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What we learned at the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin 2020

After our very successful edition of the Berlin Lift-Off Film Festival at Il Kino, we then made our way over to EFM, representing six projects from our Network Members to sales and acquisition agents, mainly based in the UK and the US. 

 By representing selected projects at film markets such as TIFF, AFM and Cannes at the Marché du Film, Lift-Off’s target is to open up a conversation between our filmmakers and scriptwriters and the people who could help put their films into circulation. We strongly believe in the projects we represent, and as a result, work towards building connections within the film market.

 With our Network Members in mind, our main take away from this is that there is a large window of opportunity for independent film online; filmmakers just need to follow some loose guidelines that work out as being fundamental to their career.

 One of the first things that came up in conversation was running time. Producers from Artist View Entertainment were very clear on the purpose of the content they acquire being destined for television. It is important to clarify that “television” now equates to SVOD platforms, as this is the way the entertainment industry has shifted.  

 The next key element acquisition agents were on the lookout for was genre. If the project had a true sense of its genre and audience, agents were very responsive as this facilitates their ability to map out how to effectively reach its target market. “Family Friendly” was a very popular term mentioned for desired genres, although thanks to the popularisation of multiple “taste-clusters” within new content due to successful SVOD entertainment such as Black Mirror or Stranger Things, there is now also an openness to “Cross-Genre” content. Overall, it’s vital for the filmmaker to know their niche genre and audience.

 APL Films, Visit Films and Wazabi Films were all very open about being able to financially support film projects that they believed were strong. Whilst no one is particularly keen to buy, this is due to the fact that the majority of people at the market are looking to sell their content to platforms such as Netflix or Hulu or television channels such as ITV, for example. 

 Yet, one of the most interesting things that we came across for our Network Members was the Berlinale Talents. Having previously screened with Lift-Off, we were very proud of Aurora Fearnely (@aurorafearnley) for representing the U.K. at this event that celebrates emerging independent filmmakers from around the world (a total of 255 people from 86 countries), with a series of screenings, talks and panels. Click here to learn more about this:

 To conclude, much of what we heard this time around mirrored the knowledge we’ve gained from other film markets, yet EFM is unique in its vast offering of quality independent film. With a growing openness to “cross-genre” content, there is somewhat of a locked door to any interest in content unless it abides the desired runtime between 82 and 95 minutes (quoted from basically every single acquisition agent we encountered). 

 We strongly recommend looking into the Berlinale Talents programme, as this is Berlinale’s attempt at creating a platform that promotes true independent, diverse cinema and filmmaking talent. To aid this, our platform will soon be offering the five-week course, “Production Accelerator”, aimed at helping filmmakers grow and reach their maximum potential.

Overall, it is vital for a filmmaker to think about the ecosystem in which they are releasing their work, and what is required by the market in order to reach an audience, and essentially, to warrant making more and more films.