Buyers, sellers ready for frisky Market

For big sellers it's go, go, go, for the small it is sloooow

BERLIN — The beginning of big film markets accents an odd division among companies involved in the international sales biz: The big get busy, the small take it nice and sloooow.

“We’ve got back to back meetings, we’re 45 minutes late and we’ve been like this for two days already,” a receptionist at Summit Entertainment’s Hyatt suite said Thursday afternoon, before inquiring what this caller wanted.

Celluloid Dreams and Fortissimo similarly dismissed inquiries about levels of business on the first day, with breathless retorts that they’d been meeting clients since Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Martin Gropius Bau, which is run by topper Beki Probst, only put on a user-friendly face from Thursday.

For some of the smaller sellers, the Bau biz only cranked from first to second gear by the afternoon. Early morning flurries of snow added a romantic dusting to a largely tranquil setting.

Several companies used the morning session to continue with stand building and decoration, safe in the knowledge that their bare walls were not putting off much in the way of passing traffic.

“We were here by nine,” one Korean seller said. “That was too early.”

According to one informed estimate, only 3,000 of the more than 7,000 registered Market participants showed up on day one.

For Market veterans the gentle start was no surprise.

Day one had only a few buyer screenings, and plenty of Europeans from both sides of the buying and selling divide felt safe in using Thursday as a travel day.

However, what was a mistake for a handful of Brits and others coming through London, where heavy snows caused travel chaos.

“They cancelled all the other flights, but I got away after a three-hour delay,” Ealing Studios and Fragile Films exec Natalie Brenner said after traveling EasyJet from Gatwick.

Moviehouse Entertainment’s Gary Phillips was another who was delayed; he reached the German capital at dusk.

Those who did get to the Mart on time seemed generally charmed with the Bau house.

“We are very pleased. They’ve listened to what we asked for,” Swiss Films’ Francine Bruecher said.

Over at the spillover section in a strikingly angular building on Potsdamer Platz, temporarily dubbed the EFM Business Office, execs were as undecided as ever.

“We asked to be in the Gropius Bau, but were told there is no space,” said one sales agent looking out on a quiet fifth floor corridor. “It seems to take the buyers a long time to find their way here.”

Others, however, remarked that the spillover annex was cheaper than the Martin Gropius Bau — where there was griping about price gouging and $779 charges for Internet access — and therefore better value for money. Plus ca change.

But every year buyers and sellers find new ways of getting together.

Last year the shuttle busses between the Bau and the Berlinale Palast were an unexpected boon, provoking impromptu and oddly intimate deals.

This time the Bau’s entrance ramp is already a contender to fulfil that function. The new EFM smoking ban, for the first time enforced throughout the entire building, has forced nicotine addicts outdoors.

The Market must have seen this coming: An officially sanctioned hot dog vendor stands with Bratwurst at the ready.

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