European Film Market
Business cards – packed, flyers for Green Days by the River (my last film) – packed, smart dress code – packed, passport and most importantly good vibes – packed. I am as ready as I ever will be for my very first Berlinale Film Festival. I have been to festivals such as TIFF, Tribeca and LA Film Festival and found that the bigger the festival, the harder it is to network, get access to panels and see films while the smaller festivals make it easier to get access to people, and have an experience. I wanted to be sure to meet as many people as possible and learn as much about the European Film Market (EFM) and understand the role and importance of this market to the industry and for filmmakers. I made sure to book my flight to arrive on the 6th Feb so that I could get a full day in at the EFM as our accreditation as students was limited.
Walking up to the Gropius Bau I was filled with excitement to enter the EFM and any opportunity that might present itself inside. First through the door, a massive variety sign and magazines everywhere and a guy giving out screen international bags. The place was massive, buzzing with activity, I really had no idea this was happening in the world of film. I had heard of it, but it was one of those things you needed to see to understand it. I walked into the huge lobby area with thousands of companies’ signage everywhere. As a filmmaker it was really exciting to be in a space so focused on selling films. I walked past the stalls with great intrigue, picking up leaflets and sales booklets. Companies from around the world had come to sell their country as a location or try to find distributors for their films. I had never been to a place that had so many movies for sale. It was also overwhelming to think about the competition to have your film sold.
After investigating the stands for a few hours, I realized it was really only sales companies selling movies, I didn’t know why I had the perception that buyers would have stands there also. I really thought I would see HBO, Netflix, Paramount, Lionsgate etc. It was a learning experience to realize all those companies were at the festival, but they were in ninja mode and only seeing the sales companies they were interested in. They were there on a mission to purchase films that made sense to them. The movies that could be their next breakout hit. The EFM represents a meeting place for film business, both formal and informal. It is a time of the year for industry people to meet face to face. I think, I will come back to the EFM better prepared next time.
Berlinale Film Festival
Next on to the Film Festival, which attracts so much talent from producers, directors, actors and crew members. Most screenings have Q&A’s in the main competition and there are special press and market screenings that you can line up and get access to once the cinema isn’t full. A really great place for networking. Just strike up a conversation and make new film industry friends. I saw some really amazing experimental films that I don’t think I would be able to see anywhere else. I prefer to see those types of films over films that will get a theatrical release as you can catch them anytime.
Experiencing the EFM first hand is something I would highly recommend to Master’s in International Film Business Students. The knowledge gained has been perspective shifting as it allowed for a greater understanding of what happens to films that have been made or are in pre-production and how they are sold. It is a true marketplace for movies and networking. The EFM is only one aspect of the Berlinale Film Festival and totally worth spending time at, along with the rest of the festival. This event is definitely worth attending, whether your interest is watching films, networking or trying to find a sales agent or producer, you can do it all at the Berlinale. As a first-time attendee of the EFM, it is the place to be for the business of film-making. Five stars!!! Also, if you get time checkout the Berlin Zoo!!!