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Cannes Profiles: Meet Matt Smith

May 15, 2013

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Photograph by Amy Binns ©

I’m here in Cannes for the 66th Film Festival as a runner for Picturehouse Cinemas. During my time I’ll be meeting up with several industry heads to get an insight into the Film business and to hear what film they’re looking forward to most at the festival.

This morning I caught up with Matt Smith, Head of Distribution for Lionsgate UK.

Amy Binns: How would you describe what you do?

Matt Smith: I oversee the theatrical release of all of our films, including setting the date of release, discussing with my boss Zygi the level of P and A (press and advertising), how many cinemas to put the film in, what kind of cinemas, doing the deals with the cinemas and making sure that all areas of the theatrical release work together properly. Things like trailering, poster appeal, the advertising and the publicity all come in to it.

AB: How did you get into the industry?

MS: [laughs] My first job was at EDI, who are now Rentrak. I applied for a position right after graduating from York university along with applying for about 100 other research agencies. EDI was called ‘Entertainment Data’, which I thought sounded like a fun area of research. This was in 1994 in the pre-internet days. I knew nothing about them, other than what the local company listings at my library could tell me, which was that they did something to do with film. I must of pulled a blinder because they gave me the job! I was working in their office calling up cinemas, getting box office grosses from them and giving the reports to distribution companies. With the distribution companies being our clients, I got to know them all and decided that’s where I wanted to go. Eventually I moved into distribution by going to PolyGram Filmed Entertainment a year later.

AB: What advice would you give to someone trying to get their foot in the door?

MS: I would say, put yourself in front of people. Keep trying, keep going. It is very much about personalities and Film is one of the few remaining people orientated businesses. I think the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ has stayed truer for longer in the Film industry. Offer to do internships, to be a runner and while doing that you also have to be patient. People at our company have been interns for a year and a half, but when a position comes up we do employ them and move them up the ladder.  It is tough, but the persistent ones keep cropping up and you think ‘this person really does want it’.

AB: Which film are you looking forward to seeing most at the Festival and why?

MS: OUT OF THE FURNACE, because it’s a film we’re releasing and it’s my first opportunity to see it. I would also really like to see BLOOD TIES, but I’ll be back in the UK when that is playing.

AB: What film do you predict to be the talk of Cannes this year?

MS: That is a very difficult question this early on in the festival! I would have to say, ONLY GOD FORGIVES.

OUT OF THE FURNACE is due to be released in the UK this November and ONLY GOD FORGIVES  on 2nd August. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing OGF. Catch the trailer below, it is going to be big!

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