MARKETS & FESTIVALS
Generally speaking, the traditional market for most documentaries is the broadcast market, including all forms of free, pay, and on-demand. The emerging market is increasingly new media: streaming and downloading.
When we assess a new film for our catalogue we look at its sales potential in the following markets (in order of importance). For us, category 1 and 2 are of essential importance.
1) Festival potential (especially if an invitation to a LAUNCH PAD festival is possible)
2) All forms of broadcast
3) Theatrical and non-theatrical
5) VOD (used to be the DVD market)
Once we have signed to represent a documentary we will be responsible to find a launch pad for the film. We use as our primary launch pads: Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, and IDFA Amsterdam.
At the same time we determine WHERE we will premiere the film for the broadcast market. Our broadcast launch pads are: Miptv in April and Mipcom in October, both in Cannes. In addition, another place where there are many broadcast buyers from around the world actively looking at new films is IDFA. Every year we launch titles at IDFA for the broadcast market. We attend many festivals and markets around the world to meet with our clients throughout the year.
We believe that festivals are an important tool to create interest from other festival programmers, theatrical distributors, video distributors as well as TV buyers. They are also crucial for gaining prestige, reviews, buzz, and contact with audiences and other filmmakers. The higher a profile a film can obtain the more good press it will receive, the more awards it will win, the better the chances are that it will be shown at many other festivals and the more sales we can make.
However, in order to create a good worldwide launch we need control over this. If a film has already been given to non-launch pad festivals before we come on board it is very hard to get them IN a launch-pad festival. We have created a ROADMAP of the worldwide festival circuit for our filmmakers and update this regularly. This document is a guideline for producers we work with and tells them which festival to approach (with our support, as we know them all) once the film LAUNCH PAD has been determined. If your film goes to IDFA (November) the map will point out what festivals to approach, starting right after IDFA for the following year.
Whereas most countries have one festival we are interested in, the USA has many that are important for a launch in that country. Therefore the USA has a separate launch strategy.
Here are some examples of important festivals (beside the launch pads) on our International Roadmap: Hotdocs, Nyon, Sheffield, It’s All True, Sydney and Melbourne, Leipzig, Jihlava, Thessaloniki, Encounters, and many more.
Some of these festivals have prestigious competitions. This can be an alternative launch for a film if the major LAUNCH PAD festivals refused to program the film. For example: IDFA and Sundance say no, the film then starts at the Nyon competition a few months later. Many films we work with also have potential with targeted thematic festivals, such as the Human Rights Watch Film Festival for films dealing with human rights.
Throughout the year we enter our films in video libraries so that buyers can watch them at IDFA, Sunny Side, Hot Docs, Sheffield, Nyon, Leipzig, Thessaloniki among others.
In between travel and festivals we are following up by phone, e-mail, and through personal meetings to make sure that all our clients pay attention to all of our films and watch those that they have expressed interest in. A couple of trends we notice: 1. Broadcast buyers screen less films at festivals or markets than they used to. Instead they will ask for a viewing link. This means that we loose a bit of control over what circumstances a film is being seen. 2. Given the number of films on the market some of our clients have a designated person or a small team of people who screen films first and then report to the buyer. Some clients have a selection committee who determine what films they want.
We attend markets and meet with filmmakers to talk about their projects at IDFA Forum, Sunnyside of the Doc, Sheffield Meet Market, Hot Docs Forum, Sundance Film Festival, Independent Film Week, Tribeca All Access, among others.
We are invited around the world to participate in panels. Some examples: IDFA, Sundance, SXSW, Hot Docs, Sunny Side, AIDC, Sheffield, Doc Montevideo. We have moderated pitching forums at IDFA, Hot Docs, Nordisk Forum. We have given and give workshops regarding Pitching, Who-is-Who sessions and many other events. Each year we work as Executive Producer and/or Creative Producer on a few film projects as well.