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
with others who had remained, mostly long casual lunches on
the beach with
friends where, over a good Provencal rose, last minute ideas
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
probably slightly less well attended and totally focused on
making sense of
the expanding distribution channels offered by technological
what were the financial effects, plus and minus, of those
For the most part, it seemed that while people were accessing
different ways, the net effect seems pretty flat. DVD sales
downloads are up - dollars about the same.
Non-fiction producers are working to understand how to produce
within emerging financial models which are challenging, to
say the least.
Many producers have made a good business out of producing
commissioned by networks in their entirety or at least getting
portion of funding out of the U.S. The emerging model being
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
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
business models and make modifications. A business that is
never easy is
becoming more complicated. Distribution partners are becoming
for non-fiction producers as they are for those who make feature
This is a bewildering turn for most non-fiction producers;
there is a need
for new business skills that have been underdeveloped in the
cost, high output world of most producers for cable networks,
Six months ago at MIP, there seemed to be shimmering possibilities
broadband and mobile opportunities. Now, in the fall, the
scene has become
clearer and those possibilities may have been more mirage
Producers are providing networks with content for broadband
and mobile; they
don't seem to be getting paid more for it. They are benefiting
production planning so that those elements are outlined prior
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
before stark business sense; the 21st century is demanding
business acumen, a combination that is hard to find..