DIFF Daily 2010

Interview with Paul Zilk

Dec 14,2010 - 11:04 AM

Paul Zilk, CEO of Reed Midem, organises some of the most distinct and robust markets in the entertainment biz, including Mipcom in October and MipTv in April. At his first visit to the Dubai International Film Festival, he tells Variety about his experiences and why Dubai Filmmart can help boost the acquisition and distribution of Arab content.

What brings you to DIFF for your company?

The Middle Eastern region is an important part of our entertainment markets with MipTv and Mipcom in Cannes and over recent years the presence and participation by Middle Eastern companies has been increasing a lot at our markets. This festival gave us an occasion to come and visit some of our clients and to meet potential new clients as well and to understand the energy and dynamism of entertainment here expressed here at DIFF.

How long at Mipcom and MipTv have you seen this surge in growth coming from this region?

Well, I’ve been CEO of Reed Midem for nine years now and it’s been really since I’ve been there that I’ve seen continual growth, particularly in the past five years. We started with 70 clients from the region and now we’re up to 300. They are mostly television related companies because that’s the heart of our events at Mipcom and MipTv.

In what you’ve witnessed over the years and now that you’re here, what do you think the Middle East and Gulf regions have to offer in the entertainment sector? There’s clearly a hunger for it but how does that relate to the product?

I think the hunger for it represents an opportunity for the region, in particular the Emirates, to become more dynamic and more present in their showcasing of Arab content and culture. I think that there is increasing popularity and trading going on of Arab content and eventually, especially with the growing multiplicity of distribution channels, there will be an increasing appetite for very specific programming around the world. Events like this, and markets, like we organise are important to facilitate to help people discover different programming from different regions like here in the Emirates.

Do you think that it’s a case of getting this Arab culture and content to the Arab world or is it more of getting an international reach for the content?

I think it’s both and as I understand it there’s a much greater flow now of Arab content inside the region, but I also think that given globalisation, in today’s world it’s quite important that cultures and countries understand each other and entertainment content is a perfect vehicle for that.

What are your thoughts of the digital market Filmmart here at the festival? Is digitising markets part of the future?

I think that’s an essential part of markets like here. Having content at your fingertips is pretty much the norm now. Ours in Cannes are similar - we do a lot of online screening and so forth. But there’s also nothing like having people meet face-to-face. Conferences and networking events are an important part of that.

Do you think that this is where these markets are going to go – a virtual playing field for acquisitions and distribution?

I think the digital capability to efficiently search and screen programming is absolutely efficient and absolutely inevitable. I think it’s an enhancement to markets, it enables them to be a lot more productive but it certainly will be complimented by a face-to-face meeting. People need to look each other in the eye and build relationships. It’s a great compliment and better for business frankly. We’ve seen that to be the case at our markets, which have grown, and at the same time the number of programmes that are screened online increases every year because of digital capability.

What do you hope to come away with from this festival?

I expect and I’m confident that I will come away with a better feeling of the vitality and dynamism of this market and I hope to have strengthened the relationships with a number of the people that I know and a number of new people. I’m sure that will be the case. It will have been a great visit to the market and I will have gotten a personal view into the rich, cultural milieu here in the region.

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