EDN MEMBER OF THE MONTH – Anaïs Clanet
In this monthly interview series EDN focuses on one of its many members to show both members in the spotlight and the diversity of the EDN membership group. Our EDN member of the month for February 2016 is Anaïs Clanet, General Manager, Wide House, France.
EDN has among other things talked to Anaïs about the profile of Wide House and about this month’s European Film Market in Berlin. Anaïs Clanet has been involved with the cinema industry since 2005, working for the website www.allocine.com, where she conducted interviews and covered press screenings for documentaries such as The Kid Stays in the Picture (Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen, 2002). She pursued her master studies in History and Audiovisual Theory.
In 2006, she started at Wide and from 2007 became Head of Sales and Acquisitions for both fictions and documentaries. With Loïc Magneron she later opened Wide House, where she is now the General Manager. Wide House is an independent documentary organization focused on documentary pre-sales and sales.
Among the titles handled internationally by Wide House are The Great Museum by Johannes Holzhausen, Shadow World by Johan Grimonprez, Who is Oda Jaune? by Kamilla Pfeffer, which is in the Perspektive Deutsches Kino section in Berlin 2016, and Our Last Tango by German Kral. Wide House also has worldwide sales of the TV documentary The Man who saved the Louvre, which received the International Emmy Award in Arts Programming last November.
EDN: Can you start by telling us more about your background and how you started at Wide?
AC: I was moving and speaking too much and desperately needed a job where I could express myself without being out casted. Becoming a documentary sales agent was the best way to combine passion and business. Carrying a documentary at different stages of production allows me to get over my frustration of never being an artist. I can defend them instead and that suits me very well!
EDN: What was the motivation behind launching Wide House as an independent documentary branch in 2011?
AC: The TV buyers first of all. They have very specific slots for each documentary theme and having a clear editorial line was the key to sell more. Also, the way you can work on a documentary for two years because a timeless topic can have a thousand lives is not allowed if you also take care of fiction films, which have a very different longevity, way shorter actually.
EDN: Which types of documentaries are included in the catalogue – is there a prevalent theme, genre or style?
AC: Yes, cinematic is the key, Wide House is really focused on the big screen with 80% of documentaries about culture in every sense of the term (The Great Museum by Johannes Holtzhausen, Ballet Boys by Kenneth Elvebakk, and later this year Renzo Piano, an Architect for Santander, by Carlos Saura) and 20% on current social issues and we are actually very proud of Shadow World by Johan Grimonprez and Les Sauteurs by Moritz Siebert, Estephan Wagner and Abou Bakar Sidibé.
EDN: How do you select which titles to work with?
AC: Mostly now from the relationships we build with producers from everywhere in the world, they are now coming to us early on so we can collaborate from the very beginning of their development phase. We are also acquiring titles ahead of Berlin and Cannes for the two different period of the years by contacting independent producers ourselves. I also have a business partner completely addicted to documentaries who’s sending me a link per day…
EDN: Wide House seems to have a special focus on dance films and especially ballet. Your catalogue e.g. features Maiko: Dancing Child by Åse Svenheim Drivenes and Ballet Boys by Kenneth Elvebakk. How is the market for ballet films?
AC: Well some countries are always looking for more products, classic ballet (and absolutely not modern dance) is a given in Asia and North America
EDN: How many titles do you take on a year and do you take on films before they are completed? Is Wide House also actively involved in the production phase?
AC: We are right now taking 12 features a year, maybe 15 this year knowing that at least three of them will be completed in 2017. I am trying to be involved as early as possible to help pre-sale or just to be there as it’s psychologically a plus for the producers. Not all documentaries are sellable so early on and just having an international partner at the beginning helps financing.
EDN: How does Wide House work with rights? Do you acquire all rights when taking on a film?
AC: Yes, we do but we also recently started taking only festivals/non-commercial rights when we feel the market isn’t there for commercial exploitation but we can help the film go around in festivals and allow an independent filmmaker work on a second feature for example.
EDN: How do you see the current market for a sales agent especially in regards to the new big online players? What are the biggest challenges in the market today?
AC: Only a few docs are eligible to the big SVOD giants, I have no stress whatsoever for now as I focus on the theatrical and TV market.
EDN: This month from the 11th to the 21st the Berlinale International Film Festival takes place in Berlin also hosting the European Film Market - EFM. How do you operate there as a documentary sales agent and how is the market there for feature documentaries?
AC: This is my strongest market of the year as theatrical buyers come here for independent documentaries where the finest of them happens to be in selection. I am really eager to introduce our three docs in Official Selection: Les Sauteurs by Moritz Siebert, Estephan Wagner and Abou Bakar Sidibé, Young Wrestlers by Mete Gümürhan and Who is Oda Jaune? by Kamilla Pfeffer.
EDN: Do you have any advice for independent filmmakers – how does one go about finding the right sales agent for a documentary and what to be aware of when entering a deal?
AC: Well, first looking at our line ups as some are more specialized in documentaries coming from Asia for instance, some are focused on TV documentaries etc. so studying is the first step. Then and this is true (not coming from me but from a very wise and smart producer who will recognize herself I hope), if you don’t want to share a drink with your sales agent, then find another one…
EDN: What is the best way to contact you if one has a film suitable for your catalogue?
AC: E-mail and not during Berlinale, Cannes or TIFF if the film’s ready later. Let’s say a month ahead or a month after those big events is always easier for me!
EDN: What lies ahead for you and Wide House after Berlin?
AC: Hong-King Filmart for my colleague Elise Cochin, Tribeca for me and MIPDOC/MIPTV for Patrizia Mancini!
Meet Anaïs Clanet and other doc-industry professionals at Meet the Docs in Berlin:
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