A Brief Reflection on Anticipate Pictures Thus Far
Dear followers of Anticipate Pictures,
I am hard at work putting together my schedule for Berlinale, which is the international film festival (and market) that occurs every February. Perusing Sundance reviews and seeing what is on offer at Berlin - the weeks leading up to every film market are breathless. You are deluged with breaking information about what title is buzzing from the trades, and one has to make snap decisions on which films one absolutely has to review for consideration.
At the same time I coordinate all aspects of our current releases in cinemas. And in the last 3-4 months, Anticipate has been releasing new titles every 2 weeks or so. Consider since November 2018: THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, CLIMAX, then 6 films premiering at SGIFF, then the theatrical releases of GIRL, SUSPIRIA, and now CAPERNAUM. In 2 weeks time, COLD WAR will open, and then we will release at least 5 more titles after that in Q2 2019. Its a pace that probably could have been handled better with a small team of at least 3-5 people, instead of just 1. Alas, that is the case.
Our GV partnership, supported by the fine folks at Singapore Film Society, has thankfully given me a breather from the logistics of running our own screenings. I remember this time last year, when we were releasing GOOD TIME, THE SQUARE and THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, I spent every single evening at The Arts House from January to end-March 2018, where it was me and a hapless marketing manager / volunteer who was greeting you at the door, and then introducing the screenings. It was a great feeling of course to introduce our films before presenting them to the audience, but I cannot deny that this form of releasing films on the big screen took a toll on at least my personal life. It was a stressful period for friendships, relationships, family commitments... ah but I digress.
This time last year at The Arts House - Jan 2018.
Over the course of 2018, we have gone from running our own shows to having exhibitor partners on board to help release our films. And that is really the role of the distributor - not to run our own screenings, but to bring films into the local market for exhibitors to showcase. As you can tell, it has taken us this long to find partners. Our job gets slightly easier, but only slightly, because now there are a whole host of other KPIs - attendance rates on average per session etc. to meet. And although things might be looking slightly up, the race has not been won for discerning cinemagoers like you in our country. Every session of an Anticipate film is on a tentative basis, and if they don't do well for even one session, it gets yanked. In contrast, if a larger more commercial film doesn't do well for 1 or 2 sessions, there's always 20 more sessions of the same film in 30 other locations. Economies of scale doesn't apply to us. It's there and suddenly it might not.
A poster for CAPERNAUM in cinemas this past weekend. (Jan 2019)
But look at all the films we are competing with! (Jan 2019)
Being at the bottom of the totem pole as an independent distributor also means every exhibitor cherry picks from more commercial films offered by other larger players. But although the journey feels thankless, it is when you choose to see our film in the cinema, and you felt something, that it all feels worth it. Missing Chinese New Year every year for me is worth it.
Could I ask for a small favour? If you'd take a few moments to recommend our work on our Facebook Page under the tab "Reviews", and our films on the GV website (if you're a GV Movie Club fan) - it could mean the difference between someone discovering our movies, and not. Word of mouth is how companies like mine survive, and especially since we've been doing it for a while - I realise that has been the only way we have survived this long.
I don't know what the future holds, but thanks for being with us so far. Keep demanding our films from your favourite cinema. I promise we will only grow if you keep seeing our films :)
See you at the movies!
Founder of Anticipate Pictures