INTERVIEW WITH XAVIER HENRY-RASHID AND JULEK KEDZIERSKI
We introduce lecturers of AVAKA Workshop “Producer vs. sales agent” : Xavier Henry-Rashid and Julek Kedzierski.
How was the workshops with the Lithuanian film industry? Have you noticed something interesting?
Julek Kedzierski: Yes we expected fewer people to stay to the end. But I think we were lucky and hit the right audience balance between experienced producers and start-up film-makers.
What do you think about Lithuanian film industry: starting from production to sales?
Xavier Henry-Rashid: I think Lithuanian films have a long way to go in the international market. The relatively small production funding available means films (which rely on regional coproduction) tend to be on the smaller end of end, relying on third party hype (festivals) or defined genres.
Julek Kedzierski: As so often in developing feature film industries, there are two or three major producers who work well, and fledging producers who need the right kind of support.
Could you name some Lithuanian film projects you had a chance to work with?
Julek Kedzerski: “Miracle”, produced by Lukas Trimonis. Through “Mannheim Meeting Place” we helped him gain an international co-producer who was key to the project’s success.
With what kind of movies you like to work most?
Xavier Henry-Rashid: We handle art house fiction, including many first time filmmakers and a key focus on female driven projects many of which cross genre, so it’s not easy to pinpoint specific types of movies, but rather particular areas we seek to exploit them – increasingly we look at the non-theatrical market as the most interesting revenue earning area for small to mid sized films.
Julek Kedzierski: MMP at “IFF Mannheim Heidelberg” specializes in co-production for start-up feature producers with artistic intent, so good packages offered that are suitable to international co-production are often a pleasure to help develop and bring to international. There is a correct way to do things to make all potential partners happy.
And what are the types you are most likely to give up?
As a publicly funded institution, MMP almost never gives up unilaterally on projects – it is up to the producers (or would-be producers) whether they give up the contact with us. We tend to develop relationships that still flourish 5, 6,7 years down the line…. But we tend to be wary of screenwriter/director/producer projects that tend to use the producer role just as a way of “gimme monee!!” and believe only they know how to create their project best. We prefer to work with producers who wish to strengthen their level of professional conduct as producers.
What are the plans of “Film Republic” in future?Will you focus on Lithuanian/Baltic film market?
Xavier Henry-Rashid: We’ll (coincidently) be opening a second office in Vilnius, to handle all our digital delivery and servicing – as we rely increasingly on online materials coordination and the costs for this in London were about 10x higher. We were choosing between Vilnius and Warsaw, and opted for Vilnius due to the high speed internet and proximity to the airport – and already have one staff member based in Vilnius. That said, I don’t expect we’ll be expanding our business into the Baltics specifically, it’s still a very small market for us and we tend to focus on the key Western European and North American markets, and somewhat emerging markets like Brazil, China etc.
Could you give five tips how to make a good contract of film sale? What is the most important thing to pay attention to?
– Scale your sales plan with the size of your film! If your film is worth 40K in the marketplace, then there’s no point setting high expenses.
– It’s sometimes better to work with companies suited for your film rather simply the biggest companies on your wish list.
– Be flexible: there are over 200 different sales companies, many with very different ways of working and models. The traditional way isn’t always (or anymore) the best way to sell films.
– Pay attention to expenses: know what’s reasonable for your film.
– Do your homework: find the best and most suited partner. Sometimes a leap of faith is needed also.
– Be realistic: If magic happens, and your films gets a major selection or snowballs with publicity and awards then great, but otherwise be realistic about the value of your film internationally.