×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

CMG’s Giulia Prenna Wins 2018 Cinando Awards’ Best Seller Contest

WestEnd’s Anil Ravdjee takes runner-up in competition of eight up-and-coming sales execs

Giulia Prenna, an executive sales and acquisition consultant at Cinema Management Group, won the Best Seller Award at the 3rd Cinando Awards’ Best Seller Contest, which took place May 15-16 at the Cannes Film Market.

Prenna was among eight up-and-coming sales executives who pitched from a choice of two first feature projects, Sylvain Robineau’s French comedy “Sabine” and Fisnik Maxhuni’s “Syzygy,” a Swiss-Kosovo production, to a panel of international buyers. The Honor Prize was awarded to runner-up Anil Ravdjee, a sales executive at WestEnd Films.

The competitors pitched to a jury of prestigious distributors and producers, including Michel Merkt, from Monaco’s KNM, Jakub Duszynski of Poland’s Gutek Film, Elba McAllister, owner of Cineplex in Colombia, and Cyril Burkel of France’s Metropolitan Filmexport.

Cannes Film Market executive director Jerome Paillard praised Prenna’s award-winning pitch, noting that “what makes a good sales agent [is] the capacity to take…the market point of view and transform it into something that is sellable.”

Prenna began her career as an intern for Akiva Goldsman at Warner Bros., before moving on to Paradigm Talent Agency and then working with Hollywood Gang producer Gianni Nunnari.

She set out to start her own production company, but soon realized that she didn’t have enough experience selling indie films to excel at the likes of the Cannes Film Market or the AFM. So she “started again from the ground up,” interning at a sales company to help her understand “what happened to independent movies” once they entered the market.

At CMG, “I’m trying to weigh what the marketplace is looking for at the moment, and what I know I can put forward that…will work in my distributors’ territories,” she said. At the Cinando competition, she chose to pitch “Sabine” because it had universal elements, like love and grief, and Prenna knew “it can make money for my distributors.”

Though the jury panel included “some pretty heavy-hitters in the business,” she said she keeps her cool by trying to anticipate her prospective buyers’ needs. “You just think, ‘I know this project’s for them, and I know they can do really well with it.’”

Sales, said Prenna, is about building personal relationships that come down to knowing and understanding each other’s needs. “I want [buyers] to succeed, because it helps me succeed as well, because they’ll want to buy more films, and they’ll still be in the business in 10 years’ time, and we’ll have this long-term relationship,” she said.

The France-born Ravdjee entered the industry as an intern at SBS Productions before producing music video and commercials. He moved to London “to work in a more international environment,” joining WestEnd Films in 2016 and beginning to sell films at the 2017 Cannes Film Market. He admitted that stepping into the Palais for the first time, “you have stars in your eyes.” He called the experience “a dream come true.”

Sales for Ravdjee is a process of trial and error. “You start pitching, you see how buyers react, and you adapt your pitch to that,” he said. A year after his first visit to Cannes, he feels himself “getting more at ease with trying to get to the core of the project.” Ravdjee tries to focus on the key elements of a film that will “make it a bit more appealing to distributors,” including delivery time, casting choices, and production budget. As a sales agent, he said, “you try to put yourself…in the shoes of the audience [and ask], ‘What do I want to hear about a film that will make me want to go see it?’”

In describing his approach to pitching “Syzygy,” a complex Balkan drama with no well-known talent attached, Ravdjee noted the success WestEnd had with “The Hostages,” a Georgian hijacking drama by director Rezo Gigineishvili that premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama section in 2017. Though Gigineishvili and the film’s cast were unknowns, Ravdjee said he was able to connect with the film in a way that fueled the passion in his sales pitch, propelling the film to a strong festival run, including Telluride. “You have to try to be able to convey your passion for the project to convince buyers that it’s something for them to look at,” he said.

In assessing the competition, KNM’s Merkt said there’s no such thing as a “perfect recipe” when it comes to making a sales pitch, although he stressed a good pitch should be “simple and clear.”

“I really need to have…a great story, a believable world, and engaging characters,” he said. “If you put that together in three sentences, it’s done.”

He added that he likes to see a “road map” that shows a script is leading to a big payoff. “You go from paper to emotions, so I want to feel these emotions,” he said.

Just as important, said McCallister, of Cineplex, is a detailed plan that shows a producer has a clear strategy for production and distribution. “As buyers, we ask for references, how much the budget is, where they see the film being played for the first time,” she said. A strong pitch will zero in on the key “selling point” that will hook movie-goers. Because buyers, she noted, “become sellers to the audience.”

Merkt agreed. “I want to know who’s going to be my audience. Because if the guy who’s pitching me doesn’t know, we are in big trouble. I want them to tell me why I have to buy it now.”

Though the eight competitors in the Cinando Awards’ Best Seller Contest included seasoned pros, Merkt praised the newcomers who learned the ropes during the two-day event. “They’re not all sales agents, so I’m very happy they came [to pitch], because it’s not easy,” he said.

More Film

  • UGC Distribution Closes on Mariano Cohn’s

    Ventana Sur: UGC Distribution Closes Market Hit ‘4 x 4’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — UGC Distribution has beaten out all other suitors to clinch what had became by Friday morning the most anticipated deal of this year’s Ventana Sur market: All rights to France on Argentine Mariano Cohn’s “4 x 4,” sold by Latido Films and distributed throughout Argentina by Disney. After mounting speculation about which [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Hits $152 Million at International Box Office

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” has already grossed more than $150 million outside the U.S., Michael Masini joins “Birds of Prey,” and Freestyle buys the documentary “Shamanic Trekker.” BOX OFFICE Warner Bros.’ tentpole “Aquaman” has taken in $152 million overseas in 36 markets, with $135 million of that from China, where it opened on [...]

  • 'Winter's Night' Review: Enigmatic, Offbeat Korean

    Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night'

    There are thousands of films about love’s beginning, and a great many about love’s end. But far fewer deal with a relationship’s late-middle: the spreading, sluggish delta of coupledom when decades of familiarity, if they have not bred contempt, at least threaten irritation. “Winter’s Night,” Jang Woo-jin’s playfully melancholic third feature, after the acclaimed “A [...]

  • Tomasz Kot UTA

    UTA Signs ‘Cold War’ Star Tomasz Kot (EXCLUSIVE)

    UTA has signed “Cold War” star Tomasz Kot. He has appeared in more than 30 films and 26 plays as well as dozens of television series. Most recently, Kot has received award-season buzz for his starring role as Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski’s feature “Cold War” for Amazon. The project has earned him a nomination for [...]

  • Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening

    Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening Palm Springs Film Festival

    The 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Jan. 3 with historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh, who will be in attendance at the opening night screening, directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh [...]

  • Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies

    Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies at 77

    Actor, activist and influentials member of the Japanese American community, Rodney Kageyama, died in his sleep Dec. 9. He was 77. The SAG member was known for roles in “Karate Kid IV” with Hillary Swank, Ron Howard’s film “Gung Ho” and the spinoff sitcom, and the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes” with Max [...]

  • Most Popular Films 2018: The Best

    9 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired by This Year's Most Popular Films

    From superheroes to super nannies, 2018 was a year full of memorable characters — and memorable movies. Whether you’re a big film buff, an avid follower of a popular franchise, or have a couple movie fans in your life, here are nine gifts that capture the fun of some of this year’s biggest films. 1. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content