Continuing our series of posts about the 2015 Inside Pictures participants, we talked to Eduardo Panizzo, co-founder of Coffee & Cigarettes. Coffee & Cigarettes is a unique company acting as a producers rep and a boutique marketing and distribution consultancy as well as being a full service creative design agency offering all the creative services required to fully deliver and release a title.

EP The company helps producers find the best route to market for their films, whether that is by packaging and brokering the best distribution and sales deals available in the marketplace, or by offering producers the means to self distribute their titles.

Before Coffee & Cigarettes Eduardo was the former Head of Acquisitions at Revolver Entertainment. With 10 years of experience in the industry he has also worked in Script Development, Film Production, Film Sales, Post Production and Servicing. This wealth of diversity and wide range of contacts and connections gained from years of experience attending all the major film festivals and markets around the world make him a valuable asset to any producer, sales agent or distributor.

We asked Eduardo some questions about Coffee & Cigarettes and his experience of Inside Pictures.

What do you hope to gain from participating in Inside Pictures? 

I hope to gain a more complete understanding of the business of film. Having worked in sales, distribution and marketing understanding the nuts and bolts of film production and film finance is really important to me. The programme’s previous alumni, many of whom are close friends and former colleagues first attracted me to Inside Pictures and no other course offers the same access to the amazing speakers the IP programme is able to attract. 

What has been the highlight of the programme so far? 

For me learning about financing was the most interesting part of the first module from a learning point of view, but coming from an acquisitions background my personal highlight was Christos Michaels’ talk. I loved seeing how excited he got talking about going head to head with other lawyers when he had to thrash out a deal, it reminded me of thrill of the chase, closing deals into the early hours of the morning with my former colleague and IP alumni, Yogita Puri. 

In the next module I’m most looking forward to meeting all the agencies. Learning about how best to work with them and what they are looking for will be an amazing opportunity.

Who is your mentor and what do you hope to gain from that relationship?

I’m thrilled to have Lucinda Englehart as my mentor. She has worked at the highest level in film financing and has experience working with brands as well as producing her own films. I hope to learn more about film finance from her and also how to grow and diversify my company’s offerings and client base – both of which are areas Lucinda has already offered excellent advice on.  

What do you think are the greatest challenges currently facing the European film industry?

I think that the biggest challenge facing the European film industry are the rapid changes happening in the home entertainment market with the decline of physical formats and the growth of digital formats, in particular SVOD platforms. Not only do physical DVD sales return a larger revenue stream to filmmakers than digital sales, but also many of today’s biggest directors cut their teeth with films that found success not in cinemas but on VHS and DVD; directors like James Cameron (Piranah 2), Peter Jackson (Bad Taste) and Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead). My fear is that when the physical home entertainment market disappears so too will the platform for many emerging filmmakers to express themselves and to cut their teeth. Meanwhile the rising popularity of SVOD platform has caused the price consumers are willing to pay for films to decrease and it has also changed the kind of films they choose to spend their money on, mimicking previous risk averse DVD rental trends, but also binging on TV content. The limited promotional space available on those VOD platforms means that the larger cast lead, English language, studio films dominate the storefront and the smaller independents film suffer with foreign language titles suffering the most.  

Coffee and Cigarettes has an unusual model, working across marketing and distribution consultancy as well as creative design. How did you spot the market opportunity for the company and what is your vision for its future development?

My business partner (Tom Clark) was the head of marketing at the same distribution company I was acquiring films for and it became apparent to us that the films with the least marketing materials were the hardest to greenlight internally. As the head of acquisitions I had to pitch all the top submissions internally to the heads of department and if a project had good marketing elements it helped those HODs to visualise clearly the kind of film it was and its potential and place in the market, which in turn helped them to greenlight the acquisition. That was the basis for Coffee & Cigarettes. Our combined skills mean we are also able to offer a wide range of services outside of just creative and marketing; brokering deals, finding the right sales and distribution partners and even helping producers to self release their films domestically. In the future the logical next step for us is to become more involved in film production and we have already become involved as Executive Producers on two upcoming projects. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Some of our current projects are very exciting because we have been able to work on them from their inception. HaZ Dulull’s Origin Unknown is a great example of this. Being involved from the start means we are able to provide script notes and casting advice as well as designing the marketing elements early which have helped to attract finance as well sales and distribution. The deals we are currently negotiating are proof that the Coffee & Cigarettes concept works, but our work is far from finished as we will continue to work on the film until after its release to maximise its potential.