"If we want to fund more atypical, provocative and “outstanding” content then private finance is key to this"
Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming
Frédéric Fiore • Chairman, Logical Pictures
The French group is continuing its growth, from the field of financing through to distribution, with its incorporation of The Jokers and its investment fund Logical Content Ventures
The French group Logical Pictures, which specialises in production and funding, has expanded rapidly since its launch in 2017, now boasting The Jokers Films (distributors in France), Pulsar Content (international sales agent), Black Mic Mac (African content producers), Cascade8 (new technologies) and Loveboat (ad production) among its various subsidiaries. Chairman Frédéric Fiore unpicks this markedly original growth strategy within the French and European landscape.
Cineuropa: Logical Pictures has been around for five years now and works across various sector areas. Why did you recently invest in distribution, a field which is struggling somewhat at present, by incorporating The Jokers Films, and what is your overall strategy?
Frédéric Fiore: As it stands today, Logical is able to produce, finance, distribute and sell content, across all product areas, because we can work on films, TV series, documentaries and even adverts. Our strategy is to be in a position to help film talents (writers, directors, producers) throughout their careers; to help them throughout all the development phases of their projects without constraining them, so that they can manoeuvre synergistically. That’s why we’ve mainly invested in distribution, recently, because access to cinemas is still key to ensuring works exist: cinema releases create events and anchor works in the future. For directors, this anchoring is very important, not least because Logical is focused on working with talents over the long term. And The Jokers Films, and specifically Manuel Chiche, share this vision of long-term support to help auteurs grow, as was the case with Nicolas Winding Refn and Bong Joon-ho.
In production terms, one of Logical’s defining features is leaning heavily on genre films.
It’s a key characteristic of the group, and an area where we overlap with The Jokers. Playing with genre codes means playing with internationally recognised codes, which breaks down geographical borders and language barriers and gives us access to a far wider audience, pretty much straight away. But we don’t only make genre films: we competed in Cannes with Kirill Serebrennikov’s Tchaikovsky’s Wife [+see also:
film profile], for example, which was a film we funded. As its name implies, Logical was created in order to rationalise investments in film. Committing to films which can play the international game also means we’re limiting risk, because films which work all over the world are less risky than films which only boast high potential in one region. Revenge [+see also:
interview: Coralie Fargeat
film profile], which was one of the first films we funded, is a perfect example of this: it’s a film which didn’t sell too many tickets in France, relatively speaking, but which sold all over the world. In this sense, from an editorial viewpoint, we’re very comfortable with genre film, including “traditional” horror films. We’re convinced that there’s demand for it, especially among younger audiences.
Your bread and butter is still funding productions, especially by means of private finance so as to sidestep the constraints associated with TV networks. Moreover, you launched a dedicated €100m investment fund at the end of 2021. How do you operate in this area while remaining minimally involved in the French funding system?
Freedom in terms of content is also dependent on private financing because if you leave funding up to the broadcaster, you’ll have content made for the broadcaster, which is totally normal. Canal+, France Télévisions, Netflix, etc., all buy content which their target audiences want to watch. If we want to move beyond these target groups and fund more atypical, provocative and “outstanding” content which is a bit more out of the ordinary - and I’m sure that this is what audiences are looking for, especially in cinemas - then private finance is key to this.
Clearly, I believe the system for protecting cultural exception which we notably have in France but also in Europe, does a good job, but, these days, we very often see funding gaps when it comes to slightly less standardised commercial projects. Private money helps to bridge this gap and to see these projects through. Logical Pictures was launched as a financer of film, and even though we’ve broadened the scope of our activities, this is still the crux of what we do: ensuring works exist. So we wanted to go further and harder by creating the Logical Content Ventures fund, which is highly ambitious with predominantly European content. We’ve already financed six films with this fund (notably Tchaikovsky’s Wife) and it’s already proved a success since more than half of the funding for these films has already been recouped and is therefore secure, after just a few months, which proves how effective our model is.
There are rational and financial motivations for private investors to invest in film and audiovisual works, because it’s a vector of diversification. It’s clear that investors today aren’t too sure what to invest in: the stock market is incredibly risky, we’re witnessing a property bubble, etc. I’m working with the financial sector to raise awareness of the fact that investing in film and audiovisual works is a form of investment that needs to be normalised. There’s a need for more intermediaries, because there aren’t many at present, apart from Sofica companies, which work within a highly regulated framework, and several Anglo-Saxon funds. In Europe, very few funds provide professional investment services which can ensure the mutualisation of at least ten or so investments per year. At present, we’re receiving upwards of 800 projects per year, and we end up funding a dozen, so we have capacity to position ourselves on projects which offer the best performance profile, as private investors would say.
Which of the films in your production line-up will soon be appearing on screen?
In post-production, there’s our first co-delegated production (in league with Bonne Pioche) Blazing Neon by FGKO (the story of a couple pursued by two rival groups – read our article – sold by Wild Bunch International and due for release in early 2023) and The Dive by Maximilian Erlenwein, which is an English-language underwater survival thriller which is sure to get people talking, which we financed alongside Germany’s Augenschein Filmproduktion and which is sold by Protagonist.
(Translated from French)
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