Fortissimo Films, the Amsterdam- and Beijing-based film rights sales company, is launching a talent agency that will represent international talent in the growing Chinese film industry.
As the Chinese film industry expands and matures, Chinese directors and producers are keen to work with overseas talents. This helps them fill certain skills gaps, enhance their stories and achieve better international recognition.
The Chinese film industry is now one of the largest in the world, with annual production of around 1,000 features and local box office comparable to that of North America. The scale of the market, major production budgets and different storytelling creates significant new opportunities for Western talent.
International co-production is not a prerequisite for employment of overseas talent by Chinese films.
“The Eight Hundred,” the highest-grossing film of 2020, employed two foreign composers, and foreign talent in sound recording, sound effects, the music department, as well as trailer editor, in special effects and digital effects.
As China currently maintains significant COVID-related travel restrictions, Fortissimo will initially seek to match those talents who can work remotely such as writers, composers and editors. As of the early July, it has signed 15 international talents, including two cinematographers.
The agency will be headed by Fortissimo’s Beijing head Clement Magar, while Gabrielle Rozing will oversee worldwide rights sales from the Amsterdam office.
“There is a great interest from both Chinese film industry and international talents to work together, we are thrilled to facilitate these collaborations and help Chinese productions to connect better with international audiences,” said Magar. “We want to create a large network of international talents so we can respond quickly to the needs of the Chinese film and TV market. The demand for international technical talents is more obvious now, but we will observe the market and add directors and actors if we see opportunities.”
Fortissimo, co-founded by the late Wouter Barendrecht and Helen Loveridge in 1991, has been a familiar figure for years in Cannes. It played a major discovery role in bringing Asian commercial and arthouse films and filmmakers to the attention of festivals and overseas distributors. After bankruptcy and the loss of some of its catalog titles, Fortissimo was acquired in 2017 and revived by China’s Hehe Pictures, a film producer and financier that has backing from Alibaba Pictures.
The agency’s initial roster of talent includes: screenwriters Guillem Clua (“Innocent”), David Desola (“The Paramedic”), Guillaume Laurant (“Amelie,” “I Lost My Body”), Pedro Rivera (“The Platform”), Roelof Jan Minneboo (“The Gentle Indifference of the World”); composers Laurent Couson (“The Nightingale”), Nicolas Errera (“The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir,” “Hidden Man”), Pascal Gaigne (“Handia”), Ton That An (“True Mothers”), Federico Solazzo (“Mocro Mafia”), Fernando Velázquez (“Innocent,” “Crimson Peak”); editors Teresa Font (“Pain and Glory,” “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”), Jérôme Pesnel (“Enter the Void”); and cinematographers Constanze Schmitt (“A Fish Swimming Upside Down,” “She Runs”) and Valentin Vignet (“Faces Places”).