International Film Festival Box Office Database Gets Boost From New Training Scheme

SOFA (School of Film Agents) is designed to boost professional schemes in Europe.

WROCLAW, Poland – The creation of a worldwide database detailing audience figures for movies screened exclusively at film festivals is among the industry initiatives developed at a new training program, the School of Film Agents, that wraps Friday.

The Festival Box Office database -- the brainchild of Miroslav Mogorovic, founder of Soul Food, a Belgrade, Serbia-based international sales and distribution company -- will aggregate festival audience and ticket data from 4,000 permanent annual film festivals worldwide.

Information from 6,000 more one-off or occasional events will help give art house producers, distributors and sales agents a more detailed picture of the commercial potential of films that may otherwise only ever be seen as showcase events.

Mogorovic, who is also the program director of Serbia's Palic European Film Festival, said the service, which will be subscriber-based, will be of use to sales agents, public funders, festival programmers and distributors as well as directors and filmgoers themselves.

The service, which has been developed with private funding from the company but will seek European public funding to help get set up, is one of 10 projects that have benefited from two weeks of professional workshops in the first edition of SOFA, set up by Nikolaj Nikitin, an expert on Eastern European film and a program advisor for the Berlin Film Festival.

Nikitin said that unlike many projects in Europe, SOFA did not aim to educate film directors or producers, but was designed to support "promoters, mediators and catalyzers with their unique film/cinema project ideas."

Schemes that benefited from expert professional coaching -- provided by, among others, Karel Och, programmer for the Karlovy Vary IFF, and Katriel Schory, head of the Israel Film Fund -- included the creation of an art house cinema in Tbilisi, Georgia; the Unique Cinema, a cross-border German-Polish film festival; TransOdra, a national film museum in Ukraine; and a new international film promotion agency in Bulgaria.

Nikitin, who has secured funding for three years for SOFA, told The Hollywood Reporter that the event's capacity to create new professional networks was already apparent.

"This is really about developing the career and the necessary skills and personality to be able to convince your local minister of culture or European body to make the funds available for your project."

He plans to present an update of projects at next year's edition, when he hopes "at least two" will be already up and running.