On March 27–29, film industry professionals from Lithuania and all of Europe will focus their attention on the international industry conference Meeting Point – Vilnius. Lectures, Coming Soon sessions, and private film screenings are just some of the events planned for the three-day conference.
This year’s conference will include a presentation on film marketing from Christian Have, one of the leading voices on arts and culture in Denmark. As the Creative Director of Have Communications, which he founded in 1983, he has worked with celebrated artists and world-renowned stars. His agency’s list of clients includes Disney, Universal (Universal Music Group), European Film Academy, 20th Century Fox and other film companies.
Christian Have’s presentation at Meeting Point – Vilnius is introduced by the Embassy of Denmark in Lithuania and the Danish Cultural Institute in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Mr. Have, you have been working in the culture and arts field since 1983. You are the author of eight books, communication futurology expert, film marketing specialist. Could you tell us about the most remarkable cinema-related projects you remember?
– The first that comes to mind is Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast from 1987. I had the honor of being part of the process from a very early stage – when the script was still being developed. The film featured a lot of completely unknown actors, so we applied a unique food theme for its launch, which was a pretty original approach. The film was shown at Cannes, and it ended up being the first Danish Oscar winner ever. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the promotion of the only other two Danish movies that have won Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category – Bille August’s Pelle the Conqueror from 1988 and Susanne Bier’s In A Better World from 2010 – and both of these were of course remarkable experiences, too.
Your communication agency’s client list includes such big names as Disney, Universal, Zentropa Productions, 20th Century Fox. Could arthouse cinema with smaller promotion budgets learn anything from these companies’ productions?
– Whether you’re Universal or an arthouse production company, the same basic rules of storytelling apply. It’s all about telling a story that excites and engages your audience – and your budget does not limit how good a story you’re able to tell. The budget only affects how far and easily you can distribute it. So, when you have fewer resources, you have to prioritize your efforts. One thing that smaller production companies can learn from the American giants, however, is how to make use of content marketing and how to really engage audiences on social media. They are generally really good at that, and there’s a lot we can be inspired by and apply in countries like Denmark and Lithuania.
Is there a big difference in how and by which means to promote high-budget and low-budget movies? If so, what measures or techniques are crucial for the promotion strategies for both types of movies?
– Again, having a smaller budget should not affect your ability to tell a really good story. But of course, it increases the importance of truly having a great story to tell – and that you’re telling it in the best way possible. In some ways, however, there is an advantage to having a small budget, because with the promotion of high-budget movies, people tend to stick to what they always do. With low-budget movies, you are freer to do whatever you want. Also, there is a huge market for movies and filmmakers that are brave and unpredictable, and this is definitely to the advantage of low-budget movies.
Denmark in its size is like Lithuania, but the Danish film industry is much more remarkable and competitive in the global cinema market. What successful steps, in your opinion, where made in Danish culture policy to achieve such a result?
– In Denmark, it is a public priority that the Danish film industry should produce films of the highest international quality, so the field is generally met with a lot of support and has a sizable amount of public funds to distribute. Through the Danish Film Institute, the subsidies are distributed to a wide variety of productions and projects, including fiction and non-fiction, script and talent development, marketing and partnerships, regional support and support for international co-productions – and so on. The arm’s length principle is all-important, as it helps ensure artistic freedom and harmonious collaborations between public and private partners in the film industry.
How do you see the change happening in film promotion tools? And what would be your predictions for viewer behaviour in the future? Will people stop watching films in cinemas? – Of course digitization, streaming and social media affect how films are marketed and experienced. But the cinema definitely still has an appeal. It’s important, however, that movie theaters understand that they must provide experiences that differ from what people can experience at home. This means, of course, picture and sound of impeccable quality, combined with great comfort and delicious snacks and drinks. But it also means that movie theaters should embrace their potential of being a social meeting place – somewhere you can meet new people, attend events and have a variety of movie-related experiences beyond the movie-watching experience itself.
Which films should our audience watch before hearing your presentation in Meeting Point – Vilnius? And what expectations do you have for this conference?
– There are no specific requirements in terms of films that must be seen in order to understand my presentation. But among the films I will be talking about, you will find A Horrible Woman, Darkland and Team Hurricane. I’m looking forward to the conference a great deal, and I’m excited to get to experience the blooming Lithuanian film industry up close.