Co-production markets have become a vital resource for producers looking for partners, and backers looking for projects. As the number of events continues to grow, Screen profiles selected co-production events from around the world, talking to participants — both producers and financiers — to discover how to work the co-production calendar and find the right event for the right project.
International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands, Jan 29-Feb 1, 2012
The projects Some 30-40 commercially oriented arthouse features, budgeted between $1.4m-$2.8m (€1m-€2m), with around a third of the financing in place.
The selection process Leading industry figures, including A-Film’s Frank Peijnenburg, read submissions with Rotterdam programmers.
Market regulars Leading European sales agents Wild Bunch, Wide Management and Coproduction Office, as well as some US sellers, including Visit Films, and buyers such as Kino Lorber. National and regional film agencies also attend.
What producers say “You get to pitch to a lot of decision-makers, mostly within European cinema,” says Belgian producer Tomas Leyers of Minds Meet, who has taken Lost Persons Area and Overnight to CineMart. “This helps in the financing and also with the life of the film once it is done.”
Success stories Samuel Maoz’s Venice Golden Lion-winner Lebanon, Ruben Ostlund’s Involuntary and Pablo Trapero’s Lion’s Den have all passed through CineMart, while last month’s Cannes had five former CineMart projects in its Official Selection.
Berlinale Co-production Market
Berlin International Film Festival, Germany, Feb 12-14, 2012
The projects Features budgeted between $2.8m-$14.1m (€2m-€10m) with international potential.
Market regulars Bavaria Film International, Wild Bunch, Beta Cinema, Match Factory, Pandora Film, Egoli Tossell Film, Prokino, Soda Pictures, A-Film.
What producers say “The beauty is that it is held during the Berlinale, so you can always bring in other potential partners for talks about a project because everyone is there at the festival,” says Guido Schwab of Austrian outfit Ostlicht Filmproduktion.
Success stories Rafi Pitts’ The Hunter, Sergei Bodrov’s Mongol, Barnaby Southcombe’s I, Anna and Ole Christian Madsen’s Flame & Citron.
Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF)
Entertainment Expo, Hong Kong, March 2012
The projects Around 25 commercial and arthouse projects from both young and well-known directors, with an increasing focus on projects from Greater China.
Market regulars From US studios and independent companies such as Fox International Productions, The Weinstein Company and Vertigo Entertainment to the Europeans — Wild Bunch and Celluloid Dreams — to major Asian studios including CJ Entertainment, Emperor Motion Pictures and Media Asia. Major Chinese studios Huayi Brothers Media and Beijing Oriental Pictures are HAF newcomers.
What producers say “We had 30 meetings in three days,” says Yang Na, producer of Li Ruijun’s Where Is My Home, a HAF 2011 project. “It’s very valuable for a new company and new director like ours. We received attention from sales companies and producers from France and Holland.”
Success stories HAF 2009 project The Yellow Sea (aka The Murderer) by Korea’s Na Hong-jin found French distributor Wild Side Films and screened in this year’s Un Certain Regard at Cannes.
Meetings On The Bridge
Istanbul International Film Festival, Turkey, April 2012
The projects Turkish films with international co-production potential.
Market regulars Unafilm, Heimatfilm, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Filmforderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Rezo Films, Fortissimo Film Sales, The Match Factory.
What producers say “The meetings are well organised. The problem is that most, if not all, of the projects are Turkish, and the Turkish Ministry of Culture’s fund is only available [to support] something like four or five projects,” says Titus Kreyenberg of Unafilm, the German co-producer of Our Grand Despair.
L’Atelier de la Cinefondation
Cannes, May 2012, France
The projects Some 15 features with 20% of the finance in place. Georges Goldenstern, director of the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinefondation which oversees the Atelier, says: “We look for projects which are a bit different from the mainstream. It doesn’t matter whether a director is on their first or 10th film.”
The selection process As well as submissions, Goldenstern and his team scout for projects at the Asian Project Market, CineLink, San Sebastian and the Toulouse Latin American Film Festival.
Market regulars Everyone who is in Cannes. Arte also hands out an $8,500 (€6,000) development prize. This year’s winner were George Ovashvili’s Khibula and Balint Kenyeres’ Hier.
What producers say Having a project selected by the Atelier, says Dutch producer Frans van Gestel, of IDTV Films, is tantamount to getting a finished film into Official Selection. “It means the project has been approved by Cannes, it’s a stamp of quality. Because the directors are present too, it means they are confronted with what the industry thinks.”
Success stories “Since its creation, 85%-100% of the films have been made or will be made by the end of 2011, depending on the year,” says Goldenstern.
Paris Cinema Festival, France, July 4-7, 2011
The projects Paris Project head Thibaut Bracq says the event is looking for independent cinema with commercial potential, especially in France. “We have a lot of first, second, third-time directors,” says Bracq. “If we like a director or producer’s work, we actively pursue them.” Paris Project also works with international partners including ACE, EAVE, CineMart, the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and Europa Distribution.
The selection process The final selection is carried out by Bracq, Paris Project co-ordinator Ronan Thomas and consultants Jérémy Segay and Mathilde Trichet.
Market regulars All the major French companies, including MK2, Gaumont and Le Pacte, as well as international companies such as The Match Factory.
What producers say “In four days we had about 30 to 40 meetings. It was very well organised,” says Dutch producer Trent who found a French co-producer in Boa Films for Jochem de Vries’ debut Cornea in 2009.
Brazilian producer Sara Silveira of Dezenove Som e Imagens attended in 2009 with Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra’s Hard Labor, which screened in Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year, and connected with Urban Distribution International. Last year, she brought Caetano Gotardo’s The Moving Creatures to the meeting and is now in talks with three French production houses. “Being selected for Paris Projects was a lucky break. It was an international window for us,” says the producer. “They are always coming up with ways to help the film.”
Success stories Around 50% of participants at Paris Project find a co-producer or sales company: Hier, by Hungary’s Balint Kenyeres, connected with Les Films de l’Apres-Midi which helped secure funds from the CNC and get the project into Cannes’ L’Atelier this year.
Sarajevo Film Festival, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 27-30,2011
The projects Fiction features in any stage of pre-production by film-makers from Central and Eastern Europe. Producer and director must be attached.
The selection process A committee of Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF) creative director Izeta Gradjevic, competition programmer Elma Tataragic, head of CineLink Amra Baksic Camo and head of industry Jovan Marjanovic pick around 15 projects from established as well as first and second-time film-makers for both CineLink Plus (the July market) and CineLink (a three-day development workshop in April). The emphasis is on local product with international potential. They also choose projects for Work in Progress, where five regional projects in post-production are presented in closed screenings on the first two days of the market.
Market regulars The CNC, the British Film Institute, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and international sales companies including The Match Factory, Wild Bunch and Fortissimo.
What producers say “Out of the thousands of people attending places like Cannes, there are only about 25 people I really need to see, people who can actually help me get a movie made. Amazingly, about 20 of those people are here at the Sarajevo Film Festival, a place where the atmosphere and organisation make it easy to meet comfortably and often,” says Jim Stark, the US co-producer of Here And There by Serbian director Darko Lungulov, which took part in CineLink’s Work in Progress in 2008 and went on to win prizes at the Tribeca Film Festival.
“For The Woman Who Brushed Off Tears, we decided to go only to this co-production market [in 2008],” says Macedonia producer Labina Mitevska. “Now we are in principal photography and have three co-producers, Slovenia’s Vertigo, Germany’s Ostlicht Filmproduktion and Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup. We got support from Eurimages and we have Victoria Abril starring. CineLink was absolutely crucial for us.”
Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland, Aug 5-9, 2011
The projects Some 12 projects are selected from one emerging region or country for a series of work-shops and meetings in an effort to consolidate links with the international film market. In 2011 the focus is on India.
The selection process Projects are selected by a jury including Locarno’s artistic director Olivier Pere and Open Doors director Martina Malacrida.
Market regulars Pandora Film, ASAP Films, Pallas Film, Mogador Film, Media Luna, M-Appeal, The Match Factory, Fortissimo Film Sales, Arsenal Film, Universum Film, Kool Filmdistribution.
What producers say “By highlighting one region, every project is given an equal chance. Suddenly, our project from Tajikistan was at the centre of the decision-makers’ attention,” says Germany’s Veit Helmer, who worked on Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov’s Halola which participated in Open Doors in 2010.
Success stories Li Hongqi’s Winter Vacation took part in the focus on China in 2009 and went on to win the Golden Leopard at the festival in 2010.
Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax, Canada, Sept 15-18, 2011
The projects Feature films, multi-platform projects, TV fiction and long-form documentaries at all stages of development looking for co-production partners. Projects with some financing are given priority.
Market regulars Bankside Films, Prescience Film Finance, Worldview Entertainment and Sunrise Films are all regular attendees.
What producers say “It strikes a balance between being a very small, intimate event where you also get three or four hundred people who are dead set on finding some catalyst for each other’s projects,” says Canadian producer Stephen Onda. The event’s focus on one particular nation each year can also be a plus, says Onda, but “it ties their hands a bit. It’s best to have a wide sampling of the world.”
Barbara Doran, another Canadian producer, likes the event “because it’s small, it’s manageable and it really is a meeting of people from across the waters. What these things are beneficial for is to make contacts and keep them warm over the years.”
Success stories Onda and German producer Marco Mehlitz met at Strategic Partners before going on to work together on 2008 Un Certain Regard entry Surveillance. Onda also used the event to seal a deal with UK equity backers Prescience and Footprint on 2009 Stephen King adaptation Dolan’s Cadillac.
IFP’s Independent Film Week, New York City, US, Sept 18-22, 2011
The projects Narrative projects from established producers who have scripts with 20% financing in place.
The selection process Participants are selected based on artistic merit and marketplace exposure. Priority is given to projects fresh to the market.
Market regulars IM Global, Impact Partners, CAA, Cinetic Media, eOne, Fortissimo, ICM, UTA, WME, Wild Bunch, Focus Features, IFC Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, The Weinstein Company, HBO, A&E IndieFilms, Killer Films, Washington Square Films, Paramount Pictures, Oscilloscope Laboratories.
What producers say Ron Simons, one of the producers of Gun Hill Road, sees the No Borders speed-dating sessions with financiers as “an incredibly helpful resource. I’ve met people now who are very interested in me as a film-maker and who to want follow me and possibly find opportunities to work together.” The meetings session with festival programmers, however, “wasn’t as organised as the rest of Independent Film Week”.
Success storiesHowl, Frozen River, Introducing The Dwights, Half Nelson, Maria Full Of Grace, Me And You And Everyone We Know, Irina Palm, Lemon Tree and The Syrian Bride.
Netherlands Production Platform (NPP)
Holland Film Meeting, Utrecht, Sept 22 -25, 2011
The projects Around 20 features with local financial support in place. The emphasis is on European arthouse, with one third of the projects Dutch.
The selection process Signe Zeilich-Jensen, head of Holland Film Meeting, works closely with local industry experts. “What we want is some kind of local commitment to the [production] plan,” she says. A $7,000 (€5,000) Kodak NPP development prize is granted annually to the producer of a Dutch NPP project.
Market regulars The Hamburg Film Fund, the Irish Film Board and the Vienna Film Fund attend, as do sales agents High Point, Fortissimo and Bavaria, and distributors Lumiere from Belgium and Denmark’s Ost For Paradis.
What producers say “It was very interesting from a general networking level and it helped us establish the film in Holland,” says Bart Van Langendonck of Belgium’s Savage Films, who brought Bullhead to the NPP. The film, a runaway box-office success in Belgium, went on to play at the Berlinale where it was picked up for world sales by Celluloid Dreams.
Success stories Iraq’s Son Of Babylon presented at the NPP in 2008, and went on to play at Sundance, Berlin and Karlovy Vary. Pernilla August’s Beyond was selected for Venice Critics’ Week after passing through NPP, and Ineke Smits’ The Aviatrix Of Kazbek, went on to close the Rotterdam film festival.
Asian Project Market (formerly PPP)
Busan International Film Festival, South Korea, Oct 10-13, 2011
The projects There are around 30 projects a year from a wide selection of new and well-known Asian arthouse film-makers.
The selection process APM has a selection committee and works with EAVE, Cannes Producers Network, HAF and Tokyo Project Gathering and the Moscow Co-Production Forum.
Market regulars Most of the major Asian distributors and sales companies as well as key European companies including Wild Bunch, Celluloid Dreams, Memento Films International and the Coproduction Office. Korean giants CJ Entertainment and Lotte Entertainment award a first-look deal to winning projects.
What producers say Taiwanese producer Liu Wei-jan of Atom Cinema took Tom Lin’s Starry Starry Night to PPP in 2010. The project won CJ Entertainment’s $10,000 cash prize and is now in production. “It’s a very efficient way to secure funding,” he says. “We had more than 20 meetings, and met both our two main investors.”
Success stories Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s Honey (Bal) went on to win the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, while Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry received the best screenplay award from Cannes in 2010.
New Cinema Network
International Rome Film Festival, Italy, Oct 2011
The projects International projects from experienced auteurs, usually gleaned from NCN’s partners including Cannes’ L’Atelier du Festival and Film London’s Production Finance Market as well as via a collaboration with the Berlinale’s Co-Production Market, Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program and Screen Institute Beirut. The Focus Europe strand selects around 22 second works by European directors.
The selection process Focus Europe projects are chosen by a jury of European producers, including Bosnia’s Cedomir Kolar, Spain’s Simon de Santiago and Italy’s Rossana Seregni. They also select a winner at the end of the market which takes a $14,000 (€10,000) prize, while Eurimages now offers $42,000 (€30,000) in development funding to a project which has at least two Eurimages states involved.
Market regulars Buyers in town for Rome’s Business Street market, such as Celluloid Dreams, HandMade Films, Imagina, The Weinstein Company and Showbox.
What producers say Alvaro Brechner, a director-producer with Spain’s Baobab Films had his project Mr Kaplan in Focus Europe’s 2010 edition. “We had tons of interesting meetings and we started our relationship with our German partner [Razor Film] after NCN,” he says. Brechner has since participated in Cannes’ Atelier and the project is set to shoot in 2012.
Swedish producer Helena Danielsson won the Eurimages award in 2010 for Jens Jonsson’s Follow, Follow, Lead. “I have been to CineMart, to many co-production markets, and I thought Rome was great,” says Danielsson. “We met with top-level sales agents and professionals with who we are going to close deals because of our meetings. Thanks to the Eurimages award and the jury’s response to the concept of the film, about a grieving woman who ends up in a pyramid scam, Jens was able to write a new version and sign Lena Endre as the lead.”
Success stories Claudia Llosa’s Golden Bear and foreign-language Oscar nominee Milk Of Sorrow.
Production Finance Market
London Film Festival, UK, Oct 19 -20, 2011
The projects “We’re looking for projects that have a very strong package,” says event organiser Angus Finney. He highlights five key elements: the story/concept, the director, the producer/production track record, the cast and the budget/finance plan. “The finance plan has to have a degree of realism about it and around 30% of cornerstone financing already in place.” Projects do not need to be in English. “What we’re not is a micro-market. We have a bottom limit of around $1.4m (€1m). We’re really interested in projects that have ambition and can travel.”
The selection process Finney oversees the original selection of around 80 projects. He then works with two Film London executives and a distributor, who provides commercial input.
Market regulars Tax-driven UK financiers including Prescience, Ingenious and Dynamo Capital attend. Sales agents — Bankside, Summit, Films Distribution, Wild Bunch — likewise tend to be in town.
What producers say “It feels more elite than other events. It’s well organised, they team you up with the right people and the key players are there,” says Roman Paul of Germany’s Razor Film Production, who secured the final piece of funding for Miranda July’s The Future at PFM in 2009.
Success stories A recent report suggests financiers offered successful producers an average of $5.8m per project at last year’s event.
Dubai Film Connection
Dubai International Film Festival, UAE, Dec 8-11, 2011
The projects Around 15 fiction and documentary feature projects from Arab film-makers.
The selection process A project must have a producer attached, but not necessarily finance: there is no obligation to have some financing already secure.
Market regulars The World Cinema Fund, Unifrance, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenberg, Arte, the Hubert Bals Fund and Image Nation are among the organisations which attend regularly. Arte offers an $8,500 (€6,000) prize to a film-maker with exceptional originality, writing style and motivation. The Bahrain Film Production Company awards $10,000 to a project in development and Desert Door Productions awards $25,000 to a work in progress.
What producers say “The Dubai Film Connection is a fantastic opportunity for anyone with a Middle Eastern angle or element in their project,” says London-based producer Paul Raphael of Starfield Productions, who will attend this year’s event with Where There’s A Will from Franco-Lebanese director Philippe Aractingi. “It is run by really smart people who now have several years of experience.”
Success stories Cherien Dabis’ Amreeka, about a Palestinian single mother who moves with her teenage son to the US in the wake of 9/11, was presented in 2007, secured some financing and went on to win multiple festival awards.
Tallin Black Nights Film Festival, Estonia, Nov 28-30, 2011
The projects Projects by film-makers from the Baltic states, Russia and the Nordic region.
Market regulars European producers including Rohfilm, Tremora, Volya Films and Opus Film; distributors such as Russian Report, Nonstop Entertainment; as well as international sales agents Rezo Films, Sola Media, EastWest Filmdistribution and M-Appeal.
What producers say “The Finland-Estonia co-production Rat King got started at the Baltic Event,” recalls Finnish producer Kaarle Aho of Making Movies. “I met Ivo Felt of Allfilm with whom we had produced documentaries before, pitched him Rat King and he said he wanted to do it. It was all surprisingly quick, informal and pleasant. And of course, the whole group of Eastern and Central European producers in the event and the possibility to pitch them and change ideas was inspiring.”
Success stories Local film-maker Veiko Ounpuu’s The Temptation Of St Tony took part in 2008 before going on to wow the international festival circuit.
Jean-Baptiste Babin, Backup Films
“CineMart remains the co-production market of reference. Not just for the quality of the projects but also the participants. It means we can both scout for new projects as well as work on ongoing projects. We found our first project, ‘Tropical Malady’, at CineMart 10 years ago which went on to win the jury prize in Cannes. We’ve decided to hold our 10th anniversary celebrations at the next edition — it’s fitting. These days, we work on at least one CineMart project a year, most recently Santiago Otheguy’s ‘El Instructor’.”
Hilary Davis, Bankside Films
“As an international guest of 37°South in Melbourne, I was effortlessly guided from screening to lunch to presentation to meetings to cocktails to dinner with lots of interesting introductions made by our hosts outside of the official pre-arranged co-production meetings — extremely comprehensive and all-encompassing.”
Lucinda Englehart, Aramid
“A forum like the Durban FilmMart, which had its inaugural edition last year, provides excellent immersion in a local market. You can focus on new projects and talent from that region.”
Marcus Hu, Strand Releasing
“For me, the most important co-production market has always been the CineMart at Rotterdam. It’s certainly one of the first European co-production markets and one that Wouter Barendrecht from Fortissimo helped to establish early on. I’ve attended each and every one since its inception and found that the kinds of projects and film-makers such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul have always found a kindred spirit at that meeting annually.”
Peter Zawel, Vienna Film Fund
“The old town of Tallinn is very charming and the place really rocks. The Black Nights organisers do their best to make your stay unforgettable. The co-production market is very manageable. [But] it’s not easy to get there… and the market is definitely more interesting for sales than for producers and funds.”
Frédéric Corvez, Urban Distribution International
“Only a few manage to do a good job, mainly the historical events Rotterdam, Berlin and PPP [now theAsian Project Market]. Either a lot of the projects have already been sewn-up and have been selected only to brand the event, or the projects are in such an early stage of development you have to wait months to, hypothetically, receive a script.”
Paul Brett, Prescience
“Without question, the leader in the field is Berlin [Co-Production Market] and the one that really punches above its weight is CineMart. Both are supremely well organised and run by people who are passionate about finding new cinema and new voices.”
Richard Jeffery, Distant Horizon
“I like going to HAF and PPP [now the Asian Project Market] because we get to meet new film-makers in Asia. In normal film markets, you meet producers and sales agents but don’t get to meet directors. It’s important for an investor to talk to the film-maker face to face and see what his potential is. This is the most important value for us… But I’ve seen a few overlapping projects recently.”
Isabel Davis, BFI
“There’s a seriousness of purpose about CineMart. While the Doelen isn’t the most glamorous of venues, it helps to keep things focused and the Dutch hospitality and organisation make networking fun and effortless. And the project selection is consistently strong.”
Case study: Son Of Babylon
Son Of Babylon, Iraq’s official entry to the foreign-language Oscars this year, was a seven-country co-production which screened at Sundance, Berlin and 100 further festivals. Producer Isabelle Stead of Leeds-based Human Film acknowledges the project which was sold internationally in the West by Roissy and in the Arab world by Egypt’s Sunnyland ART, would have struggled to complete its financing without the springboard of the co-production markets.
“We did Dubai Connection, a chance for us to create a voice for the project in the Middle East,” Stead explains. “We also went to the Sundance Labs and Producers Conference, which put the film on the studios’ tracking list and opened many doors for us.”
She credits the Netherlands Production Platform with securing the project support from the Nederland Fond and Rotterdam Media Fonds.
“The co-production markets helped create a presence for ourselves — for the director, Mohamed Al-Daradji, for myself as a producer and for the project,” Stead says. “They created a platform for us to meet potential co-producers and sales companies and to connect with funds like the World Cinema Fund and the Hubert Bals Fund.”
With Son Of Babylon feted at European co-production events and at Sundance, the project also gained credibility in Britain where the UK Film Council came on board to back the project. Stead talks of the “crazy patchwork of funding” that went into financing the project. More than 20 different financing sources came on board the movie, which had a budget of around $1.5m. It secured distribution in 20 territories.
Case study: Cold Souls
Written and directed by French-born Sophie Barthes and shot partly in Russia in 2009, the comedy drama Cold Souls starring Paul Giamatti looked from the start like a potential international co-production. So when New York-based producer Daniel Carey went to the producers’ lab organised by Rotterdam’s CineMart he took the opportunity to discuss the $3m US project, which was already cast and had some private-equity backing, with likely European partners and international sales agents. One company he met, France’s Memento Films, later signed on as the film’s co-producer and French distributor.
The Rotterdam event, says Carey (whose fellow producers were his Touchy Feely Films partner Elizabeth Giamatti, Paul Mezey and Jeremy Kipp Walker), “was an interesting first exposure to how the European film-making system works, all the co-production treaties and so forth. It’s a whole separate world from US independent film-making.”
In the months after Rotterdam, eOne came on board to handle international sales. Then, because of Barthes’ participation in the Sundance Lab’s summer directing session, the film was invited to the No Borders co-production event in New York.
Carey and his fellow producers went to No Borders partly to give their project exposure and partly because they were considering the need for another financial partner. In New York, says Carey, “we met with a number of distributors who were mostly just becoming familiar with [the project]”. In the end, however, the producers opted to use all private equity rather than taking on another partner.
The Rotterdam and New York markets, Carey says, perform subtly different functions. “They’re structured very similarly and there’s a similar cast of people in both places,” he says. “Rotterdam may lead more directly to things happening because of the people that are there.” At No Borders, he adds, “you have to be a bit more creative about how to fill in the missing pieces on projects. But there are private-equity financiers and sales agents there, a variety of ways you can make a connection to somebody who can help with your film.”