GOING BIONIC: DISTRIBUTING INDEPENDENT FILMS INTERNATIONALLY – TAKING THE (INDIE FILM SALES) TEMPERATURE AT BERLIN/EFM 2013.

Welcome to the post Berlin Film Festival/European Film Market edition of “Going Bionic.” Since Berlin and EFM just wrapped up, and my previously arctic bones are now thawing out in the warm California sunshine while I’m battling a cold I probably caught in, or en route to or from Berlin, today’s article will give you a quick overview of the indie film sales temperature at Berlin/EFM. Should you be wondering, the answer is “yes”, Berlin’s frigid weather does foreshadow the indie film sales temperature.

So, here’s a glimpse into the Berlin/EFM happenings:

Let’s Wait and See….
That’s what the general consensus is amongst sales companies, with regards to how good of a sales market EFM 2013 was. That means most sales companies had meetings, but those meetings did not result in deals they want to brag about. Thus, buyers took DVD’s and one-sheets with interest of buying, but finding out how good this market was will reveal itself in 3-4 weeks, when companies either consummate sales, or bitch about the amount of money they spent to go to Berlin, not to have sales from it.

Prices/Indie Film Values Are Creeping Back Up
Values crept up slightly for films that did sell at EFM, as compared to the previous few years. Don’t get too excited yet, because the “sales needle” is just starting to tick upwards. Furthermore, indie film values are nowhere near they were back when things were healthy in 2006-2007. Nonetheless, this is a positive sign.

Buyers “Foot Traffic” Ranged From Dynamite To Desolate
The best way to get a general sense of how the market was is to observe the “foot traffic” from buyers in the main sales areas. Here’s a breakdown of the first four days at the EFM market, both at the Martin Gropius and Marriott market locations:

Martin Gropius Building

Day 1 – Thursday, February 7:
Buyer traffic was less than expected for day one of a major market, which was cause for concern. Everyone seemed to be channeling the quote from “Field of Dreams,” which is “if you build it (your sales booth with your best titles displayed) they (buyers) will come.”

Day 2 – Friday, February 8:
Many more buyers entered the historical Gropius building, as meetings were happening north, south, east and west, and on all levels of the building.

Day 3 – Saturday, February 9:
This was the busiest day, by far. Buyers and sellers met, negotiated, argued, and sometimes even closed deals. While I don’t think a sea of indie films sold for healthy prices on this day, I’d say a pond of Indies got some solid interest.

Day 4 – Sunday, February 10:
Less than half of Saturday’s hustle and bustle remained on Sunday, as it seemed as if at least half of the buyers were flying back home. While this doesn’t reflect how well EFM puts their market together, it does reflect how buyers have less money to travel, so they limit the length of their trips to major film markets to as short as they can. Gone are the days when buyers would be at a market for 10+ days. These days, getting one week of their time is precious, while seeing them at markets for four or five days is more realistic.

Marriott Hotel

Days 1-4 (Thursday, February 7-Sunday, February 10)
The lobby of the Marriott was crowded everyday, (because participants didn’t have to have an EFM pass to get into the lobby), but the sales booths at the Marriott suffered mightily with attracting buyers. Simply put, the buyers spent 98% of their time at the Martin Gropius location, because it is the main location of the EFM market.

Genre Trends
Sci-fi is still hot (and getting hotter), while action pictures remain healthy as always. Those who are making thrillers and fact-paced mysteries also had buyers respond favorably to their films. However, (like always) dramas, coming-of-age films, romantic comedies, and most broad comedies, continued to garner little interest from buyers. Of course, the main reason for this is because the tone, texture and social references of dramas, coming-of-age films, romantic comedies and broad comedies, are too specifically tied to the countries they were made in, as opposed to sci-fi and action films, which can be understood in any language.

What EFM 2013 Tells Us
Indie films are back in favor with buyers worldwide, and their values are getting a little bit greater. Thus, the big start to the indie film year at Sundance 2013 did continue true to form in Berlin. However, by no means are we back fully. In baseball terms, the indie film world hit solid singles at Sundance, and now we rounded first and eyeing second base at Berlin/EFM. But, we’re certainly not safely into second base yet. Hell, we haven’t even tried to stretch our single into a double yet. Like I said, we’re just rounding first.

Okay, friends. That’s what I have for you today. Hey, make sure to peek back into this column next Tuesday, because I will be showcasing Phil Gorn of “Wonderphil Productions,” a company that develops, packages, pre-sells and produce indie films. I’ve known Phil for years, and I’m telling you, he’s somebody you want to know.

Until then, I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.




Posted on February 19, 2013 in Features, Going Bionic by
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One Comment on "GOING BIONIC: DISTRIBUTING INDEPENDENT FILMS INTERNATIONALLY – TAKING THE (INDIE FILM SALES) TEMPERATURE AT BERLIN/EFM 2013."

  1. Les Butchart on Wed, 20th Feb 2013 10:08 am 

    Great info, Hammad, thanks for giving us the lowdown on EFM!


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