Film, like music, can speak a universal language. As film producers we consider ourselves to be global citizens. This comes naturally to Veni Vici’s CEO who carries both U.S. and Canadiana passports and has been a citizen of three countries on two continents.
The moguls of Hollywood, since the advent of sound, dealt with international stories because many of their early stars, directors and producers had come from other countries. Over the years, however, Hollywood became more exclusively American looking at the world through the American point of view.
The Academy Awards are primarily for Hollywood. Its “foreign films” classification is and added award for what it considers the lower classes. Conversly, Veni Vici’s TV division is developing a global film awards show which pays honor to any film in world based on profitability in ratio to budget. We have no word for “foreign” in our vocabulary.
At this point, with the growth of international film markets, Hollywood finds that its product relies more on overseas markets and the trend is acelerating. More films produced overseas beat Hollywood at their box offices with films produced on a fraction of Hollywood budgets.
Bollywood, which produces the greatest number of films per annum, has in thematic terms painted itself into the South Asian corner of the world which precludes successful international box office. It will have to be a new generation of Indians to break away from their traditional formulae and produce stories with universal themes which will not only give them access to the world’s markets but will attract the middle and upper middle classes of Indian society which rarely go to movies. That may double their overall volume.
China, the Johnny-come-lately in the film world, has greater ambition than all the others wanting to become a global player, which finds it working hard to locate the ‘Open Sesame’ to replace Hollywood as the world’s major supplier of filmed entertainment. If they don’t bankrupt themselves in the process, they may make it. Veni Vici will seek major co-productions with China.
Veni Vici’s Place in the Industry
Veni Vici Entertainment is headquartered in Canada which to date has failed to establish a credible film industry. We’re here because we like the political climate and the populace which has been described as ‘decafinated Americans.’ Canada has no shortage of seasoned crews and technical supply but has failed to develop producers who know how to put toghether projects that will make money.
Since international interaction is far more frequent in the real world than it is in films, our efforts will focus on “Holly-Bolly Films,” our label for films which start with stories that play out in different countries, have a mix of characters from different cultures, and cast international talent which leads to films that can be appreciated by different cultures in different parts of the world, each from their own point of view. Some of these will be international co-productions.
Veni Vici’s Unique Promotion Plans
As independent producers Veni Vici faces the same problem suffered by independents throughout the world; insuficient capital for effective promotion.
Hollywood studios frequently add promotion budgets that match their inflated production budgets. Independents, on the other hand, rely on film festivals and independent distributors. Many festivals are a waste of time and most independent distributors do not have the funds or talent for effective promotion.
In this manner, some real film gems fail to reach the public and make their way to the vast graveyard for failed independent films. We were recently shocked to learn that an excellent film, a Canadian-European co-production with a budget of about $30 million, has in five years grossed only $8 million on a global basis even with distribution by one of the majors which, obviously, did no promotion.
After all these years film folks have still not learned Madison Avenue’s favorite magic words, “New!” and “Introducing!” While the industry has enslaved itself to so-called “bankable names” whose agents demand fees greater than many an independent film budget, entirely unknown names can be promoted far more effectively than promoting the films they are in and by promoting the newcommers, who come in at scale, one promotes the films they are in.
In our Madison Avenue days we urged clients to consult with us during their new products development period so as to build into the new products promotable elements. Independent film producers need to focus on this sort of thing even more.
In a study of the elements that may have led to major successes of films, we became aware of the importance of music, not only to heighten appropriate mood but to function as promotional elements. In each case, the music itself, available on records, subsequently found itself promoted by the film.
This led us to develop a formula we call, for want of a better label, “Musical Product Placement,” or MPP. It puts us into the music business as well, and that’s just fine because we’ve been there before. The MPP provides the film’s score which will cost a bit more than just an original score, but it gives us additional promotion which can grow to become worth millions of dollars worth in promotion value.
In the majority of cases, at worst, it will lead to a self-liquidating cost factor which provides the film with a free score as well as promotion that we could never have afforded in the traditional manner.
MPP works as follows: We write into the screenplay a musical entity, a new group, which becomes as much as possible a part of the story.
We then create the group which is given visual exposure in the film. This leads to one or more music videos to come out of the film. The music videos function as a film trailers and gets free TV and social media distribution.
The MPP group is packaged and launched before the release of the film. It is always introduced as being featured in the upcoming film, which gives it gestalt that other groups do not get, while effectively promoting the film.
The MPP group is used uniquely when the film is ready for release because we arrange for a number of regional premieres which combine the screening of the film with a live concert by the group, often in four-walling arrangements that let Veni Vici Films retain 100% of the box office while promoting new word of mouth and free press.
The regional premieres take place in the last of the palatial single-screen theaters averaging seating capacities of 3,000 or more.
We have located over twenty of these in Toronto, Atlanta, California, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Washington State. In collaboration with overseas distributors, we will also stage regional premieres in classic venues such as the Colosseum Kino in Oslo, Norway; Raj Mandir, Jaipur, India; the State Theatre, Sydney, Australia; and even in the legendary Teatro Amazonas in the middle of Brazil’s rain forest.
In each case, arrangements will be made to have a documentary produced on these regional premieres, which in some cases will become block parties. The doc will go into immediate distribution as the film starts its run in various markets.
The Canadian market is approximately the size of California and blockbusters such as Avatar have taken out over $90 million from this market. To balloon a modest promotion budget in Canada we may blow it all in one city and then, through factoring arrangements, immediately reinvest the initial box office in adjacent cities and areas to promote a domino effect in box office attendance which will know no borders.