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Unforgettable MIPTV moments from remarkable people.
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Market knowledge is an invaluable thing and can be worth millions. As a reporter for Variety, covering MIPTV in the 90s, I found myself chatting with the East European representative of a major Hollywood studio. He’d sold a package of films and programming to a Bulgarian buyer and his boss insisted on closing the deal in person. Just before they entered the meeting room to sign the final contracts, the young rep turned to his boss and said, “there’s just one thing you ought to know.” Unimpressed, his senior pointed out that he had been closing deals for years and didn’t need any last minute advice from anyone. Following customary introductions, the boss named the price that had been agreed upon for the package and asked whether the Bulgarian buyer was ready to sign. Imagine his surprise when the Bulgarian shook his head. Further efforts to agree on a price again met with a shake of the head. Despite his reputation as a tough negotiater, the studio exec found himself dropping his price,until his increasingly agitated representative asked to speak to him outside. Which is where local knowledge kicked in. Because what the rep had been trying to tell his boss before the meeting, was that in Bulgarian, a shake of the head means “Yes.” Exactly what the Bulgarian buyer made of his continued acceptance of the studio’s offers being rejected,has not been recorded for posterity!