EFM - sales agent Dutch Features
Dutch Features highly, but so does international...
The company name Dutch Features is becoming somewhat of a misnomer, admits CEO Pim van Collem, as his business is looking more and more overseas, as evidenced by his eclectic EFM 2021 slate.
Pim van Collem
That said, Van Collem's top title at EFM will be Ivo an Art's hilarious splatterfest The Columnist, about a revenge-driven journalist who can't quite tell when enough is enough. The Dutch Features CEO has inked deals with 40 countries worldwide, including "all English-language territories". That said, there are some big territories left, he points out, such as France, Germany, Japan and China.
"We launched The Columnist a year ago and nobody picked it up, and then we did a few festivals and it won at Fantasia in Canada, got some tremendous reviews and basically I think it's now one of the best-selling Dutch films in the market," says Van Collem.
"We are all looking forward to the EFM Market Premiere of Marja Pyykkö's Sihja, the Rebel Fairy*) (Finland), the story of an unconventional fairy and an eccentric boy who must overcome their own fears and obstacles in order to save nature," adds the Dutch Features boss. The film produced by Tuffi Films, who made the Berlinale Generation winner Stupid Young Heart (2019), in co-production with Windmill Films (NL).
"At this year's virtual EFM ,we are showing selected scenes from the new fantasy film of the Van Ostade brothers, Lilith and The Ghastly Brothers*)" Van Collem says, adding that the sibling directors are Belgium's next big thing and that "the international expectations are very high." The film, made by Brussels-based production company Minds Meet and co-produced by Volya Films, tells the story of quirky schoolgirl Lilith who meets the paranormal detectives ‘The Ghastly Brothers' at her new boarding school, where she ends up starring in her own haunted adventure.
Another film high up on the Dutch Features slate is Norbert ter Hall's Promise of Pisa*), in which Van Collem says there is a lot of interest. In the film, a talented Moroccan boy from the ‘hood' must learn to survive at an elite music academy in Amsterdam's affluent South, while his brother is in prison.
The company is also screening two episodes of the successful Dutch crime series Mocro Mafia, in which three former friends battle for supremacy in the Amsterdam underworld as they face dangerous new enemies, chase new criminal opportunities and fight to settle old scores. Van Collem tells how the series is a huge success on streamers in countries such as France, Africa, Germany, Belgium and Japan, where it has created its own fanbase via the internet.
Dutch Features is also very successful in the family arena and is offering a 90-minute feature version of the 20 x 10' juvenile love story Remy and Juliyat. Furthermore, Van Collem is hoping that he will soon be offering up a feature version of the company's internationally acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning family series Floor Rules! (16 x 10') about the anarchic and fun adventures of 12-year-old schoolgirl Floor.
Marty is Dead is a non-Dutch project on the company's slate and screening at EFM. The tragic Czech tale of cyber-bullying is a successful short form drama series for young adults, which comprises a 90-minute feature cut from an 8 x 12' series. In addition to winning several festivals, the series was awarded Best Short Form series at last year's International Emmy Awards.
Looking back over the past 12 months, was the pandemic a period of decline or growth for Dutch Features? "It's a double-edge sword, Van Collem replies. "Yes, we are benefitting because there is more and more demand for projects that fit the major streamers, but on the other hand what we have noticed is that most distributors are in limbo because they don't know when the cinemas will open again, and are reluctant to buy new films and pay MGs for films that they don't know when and if they can release. Hence, most international distributors are playing safe."
He also points out how the business of working from home actually slows down the process of buying and selling films and series, even at virtual markets. "Since there is no urgency to buy, the pressure that you have at a live film market where buyers are bidding against each other on hot titles is now missing for the smaller and independent titles," he stresses. "There is definitely a rise in demand for features with international appeal and longer running drama-series, but for independent distributors I think some of them are having a very hard time. Another effect of the pandemic is that several international broadcasters experienced less income from advertising revenue in 2020, and subsequently had to cut their budgets for acquisition and production for the next 2 years, which has a rippling effect."
"I guess most independent distributors are focusing on titles that will sell well on either OTT platforms or to linear broadcasters, because they don't know what it going to happen in the theatrical world in 2021 and beyond," he continues. "The question remains: will audiences embrace the smaller arthouse theaters when they reopen, or will they prefer their home cinema, where they can screen all new releases?"
"Hence, yes, we see a rise in demand for good titles, but we also see a lot of uncertainty. So, it's both," he ends.
*) This film was supported by the Netherlands Film Fund and the Netherlands Film Production Incentive.
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