Rikke Ennis, Trust Nordisk, on Navigating international film markets



Venue : Filmens Hus, Oslo 170912, in cooperation with the Norwegian Film Institute



Trust Nordisk (TN) were the sales agents for Lars Von Trier's Zentropa until they merged in 2008 with Nordisk Film and changed their name from Trust Film to Trust Nordisk.


They specialize in sales, PR & marketing, legal, delivery, VOD.


80% of the films they sell are from the Nordic countries.


They sell all sorts of films including arthouse, thriller, animation, family, crime, action and drama.


Why do you need a sales agent?:

Sales agents take 25%-30% in commission. But they think they're worth it for many reasons.


Buyers don't have the time anymore to go to all 50 markets and the markets they do go to they may only stay at for 3 or 4 days.


Approx. 80% of sales are done in a total of 20 days annually, with Berlin, Cannes, Sundance, Toronto being the most important.


A sales agent can help with visibility, networking, creative consultancy, strategies, pricing, windows of opportunity, advertising.


Distributors prefer to talk to sales agents. A sales agent spends a lot of time lining up press before the festival.


Trust Nordisk like to get involved as early as possible - preferably at the screenplay stage. They will give an honest evaluation and comments and advice on the script, casting, promos, stills, artwork etc.


It's more important than ever to start early - visual work, promos, stills, teasers etc. should be done before the film is finished.


They did promos on FLUKT (Escape) and HEADHUNTERS with great results. 


Ideally you want to sell the film before you even complete the film. It's about creating a buzz, making the distributors fear they will miss out on a great film if they don't move quickly. Both the aforementioned films were sold largely on their promos (3 and 4 minutes respectively). HEADHUNTERS has sold to 84 territories and generated €15 mill. from those sales, FLUKT has sold to 57 countries.



It's not just about which distributor will pay the most, it's about which one can nurture your film and release it in the best possible way.


There's always an asking price and a go price. You always aim for the asking price, but to get that you need competing distributors that help to push the price up.


Most distributors take theatrical, video, TV, DVD and VOD.


Netflix have just started paying some serious money for rights to good Scandinavian films.


Films working in the market right now:

Crime films, films coming off of a book success, genre films with high production value (i.e. exotic nature), children and family titles (adventure stuff, or stories with animals). A strong drama with a screening at a prestigious festival either works or doesn't. Dramas can be tough - happy endings always work but suicide or death at the end doesn't sell well. Nordic blockbusters i.e. films that can travel successfully within Scandinavia often do well internationally.


It really can be a barrier to have a Norwegian title. With HEADHUNTERS - in the other Nordic countries - they did everything they could to hide the fact that it was a Norwegian film.


Films not working in the market right now:

Low budget dramas with no festival release, family films with musical elements (dubbing is a nightmare), teenage films and local comedies. For comedies to work abroad they have to be original or quirky.

Nobody wants to watch a slapstick Scandinavian comedy if they can get the same kind of thing in their own language.  Hans Petter Moland's A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN worked because it had its own brand of humor. Coming of age films are very, very hard to sell.



From 2010 to juni 2012 61% of TN's turnover stemmed from presales, 13% from catalogue titles and 34% from completed films.

After 2 years of sales on a film the film goes into their catalogue. But most sales for a film are made between the date of their international launch to about 3 months after.

A film gets old very fast. You can hype the film up in presales but it's harder once it is released and it perhaps gets one or two bad reviews.


Turnover by label: 2010 - family 9%, mainstream 33%, arthouse 58%.


In 2012 the number is much higher for mainstream and much less for arthouse - basically because they have a lot of big selling book and film franchises incoming.


The top three presale genres by far are thriller, crime and drama.


Presales by country: 50% Denmark, 36% Sweden, 10% Norway, 4% Iceland. Top selling titles recently; The Fjällbacka Murders, The Hunt, Escape and Love Is All You Need.


Why presales?

You can fire up the competition between buyers, festivals and press.


It's about being the first with the newest.


It's about the hype, the anticipation, the tease.


Sales news attracts attention to your film (Variety, Screen magazine, The Hollywood Reporter are the most important trades).


99% of the time, the price of selling a finished title is not higher than what it can get in presales.


In Cannes 2011 66% of the total press coverage was about presales. In Berlin the same year it was 78,5%.


Make the presales expense part of the financing of the movie.


Buyers are afraid of missing out, that's why they pay in advance. HEADHUNTERS in the UK went to Momentum, who beat out 3-4 others. So they had to be aggressive.


The HEADHUNTERS strategy was a combination of the script (based on a book by best selling author Jo Nesbø), the promo, market screenings and festival participation.

1) Release teaser poster at the AFM 2010

2) Cannes 2011 - closed market screening & press conference (rough cut, no titles)

3) Locarno film festival premiere.


FLUKT had an exclusive VIP screening in Berlin 2012, then a closed market screening in Cannes, then a market screening at the AFM.


General selling points for Nordic films:

A good script, Nordic humor and quirky, edgy, unique stories. Also character driven and deeper stories.


In closing:

Consider getting a press agent - they are key for getting press attention.


Tease with 1-3 stills before the film is released, don't confuse the audience with too many stills.


If you have a sales agent you can apply for financial support from NFI to make teasers, trailers etc.


You must have teasers, posters, stills upfront so the sales agent can do their job.


Your international market should come way before your domestic market.


See also NFI's 3 short interviews with Rikke Ennis, Dieter Kosslick (director Berlinale), Sonja Heinen (head of Berlinale co-production market):



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