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“There’s still so much high-quality independent film with great commercial potential being produced”

Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming

Gaetano Maiorino • Sales agent, True Colours

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We take a closer look at the work carried out by the Roman sales agency, which has established itself as a crucial reference point in the Italian and European landscape since 2016

Gaetano Maiorino • Sales agent, True Colours

We interviewed Gaetano Maiorino, managing director of Roman sales agency True Colours, in this pre-Cannes week. Maiorino spoke about various aspects of the firm’s work, its catalogue and the importance of sales when it comes to European arthouse cinema.

Cineuropa: Could you talk to us about True Colours’ editorial line? How is the company staffed?
Gaetano Maiorino: True Colours was founded at the end of 2015 as a result of a partnership between Indigo Film and Lucky Red. It was created as an agency which sought to bring added value to an Italian product which was being pushed to the side lines, somewhat. Above and beyond the big directors, there were a few small films which had the potential to do brilliantly after being selected in a festival, but in the midst of all this was a whole raft of productions which were considered to be too “local” but which could have been worked on. From this viewpoint, the agency was a breath of fresh air because it targeted a gap in the market. We made ourselves a reference point for Italian producers straight away. In 2016, we managed to buy Perfect Strangers [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, which was an exceptional case in the Italian film world because it was circulated worldwide. After that, we grew very quickly. The agency started out with Catia Rossi who acted as the agency and sales head, while I took care of festivals and the promotional side of things. Next, we hired a few more people and now there’s six of us. At the beginning of 2020, Catia left, and I took over her role as managing director and head of acquisitions. Giulia Casavecchia is our head of sales, Francesca Tiberi is our sales & acquisitions manager, Fabio Tucci is our festival manager, Irene Panizzi is our administrative manager and Devid Nelfi is a sales assistant and head of all things technical.

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How many titles do you represent each year? How many do you have in your catalogue?
The catalogue contains somewhere in the region of 110 modern films and we represent various classical film libraries. We manage an average of 20 titles per year, which is a considerable number... We’ve changed our editorial line over time, because we’ve tried to grow on both a higher commercial level – Paolo Genovese and Ferzan Özpetek, for example – and a more “traditional” commercial level by way of local comedies, via first and second works which have good festival potential, and via internationally recognised directors. We’ve been buying even more foreign titles since 2017.

Although we might seem lacking in an editorial line, we’ve developed such a vast network of buyers that we’re able to guarantee products for everyone. [..] We don’t rule anything out. We look for good stories and both established and emerging directors, guaranteeing products for every type of buyer.

Do you invest in films from the production stage, or help to fund films?
Yes, although obviously not for all projects. It’s a greater risk for the agency. We buy certain products in the screenwriting stage – Mario Martone’s movie Nostalgia [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, for example, which is competing in Cannes (read our news), or Paolo Genovese’s new film Il primo giorno della mia vita. We might get involved at any point in the film’s production, it depends on the situation… Where there’s a director we believe in or a project that captivates us, we’re prepared to get involved with minimum guarantees for funding.

How has your work changed over the past two years?
Quite a lot; the market has changed. A film’s value chain was dictated by its cinema results. Based on this – but not only this – you could spot an opportunity, both nationally in terms of pre-windows and internationally in terms of its potential circulation. [...] Cinemas have completely collapsed in income terms, and they didn’t even exist for a year and a half. We learned to work differently, exchanging ideas with buyers who halted all acquisitions because they’d accumulated products which couldn’t be exploited. We started to work on pre-sales and with platforms… We changed our market approach. All this on account of a lack of resources and the unpredictability unleased by the pandemic.

How is the role of the sales agent developing in the European setting?
For the time being, we still play a crucial role. Especially in Europe, we’re witnessing a trend for creating strong groups gathering together producers under the umbrella of a broadcaster or a platform. Naturally, these conglomerates are incredibly powerful; they have very high budgets and they’re capable of producing very respectable series or one-off shows. But there’s so much high-quality independent film with great commercial potential which is still being produced, that you don’t always manage to find space for it within these agencies. These products help circulate Europe’s cultural variety, which doesn’t always make its way past the bigger players. That’s why it’s essential to have expert international producers and sales agents on the market who develop works like these.

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(Translated from Italian)

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