Interview: Pascal Borno

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Interview: Pascal Borno 


Interview: Pascal Borno: Jan Ellmerer, Sintha Ervianto, Frederic Baumann


Question 1:

Please introduce yourself briefly and tell us about your expertise?

PB: Sure. I’m Pascal Borno. I’m an executive in the film industry. I’ve been doing this for 32 years. I am an expert in film financing, film distribution and sales. My duties go from reading and analyzing scripts and figuring out their potential for worldwide distribution, and giving estimates for those assumptions as well as advice on how to package them with different levels of talent, from directors to actors, in order to maximize the numbers.


Question 2:

What do you think is the same or different about content that people really enjoy nowadays compared to several years ago or even further back?

PB: Well, I think that the content has evolved dramatically, I think, we are seeing a dominance today of big budget action films, particularly of what I would call a Marvel brand with the superheroes.

We are not seeing as much of the smart dramas that had appeal.

Decades ago, there was a drama called Sophie’s Choice with Meryl Streep which is a great example of a movie that was a pretty heavy-duty drama but went on to do huge business all over the world. That’s no longer the case it’s rare that these types of movies are as successful as they used to be whereas now we’re seeing, you know, Batman 3 or Batman vs. Superman or you know the multiple Marvel superhero films that seem like as they are coming out like every other week and these things go on to do just ridiculous amounts of money. One of the things that has been consistent though in the media, obviously a good comedy or a good horror film still consistently sells.

We’ve had a big deluge of low-budget horror films because, I think, that they are easy to make and they’re not star-driven, they are really concept-driven but you’re finding that there is a production company called Blumhouse that’s owned by a fella named Jason Blum who did everything from Paranormal Activity to most recently this movie called Get Out. They have a very strict formula where they are making films for under ten million dollars, sometimes I think they are under eight, and yet these movies are highly concept driven and they end up doing massive business.


Question 3:

How would you define Crossmedia storytelling?

PB: I’m in more the feature film side. So for me, with us, our person window is obviously theatrical, the movies are starting to go out less and less theatrical; seem to be  going out on SVOD [Subscription Video on Demand] more and more. The DVD market is basically dying. The thing is that because we license our product pretty much exclusively by window, we’re not having simultaneously movies going on YouTube, unless we make them for YouTube and they go out on YouTube Red, for example.

Friends of mine were making movies like that but I don’t have the experience. I know that some people have like shorts or interstitials, things that are going for like ten minutes, where they can put them on different platforms non-exclusively. They want to get the maximum tact of exposure. For me it is counterproductive, I can’t make money on my stuff unless I’m able to license.


Question 4:

How important is Crossmedia in the film industry?

PB: It is very important because we are able to reach so many people so quickly.

Look at what’s happened with the elections with Trump here in America. The fact that this guy goes out on Twitter all the time has serious impact in terms of being able to communicate with people and if you look at something like the Arab spring, you know the Arab spring occurred because of Facebook. The Power of social media now is tremendous and we’re living in an age where it is essential that we promote, that we announce, that we heighten awareness on anything we do on social media.  


Question 5:

When do you usually start planning and producing your Crossmedia campaign?

PB: You start it form inception. When we announced Passing for example.

Before a movie is made we hire the director and then when we hire the actors, most of the time they’re high-profile actors that people know so you want to make people aware that the movie is coming so you make an announcement. You’re announcing that Jennifer Anniston is starring in Cake, for example. You know, this is a big deal, we put it out on social media and we put it out on Deadline. What we’re finding is that we used to have traditional print, trade papers that people would read, but now all the news is online and it gets picked, it gets picked up like I said through Social Media and it gets picked up through all different ways. But ultimately, it’s cross reverted with the Crossmedia and I think, to answer your question, it starts right from the start even before the picture is made, right up until it is released.


Question 6:

What is the fundamental key for a successful Crossmedia campaign?

PB: Well, I think for me this is a very new area. But in my opinion it is the amount of people that you are touching, the amount of people that you are seeing. I just gave you the example when we announced Wonders of the Sea and Arnold [Schwarzenegger] went out with it on his social network and Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation went out on Leo’s network, you know, 30 million people were made aware of it. Instantaneously.

So I think it’s about the number of people that you’re reaching because we’re finding, a business I’m looking to expand in is making movies with YouTube stars. There’s a company I’m in discussion with right now. They made a little movie called The Thinning. It stars an influencer. This influencer, guess how many followers he has? 70 million. More than Beyoncé. The kid is called Logan Paul.


Question 7:

What is the most effective platform to launch a Crossmedia campaign for a new motion picture?

PB: The internet obviously. Think about it, it’s much more than print media than anything else, I mean, right now we’re finding that we are talking about it, it’s the business for our conversations, right now, and I think that it really has shown that the more we promote, the more awareness there is for a movie we’re finding that the people are much more aware of things because they see it on the internet, they are on their laptops 24/7.


Question 8: What can you recommend younger people who want to enter the film industry? Is it all about connections or can somebody start off at the bottom?

PB: You know I think; this business has always been about starting off at the bottom. It’s just the way it is and you tend to learn more that way and there is no such thing as an entry-level job in this business. You want to start off as an agent you go into the mail room. You want to start off to be a producer you need to start reading scripts and doing coverages and make an analysis. It’s one of these types of industries where the training method is learning on the job and to be able to learn on the job you need to start down at the bottom.

First of all, you need to have a lot of courage because there’s no doubt it’s not an easy industry to get into. And in order to break in, you have to continually be not aggressive but affirmative, just very insistent and persistent because it is such a competitive industry and we find that the only people who are going to get, you know there is an expression in English – only the squeaky wheel gets the oil -and that’s the case with this. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and you have to be sometimes willing to work for free in order to gain experience. You have to basically make a lot of sacrifices, I mean, I know when I started off in the industry, I went to work for free for three months to learn and to see.  


Conducted summer semester 2017 @CBSinfo • 

By Jan Ellmerer, Sintha Ervianto, Frederic Baumann • BA IMM 2015 


Interview for Cross Media Production Prof. Michael Schwertel

Media Professor @CBSinfo in Germany, Media Producer, Filmmaker, Designer working with #DigitalMarketing, #Animation, #Transmedia, #VirtualReality and #AugmentedReality. and