The Pre-MIP Climate: Hot or Cold?

With the fourth edition of MIPDOC and the 38th installment of MIPTV just around the corner, RealScreen checks in with the factual programming attendees on their expectations for the annual springtime Cannes market.
March 28, 2001

When Warner Bros. International TV decided to withdraw its booth from this year’s MIPTV, they did so in an effort to cut costs following the recent AOL/Time Warner merger. Jeffrey Schlesinger, president of Warner Bros. International was quoted in Daily Variety as saying that Warner’s decision to remove their stand was ‘not a statement about the usefulness of MIP or the state of the international TV biz.’ Still, the retraction of the big exhibitor from the event begs the question of whether MIP is still an important market. Has the market grown too big and too general to be of use to members of the doc sector? Industry representatives from around the world reveal what they expect to get out of the upcoming MIP…

Vivian Schiller, senior vice president

CNN Productions, U.S.

I am not sure I’m going to go to this MIP. We work with Warner Bros. as our international distributor for a lot of shows, and they pulled out. So, there’s no reason to go in terms of working with our distributor. The second reason for me to go is to meet with producers, but I just met with a lot of the people I wanted to meet with at the RealScreen Summit, and I’m going to London.

Ann Julienne, head of acquisitions and international coproductions

La Cinquieme, France

While I agree that MIP is too big, I still feel it is a very important market for me. Here at La Cinquieme, we exclusively buy documentaries. I always have a full agenda [at MIP] and come back with lots of new programs. It is also a good opportunity to have face-to-face coproduction meetings because just about everybody is in Cannes for the week.

Mike Blair, head of factual

Southern Star, U.K.

MIP is like any other TV market – it is as focused as you are prepared to make it. It is still a very convenient place to meet a range of broadcasters from Europe and America who you are either doing business with, or are about to. It makes life much simpler when you are trying to put together coproduction deals for documentaries to have every one you need at hand. It means you can even introduce them to each other occasionally to hurry the process along, and that’s exactly what I hope to get out of this market. We have a number of projects with either U.S. or European partners, and over the course of a week of meetings we’re hoping the final pieces of the financial jigsaw can be put together.

Mikael Borglund, CEO/MD

Beyond International, Australia

MIP is a very important market for finished program sales. We are finding it less conducive for setting up coproductions, as people do not have the time to discuss projects in detail. Beyond Distribution sales staff see over 250 of their customers over a four-day period – this is a very effective use of sales staff time – especially considering the travel time saved [in seeing all clients in one place at one time].

Brian Donegan, executive vice president

Devillier Donegan Enterprises, U.S.

I think the non-fiction market [at MIP] is still pretty solid. It’s a worldwide marketplace as far as we’re concerned, and from the standpoint of a non-fiction marketer, [MIP] is still a focal point to launch new materials. It is still as useful as it has been in the past. I think non-fiction buyers are happy to have the opportunity to look at new products and new projects in development twice a year [at MIPTV and MIPCOM in October]. It’s no strain on them. Where there is strain is the cost to the larger companies… their bottom line is noticeably improved if they don’t spend a million bucks or so a year on a market.

Muriel Ortmans, production manager

Belgavox Productions, Belgium

It is the third year we are going to MIP to sell our productions. It is the first year that I have five new documentaries and two projects, and I have many more appointments scheduled for this MIP than I did at the last two we attended. Up until now, MIP seemed promising but ended up leading to nothing – or very little. Nevertheless, the markets were good learning experiences. I’m confident that I’ll sell my programs this year – if not at MIP, then through the contacts I will make at MIP.

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