Thursday, 11 December 2008

Day 3, Panel - View from the Studios

Panelists (right to left): John Fletcher (MD, Pathe), Michael Gubbins, Chair (Editor Screen International) and Andrew Woodyatt (Lionsgate).

Chair, Michael kicked off by talking about 'Turf theory', i.e. concepts around target audiences, geo-demographics and 'tribal' buying behaviours. 

Andrew introduced himself talking about some of the films they distribute, including talking about how the work with Tyler Perry in the US, noting the practical challenges of bringing his films to the UK, also noting that his audience is 90% black.

John began by explaining the process that Pathe go through in putting together the numbers behind a purchasing and distribution investment decision.
Also talked about the flexibility an independent has in terms of the artistic choice and diversity of films they can go with, but qualified it by emphasising that the numbers still need to work.
Highlighted that Adulthood very much surprised them at the success it had; recouping it's 'lifetime' projected income target of £1m in just a few weeks.

John: "Our job is to access the risk".

Michael talking about the assumptions inherent in marketing and pushing certain films: "There is an assumption that this film is for white middle class Guardian reader", implying that this needs challenging more regularly; as in the case with Adulthood and Revolver's deliberate strategy to not go the art house route.

Michael: 'I've never met anyone in the industry who is overtly racist, yet some of the decisions made (in terms of targeted distribution and marketing) are based on simplistic views of the audience or appropriate placement' - 'the finger in the air strategy....have they done the mapping?'

Lorraine added that there needs to be a more considered approach to packaging and marketing films to the right audiences, using the example of the 'Secret Life of Bees', saying that was very successful when she screened it - for families, rather than how it was promoted in more of a Art House context.

Andrew talked about Bollywood & Nollywood and the particular cultural behaviour and film-making 'formula' that seems to have led to a certain sustainability.
Michael added that there is also a culture of piracy, that ironically, arguably ends up supporting the Bollywood industry in that people share and become loyal to the product and consume on a number of levels?

Andrew made an interesting point about contemporary economic and social constraints leading to changing consuming behaviours and gave the example of a people, cash rich but time poor - going out during the day, whilst a film downloads, comes back late and watches it at home, rather than go to a cinema.

Michael: "80% of film-makers only make one film"

Michael: "Invisibility is what kills.....therefore is it better to give content away and/or be pirated - in order for film-makers to build up a base"
John: " long as you can anticipate income stream at the end"

John: "Will cinema become like fringe festival?"
Suhail: "It's partly about cinema in unconventional places....but there IS a large market, in for example the 'urban' market"
Zachary: " creative, there's different ways to show films - diversify your ways to engage audiences and diversify the ways you make money from it"

Rob: "Immersiveness is changing, and therefore there are new and different opportunities- thinking about the cinematic experience, virtual reality, digital media, other live immersive spaces such as clubs & festivals"

John talking about how people are watching films in different ways, particularly young people. E.g. watching films on iPods - check this view from David Lynch below!

Rob: "..but bear in mind that a lot of people just want to say they've seen tourists"

John: "Word of mouth is  the right strategy for some films".

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