Is there such a thing as Hollywood in Germany? Better yet, the burning question that a lot of filmmakers want to know is how to catch the eye of an acquisition team? This might not be a secret but one woman, Tina Harnisch, Bavaria Film Marketing Manager answers questions on how to connect with a world sales team as it relates to Germany and Cannes Film Festival.
What is the role of the acquisitions team at Cannes Film Festival?
The acquisition teams use the festival not only to meet producers but also to watch films. In reality most of the films that are running in an official section already have their world sales. Many acquisitions are made on a script basis prior to the market/festival or at the market.
How to get the acquisitions team to watch your film?
Meet them in person. Attend festival activities and participate in any development workshops or panels help to get the needed attention and might help to find the right partners, especially if you don’t have a celebrity cast or famous credits.
Did you hear that? Sit up front, participate, ask questions and stay after to get one on one time with potential film partner.
Did you consider short films or only full length from specific production agencies/studios?
The theatrical division mainly handled full-length films, ranging from family entertainment, animation, drama, comedy, thrillers and action to award-winning arthouse fare for worldwide exploitation. With regards to a theatrical exploitation (but also to TV slots and license fees) short films encounter difficulties.
Did you focus on certain genres/countries?
As a German world sales company many of the films that we offered were German origins or international co-productions with German involvement. But we also handled feature films and series from Scandinavia, Australia, Spain a.s.o.
In the field of cinema (3D) animated family entertainment sold best. On the TV side the bestselling programs were action series and family entertainment (for example fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm).
Germany loves family friendly films!
Besides Berlinale/Cannes what other film festivals did you and your colleagues attend?
We regularly attended Sundance, San Sebastian, Venice, Toronto, Locarno, to name a few. Our most important markets were European Film Market, American Film Market, Cannes and Toronto.
During the ‘off season’ could someone send you a pitch via email?
Sure! The acquisitions team is always looking for promising programs and projects with an international appeal.
Tina says don’t be afraid to send a pitch via email.
How often did you and your colleagues screen films? Or did you hire a 3rd party to screen the bad ones out?
Every day. The world sales company acquired all rights and went into pre-buys on script basis, as well as acquiring finished productions. This means script reading is as important as watching finished films. Acquisition normally isn’t an outsourcing service. However on the sales side it’s quite common to have several strong relationships with sales agents that are strong in the so-called “key territories” or in markets that are difficult to reach.
Tina mentions that script reading as important as watching the finished films. They will read the script on the development/ preproduction stage. If they like it, they would try to negotiate a so-called first look deal (which means a first option on the finished film) or they would even go into co-financing.
What was the best/worst part of your job in world sales?
Watching films and series while getting acquainted with many different people from all over the world was great. Helping to find an international audience for movie gems by creating individual marketing concepts was challenging and fascinating, too. The worst part is working with (or despite) the fact, that German language films aren’t that highly requested like English language programs. Especially in the English-speaking territories there is almost no chance to place German fiction. The English audience simply isn’t familiar with watching dubbed films. Furthermore, nobody abroad is interested in German comedy and only very view German actors are internationally known.
If someone wanted to get into world sales what 3 tips would you give them?
Love cinema, love languages, handle different cultures with care and respect … and love working HARD!
If you are attending Cannes this year, be prepared for a typical day.
What was a typical day for you at Cannes?
No sleep, early working start, countless meetings in 30 minutes slots, but at least: best working conditions (How hard can meetings be under the sun of Côte d’Azur?)
If you are wondering if Tina chose to work in the film industry or the film chose her. It was the latter, the film industry chose her. How did she get there?
Area of Studies: Media Management (Diploma)
- PR Manager at MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, a public local TV channel)
- 4 Years: PR Manager at Kinderfilm (Production Company)
- 4 Years: Marketing Manager at Telepool (Rights Distribution/World Sales Company)
- 4 Years: Head of Marketing at Global Screen (World Sales)
Since August last year: Marketing Manager at Bavaria Film