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Interview with Spencer Pollard, CEO of Kaleidoscope Film Distribution, at 69th Cannes Film Festival

Interview with Spencer Pollard, CEO of Kaleidoscope Film Distribution @ 69th Cannes Film Festival
Spencer Pollard

CEO Spencer Pollard started Kaleidoscope Film Distribution (KFD) in 2008, which today holds strong as one of UK's most successful international sales/distribution companies. KFD is an expanding and established International Sales outfit based in Soho, London and a one-stop-shop offering full UK and international distribution and sales capabilities. It is one of the fastest-growing independents in the market. KFD specializes in commercial features films and branded documentaries.

I interviewed CEO Spencer Pollard during the 69th Cannes Film Festival after the market premiere of their latest 3D enterprise LE MANS (2016).

Interview with Spencer Pollard on LE MANS (2016) @ 69th Cannes Film Festival

Can you tell us about your 4K 3D racing film LE MANS which just premiered at this year's Marché du Film at Cannes Film Festival?

SPENCER: We filmed the world famous LE MANS 24 hour endurance race in June 2015 and followed the key teams and drivers before, during and after the race in glorious 4K 3D.

How did you meet Mark Webber and get on board with the production and distribution of the film?

SPENCER: We met Mark Webber in speaking with the key teams and seeing which Drivers wanted to be part of this special film. As somebody who had driven in both Formula One and now Le Mans racing with teams as big as Porsche and Ferrari it meant he was one of the mainstays of the film.

How have audiences reacted to the film so far?

SPENCER: Audiences love the spectacular look and feel of the film. Seeing those cars race around in 3D on a big screen is something quite special.

Documentaries are a tough sell these days. Do you think that making this 3D and interactive will make it a top sell?

SPENCER: By it being fast cars and in 3D and having the human side of the film – teams and individuals training so hard to take part in the world’s toughest motor car race meant that we think the film has unique selling points.

How did you form Kaleidoscope and what are the films your company are most attracted to?

SPENCER: I started Kaleidoscope in late 2008 just as the bank’s went bust and the UK’s largest retailer closed its doors too. I had an idea that an independent distribution company, committed to commercial genre and unique films stood a chance of growing in the market place of 2009. The same principles apply now, you just have to move with market shifts and trends and try harder to spot them and adapt quickly. We get very excited by two things nowadays. Mainstream commercial films, with cast, proven producers and directors or niche films that are truly 4 or 5* reviewed films / documentaries that find an audience through word of mouth and clever marketing. We have worked hard to build our social media and audience with over 300,00 facebook followers now and 5,000 twitter followers. Our “fans” seem to enjoy what we are doing and I hope that is a sign of how we work and interact with the public and audiences out there.

Every year sellers and buyers say the markets are dwindling out. What do you say about this based on your market experience?

SPENCER: More business is now done between markets. I’m not sure unless you have a film in competition in Sundance or Toronto why you would wait to sell it. Recoupment is vital for film investors to want to invest again so we ensure we sell and acquire more effectively throughout the year. Most business development happens at markets and through market introductions so they are vital to the lifeblood and development of the industry still.

How does the UK differ from the rest of the world in terms of market demand?

SPENCER: The UK still has, thankfully a DVD business. It also has quite an aggressive TVOD and EST market for the right product. Theatrical distribution is the hardest in the UK anywhere in the civilized world – lowest box office share to distributor and most competition of anywhere in the world and local independent product really does suffer here – it does not have enough scale or budget to make it work. With partners such as Sky, Netflix, Amazon and other VOD and digital platforms, if you have the right film, there is every chance of making it work. If you have the wrong film though, it is virtually impossible to get meaningful distribution and make a return.

What have been your hottest sales in recent markets?

SPENCER: We sold the animated family feature “Top Cat Begins” to Warner Bros Studios here in the UK for a 400 screen theatrical this month. It also sold to more than a dozen other territories and we have done very well in ancillary markets with it too. We have a couple of films (animated and action) that are pre-selling very well and we’ll formally announce those sales soon. Le Mans will sell pretty well between Cannes and the end of the year and Tank 432 and The Windmill Massacre have closed many territories in Berlin and Cannes also.

How will Kaleidoscope transition into future markets? Are there goals and mandates for the changing audiences and their modes of viewing?

SPENCER: We want to become owners of our own destiny and as such we will Exec Produce and help finance a handful of films each year – thus enabling us to ensure we are selling and distributing films that the market – our buyers and our exhibitors are telling us they want to acquire and play.

What are the projects you are working on next?

SPENCER: Currently in the works (that we can tell you about!) are Creation Stories – the film about Alan McGee, the founder of Creation Records – one of the UK’s most successful record labels during the 80s and 90s in the UK, spawning such bands as Oasis. It’s co written by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting, Filth) and we are in casting currently – out to some very good names. The Land of Sometimes is a fantastic family animated film which is now fully financed and we have secured A list talent to narrate the voices. In the UK, we have our largest theatrical release to date this summer with Asterix and The Mansions of the Gods and the line up of voice talent for that film is huge and we are very excited by the opportunities that film brings.

 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon @ 69th Cannes Film Festival

 

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