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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

October 29, 2006

Tombers Reviews the Fall MIPCOM: Show Me The Money!

By now, the Palais Des Festivals in Cannes has probably set itself up for
its next show, being home to forty some markets a year. As I spent my last
day in Cannes, the Palais was cordoned off and only those tearing down the
elaborate booths were allowed into the building.

Those who remained in town, like me, were doing some last minute meetings
with others who had remained, mostly long casual lunches on the beach with
friends where, over a good Provencal rose, last minute ideas were exchanged.
I ended the day with a walking expedition with a business friend, picking up
a few things to bring back from shops along the back side of the quay.

The general consensus was that this market was less feverish than others,
probably slightly less well attended and totally focused on making sense of
the expanding distribution channels offered by technological advances and
what were the financial effects, plus and minus, of those channels.

For the most part, it seemed that while people were accessing content in
different ways, the net effect seems pretty flat. DVD sales are down;
downloads are up - dollars about the same.

Non-fiction producers are working to understand how to produce good shows
within emerging financial models which are challenging, to say the least.
Many producers have made a good business out of producing programs
commissioned by networks in their entirety or at least getting the major
portion of funding out of the U.S. The emerging model being thrown around
by some networks is that the U.S. will only put up a third of the budget and
the producer must find a way to get the other two thirds out of other
countries, sources, etc.

This model, while not yet ubiquitous, is finding traction and is the despair
of many and is causing most forward thinking producers to reassess their
business models and make modifications. A business that is never easy is
becoming more complicated. Distribution partners are becoming as important
for non-fiction producers as they are for those who make feature films.

This is a bewildering turn for most non-fiction producers; there is a need
for new business skills that have been underdeveloped in the relatively low
cost, high output world of most producers for cable networks, here and

Six months ago at MIP, there seemed to be shimmering possibilities in
broadband and mobile opportunities. Now, in the fall, the scene has become
clearer and those possibilities may have been more mirage than reality.
Producers are providing networks with content for broadband and mobile; they
don't seem to be getting paid more for it. They are benefiting from better
production planning so that those elements are outlined prior to shooting
rather than when the show is almost in the can.

Production companies scoured the Croisette seeking partners of one kind or
another to make their lives easier - and more profitable. Therein was the
message in this fall's market: where is the money?

Non-fiction films were driven in earlier generations by a crazy passion
before stark business sense; the 21st century is demanding passion and
business acumen, a combination that is hard to find..