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News & Press
October 26, 2010
Hey there friends and cinephiles,
Today I’d like to exchange on a very important subject with you, one directly related to Evokative’s very existence: Let’s talk about your interest in International films. It’s a bit of a long read, but I promise I get to a point.
For a long time, mostly when I was lining up for films at Fantasia and later on when I became part of the staff, I kept hearing the film fans complain about the lack of decent releases for International films, dissing the Bad Big Distributors who didn’t give the proper love to the titles they did pick-up and deploring all the great films that had been left on the side of the road after festival acclaim, because they had been deemed “Not Commercial Enough” by the Bad Big Distributors. I totally agreed on the discourse.
I thought, “Hey, isn’t there a market right here, film fans who are passionate about the art and want to see someone go out there and nurture these films? Wouldn’t they be happy about that and support that company that would go against the mentality of the Bad Big Distributors to be a Nice Small Distributor?”. Then I started out in the business and more seasoned folks would tell me how “courageous” I was to venture out in this type of film, and I would always reply with confidence that I knew that the audience was out there, it just never had been properly listened to.
Then I’d think that all is not lost, because at least all those publicity efforts would help the DVD release later on. We’d work for weeks to hunt down extra features, create the subtitles and design a collection-worthy digipack. All these things are much more expensive than a regular black-box release but I thought that it was worth it, to give the film the nice release it deserves. Then we’d work on selling the films and I realized quickly that the buyers of most videoclubs and retail locations don’t really care much about cinema. They sell apples and oranges and I was offering the passion fruit that might end up rotting on the shelves for looking too different. It’s too much of a risky purchase for most of them. So I set up a webstore to go around that wholesale-buyers-barrier and sell the films directly to you, at even better prices than what you would find in stores. Alas, sales have been much lower than expected there as well.
What happens when you underperform in sales? You lose money. Acquiring and releasing films is an expensive affair, even when you are careful with the costs. I was very lucky because I was given access to a personnal investment fund that allowed me to start the company. I could have bought a nice house, travelled around the world or pursued a higher education, but I decided to invest in my dream business. I was not planning on becoming rich, but I wasn’t planning on losing it all either. If I did, I could have just given it to a charity to better results in a worldly point of view. But I believed in the possibilities and throughout the last two years kept believing that if I wasn’t reaching the appropriate results, it had to be because I had not done my job well enough, I had not picked the right film yet or the company still had to be better known, and that things would work out better with the next film coming up.
A few days ago I went to a conference on distribution where one of the speakers talked about online marketing. He told us there are two way to look at our audience: its quantity, the number of people you “follow” you in the various medias; and the quality, the amount of people who will actually react to your news with an action, like commenting on a post or making a purchase. If the quantity is high and the quality is low, you have a problem because your audience is asleep at the wheel. And I confronted the truth I had been pushing aside for far too long: My company’s audience, you, are asleep at the wheel. I need to wake you up or the car’s gonna crash.
Here’s the sad truth: Most film fans are hypocrites. They like to complain about the sorry state of the International film industry, but when it comes to actually making the trip to the theatre in a timely fashion, or buying the DVD before it gets in the “15$ or less” bins at the store, they disengage themselves. It’s easy to complain about the lack of diversity in the theatres and state that we are in an era of blockbuster-based cultural stupidity. It’s less easy to make the efforts to actually do what it takes to keep the cultural economy alive.
So let me ask you: how much is a wide availability of quality International films important to you?
If it’s very important, make the efforts: Don’t download. Go to the theatre on the first week-end and help spread the word about the film. Buy the DVD for your collection and tell your friends to rent it. We are in a free market economy. Your dollars vote. You are responsible for your cultural diversity.
The same goes with the state of our wider economic, environmental and political issues. Nothing gets better if we don’t each make our own little effort. If it’s not so important to you in the end, then keep things as they are. I’ll end up closing my business as will many other independent distributors. We’ll find other things to do, don’t worry about us. But don’t ever, ever again complain about the poor offerings of the market, because you were partly responsible for its thinning.
I realize that most of those who will read this actually are the one who have been awake, listening and giving us your support. To those of you, thank you so very much. To the other ones, I ask you to please wake up now. If this note strikes a chord with you, you may share it with your network of cinephiles friends or even post it on your blog. Spread the word around. Comment on this note and let me know how right or wrong I am. Get in the discussion. I started this company for you, so I’d like to know who you are.
If you want to contribute to Evokative's survival, there are many things you can do: Go see DOWN TERRACE and DELIVER US FROM EVIL when they come to your city. If a release is not planned in your area, ask your local theatre to book the films. Rent our films at your local videoclub and if they are not available, ask the manager to buy them. Head over to our webstore and help us get rid of our inventory by actually owning one or a few of our titles. I promise you’ll have a good time with every one of them and they’ll look good in your library! I’ll even give you an extra 10% discount to be applied above our already existing discounts, just for reading this far (WAKEUP10).
For the love of film,
January 07, 2010
Stephanie was very honored to become one of Montreal's Noizemakers of 2010!
A tradition for many years, The Montreal Mirror starts the new year with the Noizemakers issue, where the efforts of a few Montrealers working in cultural or community areas are highlighted.
Article by Mark Slutsky, Film Editor of The Montreal Mirror
Evokative Films is a small distributor with a diverse mandate
"When I was at Fantasia, I’d see huge line-ups of people and how excited everybody was,” says Stephanie Trepanier. “I couldn’t understand why some of these films would get a sold-out crowd of 700 people, people being excited and lining up for an hour before the film, and no distributors would pick up the film afterwards. It plays at Fantasia and it’s done and you never see it again. I saw the enthusiasm and thought there has to be a market out there that isn’t being catered to, that I could concentrate on and try to please.”
Ask anyone who’s ever worked in film distribution and they’ll tell you: it’s one of the toughest, least glamorous links in the movie-making chain. So it’s pretty amazing what Evokative Films, a tiny local distributor with only three employees, has managed to accomplish in a year: five theatrical releases and five DVDs on store shelves, all out of company founder Trepanier’s Park Ex loft.
Evokative’s consistently interesting slate of films defies easy description, with movies ranging from the rambling, understated Japanese comedy Adrift in Tokyo to Korean boxing saga Crying Fist to French neo-blaxploitation actioner Black. “I think what unites the films is it’s always a mix of genres,” says Trepanier. “It’s never just a thriller. It’s going to be a mix of thriller and psychological drama, or a road movie that’s a comedy but also a little bit dramatic. There’s always a mix of emotions. I kind of like that.”
Trepanier, who got her start at Fantasia (and is still associated with the fest as a programmer) before working as a publicist for the ill-fated Christal Films, prides herself on Evokative’s signature look and style. Their beautifully designed DVDs—the latest being Adrift in Tokyo, in stores as of late December—are instantly recognizable, with a signature red band at the bottom. “I’m really happy with the way the company’s perceived now and how we’ve managed to develop as a brand in just a year,” she says. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do from the beginning. I come from marketing and I always thought that one thing that was missing from DVD distribution was to have a strong brand.”
Plans for 2010 include “surviving,” Trepanier laughs, “but in terms of films, there’s Deliver Us From Evil”—a Straw Dogs-ian Danish thriller—“in March, as well as the launch of the Black DVD, which didn’t do so well in theatres but I think on DVD it could do really well, across Quebec, because it’s in French and it’s action and everything.”
April 16, 2009
Following the April 10th release of ADRIFT IN TOKYO, we’ve been blessed with all-around positive reviews! This love-fest in the media translated in a very good box-office for the 1st week-end at the AMC Forum Theatre: $6 600. Yes, these are small bucks compared to the Hollywood blockbusters, but it still puts us in second place of the Quebec per-screen box-office for 1st-week films, and in 5th place for per-screen box-office on all films playing in Quebec. To say that we’re thrilled is an understatement!
So here’s a little round-up on the good things that have been said in the press for the release and beforehand… Print Media
At the Montreal Gazette:
At the Montreal Mirror:
At the Hour:
At The McGill Tribune:
At the Japan Times: Web
At the Toronto J-film Pow-wow:
At Cinema Strikes Back:
At Midnight Eye:
At They Shoot Actors, Don’t They?:
ADRIFT IN TOKYO will be playing in Montreal until April 23rd, to then play in Toronto at the AMC Yonge & Dundas theatre from May 1st. Next up will be Vancouver from May 22nd.
March 23, 2009
It’s bad, I’ve been back in the office from my trip in Austin, Texas for SXSW for a few days and I only get to do a recap now. Things are very busy in the office you see, in-between HANSEL & GRETEL starting its run in Toronto on Friday, the Crying Fist DVD getting in its final stages of production and ADRIFT IN TOKYO to come out in theatres soon. Amongst many other things! Tim League and the Fantastic Fest folks were nice enough to program BLACK in their SXSW Presents Fantastic Fest programming, which got us all very excited to have BLACK’s World Premiere there. Both March 14th and March 18th screenings were at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse Theatre, to sold-out audiences that seemed very eager to see this new genre of French action flick with Blaxploitation influences starring MC Jean Gab’1.
The sold-out house on the 1st screening.
Lauranne Bourrachot, one of the producer of the film, and Pierre Laffargue, the director.
The Q&A session after the first screening. A video of it will be posted soon on YouTube.
The presentation of the second screening.
Great reviews got posted on blogs following the screenings. You can read them right here:
BLACK will be released in France in July and in Canada in August. There is no American distributor yet for the film but we wouldn’t be surprised that one is signed on soon following all this great buzz!
March 01, 2009
We’ve just learned that the South-Korean dark fantasy HANSEL & GRETEL won two awards at the 29th edition of the Oporto International Film Festival (Fantasporto) which ended today. The film directed by YIM Phil-sung won the Special Prize of the Fantasy Competition and the Best Film Award of the Orient Express section.
The other Jury Awards were given to IDIOTS AND ANGELS, the excellent animation by Bill Plympton, which won the Best Film Award of the Fantasy Competition, as well as to MOSCOW, BELGIUM, by Christophe Van Rompaey, which was chosen as Best Film of the 19th Director’s Week. Most commonly called Fantasporto, the Portuguese festival is considered amongst the 25 leading festivals of the world, according to Variety International Film Guide.
HANSEL & GRETEL already got attention on the International film festival circuit after being part of the official selections of the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (Pifan), where it won a Special Mention, the Sitges International Film Festival and the London Film Festival in 2008, followed by the Gerardmer Fantastic Film Festival and lately the Oporto International Film Festival (Fantasporto) this year. In Canada, HANSEL & GRETEL had the honour of being chosen as the Closing Film of the Dragons and Tigers section at the Vancouver International Film Festival, to follow with the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival.
The film will be screening from March 6th, for a two-weeks run, at the AMC Forum theatre in Montreal, with a Korean with English subtitles copy. HANSEL & GRETEL will then go on to play in Toronto from March 27th and Vancouver from April 17th. On Friday March 6th, the Evokative Films team will be present at the AMC Forum theatre to raffle various prizes among those attending the 7:10 pm screening.
To see the event on Facebook:
January 29, 2009
Wow, I realize it’s been exactly a month since my last post. So what have we been up to at Evokative?
Well for starters there’s been more travelling as I attended the Unifrance Rendez-vous of French Cinema, followed by the Rotterdam International Film Festival and finally Ciné-Québec. Many films were seen, a lot of hands were shaken and hopefully these will lead to some nice acquisitions in the near future.
I had my first radio interview for Simahlak’s Gumbo Radio on CKUT, which you can listen here:
We also welcomed a new addition to the team, Émilie Lacourt, who is now Evokative’s General Assistant.
Finally we’ve been busy working on the production of our very first DVD, THE KILLER (LE TUEUR), which will hit good DVD rental stores in March. Adrift in Tokyo will also finally be released in theatres soon, so stay tuned for more news very soon.
December 29, 2008
As 2008 comes to a close, film critics are making their countdowns of the best films seen through the year. I’ve been very happy to see that not one, but two films from Evokative’s line-up have been mentionned in Twitchfilm’s Best of 2008 lists.
First, Todd Brown, Editor of the web’s best International genre film site mentionned, in 2nd position no less, ADRIFT IN TOKYO as one of his 25 Best films of 2008. That means a lot because Todd sees an impressive amount of films every year and has a film knowledge that puts me to shame. Here’s what he had to say about it: ldquo;After a string of well received but generally middling features, writer-director Miki Satoshi vaulted into Japan’s top tier with ADRIFT IN TOKYO. The deceptively simple story of a down on his luck college student forced to accompany a yakuza debt collector on a lengthy walk through Tokyo is a wistful road movie run in slow motion, a love story to the city and the damaged souls who live on its fringes.”
Then Simon Laperrière, one of Twitchfilm’s contributors, mentionned PARKING in 5th position in his 10 Best films of 2008. Here’s what he had to say about it: “Programmers, please look into this film, it’s a real crowd pleaser. Director Chung Mong-hong uses the butterfly effect as a device to let us go throught various emotions with an impressive fluidity. Calling it an anthology film wouldn’t do justice to a script that keeps everything logically linked. Try to seek this one, you won’t regret it.”
See the lists and learn a thing or two while you’re at it:
The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011