FNE together with Europa Distribution is launching a new chapter of the Distributor of the Month section. This time we focus on new strategies in film distribution and the importance of domestic film festivals in releasing new titles. We will also be looking at what distributors can do in order to prevent piracy.
This month we speak to Dan Lupu, the head of Transilvania Film.
FNE: What are the innovative strategies that you choose to apply in film distribution?
Dan Lupu: I would begin by saying that I work for an independent film distributor in Romania. This explains from the start the acute need of creativity meant to replace or to support paid promotion and distribution campaigns, and sometimes to overcome the logistic problems.
In Romania there are still cities without any screens or theaters, exclusively operating on 35mm. Depending on the title, we take almost everything into consideration, and we try to come up with ideas that we can implement. Over time we reached a fairly wide area both in promotional campaigns and in effective distribution of the films.
We had titles we chose to screen in theaters (Somewhere in Palilula /Undeva la Palilula, the debut film of one of the most acclaimed theater directors in Romania, Silviu Purcărete), for others we organized caravans throughout the country (Japanese Dog/Câinele japonez, the first feature of Tudor Cristian Jurgiu, Of Snails and Men/Despre oameni şi melci directed by Tudor Giurgiu, the latter having a then unprecedented campaign for a national film). We also have constant screenings in several alternative places (clubs, bookstores, etc.).
FNE: Are there any challenges implied by these innovations?
D.L.: As always when trying to cross an unknown path, unusual things and challenges will appear. I think the important thing is to overcome them with grace. We learn a lot each time and we get our share of amusement after completing a project.
FNE: What festival is the most important showcase in your country for your films and why? Are there any other showcases in your country besides this festival?
D.L.: One of the most important film festivals in Romania is TIFF, Transilvania International Film Festival held each year in Cluj-Napoca. It has grown a lot in the past few years and it is very well known across the country. The Artistic Director, Mihai Chirilov, who handles the selection is also a highly appreciated public figure, so it goes without saying that a movie shown in Cluj will evoke public curiosity. The same happens with the national titles. Many times the producers or distributors choose to premiere or preview their movies during the festival. Lately we have more and more festivals in Romania, many of them with great public success, and some of them give a bonus of awareness for the screened titles.
FNE: How does a success (or "disappointment") in a festival relate to a success (or "disappointment") in cinemas?
D.L.: It depends, I think, on how the distributor chooses to use that to communicate its title. Of course a festival selection or award will give higher visibility especially to an independent film and it can assure the audiences that they have access to a product appreciated by top professionals from the industry.
FNE: Does piracy affect your VOD/DVD releases and is there anything you can do in order to prevent it?
D.L.: In my country VOD platforms are just starting to develop and the DVD market doesn't work so well. Still we have contracts with the major VOD portals and we still release titles on DVD regularly. Of course piracy makes things harder and there aren't many things we can do to prevent it. Still, we fight it in every possible way.
FNE: Which film do you think might describe your work in the most accurate way and why?
D.L.: Of Snails and Men. It was released in 2012, it was the Romanian movie with the biggest number of admissions that year and it had the biggest promotion campaign for a national film at that time. We had a very creative team and looking back I can see that we reached all our set objectives. Even today I meet people who talk about this campaign as a reference point in terms of distribution.
Transilvania Film is an ambitious cinema, video and TV distribution company for a series of very select arthouse titles, including prize winners at the most important international film festivals. Its main goal is to offer the Romanian public a wide range of movie titles, with an emphasis on the arthouse segment. Transilvania Film was founded in 2003 and it has been active on the film distribution market since December 2004. It has released 98 films in cinemas so far, including 23 Romanian films.