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- 21.10.2013 9:26 -

Day-and-date release premiere – an experiment or a change in film distribution?

An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker

On a single day, you can watch the premiere of a new film online and go see it in your favourite cinema. A music of the future, an experiment with the viewers, or a new distribution trend? DAFilms.com and Artcam distribution company have teamed up to offer a brand new film premiere experience to Czech viewers. On Thursday, October 24, they present the award-winning film An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker by Bosnian director Danis Tanović both in cinemas and online.

What does the new type of a film premiere format tell us about the film viewers and the mechanisms of contemporary distribution? There is no doubt that fewer and fewer people are coming to cinemas. Film distributors, directors and producers are therefore looking for new ways to bring their films to the viewers. At a time when there is a computer in almost every household and internet connection has become an everyday necessity both in the working and personal life, the online environment offers a potential that should not go unnoticed. Although Czechs are already getting used to watching films right on the web interface, an online film premiere is still something new to them. What is the situation like in the broader European environment?

Video on Demand film distributor Diana Tabakov of DAFilms.com portal explains that “the distribution of individual films always depends on the concrete stories, so the ways to bring them to the viewers should be treated with individual care. Arthouse films are usually more complicated to distribute and there is a growing number of ways to change the conventional distribution processes. At present, the European Union provides financial support to these forms of distribution to be able to test the new environment. There is a perceptible decline in the number of cinema-goers while the number of viewers of online portals such as DAFilms.com keeps growing. It is only natural that the distribution models should respond to this viewing behaviour and offer the new film at all possible platforms at the same time.”

Does a traditional film distributor see the situation in a similar light? In case of the common October premiere of Tanović’s An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, executive director of Artcam distribution company Přemysl Martinek already has an experience with an online film premiere. In 2012, he has chosen the internet environment for the distribution of Clip by Serbian director Maja Milos. “The Czech VoD market is still in development, so the day-and-date release rather represents a marketing tool than a possibility to compensate the revenues of the declining attendance of arthouse films in cinemas. Or rather, what is declining is the quality of the cinema offer focusing on the greatest hits, leaving but little space for authentic film art.” However, the distributor is more optimistic as to the future. “The future could be very interesting. I believe that a number of people will be happy to be able to watch the film online right after its premiere without having to look for it in a complicated way and download it from various websites where one has to pay for the speed and volume of downloaded data. I believe they will appreciate that the money they have invested in the download will go to the distributor or film producer rather than someone who only provides storage space.”

What are then the greatest strengths of a common premiere both online and offline? As proved by the Czech and European experience, it primarily represents a unique and functional tool to bring a minority film to a large number of viewers. “Online distribution raises the accessibility of the film at the moment when the most intensive part of the campaign takes place and when media refer about the film in their reviews. We always team up with partners who can address various target groups that cannot be addressed by us,” adds Martinek. On the “other side” of distribution, online distributor Diana Tabakov also sees the significance of the new type of co-operation. “It’s really hard to promote arthouse films, especially if they’re only accessible online. Although our DAFilms.com portal offers 800 documentary films that have no theatrical distribution in the Czech Republic whatsoever, trying to make up for the lacking distribution, it is very functional to co-operate on films that are screened in cinemas and reach the broadest audiences possible by a common marketing.” They are both clear about the possibility that the increase in online distribution might disturb the established processes of traditional film distribution. “As films in distribution have a very short shelf-life today, traditional distribution should not be harmed,” they both agree.

Let’s see how many day-and-date release premieres there will be in the months and years to come. Definitely stay tuned to DAFilms.com where you are sure to come across the best and the most important online premieres.

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