by nature of the areas that they are looking for stories from, they are inher­ently non-commer­cial films. They are liter­ally films without an audi­ence outside of the festival. And when that becomes the domi­nant thread of an industry, that creates prob­lems.” Tekst: Nick Cunningham 
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