Robert Cibis and Lilian Franck’s careers began in 1998 after their film studies in Paris. They united around storytelling – showing people something new and challenging the commonplace. But it was a hard fight to win people over to innovative projects. The two found that both investors and audiences had to be coaxed away from familiar terrain and that each project had to find an individually tailored solution.
„Pianomania” (2009) brought to the screen for the first time the artistry of a Steinway technician as he accompanies world-renowned pianists Lang Lang, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Alfred Brendel in search of the perfect sound. A film about the people behind the stars was difficult to finance, but exactly this approach and its entertaining realisation made the film a hit. It won the Semaine de la Critique Prize in Locarno, the Golden Gate Award in San Francisco and the German Film Prize for Sound Design among other awards. It played to full houses in 25 different countries with sustainable releases. In Germany alone, 15,000 DVDs were sold. And the film has been broadcast on television in more than 100 countries, leading many young people to follow into the footsteps of our story’s hero and become piano technicians.
New insights and vantage points also help meet social challenges. After producing a great many documentaries for television, the OVALmedia team had the idea of accompanying their projects from concept to release. In 2018, OVALmedia for the first time coordinated the distribution of their film Free Lunch Society, which advocates the introduction of an unconditional basic income and ponders how this idea can be implemented. On February 1, 2018 the film was screened simultaneously in 100 cinemas followed by 100 discussions throughout Germany, while at the same time 11 basic incomes for one-year were raffled off. The discussion around the topic was spread widely through TV and other media. And OVALmedia followed this up with animated films on the subject for the internet.
This successful integration of production, marketing, sales and distribution has been made possible through the digitalisation of many operating processes. If nothing else, the related global pressure of competition has often led to greater specialisation of “media products”. For example, commissioning editors who commissioned Free Lunch Society and Pianomania are no longer doing cinema co-productions. OVALmedia has been responsive to these changes. We as a label have established strong partnerships with new partners and are working hard with social media. Realising that a target group that is small in an individual country may be huge globally, therefore OVALmedia gone international. In addition to the two firms OVALmedia Berlin and OVALmedia Cologne in Germany, we opened in 2018 OVALmedia Paris SAS. In September of the same year, the French version of Free Lunch Society played to sold-out venues in France, also accompanied by debates over the issue. French cinema releases along with exciting events will continue into 2019. Similarly OVALmedia Rome under the management of majority owner Nathalie Signorini was set up in 2018. Free Lunch Society thus will finally come to the country that is debating unconditional basic income the loudest – Italy.
Digitalisation has accelerated the processes that have existed since the dawn of humanity has. The same figures, topics and references that have always been with us have been taken up on different media and communicated through various channels in the form of photos, films, speech and written text. Digitalisation has expanded storytelling possibilities. A greater advantage exists in the ability to coordinate the distribution of media communications and to garner feedback from audiences/visitors/users/readers during the production process. Fewer and fewer perspectives are dominating an increasingly small world. We want to show new points of view in order to leave the horizon broad and open.
Nathalie Signorini, Lilian Franck und Robert Cibis