This special interview has been prepared by EAVE Marketing Expert Sarah Calderon (The Film Agency, ES).

Thank you to our two sales agent participants of EAVE Marketing Workshop 2020: Francesca Tiberi from True Colours (IT) and Mathilde Martin from Charades (FR).

Francesca and Mathilde have accepted to answer some questions of particular relevance regarding new marketing sales perspectives and they give some hands-on practical tips and fresh tools!


One film you have promoted successfully using digital tools this year? How was it?

FT: We’ve basically improved the use of digital tools to promote all our new slates from Cannes to AFM, and we will obviously keep doing it, as the market’s main place has now moved online.

The most fun experience we had, was the promotional campaign made for (EAVE project) 200 METERS, first feature by Ameen Nayfeh, selected at Venice Days. As the world premiere took place physically at Venice International FF this year, we combined the regular promotional activity on the spot, collaborating with WOLF Consultants for the press strategy and activities, with the digital campaigns on our social media. We worked internally, feeding our profiles with visuals from the movie including the best quotes from the reviews, creating IG and FB stories with pictures and videos from the photocall and Q&A after the world premiere or reminding day/time of the online and physical industry screenings.

The idea was to share with the buyers, who follow our profiles and were not in Venice, the feeling of being back to festivals with us after the lockdown, creating awareness around the movie at the same time. Then, when the movie got the People’ Choice Award, we literally jumped in the pictures with the director and cast. We are a young team and buyers know we have a positive and fun attitude, in fact reactions were wonderful and we made it in re-creating online what we usually do at our booth: have fun and speak about good cinemas with buyers!

MM: The Speech by Laurent Tirard, selected this year in Cannes and to be released in France this December 23rd 2020. Thanks to the film’s team and the producer Olivia Lagache (Les Films sur Mesure), we were able to launch the film with a sales bespoke teaser, shot specifically for us on the set; we also created a fake wedding invitation. 

First and foremost, we have had a lot of fun! We have been extremely happy with the positive reception and sales journey of the project. It has been a great occasion to experiment a new format and to start envisioning how to make B2B marketing with digital tools (emailing and social networks). Back in January when we launched the film, we had no idea this would become so drastically essential. 


Can you describe how are you using digital marketing for sales nowadays? What are the opportunities?

FT: Digital strategies are something we have always included in our marketing plans to promote films: before COVID outbreak digital tools, in particular a campaign on social medias, was considered a marketing tool not really essential during a physical market. Today, the “market shock” caused by the virus’ impact, has urged us to move quickly online in order to bridge the gap between the buyers and us. This opened to a million new creative and exciting possibilities of promotion (showcases and interviews with the talents, special promos and teasers for instance), but these activities are always tied to the project/film’s status and also domestic releases.

Furthermore, most of the platforms at our disposal do not implement a perfect performance of the videos or are thought for a B2C audience. Long story short, our job is still linked to a B2B context, where the materials we have can be shared carefully and only with trusted industry people. Also, this business is extremely influenced by the word of mouth that triggers during a festival and create the exciting atmosphere we live in during them, which is unreplaceable.

We’ve been extremely quick in adapting our promotion strategies to the new market place so far, learning that digital strategies can keep the attention on the projects high also when an online market ends, but digital marketing tools still need to be adjusted to our B2B marketing needs.

MM: We have always used digital tools for sales such as email marketing and social media. However these were complementary to our work that is very embodied. Above all, festivals, markets are meant to be physical. Films and projects are promoted by word of mouth. The effervescent experience of the industry being gathered together is like no other. COVID and online markets obviously have had an overnight impact. This urged us in building digital substitutes: organize global digital screenings, strengthen our social media presence for instance. We also had to rethink the whole meeting experience, as tools like Zoom are not fitted to show video content like promoreels.

As sales agents, we have a very in-between position. We get early access to material and create assets but these can’t be shared with B2C audiences. We also follow the project downstream but still need to ensure the exclusivity of fresh content for the release by the distributor. This is why digital can be quite tricky for sales, it all depends on the timeline of your project. 

This is nonetheless a great period to think out of the box of the usual digital B2B marketing. For starters, to put your film on the map in a context of greater and increased competition: nowadays we have all the necessary array of tools to showcase a film to the right audience. The digital landscape moves and innovates so often that your creative possibilities are endless. Beyond the films, digital can also be a way of facilitating the buyers’ market experience. For instance, since Cannes 2019, we remind all our screenings in daily stories on Instagram. 
Having fun is also something we rather appreciate at Charades so we will be happy if you can both enjoy yourself and find information when scrolling through our feed!


What is the most important step forward that you consider your sales companies are doing?

FT: We understood immediately that there would have been a higher request for contents, especially library titles, because in case of release the distributor do not need to invest a big amount of money in the P&A, and genre titles, because we usually provide some marketing kits, created in collaboration with the producers, that can be used by local distributors. Then, for instance, we got the chance to partner with a big Korean platform, Watcha, for the theatrical release of one of our classic gems, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso. The release took place in the middle of our lockdown and it was really exciting following Watcha’s marketing campaign and seeing the impressive B.O. results in a country that was leaving behind itself an epidemic!

Another initiative we are proud of and helped us in providing a solution to all our clients working with festivals and screening events, is our Virtual Cinema. With this service, we are able to provide our clients, that doesn’t have their platforms/screening rooms, but have been forced to switch the offline events into online ones, with the movies and the technology to show them to their audiences. This is fantastic!

MM: As sales agents, our work normally has a well-defined frame. COVID made it explode and we have been trying to find new ways to make business outside of the usual surroundings of the markets. 
With the pandemic breakout, our understanding of the market was that there was a need for fresh, topical content, to be available quickly. 

This is why, last spring, we partnered up with the distribution company Neon over three titles: The Painter and The Thief, She Dies Tomorrow and Spaceship Earth. The three films addressed current issues from diverse and fresh perspectives. They were available immediately for delivery. 
Spaceship Earth was the first to be launched in the US, with an innovative release strategy by Neon, combining a digital release on platforms and safe physical screenings (drive-ins and pop-up city-scape projections). Every theater and impacted businesses could offer to screen the film as well. 

As the distribution rules were completely reshuffled, we also worked on a marketing package with the Film Agency, to provide distributors with alternatives and trends for films releases, in times of COVID 19.


If you could identify a key learning of 2020 for sales agents, what would it be?

FT: Adapting quickly to changes and face everything as a new challenge, that can open to new opportunities you would have never expected, never forgetting your company identity!

MM: Things move even faster than they used to: the measurement of time is not months but weeks now. With this in mind, flexibility and quick implementation matter more than perfection. 


A piece of advice for producers you’re looking into promoting or launching their films in 2021?

FT: The sooner, the better always! The earliest we can be in touch with the producers, have access to the visuals, stills, artwork and do a chat with them identifying key points of their projects, the better we can work together on tailormade strategies, putting in place the best international launch for any project.

MM: It is a pretty basic yet (I hope!) efficient one: think ahead of the whole marketing strategy of your film. If you can, sit down early with the sales marketing team, your partners, discuss the project thoroughly and leverage the strengths of your film. Even if this doesn’t look like a priority in the pre-production madness, before the shooting is the best time to plan and make sure you are going to get all the needed material. The more you have, the more you can provide great content to support the sales and international releases. In the long-run, this also benefits your production and talents’ brands.

A project can work for many reasons but, in my opinion, good marketing is accountable for 50% of the success.


How’s 2021 looking like? What are your challenges ahead as sales agents?

FT: Virtual and hybrid, but we already know the path that awaits us is full of digital tools that can give us plenty of opportunities. The most important challenge, I’d say, is to adapt them to our B2B approach in order to get the attention we need in an increasingly wider, but also saturated, market.

MM: Blurry but interesting! With most of the festivals and markets going hybrid and virtual, we will have to keep adapting and find new ways to do our job.

Page published 30 November 2020. Updated 3 December 2020.

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