Gregoire Melin shot onto the French sales scene as an independent at this year's Cannes with a new company and a line-up of notable, robust-selling titles. But he is no wet-behind-the-ears newcomer. The founder of new label Kinology, Melin began his career in sales at French major Gaumont in 1998. Having impressed then-Gaumont head of worldwide sales and marketing Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, Melin followed him in 2001 to EuropaCorp, which was just starting out under the aegis of Luc Besson and Le Pogam.
At Europa, Melin developed the international side of what has become one of the most important mini-majors working today. After several years, Melin decided to strike out on his own. He launched Kinology two weeks before Cannes with a first-look deal with the new production and acquisition subsidiary of France Telecom, Studio 37, in his pocket.
"I thought it would be interesting to take about three or four ambitious projects per year and find money for them internationally," says Melin of why he launched his own company.
Melin certainly gained experience doing just that at Europa, taking around 800 meetings a year with distributors. "I try to find films that correspond to me and where I think I can provide added value," he explains.
In other words, Melin wants to work on ambitious projects produced, although not necessarily directed by, French film-makers.
"For once, there are ambitious films in France and they should be made in the best conditions. There's so much talent here, we have to accompany it. These people are the geniuses of the cinema of tomorrow."
That talent includes producer Aton Soumache and director Antoine Charreyron who are making the English-language The Prodigies, a $40m motion-capture action-thriller.
Kinology is also handling Jean-Francois Richet's two-part $70m biopic of criminal Jacques Mesrine, produced by Thomas Langmann, which was a big seller for the company at Cannes, and Mathieu Kassovitz's action drama Rebellion, which is set to shoot later this year or in early 2009. Rebellion falls under the Studio 37 deal, whereby Studio 37 will advance the minimum guarantee and Kinology will handle international sales.
Melin, who has hired a staff of two, intends to work with about six to eight films a year - three or four of which will have big budgets. "On expensive films, there's a lot of financing to be done and I feel a bit more at ease in that domain," he explains. "Working on budgets of $15m and above doesn't frighten me. You know very quickly whether a film can be done or not vis a vis the budget."