Film Market Case Studies


With Toronto and AFM in the near distance, I’m getting a lot of questions lately about how to best prepare for these events, and one of the best ways to learn is to study how others have done it (at least in my opinion).

Full disclosure: Both of these case studies were part of my private Film Market Consulting program where I work one-on-one with clients on helping them get their projects to market. 


Case Study #1 Cannes 2013 – Enter Barbara with a slate of films in development

WHAT IS THE NAME AND LOG LINE OF YOUR FILM?

We focused on four projects at Cannes:

THE CANNIBAL CHICKEN EATERS, Romantic comedy zombie movie in 3D

Log line: A young couple try to patch up their rocky relationship inconveniently complicated by a world gone mad with chicken cannibalism.

THE HEART THAT ROARED, Dramatic comedy

Log line: After escaping from a psych ward with the aid of two Israeli ex-commandos, an eccentric NYC salesman finds the courage to love. Based on a true story.

ONE LIFE LATER, Action drama

Log line: Through tragic events, a successful London businessman struggles to find his soul in a previous 13th century past life.

FLIES AND ANGELS, Drama

Log line: A young man desperately struggles to survive the daily horrors of a notorious Mumbai jail while facing the nightmare of his own inner prison.  A true story.

WHAT IS THE WEBSITE FOR YOUR FILM?

 
www.uhfilms.com

WHAT IS THE BUDGET FOR YOUR FILM?

THE CANNIBAL CHICKEN EATERS! – $1.5mUSD

FLIES AND ANGELS – $5mUSD

THE HEART THAT ROARED – $11mUSD

ONE LIFE LATER – $30mUSD

WHAT STAGE WERE YOU AT WITH YOUR FILM(S) BEFORE GOING TO CANNES & WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY GOING IN? WHAT DID YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?

The four projects are scripted, two with directors and cast attached. We set out to attach sales agents and financiers and possibly a director.

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE OBSTACLES YOU ENCOUNTERED AT CANNES AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

We had a hand picked hit list from Stacey of two tiers of sales agents, an A and B list, plus a list of possible financiers so were very focused. The bigger the agent or financier, it was harder to get a meeting. But surprisingly, we managed to break through with a record number. Several of the big boys left early and meetings were canceled but we were met by others in their company and given direct contact details to forward projects.

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES OR WASTE OF TIME YOU ENCOUNTERED EITHER IN PREPARING FOR CANNES OR AT THE FILM MARKET ITSELF?

I spent a considerable amount of time developing power point presentations for two projects which agents have no time to sit through. I’d previously printed pitch decks which usually end up in an agents bin.

WHAT RESOURCES OR TOOLS DID YOU FIND MOST HELPFUL IN PREPARING FOR CANNES?

Stacey’s advice on virtually everything. Who to target, how to target, when, legal advice, focusing and improving our image, advice on marketing tools and any possible question night or day I asked, she was there, and there is an 8 hour time difference between us!

WHAT HAS BEEN THE ULTIMATE OUTCOME AND DID YOU ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOALS?

The outcome from Cannes has been script requests from seven sales agents (some requesting all four projects we pitched), three directors and one financier with a meeting in London with our team and more to come. And the process is ongoing. I feel we have exceeded our goals.

WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS FROM HERE?

To continue the process. This week we are following up with all those we have scripts out to. To continue casting and nailing finance. To achieve one project out of the gate and into the cinema with a screening in Cannes next year and to stay focused and make good films.


Case Study #2 from this past Cannes: Enter Chris with a Completed Film....

WHAT IS THE NAME AND LOG LINE OF YOUR FILM?

The Right Juice

Oliver, failed, bankrupt and fresh from the city, is pursuing fulfillment by growing oranges on an old farm. He and his neighbor, Manel, face unprincipled enemies in a highly amusing quest to save their valley from exploitation.

WHAT IS THE WEBSITE FOR YOUR FILM?



WHAT IS THE BUDGET FOR YOUR FILM?

150k Euro cash out.  450k Euro including all deferred costs and corporate sponsorships.

WHAT STAGE WERE YOU AT WITH YOUR FILM(S) BEFORE GOING TO CANNES & WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY GOING IN? WHAT DID YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?

Our dream was originally to bring the finished film to the market with the goal to sell, however it worked out much better than that.  The film is now reaching the end of post, with the composer and musicians, and credits are almost finished.  As we didn’t have a finished film, we decided not to bring the Director to the market, and instead two of us which are working the commercial aspects of the project went.  The mission was to get a feel for the system, as this is our first sale of a film, and to get as many contacts as possible.

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE OBSTACLES YOU ENCOUNTERED AT CANNES AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

The biggest obstacle in Cannes was the lack of time.  One night we got back to the hotel at 2am.  This was the early night.  Red Bull came to the rescue!  It was hitting the market all day and spending the evenings arranging meetings for the following day.

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES OR WASTE OF TIME YOU ENCOUNTERED EITHER IN PREPARING FOR CANNES OR AT THE FILM MARKET ITSELF?

The organization of Cannes is, in my opinion, a nightmare.  For example, I signed up for the Producers Workshop, but it was not advertised in advance that this workshop was only the first two days, and we got there the day after.  Total waste of money.

We also spent our first two days in the actual market conference space, and after casing the whole place and finding the contacts which we had pre-discovered (many with the help from Stacey), I realized that this is not where the action was happening.  It seems there are different stratospheres of industry.  The market convention is for scrappers like us who buy our way in.  The hotels are rented out by the bigger boys, and I’m assuming the real big players were out on their yachts or something.  We met people who tried to convince us they were famous, but that in itself tells you enough.

With our market passes, we were able to get into the hotels, and that is were we picked up the most interesting leads. I was surprised at how small the thinking was of most of the people.  We are thinking much larger, although our thinking could be based on lack of experience... time will tell.

WHAT RESOURCES OR TOOLS DID YOU FIND MOST HELPFUL IN PREPARING FOR CANNES?

I read a lot about the festival and market, watched online videos.  It was all useless.  Just go with piles of business cards and don’t rest!

WHAT HAS BEEN THE ULTIMATE OUTCOME AND DID YOU ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOALS?

We have multiple established contacts which are still warm, which is what we wanted.  I have refined our sales attack strategy based on the experience, which gives us more confidence.

IF YOU HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?

Honestly, we did all we could without having a film in hand, and even if we had a film we wouldn’t have known what to do with it.  Going this time on a learning mission was certainly the right thing to do.  Well, as I write this, we didn’t bring tuxedo’s, which we definitely should have done.  Looked a bit awkward along the way, as we got invited into all sorts of interesting evening events!

WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS FROM HERE?

Finish the film. Sell the film.  No, seriously, we have a three phase strategy and the first phase is to effectively ignore all the wisdom of conservative reality we learned in Cannes and are going to go for the top festivals in order to get the interest of the top distributors.  Maybe engage a sales agent along the way, but would have to be someone who really buys into the dream of the project...