Delphine Lievens, head of distribution at UK production and distribution company Bohemia Media, is leaving the company amid plans to scale back theatrical output and increase its focus on developing more commercial projects and on video on demand releases.
Bohemia Media champions projects made by under-represented filmmakers, and aims to give a platform to marginalised groups.
Lievens joined the company from Gower Street Analytics in what was a newly-created role in November 2021 to oversee the distribution department and execute exhibition strategies. She is to remain at Bohemia Media until mid-September.
The company is not closing its theatrical division, but will be cutting back its planned theatrical releases from 12 to six per year, and will be using freelancers to work across these releases.
Bohemia Media will be increasing its investment in advertising video on demand (AVOD) releases and on developing its own projects.
Lievens told Screen: “I have always been passionate about working on the theatrical releases of films that tell the stories of under-represented filmmakers, and believe that it is crucial to show balanced representation in the UK film landscape. However, the current challenges that independent films are facing at the box office are making that a more difficult task than ever, and as the industry rebuilds post-pandemic, there is reflection to be done on the best way to bring these films to as wide an audience as possible going forward.
”I feel that my time at Bohemia has been a productive one, bringing a wide range of films to UK screens, including the widely acclaimed documentary Rebel Dread, and our upcoming release, Queen Of Glory. Sadly I will be stepping away from the company at this time, while they scale back on theatrical releasing and invest in the development of more commercially viable films from diverse filmmakers. I look forward to seeing the company’s continued growth as they continue to bring important films to audiences.”
Co-founder of Bohemia Media, Phil Hunt, added: “Small films about marginalised voices unfortunately make very little financial sense to release theatrically – a shame, as they are so important for culture. Thankfully, our home entertainment department increasingly grows, as we invest in new technology.
“We are developing more commercial projects about diversity. There aren’t the right projects in circulation, but we are growing and acquiring more projects than ever before, and putting more into development as we grow out our AVoD offering with Bohemia Euphoria, and will shortly be launching a FAST [free ad-supported streaming TV] channel.”
Hunt also called on the British Film Institute (BFI) to do more to support distribution of films from under-represented voices.“The BFI Audience Award has certainly assisted some of our releases,” said Hunt. “But if the BFI is wishing to continue to support marginalised voices in distribution, then the guidelines of the award need considerable updating.
”The floor of £20,000 from BFI with distributor match funding is too much to spend on these smaller titles. With the growth of home ent, this is where marketing funding from the Audience Award would be better utilised.”