My featured interview at Indie Entertainment Magazine – AFM 2019

Indie Entertainment Magazine unveiled its 2019 AFM edition an exclusive interview with Bruno Chatelin, founder of filmfestivals.com.

Catching Up With Bruno Chatelin, co-Founder/COO, filmfestivals.com

By Nicole Muj

1.Bruno, you are a champion of global film and filmmakers. How did you first start on this journey?

I have a marketing background (HEC business school) and was working at JWT, an international advertising agency for the LUX toilet soap tagged ‘The Soap of the Stars’ and I researched its amazing history. The global brand had the same positioning since 1925 and put up a campaign with archives, videos, posters and ads, to which French media gave massive coverage.

I was then contacted by a headhunter search firm as Columbia TriStar Distributors in France were looking for a strong candidate with both marketing experience and a taste for film.

I was interviewed on the film Stand by Me by Rob Reiner, and got the job on the basis of the recommendations I wrote. I moved up from marketing director to managing director, merged 20th Century Fox and UGC and co-founded filmfestivals.com in 2000. Since then, I have been around festivals in many capacities and often consulted for filmmakers in need of a festival marketing strategy.

2.What were some of the top titles of the 250 films you launched, while working as marketing director for Columbia TriStar? Any highlights?

To name just a few, I worked with Claude Lelouch, Costa Gavras, Terry Gilliam, Stephen Frears, Kenneth Branagh, James Ivory, Francis Coppola (Dracula), Steven Spielberg (Hook), Woody Allen, Sean Penn, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese, Michael Bay, James Cameron, Roland Emmerich, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Jack Nicholson, and many others.

One of the highlights was Boyz n the Hood launched in Cannes, with the amazing satisfaction of contributing to building the career of its first time director through our work. The film earned two Oscar nominations. The Cannes presentation had an impact at the box office translating to an additional 40 million dollars according to the studio chief.

I was very happy to share this story (and how we built it) in Cannes this year with his daughter Justice Singleton. She came to walk in his very footsteps and I helped her to organize and navigate the Cannes’ madness. She told me, “Bruno you made my day the same way you did to my father’s’ Wowwwww!

I should also mention the films for which I was able to contribute with locally designed strategies and campaigns. These include The Doors, Dracula, Philadelphia, The Addams Family, Field of Dreams, Groundhog Day, Baron Munchausen, ID4 and others. Most had something to do with festival stories as well. Clearly, I cannot name them all, but loved them all, like children, so it’s hard to say which one is my favorite.

3.What are your expectations surrounding this year’s AFM?

I am of course looking forward to a better experience, with more intimate knowledge of the market and its players, so that the experience is more profitable. This year, there are improvements in many aspects of the market, including introducing new features and communication tools that help to facilitate our work, and the introduction of new panels with some dealing with immersive this year.

I attend afm to network, develop opportunities, find synergies, meet festival directors and discover some good films that I can enter in my line up of ‘Best For Fests,’ which I will help on the circuit.

4. What about trends you are observing in the international film industry? Any new revelations?

I am more and more impressed by the quality of the scripts and stories in current TV series. I believe that’s where the hottest writing talents are nowadays, plus the writers really have learned how to work together in teams.

I am always hoping that some local hits, non-English language, would create a pattern to challenge the hegemony of the American cinema, but these are still too rare… I am really looking forward to the potential of blockchain technology to bring more transparency to the flow of rights, money, commerce, etc. And I’m always happy to see how new technologies facilitate the work of filmmakers, of which I’m never disappointed.

5. What are some of new festivals on your radar?

The ones on my radar are those which I’m going to attend such as soon, Tallinn. Firstly, it requires a lot of work on our side to post coverage that does justice to what the festival is about. Filmfestivals.com is about sharing knowledge and ambiance and filmmakers need guidance to help build their festival strategies.

I’d also like to mention a few to which I am contributing and advising, such as Your Script Produced! where the winner (will be announced at afm, Nov 8) sees his/her film produced for $250,000 by the festival’s production arm, Lost World FF in Crete because it’s fun and beautiful, and French Riviera Film Festival because it takes place in Cannes where everything is possible… and beautiful.

There are so many festivals in the world, and I love them all. It’s very hard to pick one.

6. You are a longtime supporter of the Cannes Film Festival. How has the festival changed over the years? Is it still in your view the best fest?

There is no doubt about that : its importance has not faded. The organizers have managed to grow the event in size and impact, and the reviewed quality of the selection of films in competition is not really a criteria of utmost importance. What’s important is that the most influential people meet there to do business and watch films and it’s still a huge opportunity for aspiring talent to mingle and connect.

The market has taken an importance that few outside of our industry are aware of, and I would personally rate this as the most important component of what Cannes is today.

7. Do you have any new plans or initiatives surrounding filmfestivals.com?

Non stop filmfestivals….Many challenges, many new initiatives in th epipeline : one which will happen very soon, and is necessary and long awaited…, is a new design, with a revamped Website in the works, as well as the addition of new partners and team members. I don’t want to spoil it all now, so we must wait a little while.

8. What is the best advice you would give someone looking to launch a film festival?

Do not do this on your own. Team up and make sure you have another source of income. Pick a place and time people will be interested in visiting your city. Make many friends in the community and build an army of volunteers.

Believe in fairy tales. Build the smart equation with the city, support network, theatres, venues, hotels, sponsors, team, theme, media, talent, industry professionals, and of course, good film! Then, work as hard and as creatively as you can with communication professionals who will help spread the word about your passion and help to bring viewers into the theatres.

Remember Field of Dreams ‘if you build it, they will come.’

9. Can you tell us a few humorous or most interesting anecdotes from your years on the festival circuit?

Shocker by Wes Craven in Avoriaz : we built a high security area mock up (our office in Avoriaz) on the resort hot spot, in the snow… with a fake electric chair. Here pictured the director Wes Craven and his producer Marianne Maddalena. We strapped people, friends the jury, the director…on that chair and filmed It featured lights, sound, flashes… AND at the very end of the routine a vibration in the seat, in the bottom… which transformed the smile into a rictus for a while.

Field of Dreams in Deauville - The projector’s bulb breaks during the opening credits at the gala screening (oops). I take the director to the Casino, and he puts one coin in the slot machine and wins a lot! The next day I took him to play golf and after a five minute laughing fit, and so many air shots, he was still happy.

Boyz n the Hood in Cannes - John Singleton, straight off a plane from South Central LA, facing a burger at the Carlton’s restaurant that looked sooooo different from his every day McDonald’s burger. I ll always remember his disappointed face.

Cliffhanger in Cannes, AMFAR Gala – A Monaco mogul lends his 30-meter powerboat, with its two Lamborghini engines, 1000 horsepower each… I ask Sly, “do you want to try it?” The next day in my office at the Carlton, I receive a phone call from the Port Authorities, who tell me “you've been caught speeding 45knots (vs. 5)” Anyway, climbers coming down the facade of the Palais, fake snow, Eye of the Tiger playing during the red carpet… long story short, in the end , Sly commented, “Best day of my life.”

Bad Boys in Cannes party - Will Smith rapped (well) and Diana King performed Shy Guy. I was asked “How come I have strippers in the green room ?” Answer, “because we have hired pole dancers.” I had organized a draw to win a Porsche to drive during the festival, and the winner wanted to keep it afterwards. Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer sit at our VIP table, in front a kilo of sugar on a mirror to look like cocaine, with bodyguards all around. My future Fox boss Jim Gianopulos approaches and the head of Sony tells him you can’t sit here, it’s a VIP table. Jim takes me on the side and says, “Bruno, next year make sure you do THIS for me too when you work for me.”

Sleepless in Seattle in Deauville - We used Nora Ephron’s tiramisu recipe for the dessert at our gala dinner : big success.We organized a promotion campaign “to win a bed or a trip to Seattle.” The winner’s name was Chatelain, not Chatelin, thank goodness not arelative !.

Lawrence of Arabia in Cannes - The film was shot in 1961. For the 1989 Cannes presentation we obtained permission to screen the film as a pre-opening selection on a Tuesday vs. a Wednesday. In return, we had to host a very exclusive gala dinner. It was much fun organizing that dinner at the Majestic with waiters dressed in djellabahs, sand on the red carpet, exquisite 1961 Bordeaux wines (Ducru Beaucaillou), vintage 61 Mercedes flagged “Lawrence II” and Omar Sharif during the intermission in the Palais asks, “Can I get a whisky?”

10. Any thoughts on which films might be shortlisted for the 2020 Oscars?

It is not really my cup of tea to make predictions. I had once put bets on The Artist but that’s quite rare and was also a bit French chauvinism on my side.

Let me think … The Joker, and best actor goes to ...Joaqin Phoenix

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