Looking out for first-time helmers

Magneron to lead Eye on Films initiative

A distrib initiative launched at the Berlinale promises to dramatically improve theatrical distribution and festival exposure for European and world cinema titles from first-time directors.

Spearheaded by Loic Magneron, founder and general manager of Paris-based independent sales company Wide Management, Eye on Films brings together distributors and fests from around the world in a network that guarantees the circulation of a selection of 12 first features, six European and six non-European, in 14 fests this year, including Rio, Montreal, Mannheim-Heidelberg, Edinburgh, Seattle and Seville.

It’s something the industry has long talked about but not realized until now. Magneron says in the 25 years he’s worked in the film industry, first-time directors have always faced difficulties getting their films distributed. “It’s a difficult niche to promote, sell and release,” Magneron said.

EoF is set to change that.

The 16 distribs that have so far signed up for the initiative include France’s Kanibal Films, First Run Features in the U.S., EYZ Media in Germany, Curious Films (Australia/New Zealand), Italy’s Nomad Film and Aquelarre Servicios Cinematograficos in Spain.

“If we talk about Jean-Luc Godard or Francois Truffaut, everybody says they are masters. Yes, but they had the time to learn their craft. … Today, if you’re a first-time director, if the first film doesn’t work, it’s extremely difficult to do another film.”

Key to the enterprise is the creation of a specific label for inaugural features. Selected by members of its network of distributors and fests, the EoF label also may increase its number of pics from 12 in the future.

The films will screen at participating festivals; distrib members will have to acquire at least two EoF films per year for theatrical release.

Magneron says EoF will try to strengthen the link between fests and distribs and bridge the gap between fest screenings and commercial releases. Distributors often may be reluctant to acquire pics that have unspooled in domestic fests if they’ve already been reviewed in the press and viewed by part of their potential audience.

EoF will promote its pics via social media and online platforms like YouTube, as well as classic advertising platforms.

As an associate EoF partner, industry database service Cinando has created a specific EoF group allowing members to share information. EoF will use Cinando’s Online Screening Room to upload titles for pre-selection.

The 12 selected EoF films will also be available on Cinando for buyers and fest directors outside the network to view for commercial and marketing purposes.

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