Cannes investors circle

Source: Screen

Mike Goodridge, Rikke Ennis, Elisa Alvares, Emilie Georges, Wendy Mitchell

The Cannes Marche’s inaugural Investors Circle saw international producers and financiers debate the future of independent theatrical film at a time when streamers are curtailing investment in production.

Club Zero and Triangle Of Sadness producer, Mike Goodridge of Good Chaos, formerly CEO of UK sales agent Protagonist Pictures, said that streamers are retrenching. 

“That massive wave of money that came into the business, in the late teens [pre-2020], it’s massively slowed down… we all know the troubles they are going through on a corporate, subscription level.”

“At the same time, they haven’t replaced the independent film arena. I’m excited because independent film is still the home of creative invention, and the greatest voices, and will be the discoveries of all the talent TV will make later. But we have to get it made, and it’s really tough.”

Liesl Copland, executive vice president of content and platform strategy at US outfit Participant, who took part in the opening discussion, noted: “I’ve spoken to some streamers who are here. They are spending, but they’re spending more wisely.”

“I don’t think people will go back to the cinemas in the same way, because the new generation, they’re not going to do that,” commented media and entertainment finance consultant, Elisa Alvares. “They consume entertainment in a different way. The young filmmakers get it. It is about supporting the new voices and finding originality, but also original ways of reaching the audience.”

The panel said that streamers not releasing comprehensive data on what titles are working, both in the theatrical market and on their platforms, is hindering independent film’s ability to respond to changing audience behaviour.

“In order to know the audience, you need knowledge and you need transparency,” noted Rikke Ennis, producer at Denmark’s Reinvent Studios. “This transparency with data is key to know our audience and be relevant, otherwise we can’t make it. We can be creative with our budgets, if we know the audience.”

“If we were involved in a film, we deserve to know how it did,” said Copland.

Territories to watch 

China has made a post-pandemic return to Cannes this year, but the panel weren’t convinced that execs from the country are at the market to buy. 

“From what I hear, China is curious to see what’s going on in Europe and especially the tax rebate system, collaborations with European partners and also exporting their Chinese content. China is here to stay, they are looking for partners too. They have a huge audience and a lot of content,” said Ennis.

However, the buyers don’t seem to be aggressively acquiring. “There are issues around censorship are massive, it’s so difficult to navigate,” noted French producer Emilie Georges.

Goodridge observed that non-English language titles are particularly struggling in the UK market. “There is no depth of non-English language film in the UK. There are great distributors like Curzon, Picturehouse, Mubi is very active. This is a fact of Brexit – they can’t get any support. There’s no incentive in the UK to release non-English language titles. The prices being paid are shockingly low for non-English language titles. Four figures.”

In the United States, Brazil-born Alvares is excited about the Latin American audience. “The Latino audience in [United States of} America has become a new territory in itself,” she said. “The gross domestic product [GDP] of that community is greater than Canada’s GDP, and several times bigger than Latin America’s. Now, what we see is the super indies and the studios are looking into ways of catering for what is now a third generation of Latinos living in America and looking to see themselves reflected in stories that seem more relevant. That has become a very interesting area of investment.”