Continuing on MIPCOM (before it fades any further).

So what’s new this time round? If you ask me, not much. Times are still evidently tough for the market, and while there’s optimism I don’t think anyone’s really thinking that we’ll all be out of this rut any time soon. Over the last decade or so the business, you might say, have generally gotten more and more difficult as license fees free-fell and commissions plummeted. It’s tough enough for producers in the big markets. Imagine studios in the Far East no one’s heard of trying to get a slice of the action.

But this business is nothing without perseverance. That’s why it’s important to be at MIP, pitching, finding out what’s happening, what buyers are looking for (usually vague), exploring new deals and partnership models and just be in touch with the pulse of the industry. Few deals get made at MIP (the real work happens after). It’s more about building relationships, staying in touch and letting others know you’re out there in the thick of action, and you’re ready if something comes up.

Attending MIP is expensive, yes. But you only really feel the pinch if you don’t plan ahead. A packed, back-to-back, full-day meeting schedule for the week could knock you out, but invariably something of value will come out of it. I’ve seen people who attended MIP and just sat there for half a day, or even tried to set up meetings at the market itself. What happens is you end up meeting the same people who didn’t plan ahead, and it just adds up to a waste of precious dollars.

At the market itself this time, it feels like a lot of shows are in development (we’ve got four), and that in itself should be encouraging. At least studios are still investing in new IP. Of course, the business is about getting shows made, and that continues to be extremely challenging for most.

For me, the bread and butter of MIP is still pitching. It’s an art I’m far from perfecting, but the more you do it, the better you get, and the better you can gauge the situation and the mood of every pitch meeting. I’ve had terrible pitches (when the buyer looks at his watch 30 seconds into the pitch), but great ones as well. And every time you see that twinkle in the eye of the person you’re pitching to, or get a genuine chuckle or laughter, it’s like sunlight to Superman. Doesn’t mean I’ll pop a champagne anytime soon, but it does fuel you. And confidence is a tonic at a market like MIP, where it gets really draining at the end of the day and sometimes you don’t even want to hear yourself think the same idea again, much less pitch it.

What’s absolutely true is that one man’s meat is another’s poison. It’s a cliche, and for good reason. It’s all subjective really – whether someone likes your idea or not. And the worst thing one can do is to take it personally. What you should do is to identify your targets early, know who you’re meeting, and (as a producer, not a just a creator), have a plan as to how you intend to get the show made and what you’re looking for in a partnership (whether it’s a co-pro, acquisition, pre-buy etc.). Of course, pitch the hell out of the show. It still needs to be a great idea.

My next post I’ll do a final wrap up and offer some closing thoughts on MIPCOM in an ‘Asian’ context.


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