Goodfellas President Vincent Maraval shared the secret behind his undying enthusiasm for the film industry in the face of numerous challenges in an industry panel at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
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‘It comes from a love and passion for cinema… We still want to see a dream come true on the screen, on a platform, on TV. That’s what drives us,” he said.
“The complexity of our business is also part of the excitement. We need to adapt ourselves and our business and look for films or TV programs that will find a buyer or an agent.”
Maraval was talking on a panel on the state of the Global Film Industry in 2023 as part of San Sebastian’s Creative Investors’ Conference on Tuesday, organized in association with CAA Media Finance.
The complexity of the market was at the heart of the chat which also featured mk2 films MD Fionnuala Jamison; Blueprint Pictures Co-Chairman Pete Czernin, wiip Head Of Global Drama David Flynn and was moderated by CAA Media Finance co-head Roeg Sutherland.
A current development, they all agreed on, was the growing shift away from the U.S. a magnet for international film and TV talent due to a combination of factors topped by the streamers, the pandemic and to a lesser extent the Hollywood strikes.
“I think a lot of filmmakers are not looking to have to go to America to succeed. They’re quite happy, being successful on their own terms in Europe or Latin America,” said Flynn.
Maraval said this shift had been further accelerated by the strikes even if its roots lay in the platforms.
“They helped the audience to be more open,” he said of the role the platforms. “The strikes accelerated this movement.”
He also suggested that independent U.S. cinema had also become less global in its outlook in recent years.
“Independent American cinema used to be global, now it’s less global, and I think the market will pay more for local. Of course, there are always exceptions. Genre stills works well on a worldwide basis, but it’s true that we need to be more open and more curious about every local cinema. Because now the exception is coming from everywhere.”
Flynn countered that the platforms’ original driver for getting into local content was to reel in subscribers in new territories, rather than connect with international audiences.
“But ultimately, it’s for the good because if we can put together a show that takes them on a journey or brings them into a community or a culture that they’ve never seen before. That’s the exciting part for an audience,” he said.
Jamison said she was also seeing a shift towards features aimed at a younger audience. She cited the strong pre-sale interest during Berlin for Molly Manning Walker’s Cannes Un Certain Regard winner How To Have Sex.
“It’s a British debut film. We were speaking to Germans, Spanish, Italians. It’s about these girls with British accents and it’s about consent, really, and it was like ‘wow’. You can feel that the market is shifting to a little bit younger,” she said.
Talking about pre-sales more generally, Maraval said it was still possible to pre-sell films, with the right cast, director or screenplay, but that projects with inflated budgets would not fly.
“In our recent experience, animation works, and especially Japanese animation. The Miyazaki film [The Boy And The Heron) which opened here was pre-sold everywhere. Genre films can also work when the concept is good and the budget is not so high,” he said.
“A film like Emmanuelle which we are working on today, which has a strong IP and cast, it presells. It’s more difficult for drama and for comedy, because every country has its own comedy.”
Jamison also suggested that the market had become a lot more open to diversity.
“Five years ago, an Asian film was no for many parts of the world, and prior to Moonlight, if you were selling a film with an all-Black cast,” she said.
Czernin said that in this environment producers had to be more determined than ever and prepared to navigate different models to get projects off the ground today.
“You have to concentrate really, really hard. You have to have good original stories and you have to have enormous drive to get it going,” he said.
“Just recently, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had one film in Telluride [All Of Us Strangers] and one in Toronto [Wicked Little Letters]. They’re very similar models to what we’re now quite used to.
“My partner and I spend most of lives backing into numbers. It’s about being modest and clever about the size of the budget. We might do a movie with has StudioCanal, which has their territories UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, or just France, and then we’ll do a streamer, or a North American studio. It’s a combination of that which isn’t that different to what we were used for many years. It’s just harder.”
Flynn said he saw it as part of his job as a producer to figure how out to navigate the shifts of the market.
“You have to have some awareness of the market, the finances and then there’s a lot of opportunity. There’s the point of volume versus what we’re spending our time on. You have to know what the audience is doing but if you think about it too much, you’re never going to get out of bed.”
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