Is small beautiful' Certainly not was the verdict of the panellists on "Collective Power: Buying and Selling Alliances," speaking this month at Screen International's Modernising European Cinema Summit at the Berlin Film Festival - all of whom are involved in the new wave of indie-combos set up across Europe in recent years.
Indie Circle, the five-partner Pan-European distribution outfit launched two years ago, is currently releasing its first title, the Golden Globe winning Osama, in Italy and Switzerland. The advantages of pooling together are self-evident, Indie Circle's Chris Mercier told the audience.
Not only do the five partners present a united front to sales agents; they collaborate on marketing and are able reduce costs on banking fees. Indie Circle recently struck a deal with HBO London for rights to four territories for The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers.
Donald K. Ranvaud of producers' co-op Buena Onda Films (representing new projects from, among others, actress-turned-director Julie Delpy and Fernando Meirelles) gave more details of how the producers' collective will work.
In Cannes, at a special event for buyers, Buena Onda will present new projects from Walter Salles, Meirelles and Mike Leigh.. The aim is "to have a more efficient way of presenting films so that the directors' vision can be communicated to the decision makers and to have the directors more integrated in the sales process."
Margaret Nicoll described the thinking behind Entera, a collective planning to distribute films directly in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. The idea is to build relationships with existing distribution companies in all the territories. "The distribution company would be asked to do the collections and bookings'but they would never need to buy anything. Nor would there be any rights given away."
Meanwhile, Ivan Hronec of SPI International explained why, for SPI, setting up a Pan-European operation in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland was a simple matter of survival. "It has always amazed me that what has always been a must for us is all of a sudden sexy for the rest of the world," he said.