BERLIN (February 19, 2018) – Morrison & Foerster, a leading global law firm, has hosted high-profile panel sessions on “Film Goes Social & Animation” together with the Motion Picture Association (MPA), on the occasion of the 68th Berlinale Film Festival.
(f.l.t.r.: Till Schmerbeck, Schmerbeck Entertainment; Levin Vostell, Influry; Prof. Klaus Goldhammer, Goldmedia; Christoph Krachten, United Creators; Ute Zahn, Artist Network; Christiane Stuetzle, Morrison & Foerster; Charles H. Rivkin, MPAA; Michelle Logsdon, U.S. Embassy Berlin; Germar Tetzlaff, Twentieth Century Fox of Germany; Stan McCoy, MPA; Patricia Ernst, Morrison & Foerster; Christian Sommer, MPA)
Michelle R. Logsdon, Cultural Attaché, U.S. Embassy Berlin, opened the panel and highlighted the long-standing relationship between the film industries of Germany and the United States. During his keynote address, Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin, Chairman & CEO, MPAA, said: “While we rightly celebrate this global explosion of imagination and innovation today, there are challenges we must confront. We must ensure policymakers understand that film and television – from script to screen – is at the cutting-edge of our digital world, and our perspectives should be at the heart of pro-innovation policies. We must stand up for the artists of today, and unleash the imagination of tomorrow’s creators.”
The two panel sessions, attended by more than 150 guests, were organized and moderated by Christiane Stuetzle, partner and head of Morrison & Foerster’s German film practice and co-head of the firm’s Global Film & Entertainment Practice, Stan McCoy, President and Managing Director, MPA EMEA, and Christian Sommer, German Country Representative for the MPA. “This session was a perfect way to celebrate the fifth anniversary of one of the favorite side events taking place during the Berlinale,” said Stan McCoy of the MPA. “Both panels demonstrated that the film and television sector is as the cutting edge of innovation, both on the production side and in the way we connect with audiences.”
The first panel session focused on the increasing importance of influencer marketing for the promotion and marketing of a film.
Prof. Klaus Goldhammer, of the Berlin-based research institute Goldmedia, outlined the economic importance of influencer marketing. In Germany alone, according to his research, it has reached a turnover of nearly €1 billion in 2017. Till Schmerbeck, the producer of German horror movie “Heilstätten”, in which a group of influencers make a joint challenge and spend a weekend in a horror house, mentioned how the actors of his movie, who at the same time are influencers, contributed to the awareness of the upcoming movie on social media. Germar Tetzlaff, Marketing Manager at Twentieth Century Fox of Germany, who will release this movie, emphasized that influencer marketing has become an increasingly important marketing tool: “The beauty of digital marketing is that you can timely check the response and viewing rates, which gives you a clear view how the target group embraces the marketing material.” Patricia Ernst, lawyer in MoFo’s Film & Entertainment Practice, gave an insight on the legal aspects of influencer marketing. Actor Tim Oliver Schultz, who stars in the movie “Heilstätten”, and his PR Agent Ute Zahn, emphasized that influencer marketing is all about authenticity. Levin Vostell, Founder and CEO of the Berlin based start-up Influry, which offers an algorithm that his customers can use to find the right influencers for their respective product, describes this kind of influencer marketing as ‘micro influencer marketing’ with a larger number of individual influencers marketing a wider range of products. The panel concluded that in an increasingly digital world with an increasing number of people using less and less traditional media such as television and newspapers, influencer marketing has become a stable tool for successful promotion and distribution of audio visual content. Tim Oliver Schultz added: “I actually learned something about myself as an influencer after listening to the panel.”
The second panel, under the heading “Film goes Animation”, started by celebrating Wes Anderson’s opening movie of the Festival, “Isle of Dogs”. The movie’s producer Jeremy Dawson and the CFO of production company Indian Paintbrush, Deborah Wettstein, participated at the panel discussion. Jeremy Dawson provided insights into the production process of “Isle of Dogs”, which has been shot in stop motion. He also stressed that an incredible team of over 200 people from more than 20 countries worked more than two years to create more than 1,000 dog puppets for the movie. During that time, seven weddings were celebrated and five children born within the group of crew members.
(f.l.t.r.: Christian Sommer, MPA; Martin Herzberg, Trixter; Michelle Logsdon, U.S. Embassy; Gene Gang, Indian Paintbrush; Deborah Wettstein, Indian Paintbrush; Christiane Stuetzle, Morrison & Foerster; Charles H. Rivkin, MPAA; Stan McCoy, MPA; Tania Reichert-Facilides, Freebird Pictures; Jim Meenaghan, United Talent Agency)
Deborah Wettstein described that they initially started the project without having a distributor on board, and praised the great relationship with Fox Searchlight, who joined the project as distributor and is a long-standing partner of Indian Paintbrush and Wes Anderson’s films. Jim Meenaghan, talent agent at United Talent Agency in Los Angeles (for Wes Anderson, among others), introduced a new initiative for the enhanced distribution of independently-produced animated films. He praised the new opportunities in the digital world, including influencer marketing, which he considers a significant contributing factor to a successful marketing campaign. Equally, Tania Reichert-Facilides, CEO Animation Germany and Freebird Pictures, outlined how her initiative for a better distribution of animated films in Europe has just started and that there is increasing demand for animated films. This was acknowledged by Peter McPartlin, EVP Strategic Planning & Business Operations at Paramount, who presented a variety of upcoming animated films at Paramount. Martin Herzberg, the managing director of Trixter, the biggest German post production and visual effects company, added that the revised German DFFF funding, allowing service providers such as postproduction companies to directly apply for subsidies, will also contribute to attract more business in the field of animated films to Germany.
Christiane Stuetzle wrapped up the panels by concluding: “In an increasingly digital world, new opportunities for both marketing and distribution, as well as for production, have arisen, and the expanding marketing via social media allows better targeting and helps broaden audiences around the world.”
The panel discussion was followed by a reception with approximately 300 high-profile guests from the international film & entertainment industry.