FNE Innovation: Europe Digital Talents


    Film New Europe continues to invite leaders of innovative AV projects to share their projects directly with its readers. Today, our guest is Muriel Joly, who is in charge of business development within the global VoD aggregator Under The Milky Way (UMW). She is writing about Europe Digital Talents, a project coordinated by Under the Milky Way, aiming at fostering films from emerging European talents in an all-digital production and distribution environment. The project is funded by the Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme.

    About UMW

    Under The Milky Way is a film distributor that operates a global digital distribution network. The company works with all “global” platforms (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, Sony), as well as with key local platforms in the largest territories (Comcast, Sky, Canal+, NetNow, Orange, Filmin, etc.) As of today, more than 6,000 films are in distribution on behalf of 500+ rights holders in more than 150 territories.

    A new type of films and talents

    In our role as a film aggregator for all types of rights holders (sales agents, distributors, producers, independent studios), we have been at the forefront of the industry’s deep and ongoing mutations. We've recently witnessed a new generation of "digital-native"[1] talents deserting traditional circuits to embrace emerging models. Their films are produced outside of most traditional funding sources, intended, via a purely digital exploitation, for an audience that is also "digital-native".

    Having distributed more than 6,000 films since 2010, we sometimes came across such films. We are often surprised by their originality, their energy, and their distinctive quality despite their limited and/or unconventional production resources. Through these films, we also noted their creators’ mastering of digital technologies and web-culture, which democratises production tools and lowers the cost of producing films.

    A new opportunity for European films

    Lastly, the COVID-19 crisis created a hole in the distribution of traditional films, that are deprived of theatrical exploitation, without which they cannot be watched at all. Therefore, platforms are looking for content!

    Hence, with all these changes occurring very quickly we can now see the need for the European industry to mobilise its resources to win the content battle. 

    As a film aggregator we identify significant potential for digital-native films. We have created a dedicated label (Originals by UMW) and already have distributed a number of them. We believe they could strongly benefit from more support in terms of promotion, marketing and dissemination.

    European Digital Talent

    Our project “European Digital Talent” (EDT), co-funded by the Creative Europe - MEDIA Programme of the European Union, was launched in November 2020.

    EDT has three main objectives:

    • Sourcing of European talents who produce “digital-native films”,

    To that extent, we have concluded a partnership with EAVE. Indeed, with its 2000 alumni across Europe, EAVE is one of the leading training and development providers for producers in Europe, renowned for its Producers Workshops. It is the best producer’s network for us to source and identify talents.

    • Organising their distribution on the leading VoD platforms in Europe and beyond,

    The growth of online film consumption has been impressive over the past five years. The COVID-19 crisis has clearly accelerated the usage of online solutions to access content (+15 million Netflix subscribers in 2020-Q1!). We feel this growth is likely to continue, as witnessed by the success of music streaming platforms favoured by younger audiences aged 15-25[2]. UMW is actively present on this market and pioneered the development of a fully digital-centered organisation with adapted tools and methods to structure this distribution network.

    • Promoting these films to target and reach their potential audience,

    These "Digital Native" films must be promoted effectively to reach their audience; this is the most challenging aspect of the project. We are targeting a digital-native audience that is generally absent from theatres, and that is used to "consuming" films on streaming platforms. We will experiment “organic marketing promotion strategies” relying on the actors, directors, producers (already evolving in a digital native environment) to promote the VOD release.

    Through these actions, we intend to demonstrate the existence of a new market and a viable business model which strongly integrates the purely digital distribution, promotion and exploitation of European films produced for online consumption.

    Through Europe Digital Talents we aim at discovering new sources of European creativity and talents in their zeitgeist.

    Muriel JolyAbout the author:

    Muriel Joly graduated in politics (Sciences Po), in strategic management (ESCP EUROPE) and holds a Degree of Cinema Economy (La Sorbonne). She began her career at StudioCanal (Canal + Group), first in the Domestic Home entertainment department, as a product manager (2004-2006), and then as a marketing VP for international Home Entertainment (2006-2009). After two years (2010-2011) in consulting, where she became interested in issues of the Video on Demand emerging market, she became in charge of marketing development for Canalplay, the VOD brand of Canal + group . She is now in charge of business development for Under The Milky Way.

    [1]Digital native: a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and so familiar with computers and the internet from an early age.

    [2]According to Futuresource Consulting in its Global Entertainment Content Outlook report, the global entertainment market (including video, music and video games) will grow 17% in the next three years to reach 439 billion USD.