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Screen Training Ireland hold distribution seminar

As part of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board's continuing focus on sales and distribution for Irish content, BSE/IFB head of marketing Moira Horgan spoke at a Screen Training Ireland (STI) distribution seminar with Eclipse Picture’s Niamh McCaul, Network Ireland’s Derry O’Brien and Momentum Pictures’ Sam Nichols.
Horgan outlined BSE/IFB’s recoupable Prints & Advertising (P&A) Support Fund, which supports the distribution of BSE/IFB-backed content where marketplace distributors have indicated a level of cash support - the Fund presently offers up to 50% support.
Horgan noted the Minister’s and CEO’s special focus on the exploitation of Irish films and said that BSE/IFB would continue to encourage producers to seek the earliest possible involvement of distributors and sales agents in their films.
McCaul agreed that theatrical distribution is a risky business and the more money a distributor had to spend correcting issues from production meant less money for marketing. She referred to her alliance with UK distributor Verve, which was good for her buying power given that UK/Ireland is regarded as one territory by sales agents.
Indicating that Ireland/UK had the “worst” exhibition terms, she said that distributor recoupment generally went in the order of guarantee, costs and commissions which all had to come out of the 25% share of box office the distributor saw back from the exhibitor and this was before investors got to recoup.
It was noted that the Irish office of Columbia (which has a video arm) is also now reading scripts, which is a welcome development joining Buena Vista’s already active presence.
It was agreed that Irish distributors needed to create even stronger links with other European distributors to more fully benefit from MEDIA distribution funds.
Network Ireland’s Derry O’Brien noted that a lot of overseas sales are now DVD driven, but that the rise of specialty TV channels meant that there was now a small market for "quality documentaries". As there was competition for quality content, Network Ireland would consider putting up advances in some cases and would work closely with producers on applications for MEDIA support.
Momentum Pictures’ Sam Nichols gave a case study of the distributor’s evaluation process for projects which entailed comparing the projects against similar types of films under the headings of cast, box office, marketing spend and audience demographics.
Outlining the marketing campaign process for the films, she noted it was not always necessary to attach a stellar cast. "The trick was a universal story with a local postcode and a strong voice," she added.
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