Leading French docs sales agent Anaïs Clanet has given details of her new venture, Reservoir Docs, which is being launched during the Cannes Marché.
Anaïs Clanet has been working with Loic Magneron’s sales agency Wide Management since 2006 and has run Wide House, its documentary arm, for many years. Now, Clanet has joined with Frédéric Corvez’s Urban Group, where doc outfit Reservoir Docs will be based.
The attraction of the new set-up, she says, is that she will be able to “focus on what I do best, which is selling and acquiring.” She won’t have to handle the accounting or the reporting, instead concentrating solely on the films.
Another attraction is that the Urban Group is involved in production and distribution as well as sales. “That’s a plus when you try to acquire stronger documentaries. You can bring more than international sales on the table.”
In essence, Reservoir Docs isn’t a new company. It’s the old set-up but with a new name and a new shareholder in Corvez. That means the documentary filmmakers with whom Clanet has been associated during her time at Wide will now be part of Reservoir Docs. “They come with me. My catalogue is coming along.”
During the online Marché, Clanet will be explaining the new set-up to distributor clients and, as ever, selling new films. Among these is Boarders, about the UK skateboarding team and how an “outlaw” activity became an Olympic sport.
Another new title is Icarus Balance from Patric Jean, made through Iota Productions and which looks at the Mediterranean and global warming through the prism of Greek myth. Clanet is delaying giving this its proper launch until cinemas begin to re-open and festivals are again taking place in the real world, as well as virtually.
Also on the slate is The Quest For Tonewood, directed by Hans Lukas Hansen, about violin making and the search for the perfect maple tree wood with which the priceless instruments are made.
Reservoir Docs, like Wide House before it, will place a strong emphasis on cultural and political documentary, films in the vein of Clanet’s previous successes like The Black Power Mix Tape and Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, which sold to multiple territories.
The company may specialise in theatrical docs but Clanet is practical enough to know that selling shorter versions of the films to television is likely to remain one of the bedrocks of her business.
“If the filmmaker doesn’t want to do that I cannot force the filmmaker. I would never do that but 99% of them understand that there is no choice. You need to have this (the TV version) or otherwise you lose 90% of your business.”
One advantage of the films Clanet sells is that they tend to be evergreens. Films like Peter Medak’s The Ghost Of Peter Sellers (about the legendary British comedian) continue to attract buyers. “With the kind of documentaries I take, they usually have a long life anyway because of the archive-based, cultural, timeless elements. I can sign a documentary in 2015 and five years I am still going to sell it because there is still relevance, still a date to celebrate.”
During the lockdown she has noticed that buyers are digging ever deeper into catalogue titles. “That’s the beauty of it. Fiction can disappear in 3 to 6 months but documentary, if it is well done and relevant enough, can last for 2-5 years.”
Clanet and her friend Peter Jager, former boss of Autlook Films, together came up with the name Reservoir Docs several years ago – and now she has the chance to use it.