A diverse group of companies from around the globe is expected to converge this week in Cannes for Milia ’95, the second Intl. Publishing and New Media Market. Established in 1994 by Variety sister company Reed Midem as a forum for firms working in various aspects of multimedia – such as entertainment and publishing – this year’s confab looks to offer a wealth of opportunities for making international distribution deals.
Companies slated to attend include Microsoft, Apple Computer, BMG, Compton’s New Media, Dorling Kindersley, the Discovery Channel, the Irish Trade Board, Japan Broadcasting Corp., Kirch Gruppe, Kodak, Penguin Books, Macmillan Publishers, US West and Voyager. And increasingly, Eastern European countries are going online: Companies hailing from Russia, Bulgaria and Poland are among Milia exhibitors. Other countries exhibiting for the first time are Israel, New Zealand, and representatives of companies have registered from such far-flung locales as South Africa, Mexico, Norway, Thailand and Ukraine.
Interactive firms affiliated with American studios however, are divided as to their perception of Milia as a key marketplace. Viacom New Media plans a major announcement of European product distribution via CIC Video Intl., a joint venture between Paramount and Universal. Though the firm has handled distribution of videocassettes worldwide for the two studios, its VP of interactive media Simon Flamank says this marks CIC’s first foray into the world of electronic publishing. The company formed a new division, he notes, specifically for interactive distribbing. “It’s a pretty big commitment on our part to this product,” Flamank says. Plans call for certain titles to be released in Europe in German and French, although a decision has not been made as to which titles. In addition to the Viacom/CIC distrib announcement, Viacom New Media prexy Michele DiLorenzo is slated to appear on a panel called “Restructuring and Recruiting: How Are Companies Meeting the Challenges of Multimedia?”
At press time, Time Warner Interactive and Time Warner Electronic Publishing had reserved booths at the show, as had a division of Sony based in Austria. Fox Interactive has no plans to exhibit, nor does Disney Interactive, although Brian Napack, Disney VP of educational publishing, is scheduled to appear on an edutainment panel.
Disney Interactive’s Amy Malsin explains the decision not to purchase booth space: “The international rollout of Disney Interactive will be concentrated on the second half of ’95. We fully intend to participate in Milia and other conferences in future, as soon as all the elements are in place for European distribution.”
Brigitte Chaintreau, senior VP of development at Reed Midem, says the event was inaugurated last year to address issues of content that don’t exist in any other form of media. “There were a lot of exhibits and conferences that got into the technology of multimedia, but for a market to develop, the content is most important. People don’t buy (electronic) equipment if they don’t want a particular program.
“The main purpose of Milia is to deal with content. The people who deliver the content for multimedia come from very different industries – illustration, book publishing, feature films, television – and there was no gathering to bring all those people together.
“Nobody has complete expertise on multimedia,” she continues. “It’s really the mixture of perspectives that creates a good product.”
Chaintreau points out one of Milia’s most important goals: to enable participants to develop co-productions. “It’s exactly the same format as Mipcom, but for the multimedia industry.”
Milia’s 20 conferences reflect that goal. Among the panels are “Multiple-Media Production Strategies,” “Ethical and Legal Issues in Exploiting Digital Imagery” and “From Gutenberg to Internet: The Changing Role of Publishers in the Information Age.”
The gathering’s international emphasis is apparent in panels with titles such as “Multimedia: The European Challenge,” “Strategies to Enter Asian Markets” and “Issues in Localization: How to Best Adapt a Multimedia Title to a Foreign Market.”
Says Chaintreau, “To talk about multimedia at the international level, you’re obliged to address different rules and different cultures. Electronic publishing in Europe is quite different from in the states.”
Marc Canter, president of San Francisco’s Canter Technology, a film production, software development and multimedia content publishing firm, is slated to participate in two panels, “Multimedia Production Strategies” and the above mentioned discussion of Asian markets.
Though he agrees with Milia’s organizers that the show promises to offer plenty of opportunities for networking and interfacing, he says it’s “a bit naive to think people will set up booths and start signing contracts. This business doesn’t work that way. But all the people I’m currently in negotiations with will be there and I’m hoping to further those relationships, so it’s another stop on the 12-month cycle of shows.”
He applauds the Milia focus on content and creativity, saying, “All the existing European shows were similar to (U.S. computer show) Comdex, which are mainly for dealers, or else they were regional shows in Amsterdam or Lon-don. This is dedicated more to the entire Continent, and it’s more of a conference than one of those trade shows where everybody’s hawking wares at a booth.”
In addition to booths and conferences, Milia will feature an official awards ceremony, the Milia d’Or; the New Talent Pavilion, where post-graduate students will exhibit selected multimedia works; and a French Ministry of Culture exhibition of works by international multimedia artists. On Jan. 12, before Milia’s opening ceremonies, the Intl. Emma Awards are scheduled to be presented. Though this event runs concurrent with Milia, it has no official connection with the show.