If you’ve caught cinematic gems such as Luca Guadagnino’s supernatural flick Suspiria, French New Wave icon Agnes Varda’s documentary Faces Places, Lars von Trier’s latest psycho horror piece The House That Jack Built, you can give credit to Singapore’s smallest film distribution company, Anticipate Pictures. The person running the show is founder Vincent Quek, who decided to dive into the scene in 2016 with Anticipate Pictures, which specialises in international arthouse and indie films. Newer releases to look out for include South Korean drama flick House of Hummingbird and Chinese epic So Long, My Son, some of which will be screened at the soon-to-be-opened Oldham Theatre. All films brought in by Anticipate Pictures are exclusives.
But what does a film distributor do, really? Think of them as the in-between from the completion of a film and the eventual showcase of said film at a theatre or festival. They handle anything from the marketing and publicity of the work to where it’s being screened – an essential component in the long process of translating a filmmaker’s vision to when the audience finally gets to view it. It’s a behind-the-scenes role that doesn’t often get recognised, and as fans of the works Quek chooses to bring into the Singapore market, we speak to him on the nitty gritty behind being a film distributor.
What made you decide to start up Anticipate Pictures in the first place?
“I was frustrated with the lack of diversity in films in Singapore cinemas. I had come from living and studying in a major U.S. city and had the wealth of culture open at my doorstep. Coming back and living in Singapore for the next two years since my return had seen little change. There were some players like The Projector and SGIFF that do good work but I wanted to contribute more. I wanted to be the change and driver in this industry in terms of offering alternative content. I had some experience working in big distribution companies in the U.S. and I decided to take the plunge.”
What’s the process like from securing distributorship of a film until it gets screened in local cinemas?
“It’s basically sourcing at markets like the one I’m at now (Cannes Film Festival), based on what I already know about upcoming talents and current ones we are already tracking. Next, negotiating with the rights holders and then opening up discussions with Singapore exhibitors (cinemas) as to whether they’d like to show the movies at their venue, and film festivals to see if they’d like to take the films for a premiere. That is it in a nutshell.”
What’s a typical day like at Anticipate Pictures?
“I start my day checking and answering emails from the night before. The nature of our business means most new developments occur during European and Los Angeles working hours, and so I rigorously check what has transpired in the industry as well. In the afternoon if I am done with responding to urgent mails I watch a movie or two, usually films that I request to screen in consideration for potential acquisitions, and then in the evening I do a few more emails and plan my next day. I’m most productive in the evenings, to be honest, so most of my big picture thoughts happen in the evening.”
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