There it is: an invitation to a festival market in your email folder. But what is going on at these places behind the doors that are only open when you have the right color on your badge? Will it be worthwhile to go there and invest valuable film budget on the experience?
DOK Market, a part of the highly regarded DOK Leipzig, is well-known as an important meeting place for the German and international documentary industry. The market provides a digital video library with 30 viewing stations for sales companies, commissioning editors, buyers, journalists and festival programmers. ‘We’re trying to get all decision makers together in a familiar and professional atmosphere,’ begins Katharina Bergfeld, Head of DOK Market. The aim is to help producers and distributors in promoting their films to national and international industry and to present the best quality documentaries of 2013. This year 400 market professionals, including around 150 decision makers are at DOK Market in Leipzig to get together and find the best documentaries from all over the world. Bergfeld shares some valuable insider thoughts and allows us to have a look behind the curtains of a documentary market.
1. You need to be in it to win it.
All together we have 415 films, 315 documentaries and 100 animation films at DOK Market. The animation films are only represented when they are in the festival selection, while 160 documentary films were selected outside the festival. 3,500 films were submitted to the festival this year. This is my basis of the films I select. Depending on the subject, on the technical standard, on the protagonist, the story, the quality of the film and so on, we select the films and invite the filmmaker to the market, even though their films aren’t in the festival. They have to pay a participation fee of 90 Euro and a reduced accreditation for the market of about 40 Euro. In fact it’s not a bad deal at all, if you would come without a film and just get an accreditation, you would also pay 130 Euro without having your film in the market.
2. Festivals are working together.
We have 90 films from producers that submitted and the other part is from world companies who submitting packages of their films to the market. We’re also working with partners like Hot Docs, Docaviv and CNEX, Krakow Film Foundation and IDF. East Siler for example selects 10 films from their selection to put in our market and we select 10 films to put in their market. These are the other half of the films that are in the DOK Market, not only the films that have not been selected for the festival, but also films from partners and sales companies.
3. Big is not always the best for your artistic documentary.
IDFA is always “the big brother” in a way, because they also have this industry section that makes us more comparable to IDFA than to other documentary film festivals. But we are not online, IDFA’s Docs for Sale is online at least for a couple of months after the festival. So this is really a different kind of market. Also we offer not only the films in the festival, we have 160 films on top. IDFA is big, its huge, it’s so easy to get lost and in Leipzig you have everything very close together.
Also our selection is different, our focus is more on artistic very strong author driven and character driven stories. It is a bit less TV in the festival selection and it has a different taste. For the commissioning editors and the buyers and the sales, it’s a bit more relaxed here.
4. Personal contacts are the key to your success.
A small market can be really nice especially for people who are not already connected to the whole business world. It’s a good starting point to meet people. That is always the best way to access distribution and to find an access to the market, by knowing people, by getting along and by talking about your film. Meeting people is the key to having your film shown somewhere else. We have around 200 films here without a distribution company.
I offer face to face meetings where filmmakers from the DOK Market can apply. Therefor I find experts like sales agents, commissioning editors and festival representatives who are ready to give us one hour. The participants from the market can apply for a slot to meet these people. So it is kind of a networking one on one event, to meet people, have a chance to really get to know someone from the professional world.
After the festival, filmmakers will receive a report from us to retrace their screening statistics and get the contact details of industry members who watched and liked their films.
5. Animation is a different world.
I think the animation market is a different market. There are different festivals for the sales of animation films like in Annecy you really have the big great animation films from Pixar etc. For the festival and for the audience in Leipzig it is great to see those films but for the market we just decided to focus on documentary films, to invite the experts and the decision makers to Leipzig. The documentary and animation industry is just another business.
6. DOK Market is about films.
We don’t have a fair like sales stands or trade shows. I think with the EFM and Sunny Side of the Doc, there are so many places where you have those ‘fair feelings’. DOK Market is more about the films. We have a focus on the films, to show the films and for people to watch the films and that it is easy to meet someone. We don’t need a big place where everybody stays on a table. It is a decision to make the films accessible and to give the people the time to view the films.
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