Double Dutch International's Mark Padilla on EFM Sales Strategy, Expanding in L.A.

Michele Thomas
"It always comes down to content. The appetite for content has not shrunk," says Mark Padilla. He was photographed Jan. 21 in DDI's L.A. office.

The head of sales at the Toronto-based company opens up about wooing foreign producers with Canadian subsidies for joint projects and his continuing faith in an increasingly challenging indie film space.

While in Berlin, Mark Padilla, Double Dutch International senior vp sales and acquisitions, will be flying the flag for a company expanding in the face of indie film headwinds, not retrenching. “We’ve seen other companies shrink in the marketplace,” Padilla tells THR. “We’re hiring. We’re going in the other direction.”

Arriving at the EFM with a varied sales slate that includes the Ruby Rose heist thriller Doorman and the family title Think Like a Dog, DDI will also be on the hunt for acquisitions in the $3 million to $20 million range.

Padilla, who completed executive stints at Myriad Pictures, Essential Entertainment and Arclight Films before joining DDI in 2016, says the company, which specializes in sales, will use the market to persist in its expansion into producing. “Our focus in Berlin will be to continue to build the slate and raise financing,” he says.

Padilla, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two teenage sons, sat down with THR to talk about expanding the Canadian company’s Los Angeles office, wooing foreign producers with Canadian subsidies for joint projects and his continuing faith in an increasingly challenging indie film space.

What were your immediate goals when you joined the company?

DDI had been around for four years, and I found them to be a growing company in the independent film space. But there was an immediate need from the sales point of view at DDI, having some completed films on its slate, and we were looking to expand. I liked its content and the direction it seemed to be headed, and I looked at the opportunity as a challenge to myself as well to help grow the company.

Do you believe moviegoers still value the theatrical experience in the streaming age?

It always comes down to the content. Not just chasing the dollar, but looking for good films to build our brand. The appetite for content has not shrunk. Sure, with the growth of series TV, indie film wasn’t as hot, compared to the 1990s and early 2000s. But I see a resurgence. The advancement of technology and the way people create and receive content, that’s a space we’re looking at and trying to get closer to indie filmmakers as they come up with new content and new ways to bring it to the market.

You were instrumental in expanding DDI’s L.A. office. What are the benefits there?

The L.A. presence is to be more in touch directly with filmmakers, the agents, the talent, the directors and the writers — the content creators. We want to build and expand those relationships to bring content in-house much earlier to ensure DDI’s involvement and to help shape the type of projects we bring in.

What are your goals on the ground at the European Film Market?

Our focus in Berlin will be to continue to build the slate and raise financing. One of the things we always put a lot of energy into at the markets — in addition to doing sales for our traditional clients and buyers — is to have a dedicated individual to meet with all the banks, the private money, the lenders out there, and to look for these funds and opportunities.

What role do Canadian subsidies play in your overall financing strategy?

We dig in to come up with that right budget, the right price point, that makes sense for the market and the elements attached. Here the subsidies and the soft money become extremely important in getting the project across the finish line. Canada is a great opportunity for us, and being a Canadian company, we have leverage in that respect. And that draws some producers to us. But Canada is not the only game in town. We’re very cognizant of exploring every opportunity that makes the most sense for the project. Doorman is an example. We’ve gone from Canada to Romania because we’ve found, with the talent and the crews we’re looking at, we can get a bigger bang for our buck over there, and that potentially delivers us a bigger film for the price point.

You mention Eastern Europe. Does the importance of soft money depend on what side of the Atlantic you’re on?

It depends on a number of factors, including where the talent is coming from. Everything has a cost. There’s a lot to be said for shooting in Los Angeles, as expensive as things are here. Maybe you get the credit, or don’t, but if people can sleep in their own beds at night, that can be a tipping point. Our job is to get our hands dirty and figure out what’s best for the project at the end of the day.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 11 daily issue at the Berlin Film Festival.