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By Hammad Zaidi | February 25, 2014

Welcome to Going Bionic, #200! That’s right; today’s column marks our second century mark, so we should do something special, shouldn’t we?  In the past, landmark columns like #50, #100 and #150, have looked back at where we’ve been, but not today.  It’s time to look forward to where this column is headed in 2014 and beyond. So, without further ado, let’s break out a global roadmap and peek into the future of what you can expect Going Bionic to deliver you.

Attending International Film Festivals and Sales Markets
Many of the Going Bionic articles are written while I’m abroad at several film and TV sales markets with my company, Lonely Seal Releasing. In addition to have already attended the Berlin International Film Festival and the European Film Market in Berlin, Germany earlier this month, here are the film festivals and film sales markets I will be attending this year:

MIPTV (Cannes in April) –
As I’ve said before, “the two MIP’s” at Cannes, MIPTV and MIPCOM, are crucial outlets for many independent feature films. While these sales markets are primarily for television sales, most of the independent feature films that actually get distribution are usually destined for the small screen as opposed to the big screen.  So, if you’re an indie filmmaker with a project in development, production or post-production, just remember, while getting a theatrical release may be the sexiest moment in your film’s future, securing a television, cable or VOD sale is probably be your film’s most financially rewarding moment.

The Cannes International Film Festival/Marche du Film (Cannes in May)
As the single most significant film festival and film sales market on the planet, (The Marche du Film is also known as the Cannes Film Market), Cannes is the place every major and minor distributor and film buyer finds him or herself for two weeks in May. Thus, most of the world’s international film sales are either presented, generated or closed in this upscale beachside town in the south of France.

I’ve been attending Cannes since 2002, and thanks to Going Bionic, I became a member of the Cannes Press Corps last year. Thus, when I cover Cannes for you, I’m doing it from both sides; as a distributor who is there to buy/sell/obtain pre-sales co-production financing for various motion picture projects, and as a columnist who is there to share emerging trends that affect your indie filmmaker careers.

Toronto International Film Festival (September)
Always cutting-edge and trendsetting, Toronto is a “can’t-miss” film festival, which makes me an idiot for missing it for the last few years. But, now that I am a stakeholder in two (and soon to be three) entertainment technology companies based in Kitchener, Ontario (very close to Toronto), I don’t see myself missing this festival in the foreseeable future. In the four times I’ve attended the Toronto International Film Festival, it has always been a hotbed for breaking ultra-hip films, like Slumdog Millionaire (2008). While Slumdog Millionaire actually enjoyed its worldwide premiere at the Telluride International Film Festival a week prior to its screening in Toronto, it was the Toronto screening that brought in the international media, and hence propelled the film to become an 8-time Oscar winner (including best adapted screenplay, best director and best picture). Thus, don’t underestimate how significant the Toronto International Film Festival can be to your career.

 Tokyo International Film Festival / TIFFCOM (October)
The most significant part of TIFFCOM is the Tokyo Project Gathering (TPG), which is a co-production incubator for Japanese filmmakers to find co-production partners. Now, before you write this idea off in your mind, think about how many international films are being remade for the American market these days (hell, I’m involved with a German-to-English remake myself). Remember, with the major American film studios green-lighting fewer and fewer films these days, it behooves you to not only think outside of the box, but to think outside of the continent to get your project(s) made.

MIPCOM (Cannes in October)
MIPCOM is MIPTV’s twin. It’s the same city, same building, and it attracts the same buyers. MIPCOM is largely credited as being the last major internationally based film market of the year. MIPCOM is also known as being the place where cutting-edge entertainment technology is premiered to the world. So, if you’re into keeping up with “what’s new” in the world of film and television technology, make sure to check out my MIPCOM article(s) in the fall.

 AFM (November)
The American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica is America’s premiere film sales market.  AFM endured more than a bit of pain after it moved its dates from late February/early March to late October/early November several years ago. Suddenly, this globally dominant film market went from bring one of the first major ones of the year, to being the last one on the calendar. Thus, it quickly became less significant with film buyers, because most buyers had already spent their acquisitions budget by November.

However, AFM 2013 shifted is focus a bit, and became a showcase for major film packages to announce the actors, directors, or financing they attached to their projects. The result? America’s biggest film market is flexing its global muscles again.

Side Note: I believe every indie filmmaker based in the United States should attend AFM at least once. Simply put, attending film festivals can teach you how films are showcased and presented, but film markets will shed light on how cinematic work is bought and sold.

And Then There’s All The Other Stuff!
In addition to attending film festivals and film sales markets, and selling the wonderful film, television and documentary projects I recently acquired, 2014 is set be great creative expansion for me. Thus, some Going Bionic will focus some of the other projects I’m currently involved in. These include:

  1. Producing and selling video games, (Industry Corporation, the company I became a stakeholder in last year, recently produced and/or licensed 25 video games in 16 languages, to be sold worldwide).
  2. Being a co-founder of a cutting-edge, commerce-driven entertainment technology start-up.
  3. Being the co-founder of a start-up that will focus on marrying film investors with filmmakers.
  4. Producing a remake of a successful German film through an international co-production.
  5. Developing, producing and being one of the writers on a few television and film projects Industry Corporation has slated to make.
  6. Packaging (attempting to, at least) a script I wrote.
  7. Executive Producing an indie feature.
  8. Finishing my 13-year, never-ending documentary on my awkward existence.
  9. Writing a book (or two, if I find a way to turn this column into a book. Hell, at 200 articles, I’ve already written enough material for at least two books).

So, there’s your roadmap for where Going Bionic is (generally) headed toward in 2014. Of course, I’ll also report on relevant film releases and unforeseen trends that pop up during the year, just to make sure I’m delivering you the most relevant material I can about the world of distribution, and how you can navigate that world to your benefit.

I’d like to thank you for lending me your eyes for the 200th time, and I’d be honored to borrow them again for the next 200! So, until we meet again next Tuesday, I wish you a tremendously fruitful week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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