EFM 2017: Canadian distributors in Berlin

Playback checks in with 108 Media, Marina Cordoni, A71, D Films and Breakthrough about what they're shopping, what they're looking for and where they see opportunities in the market.

On top of the stresses of navigating the rapidly evolving international distribution landscape, mass airport and transit strikes in Berlin meant that getting to EFM was also a major undertaking for Canada’s travelling distributors. Once safely landed on German soil, Playback caught up with a few to see what they’re selling, what they’re looking to buy and what the market looks like in 2017.

David Miller

David Miller, co-president, A71 Entertainment

Which Canadian films are you shopping at EFM?

The WBI: The Women’s Bureau of Information - a female-driven comedy directed by Annie Bradley, written by Daniela Saioni and Annie Bradley. Currently produced by A71 Productions.
Baseballissimo - a baseball comedy written by Jay Baruchel  and Jesse Chabot. Produced by Miller  through A71 and executive produced by Geddy Lee and Dave Bidini.
My Foolish Heart - a film about a saxophone player who is expelled from a prestigious music school, written and directed by Emmanuel Shirinian, produced by Miller (A71Productions), Darren Portelli (Spiral Media Entertainment), Emmanuel Shirinian.
Pandora - written by Randall Thorne (aka RT!) and directed by Thorne, Charles Officer, Calum de Hartog. Produced by Miller (A71 Productions), exec produced by Officer and de Hartog.
Electric Wonderland - written by Tim and Richard D’Alessio, directed by Richard, produced by A71Productions & D’Alessio.
(Budgets range from $2 million to $10 million.)

What’s your sense of the market? 
I think it is too early to say how this market will go overall. But what is clear is content is still king, and it is being bought – Sundance started it off for us in 2017, and in Berlin we are already seeing/hearing of buys happening here. So it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.


Marina Cordoni croppedMarina Cordoni, president, Marina Cordoni Entertainment:

Which Canadian films are you shopping?
First Round Down - comedy heist produced by Brett and Jason Butler’s Substance Productions, in association with Marina Cordoni Entertainment, Telefilm Canada and Unobstructed View.
The Devout - micro-budget dramatic feature, directed by Connor Gaston, produced by Amanda Verhagen and exec produced by Daniel Hogg. The film makes its theatrical premiere in Toronto on April 7 at The Carlton Cinema. 
- Also seeking European and Asian digital sales for Adam Garnet Jones’ Fire Song, Jordan Canning’s We Were Wolves and Sami Khan’s Khoya.

What’s your sense of the market?
I believe films with good story, strong production values and key performances will always sell. In choosing films that have a target macro audience, MCE has been successful in selling rights to distributors and direct-to-platform in North America and other territories worldwide. Buyers are certainly more cautious…they have less resources coming in than they did five, 10 years ago. The demise of DVD [as a viable revenue stream] was a big blow to us all. But like any change in ecosystems, it rights itself eventually. I am excited by the globalization of film streaming.

Aliy 108Aliy Brown, Director of Distribution, 108 Media

Which Canadian films are you shopping?
- The Cyclotron - French-language sci-fi feature, produced by  Christine Falco, budget: 1.8 Million
It’s Not My Fault And I Don’t Care Anyway - about a self-help guru whose daughter is kidnapped, produced by Camille Beaudoin, Jesse Lipscombe, Kent Speakman, Eric Rebalkin.

What is 108 Media looking to acquire at the market?
Unique, well produced, stand-out films from the international market in all genres.

What’s your sense of the market?
We are seeing a trend in more distribution to multiple lines and windowing becoming more popular in the digital landscape, giving sales and distribution companies additional options in reaching larger audiences globally.


Nat AbrahamNat Abraham, partner, president of distribution, Breakthrough Entertainment

Breakthrough is heading to EFM having recently inked deals with Canada’s Riverbank Pictures, L.A.-based Blue Fox Entertainment and New York-based Nehst Studios. The Toronto-based producer/distributor acquired the international sales rights to Riverbank’s thriller Darker Than Night, which it will introduce to buyers at EFM. Ahead of Berlin, Breakthrough also picked up the foreign sales rights to four feature films from Blue Fox Entertainment: ShortwaveHeartlandThe Truth About Lies, and Child Eater. In addition, Breakthrough acquired a number of docs and dramas from Nehst, including Eating You Alive, directed by Paul David Kennamer Jr. As well, Breakthrough will open sales on the recently completed L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars, the second film in the trilogy, and Black Fawn Films’ The Heretics and 5’7 Films’ Scarecrows.

What is your sense of the market?
Falling DVD sales in America, by far the world’s biggest home-entertainment market, means that we are even more dependent on foreign buyers. Action-adventure and other big noisy spectacles almost always work well in foreign markets and while we have made enormous strides in film delivery technology going from film to Digital Cinema Package delivery, it has come at a tremendous cost to filmmakers and copyright owners as it has also enabled the massive volume of piracy activity globally. This in turn quickly devalues the license fees and ancillary revenues.


Michael Robson D croppedMichael Robson, SVP, acquisitions and new business development, D Films:

Which Canadian films are you shopping?
We have no Canadian films this year for sales or acquisitions, however we are looking for potential co-production opportunities.

What is D Films looking to acquire at the market?
We are looking for English-language films with strong cast, and unique stories to tell. We are targeting both scripts and finished films. 

What’s your sense of the market?
There is an abundance of quality content available, however pricing needs to come down to reflect the reality of our market (and a lot of the markets around the world).

Image: Shutterstock