February 1, 2002

Experience MIPDOC Via IDA

Documentary distributors and producers searching for international partners and foreign buyers may want to consider participating in the two-day special market, MIPDOC, which will be held in Cannes the last weekend in March, just before its all-inclusive bigger brother, MIPTV.

Unlike MIPCOM or MIPTV, MIPDOC doesn’t rely on taking meetings in fancy booths. Instead, distributors and filmmakers send up to six programs that are made available for screening by the approximately 250 buyers and decision-makers who attend.

“Every buyer who buys documentary programs is invited,” according to Richard Propper, owner of the documentary distribution company Solid Entertainment, in addition to serving as IDA’s Treasurer. “Almost every broadcaster has a presence there.”

Hoping to lure buyers to the market, organizers pay their hotel bills, thereby ensuring that buyers’ time is spent viewing the available work. To help facilitate the buying process, market organizers assemble a book that lists the available titles by categories and genres. Interested buyers are sent the book two weeks before MIPDOC, and they highlight the titles that look interesting. Upon arrival, they check in at the beachside Martinez Hotel and review the tapes they want to see—without the distractions of their offices or the rushed schedules of meetings at typical markets. Distributors are not allowed in the viewing rooms. There are some opportunities for meetings, but the idea is not to disturb the buyers.

At the end of the market, buyers fill out response cards, and if they’ve liked the tape, they ask to set up a meeting. Distributors attending MIPTV the following week may be able to see the interested buyers there. This makes sense for distributors with a large catalogue of titles who would be coming to the market anyway, but it may not be necessary for a filmmaker with one show to sell. “If you are a filmmaker who is already low on dollars, the last thing you should do is spend that money hoping to see a buyer who’s interested in your work,” Propper notes. “You’ll get a sales report that will include who’s interested in your program, and you can fax or e-mail them after the market.”

Another drawback for the solo filmmaker with one great film to sell and no distributor is the steep price of admission: approximately $2,500. This is where IDA comes in.

The IDA has arranged a special deal that will allow a filmmaker to submit one program under the IDA’s umbrella and have it listed in the buyer’s guide–all for about $300. For that, you’ll get space in the guide for 60 words of glowing description and one still image to tantalize a buyer. “It’s a very equal situation that allows you to compete head to head with anyone else in the world,” Propper notes.

For information on MIPDOC and the IDA Umbrella, contact Sandra Ruch at the IDA Office at 213.534.3660; e-mail: sandra@documentary.org.

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