IFP’s 2006 Filmmaker Conference: Keynote: The Global Marketplace (original post 9/17/06)
Today was the opening of IFP's 2006 Filmmaker Conference. I picked up my badge at the Puck Building, and headed into the Ballroom for the first panel, which IFP Executive Director Michelle Byrd called the daily Keynote series of panel discussions, a one-hour conversation with a moderator and a panelist, with no Q&As. In this first instance, Scott Macaulay, editor of Filmmaker Magazine, talked with Daniel Battsek, President of Miramax Films.
I wish I could make it to all the panel discussions throughout the week, but since I'm working, I can only do so much...therefore if any of you happen to be at the conference throughout the week, and would like to take notes, I'd be very happy to post them for you on my blog. Just send me a message on my Myspace profile. Hope to meet a lot of you this week, and for those who will not be there, I hope this will give you an idea of what it was like.—Brian
The Film Panel Notetaker's Notes From…
IFP's 2006 Filmmaker Conference:
Keynote: The Global Marketplace
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Daniel Battsek, President of Miramax Films
Scott Macaulay, Editor of Filmmaker Magazine
Scott – How's your first year been at Miramax?
Daniel – Getting used to the geography of NYC. Re-focusing Miramax. Finding films to release that do justice to the Miramax brand.
Scott – How are you re-defining the brand?
Daniel – Miramax is a very different company now than it was before in terms of size. Now produces between 6-8 films per year with budgets less than $20M. Specialized films with innovative qualities.
Scott – How's the split between production & acquisition?
Daniel – It's an incredibly competitive landscape, going up against all the other mini-majors. The way in which we find our films is absolutely crucial. Buying films in festivals is most competitive. We're building a production & development team, but we're mainly an acquisitions company.
Scott – What's your take on what's coming out of the American sector?
Daniel – It's difficult to generalize. Not an exact science. What's interesting is how movies are more a part of culture here in the US than in the UK.
Scott – What are visions of American films overseas? How are they viewed critically? Do they translate?
Daniel – Any films that lean left usually finds favor in the media, but not necessarily at the box office.
Scott- (Referring to Michael Tolkin's Return of the Player) Why do studios even have specialty divisions?
Daniel - Specialty divisions give studios a human side. There's a certain amount of show, but there's many examples of very profitable films coming out of specialty units and audience desire for more of a variety for independent fare.
Scott – How do you establish relationships with filmmakers?
Daniel – Find them in the innocence of their first movie. Can be nice if movies keep flowing, but can become uncomfortable if both parties lose interest. My desire is to stay with a filmmaker. Gain their trust. Hope to develop a relationship and continue working together, but isn't easy unless their contracted.
Scott - How does sources of new money effect the way you do business?
Daniel – Mainly positive. There's money out there to get films developed and produced. Negative side is that other producers can get a hold of a product before Miramax can.
Scott – Are filmmakers bypassing the specialty divisions?
Daniel – At a certain point, filmmakers need distributors, no matter who they are.
Scott – Are there too many films out there?
Daniel – Yes. From the Fall to Awards season, it's impossible to find any week where there's at least 2-3 competitive movies.
Scott – How are specialty divisions dealing with change in Internet marketing?
Daniel – The Internet is a much more cost-effective way to build word-of-mouth, but there's no proof in people actually wanting to see movies. It's not as direct and effective as TV advertising, which is more costly. Miramax spends as much time on WOM screenings as it does on Internet marketing.
Scott – Are indies still as critically-driven as they once were?
Daniel – Critics in the US are seen as much more powerful than international.
Scott – How does the perceived awards potential affect films?
Daniel – The beginning of the fall festivals are crucial for movies hoping to have a run. Miramax will release "The Queen," which won three of the top awards at Venice, and is the Opening night film of the New York Film Festival. Awards are very important to Miramax and all specialty units. They always bring prestige and box office.
Scott- What's coming up in Miramax's production slate?
Daniel – Working on Paul Thomas Anderson's next film and a Coen Bros. film.
Scott – Do you see new technology as a revenue center?
Daniel – Don't know. This side of the business is in such a state of flux, but it's on our radar.