Monthly Archives: October 2009
Monday, Day 1 of market. Well, technically we started on Saturday, with MIPCOM Jr.
First, breakfast. For cash-strapped production companies at MIP (yes, we qualify), this usually consists of milk, cereal, bread and other readily available flour-based food products. But I must say I quite enjoy the cereal here. It’s light, balanced and not as sweet and heavy as the type we get in Singapore. Considering it’s like €6 for a toast and coffee at a cafe by the sidewalk, it’s a no-brainer to eat in in the morning.
On to the Palais, home base for the next 4 days. The Singapore Pavilion is at the basement, also known as the ‘bunker’. It’s basically the equivalent of economy class on an air-plane. Here, booths are fairly basic, nothing too fancy, and most of the market’s traffic flow through this network of shopfronts selling anything from pre-school cartoons to B-movies to cook shows to porn. Yes, the kind with skin.
The Singapore Pavilion. Malaysia’s Pavilion is right across (in the background) – these booth layouts are even geographically accurate!
Moving up, bigger and more decked out halls like the Riviera, the Riviera Seaview and Lérins, along with other VIP areas and dedicated stands make up the rest of the Palais.
But it’s fair to say most trade gets done down at the bunker, if only because it’s the biggest and most varied group of sellers at the market. In the early years I always made it a point to walk the whole Palais. These days however it’s often sufficient to just cover the basement to check out what’s out there. But for any first-time attendee, it’s well worth a couple of hours to walk all the floors and soak it all in.
The first day flew by with some good meetings. It’s always interesting and a little nerve-wrecking pitching shows on the first day. You look out for what work, what don’t, and usually improvise here and there while keeping to a basic routine from pitch to pitch. This time round I’ve got a show I know really well and eager to pitch, while there’s another one that’s still not quite solid enough, so it was about managing the time I had and getting a feel for how much the buyer needs to see at each meeting. Naturally, some pitches went great. Others fell flat. All part of the process. Thankfully my skin’s grown thick enough for the drill.
A well-known comic writer once said he doesn’t and will never pitch as he finds it demeaning. Well, lucky him. I think it depends on who you’re pitching to. I’ve never left a pitch meeting feeling nothing’s gained, even if the buyer’s not interested. Truth is, most of these buyers need to find that next great idea, so it’s not solely a one-way affair.
Inside the Majestic, getting prepped for the opening party
First day at MIPCOM also means the Opening Party, at the Majestic Hotel again this year. There was a time when these parties lasted till much later, but these days it’s strictly a 2-hour affair of champagne, wine, exotic performances (this year it’s Japanese girl group AKB48) and ridiculously long food queues. Frankly, it’s not that great and you’re better off getting an early rest for the next day.
That said, AKB48 was infectiously fun. I almost danced.
Sat – Sun
I’m going to give MIP Junior that took place the weekend before MIPCOM a quick pass. Suffice to say, it’s essentially two days of conferences focused on kids content and programming. But, as with MIPCOM, if you are present at most of these conferences you’re not really getting what the whole thing is about – meetings. That said, it’s far more prevalent for buyers and actual programme sellers to register for the event as a huge part of MIP Jr are the day-long screenings that goes on over the weekend.
If you’re mainly a producer (like Scrawl) or have distributors already looking after sales of your shows, it’s more common to skip the event ‘officially’ i.e. not spend the €1,990 + tax for registration (although it does come with a MIPCOM badge as well) but be in the premises anyway for meetings.
Yes, we’re the leeches that sprawl the lobby of the Carlton hotel, usually standing there fiddling with our mobile phones, looking around exasperatedly for people, pitching on the steps of the hotel, and generally just getting into people’s way. But – it’s been like that for years, so no shame there whatsoever. At least it makes the whole thing look busier and sprightlier.
However, the Carlton management clearly has other ideas in mind this year, closing off the al fresco café – usually the default place for ‘unofficial MIP Jr meetings’, hence apparently weeding out the non-registered ‘patrons’.
And so it was a scramble to and fro the nearby cafes (where water is more expensive than beer in Singapore) and jostling for those beat up but pretty blue chairs along the Boulevard de la Croisette just so we could have another quick-fire meeting with that executive who has only 15 minutes.
It’s not ideal, but it certainly offers a strenuous warm up for the coming few days. In fact Mip Jr often feels more hectic just because you’re always trying to find a spot to talk, which eats away at those precious minutes. Not kidding – it’ll drive you nuts sometimes.
So – should you fly in early to attend MIP Jr next year? Well, chances are you’ll be staying at an apartment that charges a flat rate for the week anyway (which usually starts the day you arrive), so it’s definitely worth it to squeeze in MIP Jr and another 10-20 meetings for the trip. Remember, you didn’t fly all this way and spend all that green to sightsee, even if it’s Cannes.
Just got back from Cannes yesterday. Slept for 11 hours straight and still feeling a tad groggy.
So – after four and a half days and 65 meetings in total, another MIPCOM wrapped up for the nth time. In between, there were the usual catching up, speed pitching, wheeling the deal, networking cocktails, no-shows, meetings that range from great to confusing, late nights, beer, champagne, parma ham, tiramisu and the customary sore throat.
That last one hit me on the first day, although I probably shouldn’t say it, considering how many cheeks I kissed (or air-kissed).
Anyway, I know I said before I’d try to give a day-to-day update of the market. That clearly didn’t happen, not least because we reached back to the apartment at 11pm most nights, and the sack was all I could think about by then. So coming up I’m going post a few daily recaps and observations on MIPCOM.