2014 Conference Summaries

Connecting with the Public from the Production Phase: Keys to Success for a Brilliant Distribution | Conférence  © G. Piel/CITIA

Connecting with the Public from the Production Phase: Keys to Success for a Brilliant Distribution

  1. Speakers
  2. Moderator
  3. Summary
  4. Questions


A number of questions are treated in this conference: how can partnerships be broached with brands, these new production players? How can investors foresee that there will be an audience for their projects? When should one start to address the issue of marketing? Who should create this relationship with audiences? The director? The distributor? Who will manage the social media pages? The speakers will attempt to answer these queries and evoke trends which they have noticed through their projects.



Key words

brand content, distribution, marketing, Zombillenium, Skip The Use, Harry Potter in your city, fan bases, Phantom Boy, Folimage, BD 


Anne Sanchez, associate director at Mercredi, is in contact with the investors and builds partnerships with brands. She explores everything that might help in reaching a given audience or viewership. "The 11 to 20 year-olds are animation’s core target. Animated films have their own audiences, different from classical cinema, which is vaster. We have a hard time moving beyond the 20 year-olds. You mustn’t spread yourself too thin in marketing or you may lose your target group. Likewise, you should never delude yourself into thinking that you can influence everyone."
Shrek, Ice Age 4 and Harry Potter already have a target group which is older than usual animation circles. With Internet, children have changed how they "consume" animation films: now they can choose their own films, so distributors advertise on children’s websites.

Lionel Curt is chairman of MNSTR, a marketing and communications agency. He explains that he contacts brands with a finished product to be marketed nationally or internationally.
Specialised in the implementation of communications solutions for such brands as Boucheron, Lacoste, Reebok and Warner Bros (for Happy Feet and Harry Potter), MNSTR organised the Harry Potter dans ta ville (Harry Potter in your city) campaign won by the city of Tours. The aim of this campaign was to advertise the fact that Harry Potter 7 was soon to be released.
He believes that activating community pages and strengthening this link with the viewers and fans allows creatives to obtain feedback for shaping future productions and helps distributors re-direct fans to a film. In his opinion, productions will get involved so as to protect the films. The former will oversee budgets and the task of finding the right co-production producers, to be certain of reaching an audience.

Annemie Degryse is a producer and distributor for Lumière Publishing, active in Belgium and Holland. The company owns movie theatres and concentrates fiction and animation. Most notably, it distributed Phantom Boy internationally, in co-production with Folimage: "My background is in the world of animation and my first thought is always to ask whether I want to distribute a film or not. Do I want to share what I’ve seen with viewers? Do audiences exist for this particular story? How shall I position this? It’s hard to have a good graphic style with a story that matches it. Today the animatics need to be perfected, and we must create a field of awareness, even if we can’t keep fans waiting too long. Sometimes we present productions in festivals a full year before their release."

Arthur de Pins, comic book author and animated film director, feels that marketing and targeting must be addressed from the onset. "This is not a question pertinent for comics or short films. Zombillenium is a comic book adapted from the Journal de Spirou, doubly specialised for children as well as adults, with a core readership of 8 to 12 year-olds. The producer, Henri Magalon, respects the comics’ orientation and hopes to emphasise this graphic style and melancholic tone in the movie. He’s convinced that it’s necessary to push this as far as possible, and subsequently the film will develop its own audience," Arthur de Pins states.
A video clip was made with the Skip The Use band. This understanding is first and foremost an artistic one since the group’s rock'n'roll fits right with the film. Once the clip was up-loaded, they realised that the fans of Zombillenium and Skip The Use "knew" one another: "I think we must be at about the same level of albums sold; the two fan bases overlap," Arthur de Pins confirms. This represents a buoyant marketing point for publicising the project, with advantages for both parties. Since Zombillenium was not part of a franchise, advertising had to be done at a very little cost.

Anne Sanchez points out that it’s difficult to set up ties with an audience when starting with a brand new idea: "It’s easier to base your efforts on a comic album or video game. The scenario has to be original; you must begin by talking with people. It’s not possible, either, to maintain a relationship over the years. There is specific media focus all the time. Whenever we have a franchise, we start from the fan base and surf it."

Lionel Curt adds that in advertising and marketing, it’s worthwhile to concentrate upstream on one’s audience: "Most people think that buzz is enough to get a project rolling, but buzz is often backed by a media plan".


How can we make sure that a film remains "open" and that it will travel well?

Annemie Degryse: "We make films so that they’ll work out locally but this is costly and often is only possible thanks to subsidies. It’s very important that a sales agent be part of a project from its inception."

Anne Sanchez: "I realised that when a problem occurs in one country, it occurs everywhere. When you take specificities into account, you must be wary of adding too much specificity in an attempt to please all. You should be careful of very long-term loans too."

Arthur de Pins: "Concerning exporting: the American version of the Zombillenium album had replaced the names of the signposted cities in the original album (Lille, Valenciennes) with imaginary English-sounding cities, whereas this is an integral part of the identity and background of the film. You must preserve original details and just assume that people are endowed with natural curiosity."

How do you involve brands?

Lionel Curt: "For us, operations in the film field are relatively new. We are working with Orangina on producing a feature film but the actual producer is the brand itself. Orangina considers that advertising has evolved and so to 'boost creativity' it has positioned itself as producer of a scenario which is relatively far removed from the brand."

Anne Sanchez: "Very early on, we begin looking quite closely at B2B marketing. Brand content is the ultimate step in this cooperation with the brands since it impacts costs. The reason is that in order to create specific brand-pertinent material, you need to invest. It’s more logical to anticipate this brand content when starting to design the film. It’s no longer logical to bring a finished product to a broadcaster while asking him/her how to roll it out. We are beginning to envision marketing and the different brand content tools during a film’s pre-production phase so that we can expand on opportunities. For example, we can create bonuses – which are images based on the film’s environment even if they are not directly drawn from the film – and offer them to the brands. This is also an embedded part of animation’s vast potential since for live shoots we must deal with talents who have agents, who thus have an opinion to express, whereas in animation we can discuss this with a person or a director, since of course the fictive characters have no opinion on the subject."

Drafted by Alain Andrieux, ITZACOM, France

Translated by Sheila Adrian

The Annecy 2014 Conferences Summaries are produced with the support of:

DGCIS    Ministère de l'économie, du redressement productif et du numérique      Région Rhône-Alpes

Conferences organised by CITIA    CITIA


In collaboration with Europa Distribution    Europa Distribution


Contact: geraldinebache@citia.org