The head of French sales outfit Wide Management talks about new global network Eye On Films (EoF).

EoF currently consists of 16 distributors and 15 festivals - comprising the EoF board - who will select a total of 12 first features (six European, six non-European) by the end of the year, at least two of which they will be obliged to distribute or screen.

The festival and distributor ‘partners’ will receive subsidies from Wide, which received €200,000 backing from MEDIA Mundus, the recently formed branch of the MEDIA programme dedicated to strengthening ties between the European and international film industries, for the promotion and distribution of their chosen titles.

WideManagement Managing Director Loic Magneron talked to Screen about the project.

What was the motivation for creating EoF?

The space for art house film and first time directors is becoming smaller. In France if your first film doesn’t succeed it’s extremely difficult to make another film. Abroad, if you don’t have the support of festivals, cinephiles, critics, it’s very unlikely for directors to make a second film. But Truffaut and Godard only became famous after many short films and a certain period of directing!
It’s increasingly difficult to find distributors willing to take the risk of marketing these films under the director’s names. I’m very sad about this issue. That’s why I wanted to increase visibility for newcomers. If we don’t find new auteurs and support first time talent the industry will not function

When will it get underway?

Officially the project started ten days ago. We are currently considering a Canadian film, Oliver Sherman, and listening to different suggestions from partners. At the end of Berlin we hope to have at least three films chosen by the board, another three-six films by the end of March, and a further three-six films by the end of May, so at the end of the year we have 12 films. These films all remain part of the label. The first festival to host films will be Budapest in April.
We are also considering finding a DVD label for the films that don’t find a distributor by the end of the year, or a VOD partner.

Is there a danger that less popular films among the 12 won’t be picked up?

We were amazed at the trust of the partners and their willingness to promote their own culture and local talent. We trust the managers of the festivals because their work is to find new, unknown films. The distributors understand their territories and the new talent. The idea is to generate a global network in which all the films will be discussed.

What are the sanctions for distributors or festivals who don’t pick up titles?

If they don’t take the films they don’t get subsidies. But you are still part of the board. We’re not obliging anyone but it’s in their interest to pick up titles.

Do you expect Berlin and Cannes to join in this initiative?

We will see. Maybe next year. At the moment they will wait to see how it goes. We’ve had a lot of encouragement and plenty of interest from distributors and festivals.