MEMBER OF THE MONTH – Pauline Mazenod
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 2017 is Pauline Mazenod, CEO, Windrose, France/Germany.
EDN has among other things talked to Pauline about the profile of Windrose and about this month’s European Film Market in Berlin.
Pauline Mazenod is the founder and CEO of Windrose. She holds degrees in political science, music, international cultural management and business administration, and has more than 15 years international experience in the cultural and film sector.
Windrose distributes high quality documentary films and live performances all over the world for the general public with a catalogue composed of demanding but entertaining films following the motto of Pauline: "even a Nobel Prize is tired in the evening".
NOTE: If you are in Berlin for the European Film Market (Meet the Docs), you can meet Pauline in the EFM White Room on Sunday, 12 February, from 14:00-15:00 where she is part of the panel of the "Meet the Distributors" session.
EDN: Can you start by telling more about your background and your motivation for launching Windrose?
PM: After spending a childhood in a music school with half day dedicated to music and arts and being raised in a “science” family, I spent seven years in Lyon (France), Los Angeles, Montréal and Paris studying all kinds of disciplines ranging from history, economy, philosophy, sociology, literature, law, film analysis to arts management etc. Last but not least I did an MBA in order to learn how to run a company. That’s why, after gathering professional experience in the contemporary art, music and film sectors in Berlin, Vienna, Brussels and Paris with appointments which became more and more political in Brussels as a EU lobbyist on media issues and at the French foreign Affairs Ministry, I decided to launch my own international distribution company with a focus on documentaries and performances to allow them to be seen as much as possible.
EDN: Which types of documentaries are included in your catalogue – is there a prevalent theme, genre or style?
PM: We are interested in all kinds of true documentaries (one-off and series) in their forms and topics even though some genres perform better commercially such as history, popular science, global issues documentaries or biographies. We only refuse pure wildlife. We also dedicate a specific work on the music and dance niche. Finally, we would like to receive more documentaries for kids.
EDN: How do you select which titles to work with?
PM: We select the films the same way the buyers proceed: they should be recent, in HD or 4K, last 52’ even if a longer or shorter version exists, could be summarised in one sentence; then we screen the beginning of the film. Only if we feel like watching them after the 10 first minutes we may acquire them. We allow our self to take films with a low commercial potential if we love them but inform the producer of our feeling before signing any distribution agreement. There are of course many other criteria according to each genre. A scientific approach may be key for some films, celebrities for others etc.
EDN: What is the story behind the nice motto: “even a Nobel Prize is tired in the evening”?
PM: Even though each single film in Windrose’ catalogue must change your life and the way you consider things after having watched it -therefore carries out a lot of content- a film shouldn’t be a lecture about a topic. You should be able to follow it without any effort and have lots of fun watching it whatever the subject matter is.
EDN: How many titles do you take on a year and do you take on films before they are completed? Is Windrose also actively involved in the production phase?
PM: We don’t take a big number of new films because Windrose is a boutique distribution company but in any case more than 20 a year. We work for certain films in the production phase if we think we can bring a lot to a project.
EDN: How does Windrose work with rights? Do you acquire all rights when taking on a film?
PM: We acquire all rights except the one already sold by the producer and its co-producers to finance the production.
EDN: Windrose has offices in both Germany and France. What is the motivation for having two offices and why these locations?
PM: Being half from Alsace in France, this part of my family has been French and/or German from time to time. If my passport is French, I am also a bit of both. The decision to constantly live between both countries came therefore to me naturally. My way of living shows that after several wars over a very long period of time peace is possible and enjoyable.
EDN: How do you see the current market for a sales agent especially in regards to the big online players? What are biggest challenges in the market today?
PM: For the moment, the big online players benefit more from the situation than we do. For us they bring more complexity in our strategies and daily work and not bigger revenues. Our biggest challenges today are to discover good films unveiling the most profoundly key topics with new exciting way of telling stories and to gain in productivity in order to survive financially.
EDN: This month from the 9th to the 19th 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?
PM: I spend all my time holding pre-scheduled meetings half with buyers half with producers. If a feature documentary is officially selected at Berlinale, it opens opportunities in theatres but the market is very competitive and even excellent films don’t necessarily get this luck.
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?
PM: They should identify the sales agents attending the key markets and having a similar editorial line to their project or completed film. Then they should target three of them fitting the most, contact them per email with mainly a logline, the key information and the screening link. Important is to conduct an active follow-up with them to make sure they get an answer quickly.
When you enter a deal it is for a long period of time because no sales agent acquire films which are not recent except the one working on archives but it’s another job! The amount of the commission is not what matters the most. Said differently, a sales agent needs of course to be motivated by the right commission for its job. It is more important to have transparent calculations explained in the contract. The frequency of sales reports is also less important than having a deadline clearly written in the contract for its receptions!
EDN: What is the best way to contact you if one has a film suitable for your catalogue?
PM: A producer should send us our filled in submission form to me per email (pmazenod_@If you can read this, please upgrade to a modern browser.windrose.fr) which can be found on: http://www.windrose.fr/submission/
EDN: What lies ahead for you and Windrose after the Berlinale?
PM: My priority number one will be to acquire the best films, to close as quickly as possible distribution deals in order to sell brand new films which are still fresh and to focus on marketing tasks in order to sell them as much as possible for example at MIPTV.
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