After decades of being looked down upon in the heavily subsidized Scandinavian media industries, marketing and distribution are being moved to the front burner.
More cash and effort than ever before are being thrown at the business of hawking Nordic film both inside the region and internationally. Although some of the coin comes from private sources such as commercial TV and box office admissions, it still gets doled out through the state funding sources, the same ones which for decades have disdained sullying film’s artistic side with money-grubbing business details.
The change in attitude is coming from all flanks, from producers eyeing the potential of the international market to politicians tired of handing out lucre for films that are seen by few people to funding chiefs themselves.
“The idea ‘ I’m an artist, I want to make a film, you have to give me money’ is no longer acceptable. Instead of making 10 subsidized films, we now say let’s make nine and use the rest of the money for marketing,” notes Jan Erik Holst, Norwegian Film Institute topper.
Earmarking more money for marketing, he believes, has helped successfully deliver such Norwegian films as “The Telegraphist” and “Dreamplay” to international auds instead of becoming victims of typically Scandi low-profile peddling.
The NFI helped organize the first Nordic Film Market held at Haugesund in mid-August. Although market attendees criticized it for having too few buyers, Danish Film Institute fest chief Lissy Bellaiche sees it as a useful tool.
Bellaiche herself is no slouch when it comes to marketing. She returned this fall from a 16-city roadshow through Latin America with nine Danish films, taking along taped interviews, t-shirts and bags to refresh buyers’ memories.
Like other funding sources across the Nordic territories, DFI puts up matching funds which require producers to come up with marketing and distrib plans. The latter, says Bellaiche, “are tracked from the outset.” Once, she recalls, producers would make their films but then run out of money to market them. Now, “they realize you can’t live on prizes alone. You’ve got to get out there and sell.”
Increased marketing and a more commercial approach by directors has translated into pics such as “Nightwatch” being sold to more than 40 territories by Nordisk Film TV Distribution, the region’s only seller of pan-Nordic fare. The distrib will spend “10 times as much on marketing Lars Von Trier’s (forthcoming erotic melodrama) ‘ Breaking the Waves’ it might have five years ago,” notes Hanne Drewsen, marketing manager.
New commercially oriented fare such as Jorn Faurschou’s mad scientist thriller “Body Switch,” unveiled by Nordisk at Mifed this fall, is expected to make a splash.
In the final analysis, adds Drewsen, “it’s not about being commercial. It’s about whether or not the film is well made.”