Cinemarket is an online film and TV market for buying and selling rights anytime, anywhere. It’s an innovative platform for film professionals, for both buyers (distributors, OTT platforms, broadcasters, festivals and cinemas) and sellers (sales agents, producers and filmmakers). Pickle chats with ADRIAN LUGOL, Founder and CEO, Cinemarket.io
Adrian Lugol and Florian Glatz met in 2016 whilst working in the technology and creative industries in Berlin. They both wanted to find a way for film professionals to buy and sell film and TV rights in a seamless and secure way, cutting out additional costs. The idea of Cinemarket.io was born.
Tell us about Cinemarket?
Cinemarket is the one-stop-shop for the film industry, the only place where everything from film screening to film licensing, license payments and material delivery can happen in days instead of months.
We began in 2016. We were one of the first to really try to combine the potential of blockchain technology and shared database in bringing the film industry come together.
At the moment what we can do is when you look for films rights, you can browse different filters, what kind of rights you are looking for — theatrical, VOD, — or the countries or the continent, and for which period of time, exclusive or non exclusive, as entered by the seller to the buyer. It is automated. The Cinemarket platform generates a contract once a buyer and seller agree to buy or sell. The transfer of rights for the period is generated on the back end of the database.
How has been the journey?
The journey was not easy at all. We never gave up, because, we still see the potential. Our project was first presented at the development stage at the Berlinale Talents market hub in 2017. It was supported by the Creative Europe Media programme at the development stage. Our Beta version was unveiled at the Cannes Marché du Film’s NEXT programme in 2018. We went live this May 2020 during Marche.
We have built our team over the years. Our tech team is strong. But, the film industry itself is a bit complex. I will not say film industry is blocked, but a little bit controlled by gatekeepers. And the gatekeepers are people who are in positions for three to four decades and want to maintain status quo.
They like the business to be done in same fashion. They want like people to travel to buy movies. But COVID-19 has accelerated digital space in films. It is a little sad that a virus has shown the potential. But, now nobody has a choice. So everybody adapts. Some people are against our initiative. Sometimes, you wonder if they want to help filmmakers or just care about their own business.
Sometimes a few people are rude to us. They say, we don’t want to help you and don’t contact us and so on. But, on the other end, there are young talented filmmakers in festivals and markets. For many, who take four or five years to make a movie, they don’t have good experience with the past. We met a producer in Rotterdam, who said that they don’t have sales agents and do everything on their own. Our digital tool can help buy or sell films. We are not Amazon or Netflix. We are a pretty small startup with passion for cinema. It is still going to take sometime for change. But, COVID-19 has accelerated everything. We see it.
Can you illustrate by example of how it works? Why is Cinemarket an exciting place to be?
It’s very simple. Buyers can watch movies online. make an offer, scout for available rights, buy for a specific time period, or even for few days, exclusive or not, make payment in euro or dollar, revenue share, minimum guarantee or flat fee.
As a seller, you can check the summary of the offer and expected time of money transfer, preview contract. And you will be able to give your films to film festivals for just a few days.
We have signed deals with Eurovod, T-Port Media, Filmdoo, Perspective Films, Vesoul Asian Film Festival, and Filmotor among others.
It is a dream for a startup like us to realize that there is not a central meeting point for the film industry where people can make more than just exchanging some news, but also engage in business. In the coming times, we will have to have as many people as possible. We will also soon have four or five languages on our platform to facilitate buying and selling.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from the time you have started to now?
When we were ambitious and naive about technology, we started a lot with blockchain two or three years ago. And I will not say we made wrong investment. In 2017 and 2018, there was still a lot of R&D to be done. We created a beta where you could login for security reason with your private key on MetaMask. We even stored files on the blockchain. We could automate payments. In our demo in 2018, if someone is the right owner, and you have someone watching the movie, the right owner receive his/her share in less than three seconds. But we realized that there is too much of a gap for this to happen. It is a reality, that you cannot go directly to the future. It’s too early because the film industry is too slow to adapt.
Today, we are focusing only on the marketplace. We have a lot of interest from film festivals, institutions and big corporations.
What is it that makes people come to this platform?
Two things. The first thing is filmmakers or producers who are looking to find new ways to promote their films and find distributors. Many look for new digital tools like us because, they give their film to sales agent, who puts it in their catalogue, and you have no option, but to wait. In many cases four or five years. That’s one kind of people who are interested in our platform. We also have buyers who are looking for new content.
We are the first digital European-based film market enabling rights-holders and sales companies to securely showcase new catalogue titles to potential buyers. All formats are permitted, from feature-length films and TV series, to documentaries and shorts.
Can content owners sell rights to universities in UK or USA who buy film rights?
Yes. We have one company with a special license that just looks for university rights, because it’s a specific rights. Producers and filmmakers can sell film rights to universities.
Is the Cinemarket registration free?
So we make sure that people who register with us are film professionals. We don’t allow people to sell porn or propaganda. We cross-check profile with different databases that exist in the world. The registration is free. We take a small cut (2% for works by young emerging filmmakers and 8-10% for big companies) if you sell your film on our platform. If you make a deal, we make a deal. If no money comes to you, we don’t charge you anything.
How do you make sure that they do the deal with your platform after coming to you?
We can’t. That’s also not our business model. So when we talk to lawyer, they told us, that’s their business model. So when you believe in blockchain and you want to build transparency and fight opacity, you need also to take some risk and believe that people are not all corrupt.
You always have access to information. When we see deals that happen on our platform, we will contact to see if they are honest. If not, we will kick them out of our platform.
Is film industry unique to digital transformation?
You can try to stop the digital transformation, you can try to stop technical improvements. Every industry has been transformed by digital. And the film is just one of another one. Everybody has their own job, you can use our platform as a sales agent. Everybody in the beginning said Linkedin is going to kill the job of people who are in HR. In the end, people who are in HR are using Linkedin. It is always the approach of how you have your mindset. Innovation doesn’t arrive if there is no problem to solve. And in the film industry, I think in every stage, from financing to production, distribution to exhibition, there are always problems. There are great people, brightest minds in the film industry. But there are also lot of in-between people. We believe in digital transformation.
Sometimes, do you get frustrated running this…
Frustration exists, but it comes on any challenge. It there is no frustration it is super easy. Everybody would have done it before. And challenges are exciting. My team is great. We have 10 to 12 people who are intelligent, talented and passionate. People who love tech, movies, creativity and marketing. Startup has to be fun. If it’s too easy, it’s not fun. Finding solution to challenges is what makes our work rewarding.
Berlin is one of the startup capitals similar to Silicon Valley?
Yeah, well, but not for the weather. And, weather particularly this year was bad. The summer is horrible. But, the startup scene is about the brains that interconnect. We built our company in the beginning with three or four friends. I don’t think I would have found them in south of Italy or even in south of France. Because people who have ambition, go where the challenge is. That’s what Berlin offers.
Finally, what is the biggest challenge now for films waiting to be sold?
The saddest part is most of the films are created to die on the Hard Drive. And, Hard Drives are like grave of the movies. And it is very sad. I think films should exist. It should be made available to people across cultures. Like this rich history where everybody could have access at any movie anytime, more or less. And one should pay the film rights owner.