Monday night at the Residence Villa Royale off the Croisette, sales agents, distribution reps, indie producers and filmmakers gathered at the third-floor office of German sales company the Match Factory to hear about a new effort called Distribution 2.0. The initiative is designed to band together elements of the indie world to figure out how to better utilize social media to promote and distribute their international films, as well as provide financial support for those efforts.
“We’re just trying to improve our communication skills and better brand our directors through social networking,” said the Match Factory’s Jenny Walendy, who devised and presented the project with managing director Michael Weber.
Undoubtedly, these tools are essential for drawing audiences to low-budget art films without the money for wide-ranging print campaigns, and the participants at the Monday event seemed to recognize that they are behind in employing them. With VOD and other web technology rapidly changing the indie distribution landscape, foreign territories have been slow to adopt Facebook and Twitter as effective promotional machines.
For example, Indonesia, India and Mexico are the countries with the fifth, sixth and seventh highest numbers of Twitter accounts in the world, according to one study, yet few sales companies or distributors use them to engage potential audiences. Viral marketing and fans’ access to filmmakers have a long way to go for smaller films in these territories.
Among the initial distributors that have partnered with the new Distribution 2.0 effort are Germany’s Pandora Film, Mexico’s Canana, Hungary’s Cinefil, Taiwan’s Joint Entertainment and the United States’ Strand Releasing. German tech company Europe’s Finest is building a digital platform that will allow members to share ground-level marketing strategies that tie into new distribution models, as well as provide a forum for reporting feedback to improve on those efforts.
Strand co-president Marcus Hu notes that his company’s “Oslo, August 31st” will be the guinea pig when it opens May 25 in New York City. The Joachim Trier-directed drama, which had its world premiere in the Un Certain Regard program at Cannes 2011 before running the international festival circuit, will take advantage of Distribution 2.0 funds to create interactive online and radio advertising with NPR, Filmmaker magazine, Rotten Tomatoes, Time Out New York, Village Voice and more.
Hu says that these ad buys are a “luxury” that he rarely has in hand when marketing Strand’s films, and in this case they will build on a year’s worth of strong critical response to the film.
Europa International is hosting a conference/workshop in November for sales agents from member companies such as London’s HanWay Films, Amsterdam’s Fortissimo Films and Vienna’s EastWest Filmdistribution that rep sales-agency interests around Europe. Walendy claims that the organization now has 30 members from 11 countries.
The European Union’s Media Mundus program supports the Distribution 2.0 project.