Juliette Fourniez (H.17)

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I have a vivid memory of my very first day at HEC in September 2013. I remember feeling so proud, well-dressed next to my parents in this huge « Hall of Honor ». I genuinely had the feeling that I had reached my goal, as if ‘I had made it’, as if it was an end itself. At the time, I was already fascinated by cinema – as I had always been since the day I had discovered the films by Jacques Demy in an art-house theatre in my hometown, and knew I wanted to work in this industry. I was confident, full of hope and dreams. But how stupid and naive I was!

I quickly realized that it would be a struggle. HEC does train for all careers but I had momentarily forgot that HEC was not a passport to easily trace your way in the film industry. Actually, I realized that very few people in this industry even know what HEC is and later, my first boss would make fun of what these three letters stood for because he had just no idea. I quickly understood that it would take a huge amount of perseverance, humility and hard work to find my place in the film world.

I started by created Cinesthésie, the HEC Cinéclub, which was organizing and promoting weekly screenings of independent films on campus, before doing internships in a production company and a credit institution aimed at producers and distributors. This was the first time I discovered what distribution was. Not well known to the general public, despised by directors and writers, situated at “the very end of the chain” right before exhibition, this job is noble and essential since its goal is to bring a film to its audience, make it visible, make it travel. In order to do so, one needs to understand the essence of the film (its genre, its message), who it is made for (its target audience), on what media it will be best received (theatres, video, TV) and in what conditions (marketing materials). I could immediately picture myself fulfilling this mission.

Right after my graduation, I moved to London to join the distribution team of Anton Corp, a growing film and TV studio founded by Sébastien Raybaud, also an HEC Alumni. Although initially deeply attached to French films, I was excited to discover how the British and American film industries were working. Even now, I am learning a lot from this different, smarter way of making films: more pragmatic (a budget if calculated from the estimated box office, not the other way around), more focused on the quality of scriptwriting and the analysis of a film positioning.

I have had the chance to distribute great quality projects so far and very different from one another, both from budget and creative standpoints. One of the first films I was involved in was Fireheart, the big budget next animation film by the French producers of the animation Ballerina and the hit Intouchables. This year, I have also launched a lower budget horror film starring Rebecca Hall and a Tarantinesque heist action movie produced by Ridley Scott. Since film distribution is synonym to transcending borders, my work year is punctuated by the main film festivals: Berlin, Cannes, TIFF at Toronto and AFM in Los Angeles. What could make me happier than travelling the world for the sake of distributing great independent movies?

HEC may not have trained me to become a film distributor but HEC has definitely taught me how to dare to enter the film industry.