LevelK founder Tine Klint’s tips to filmmakers: Don’t target the world

(L-R) Debra Liang, Tine Klint and Lauren Valmadre.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of her international film sales and distribution company LevelK, Tine Klint offers some advice to Australian filmmakers.

Perhaps the most valuable tip: Don’t target the world, even though the mantra “local for global” is in vogue.

“I recommend staying true to original stories,” Tine tells IF. “Don’t adapt and change cultural differences: some projects lose their originality because they are designed for world platforms or global deals.”

A former sales exec at TrustNordisk, Zentropa and Nordisk Film, the Copenhagen-based Klint first connected with Australia when Aquarius Films’ Angie Fielder got in touch in 2009 after announcing plans to produce Wish You Were Here.

Subsequently Klint and Fielder met at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2010 and LevelK handled international sales for the drama directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith.

That led to numerous collaborations with Aussie filmmakers encompassing such films as Celeste, The Second, Ellipsis, The Butterfly Three, The Songkeepers, Teenage Kicks, Downriver, Spear, Sucker, The Little Death, My Mistress, The Rocket, The Turning, Hail and Subdivision.

Her 2020 slate includes Jonathan Ogilvie’s Lone Wolf, John H Sheedy’s H is for Happiness and Steven Vidler’s Standing Up for Sunny, which opens here with event screenings this weekend.

Among her other tips for filmmakers: Prioritise the time thinking of your audience and where to position the film. Be genre clear and be prepared – for instance by having strong marketing material. Many producers cut the stills photographer or photo shoot out of the budgets.

LevelK scouts for projects via what its founder calls a network of spies plus producer contacts, funding bodies, festivals and other markets. She has two Aussies on staff: sales and acquisition managers Debra Liang and Lauren Valmadre.

Adelaide-born Chinese/Australian producer Liang came through the Screen Australia Gender Matters funding program. Valmadre applied for a job via email and was hired initially as LevelK’s Australian digital coordinator based in Melbourne.

‘Standing Up for Sunny.’

“We look for originality and passion, talent and experience – a strong team that will work with us on achieving the best for the film,” she says. “Projects with digital potential following theatrical are prioritized.”

The company handles traditional sales on approximately 300 titles and serves as an aggregator – a middleman between right-holders and platforms – for around 5,000 titles.

Most of the Aussie films on its books have been sold to all the major platforms and where possible to local streaming services.

Asked about the current climate for indie films, she says: “It is not harder to sell, it is harder to sell to the ‘old’ and same outlets/distributors that we have been used to.

“The outlets and possibilities for independent films changed. With the available venues we don’t generate the same amount per individual territory in MGs as previously, although some films can do that with one global sale.

“We can make a film available worldwide but if no one knows, then it does not matter. This is why we have a new and bigger team handling PR and marketing, for instance with an influencer and digital specialists.

“We use methods including digital tagging and audience tracking and create media campaigns in order to get digital awareness, which has not been standard for a sales agent.”