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CANNES 2020 Marché du Film

Jerôme Paillard • Executive Director, Marché du Film

“We’re still seeing people sign up, even now the event has closed…”

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- We met with the director of Cannes’ Marché du Film Jerôme Paillard in order to gather the organisers’ conclusions on this very unique edition

Jerôme Paillard  • Executive Director, Marché du Film
(© Marché du Film)

This year, Cineuropa sought to meet with Jerôme Paillard, the executive director of the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film, once the online event had closed, with a view to garnering the organisers’ conclusions on this rather special edition...

Cineuropa: What was your experience of this year’s Marché du Film, on the other side of the screen?
Jerôme Paillard: We were up against a real technical and behavioural challenge. Ultimately, we’re very happy with how it went. We had to put many additional things in place, to organise interfaces between what we already had and new online infrastructure, but we didn’t experience many technical issues, and in the very short amount of time we were given, we managed to convert almost all of the content we’d prepared for the physical edition into virtual form. We wanted to play the card of the Cannes experience, that’s why we decided to enhance the “event” aspect of the online Market, while preserving references and behaviours linked to the physical edition: “dailies” available in a press rack, screenings at set times, pavilions to visit, one-on-one meetings, concerts every evening and even a few parties, too. It was a risky gamble, but the considerable feedback we’ve received from accredited professionals is proving that the platform model we used wasn’t too confusing. Some told us that it felt a bit like being in Cannes. It’s a real compliment for our team who worked hard to provide a seamless experience.

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How did the screenings go?
We organised 1,200 screenings, which is more or less the same number as in the physical edition of the event, with a few additional advantages to boot. Firstly, everyone enjoyed the same screen size, since we were able to increase the number of virtual auditoriums and easily solve our usual capacity worries. Then there’s the fact that certain seances recorded 600-700 viewers, which is usually impossible given the limited size of Cannes’ venues. Nigh-on 42,000 viewers saw our films and often stayed to the very end. Data of this kind is recorded and passed on to the sales agent who, thanks to this virtual format, knows the exact point at which a viewer leaves an auditorium. 

Have you already recorded sales off the back of the event?
For some works, but not all of them. There were definitely deals taking place, though probably not at the same levels as at our usual Cannes event. There were high price negotiations over big projects such as Will Smith’s film, which was sold for somewhere in the region of 75 million dollars, but we’re also really happy that Thierry Frémaux Cannes Label had a significant impact on sales and that these films were able to act as a driving force, as is usually the case with Official Selection films. These works were also the ones watched the most in screenings. I should clarify that the online Market wasn’t an opportunity to accept just anyone presenting themselves as a sales agent. We stuck to around 260 companies because we decided to limit access to reputable professionals, or to those having a film slate actually relevant to the Market, so as not to overwhelm professionals with offers not suited to Cannes.

Did the online edition allow you to open up the Marché du Film to other, less regular participants?
Absolutely. We surpassed the 10,000-participant mark, and some of them even asked to sign up after the event had closed so as to catch up on our conferences and the 200 or so screenings we’d organised, which will now be accessible until September. We haven’t had time to produce detailed statistics yet, but numerous unsolicited reports indicate that many professionals - and producers in particular - signed up for the very first time, or returned after a certain number of years, because it was so easy to access. This online edition helped us to break down the geographic, economic and environmental barriers which prevent certain professionals from travelling to the Croisette under normal conditions. That’s why we’re going to think about how to maintain a virtual edition of the event, less comprehensive than the physical Marché du Film, but nonetheless accessible from anywhere, over the years to come.

Are you happy with the results of new initiatives such as Spot the Composer, for example?
Spot the Composer took place as part of the speed meetings which we wanted to introduce this year. There were more of them than in the past. We organised no less than 14 speed meeting sessions, in which 176 meetings unfolded as part of the Spot the Composer programme. It’s a great result, but it wasn’t the only one: 260 meetings were organised between Europe and China as part of Bridging the Dragon, 220 were based around VR, 270 in the context of Frontières and genre film... Added to these 30-minute speed meetings were the 8-minute flash meetings which we planned by the thousand. These flash meetings allowed us to recreate, to some extent, the atmosphere of a cocktail party, where people exchange a few words, drop in a hook and leave a business card for further follow-up.

Did the change of dates pose a problem?
I don’t think so. People needed time and so did we. Yes, this year, the Marché du Film took place just after Annecy and at the same time as Sunny Side of the Doc, but that didn’t stop professionals from attending all these events from home and from being in Cannes and in La Rochelle at the same time, for example. Our target audiences aren’t altogether similar, so it wasn’t any harder to organise.

What does the Marché du Film director’s diary look like during an online edition of this event?
It was a very unique experience for me. The Cannes I’m familiar with consists of meeting lots of people, arranging tours, receiving delegations... This time, I was more involved in the operational side of things, working alongside my team, because the logistics were quite onerous. I found myself attending more talks, and even hosting one during the presentation of the documentary starring Marion Cotillard. In fact, some of these conferences drew in no less than 400 participants, figures we struggle to achieve during regular Cannes markets.

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(Translated from French)

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