A Good Pitch, Networking, and Visibility Are Key to Success in Uncertainty

Iva Sirotić

Todays discussion over coffee with guests welcomed Dennis Ruh from the European Film Market of Berlinale and the conversation focused on Uncertain Future of Film Fairs and Independent Production. Ruh started his career as a volunteer at film festivals, and thinks that film festivals are, and should serve the purpose of not only promoting and marketing film, but also training and networking.

Moderator Davor Švaić said Pula Film Festival has developed in that sense by expanding its industry and educational programme with very interesting content and focusing not only on the Croatian industry, but international networking. Švaić emphasised that a lot of people came to Pula Film Festival because it has become a film market and platform, and is not just a festival to come watch new and current films.

Ruh’s presentation was interactive from start to finish, and addressed questions, dilemmas, and comments from students, but also sales agents, and film festival selectors and producers. He emphasised that a good pitch of a project in any stage of development and networking are the basis for preparing for the market and the basis for the success of the project in all stages of development. He also said that visibility of applications for work in progress workshops at various festivals is extremely important, as it is a way of getting publicity and gaining interest across different circles.

Germany already saw a change in streaming services starting to distribute films. During the discussion, the question of whether streaming platforms are enemies of festivals or vice versa was raised. We found out that HBO left the East European market due to too much competition with distributors.

Ruh said uncertainty and changes in the industry had started even before the pandemic, but the big question is how the industry is going to survive, especially cinemas, but also Netflix, which is experiencing a crisis with decreasing number of users. It is of utmost importance to be creative and find an audience for one’s project. We need smart, clever strategies, because things are not going to be like they were before, so Ruh thinks it is much easier for younger people who are just coming into the industry than those who have been working for years and now have to change the work models they are used to. The situation is complicated, and is developing in a complex way, but in general, Ruh concluded that the industry is certainly not going to go under.

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