The Frankfurt Book Fair has launched a new social media–based community to connect rights holders and facilitate books-to-film pitches and related intellectual property exchanges. The invitation-only platform, called Pitch Your CIP—CIP stands for "creative intellectual property"—resides on Facebook, and has 525 members so far.
"The idea grew out of pitching sessions at the ARTS+ program we have hosted at the Frankfurt Book Fair for the past several years," said Holger Volland, v-p of the Frankfurt Book Fair, who launched the platform. The program is also an extension of Frankfurt's sponsorship of pitching sessions at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival.
"We have had hundreds of film producers come to those sessions over the years," said Volland, who emphasized that building relationships between the books and film sectors required a process of education on both parts. "Each has to learn to talk to each other, which is something that we as a fair always coach people on and hope to facilitate with Pitch Your CIP."
Frankfurt had also intended to extend their pitching sessions to the Toronto International Film Festival this year, but with much of the world in quarantine, moving the sessions online was the next logical step. "When we do a pitch session at a festival, we typically limit it to 10 books pitched over a 90 minute session, but this way, with two to three pitches a week happening on the platform, we can do a hundred or more this year," Volland said.
So far, the site has hosted pitches from agent Elisabeth Ruge, owner of Elisabeth Ruge Agentur GmbH in Berlin; Paniz Terachi from the Blue Circle Literary Agency in Tehran; and Maÿlis Vauterin, foreign rights director at Editions Stock in Paris. Pitches are done either through short recorded videos or through live interviews. In addition, the site hosted U.K. video game developer Andy Payne, who is working on a video game adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm.
"Our intention is to create opportunities for the most diverse group possible, including literary agents, TV streamers, filmmakers, and games developers, for any and all people from the creative communities to connect and trade licenses," said Volland, who said his hope is for people across a spectrum of disciplines and industries, from museum curators to brand managers to influencers, to join the group, in order to facilitate creative, and even unorthodox, pitches. "For example, I"m friends with the director of the estate of Herbert von Karajan, [the Austrian conductor who led Berlin Philharmonic for three decades]. Karajan, who was a Zen Buddhist, always said he wanted to be reborn as an eagle. I think that with the assets in the estate, it could make for a very interesting pitch and, who knows, maybe even by the end, a valuable product."
At the moment, Volland said there are no plans to monetize the platform. "It is still a work-in-progress," he said. "We'll adapt it to people's needs as we hear feedback. Right now we are focused on community building and adding value to the group. Our feeling is that now is the time to make deals. Just because people are doomed to stay at home because of the coronavirus doesn't mean the trade in intellectual property has to stop. In fact, as an industry, we cannot afford for it to stop. If we work hard, get creative, and innovate, it won't."