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Mubi and Indie Digital Distribution Disruption
Last month, at the 10th edition of the San-Sebastian Film Festival workshop, I had the great pleasure to share a panel with Mubi’s UK-based director of content, Quentin Carbonell. We discussed the promotion of independent films on VOD. How can independent films hope to dig some gold out of it? The crowd who filled the Function Hall of the San Telmo Museum on September 19 proved that indeed the question echoes in the minds of many, across all sectors of the Film Industry.
The moderator, Michael Gubbins pointed out in his keynote speech, that the “rush” towards VOD gold has rather been a slow momentum until now but recent developments, such as the interest in EU content shown by Amazon in Cannes, give reasons to start hoping. “VOD is now ready for real business. How can distributors create a demand for it?”
A revolutionary debut from the eclectic Steven Soderbergh—winning the director the Palme d’Or at age 26! pic.twitter.com/TZ1RQAJpkX— MUBI (@mubi) October 14, 2020
Swedish arthouse distributor Folkets Bio, CEO, Anna Harding illustrated local distribution cases. Folkets Bio runs 20 cinemas and is a leading company in arthouse distribution, operating in one of the most computerized countries in the world. Today Folkets Bio can count on a website where users can check the schedule of their cinema theatres, shop for DVDs and watch films on streaming, all in the same place.
“For us, this solution made more sense because it works both ways: we can promote our VOD catalogs in our cinemas and the other way around but it’s true that, except for a very few exceptions, when a film flops in cinemas it then flops also on all the other windows.”
I made the case for the importance of understanding data and its relation to increasing sales and establishing a loyal fan base. Netflix or any other big company will ever be keen to give data away. I encouraged distributors to start building their own database, possibly collaborating at a local level with other distributors and other parts of the industry to be more effective.
Even at a very small scale, data collection can be useful to identify the potential of a film. A certain degree of film success is very hard to predict, the magic of cinema as Anna calls it will always apply, but data analysis is a science and can help limit the risks.
The following day I put some of this thesis into practice and trained the members of Europa Distribution in a close seminar on how to create data and use it to predict audience preference and grow sales.