Discussion with Shana Eddy-Grouf,
Executive Vice-President of International Production at StudioCanal U.S., and Head of U.S. Content for Dailymotion
New York City, December 7th, 2017
by Alexandra McInnis
With mounting competition, the pressure is on European media companies to strike a balance between their cultural sensibilities and internationally-relevant content. It’s also a historic opportunity to introduce their successful track records and critically acclaimed content to a broader audience. For French film production and distribution company StudioCanal, that opportunity is embodied in international hires based out of the U.K. and Germany—and now Los Angeles, with Shana Eddy-Grouf, Executive Vice-President of International Production at StudioCanal U.S. as well as Head of U.S. Content for Dailymotion. Hired in 2015, the American Eddy-Grouf is StudioCanal’s first LA-based creative executive, and a figurative bridge between Europe and the U.S. nexus of film production. Eddy-Grouf joined French in Motion at the Mill on Thursday, December 7th to discuss initiatives for StudioCanal and the video-sharing site Dailymotion, both owned by Vivendi.
As Eddy-Grouf detailed, StudioCanal’s production arm is divided into three categories of films: action (The Commuter, starring Liam Neeson), family (the successful franchise Paddington), and prestige, with an adaptation of The Gurnsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society soon joining a catalogue that includes Carol and Hell or High Water. These projects are commercially viable and executed from self-financed budgets ranging from $10 to $50 million. While stepping up English-language production, StudioCanal still aims to be very much a European company, filming almost exclusively in Europe with European talents to make the most of state funding and tax incentives.
As for television and international TV series, in which StudioCanal has been actively involved for the past five years with acquisitions and stakes into companies such as Tandem, Red Arrow and Sam, the financing strategy will be more opportunistic: Studiocanal has a strong slate of European producers and projects which will be developed for a worldwide audience.
Working for a French entity was appealing for Eddy-Grouf as someone whose “love affair with France started at a very young age” when her father purchased a house there, and who attended the Sorbonne. She comes from 15 years of experience at United Talent Agency, an ideal background for a company looking to attach more American and internationally-recognized talent to production and source projects. Yet as she explained, StudioCanal is looking to recruit more than established American players. The American studio system can be confusing (and even demoralizing) for Europeans accustomed to a free-range auteur style of work, a divide StudioCanal hopes to ease by producing the first English-language films of acclaimed European directors. They will be producing the next film of Italian director Luca Guadagnino, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Benedict Cumberbatch.
After leaving UTA, Eddy-Grouf was also a founder of Pluto TV, an OTT television service, hence her leading role in Dailymotion. Working off a projection that 70% of video content consumed will be of professional grade, Dailymotion is narrowing its focus to “premium” content, working with partners such as Vice, Bloomberg, and the Enthusiast Network. They are also exploring opportunities in live events, teaming up with major sports groups to film engaging and unique live content. With major sports events slated for livestreaming on the Dailymotion site, the international potential is powerful, suggesting, as Eddy-Grouf hopes, that “Dailymotion will grow into an even more prominent media company.”