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Complications Ensue:
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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Q. Could you run down the best/worst times of year to do things? When it's good/bad to query an agent, when it's good/bad to pitch producers, how many weeks you should allow before and after things like Banff, CTF announcements, etc. I know producers and agents are ALWAYS busy, but I sometimes fear that I'm showing my greenness by contacting them at a bad time of year.
I wouldn't dare. But I will make a few observations from personal experience. Here are some regular events that distract producers and agents from the important business of giving you a career:

Christmukkah: it is useless to try to start any new showbiz between the third week in December and the first Monday after January 1. The town shuts down. On the other hand, this is a good time to go to Aspen to bump into people who are -- surprise! -- also in showbiz.

Mid-January: Indie people go to Park City for Sundance. Studio types and agents show up for a few days if they can get their boss to spring for it, but they don't make a meal of it. Still, it eats up much of January.

Mid-April: MIP-TV. I'm guessing not too critical for American network and studio TV types. Important to TV producers in all other countries who have to cobble together multiple sales to fund their series.

May 1: In order to ensure a successful summer movie season, producers and agents gather on Catalina Island where they sacrifice a dozen unproduced screenwriters by burning them in a giant Wicker Man. Tickets go on sale February 2.

Mid-May: Cannes. Producers who do international co-productions will devote most of May to pre-festival, festival and post-festival. Haut studio types go there to strut and ogle the half-nekkid women. Some international co-pro-type producers take their vacations right after Cannes, as they are already in the South of France.

Mid-June: Banff. Primarily a Canadian TV thing. American network types go there only if they grew up under the Maple Leaf Flag.

August: New York goes to the Hamptons. LA goes out of its head. "From a marketing perspective, you never introduce new products in August."

Early September: Toronto International Film Festival. Like Cannes, this is principally a distraction for movie distributor types and producers who want to make international co-pro deals. It doesn't cripple most of the day-to-day operations of the town.

Mid-October: MIPCOM. I'm not really clear what the difference is between this and MIP. Can someone explain?

Those are the major events I can think of off the top of my head. There's also the AFM, MIFED and the umpteen film festivals: Venice, Berlin, Montreal, Telluride, Slamdance, New York, Hamptons, etc. But these are less important than Cannes and Toronto and if you're a writer they don't really affect you.

In fact, as a writer, I would say that the only times that seriously affect you are Christmas/Hanukah and August. These are the times you're better off skipping town, as it's way too depressing to try to get anyone on the phone then. If you can swing it, go to a resort where other show people go (Aspen, East Hampton, etc.), otherwise drive to New Orleans and get yourself a story to tell

The rest of the year, just call up the assistant and ask if now is a good time. If her boss is too busy packing for Cannes, she'll tell you.



Berlin is now affectionately called "EFM" for European Film Market. It is occuring now if memory serves.

AFM (the Used Car Deal of film markets) is in November...

By Blogger Cunningham, at 3:02 PM  

Depending on what your producer/network folks are in to, you may have left a couple of markets and bad times out.

Third week of January (usually around the Martin Luther King Day holiday) is NATPE, the only boda fide tv market in North America. Most of the studios and networks go, and smart producers do. It is an optics thing. If you aren't at NATPE as a non-American, you aren't really seen as a player.

If your peeps do non-fiction of any kind (including reality), there's a good shot they attend Real Screen, which is usually the last week of January in Washington, DC.

Kid Screen is for the kids and youth market, fiction and non. It takes place in NYC at the beginning of February, usually a week after Real Screen as it is run by the same company. Essential market for buyers and producers of kids' programming.

May is tricky because the US networks are all prepping for their up-fronts. Once the US schedules are announced the Canadian buyers all head down en masse and buy for the new season in a weeklong frenzy of screening and dealmaking aptly called the L.A. Screenings. Then they come back and do their own up-fronts here, usually beginning of June.

There are two competing events to Banff in June, both are more fun and cheaper to attend, which is why Banff has been on the decline the last few years. One is Silver Docs, jointly sponsored by AFI and Discovery, which is held in Silver Spring, MD (usually the same week as Banff). Big US and international attendance but again, a non-fiction market/festival. And a great co-production market in La Rochelle France called Sunny Side of the Doc is usually the last week of June.

MIPCOM and MIPTV? No real difference in the actual congress part of it, but for the fact that for three days prior to each market they run a specialized forum (before MIPTV it is MIPDOC, focusing on documentaries and before MIPCOM it is MIPCOM JR, focusing on kids programming). MIPTV also swallowed up MILIA, which is a digital content forum.

By Blogger ME, at 9:12 PM  

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