Big break for the little guys

Producers Network and Shorts Film Corner open market to new faces

Producers and short films will get their days in the sun at the upcoming Cannes Market. The annual trade confab running alongside the grande dame of film fests has come up with two new components to draw more participants and make the mart more meaningful.

A Producers Network debuts this year with daily breakfast gatherings designed to link producers from around the globe with financiers, agents, advisers and potential partners. And a Short Film Corner puts the spotlight on micro movies that are increasingly finding a market in the multifaceted ancillary world.

Market topper Jerome Paillard explains the first idea grew out of a desire to offer networking opportunities to a growing number of market participants who weren’t really the primary users of the market — for the most part, producers aren’t buyers or sales agents.

“For many years, we’ve seen more and more producers register at the market,” says Paillard. “Being listed in the market guide gives them some visibility and legitimacy, but it really wasn’t fully answering their needs.”

“We were thinking of doing a co-production market in Cannes, but it is not accessible enough. We can’t do what Rotterdam (Film Festival) does with Cinemart, one meeting after another — in Cannes that’s impossible.”

With a full-blown film festival and the attendant press hurricane in full force at Cannes, the distractions are too great for the straight-up, speed-dating-style biz meetings that have been so successful at the more quiet Dutch fest in February.

So, the more casual morning meets, to be held at the beachside Plage des Palmes restaurant (adjacent to the Palais des Festivals/Riviera market halls and the Intl. Village), will kick off the day for producers enrolled in the program. Tables dedicated to various topics and points of interest (e.g., documentaries, talent agents) will be hosted by experts and market vets.

Three weeks before the start of the market, some 450 individuals have registered for the Producers Network. Priced at a special rate of $400 per person, Network registration also includes a market badge and a coveted listing in the Market guide. By comparison, a regular market badge costs $1,000, though companies may register up to three individuals.

The Short Film Corner, located on Level 01 of the Palais, is actually a short-film market, according to Paillard. With more than 400 titles already registered, the Corner provides a proper theatrical venue for shorts to unspool as well as a video server that allows viewers to operate smaller, interactive screens.

Registration was open to individual filmmakers and film schools and provides unprecedented access to the market’s resources as well as exposure to buyers and others who can potentially make next projects happen.

“Last year there was a critical mass of shorts from different film schools, and they weren’t getting seen or bought,” says longtime marketing consultant and producers rep Bonnie Voland, who is heading to the Short Film Corner with a slate of seven films under her B. Voland Intl. banner.

“There’s a market that has developed now, with outlets like IFC, Bravo and Arte,” she notes. “There are all these programming blocks where you can sell 20 minutes here and there.”

The Shorts Corner also has lured new buyers, thanks to inclusion of shorts from the festival’s official selection and other sidebars.

“All the sections of the festival will be available on the video server,” Paillard says. “Now buyers will be able to watch competition shorts from the first day (of the market). That’s very important for buyers of shorts. It has convinced new buyers to come from territories like Japan and Latin America.”

At three weeks before the start of the festival and market, the Marche du Film proper is seeing a boost in most other areas as well. Paillard says registration is up 10% at this point and on course to reach 8,500 participants this year, with the largest attendance increases coming from the U.K., U.S., Asia, Spain, South Africa and Finland.

Some 13 countries will be selling product at Cannes for the first time, and about 300 buyers are registered so far. The Riviera market hall will house about 130 exhibiting companies, and the Palais another 20, along with the usual mix of market administration offices, video and buyer lounges and screening facilities.

Screenings are at record highs, too — 1,400 booked to date — and Paillard says he’s looking into finding more screens or expanding the screening hours to midnight.

“Our team is totally overbooked with requests,” he says. “This is the first year we’ve had so many requests so early. It will be very, very packed from beginning to end.”