by Content Cafe — 23 May 2023
Elizabeth Trotman is a veteran of the global film industry with 25 years under her belt working for leading screen businesses including Disney, BBC Worldwide, Hoyts and now Studiocanal. Her knowledge and expertise is utilised across multiple industry bodies in Australia including AIDA, AHEDA and FEDCAC. Elizabeth is a passionate anti-piracy advocate, and her own experiences while working as the CEO of Studiocanal highlight why Australia needs an effective enforcement solution when pirate operators are caught in the act.
Welcome Elizabeth, tell us about your experience with piracy?
During COVID when much of the world was in lockdown Australia was often the first market to release a film theatrically, making it a key target for pirate operators.
A number of our titles were illegally copied at the cinema which was incredibly disappointing. Sadly, many people still don’t understand piracy is theft and impacts a much broader film industry viability.
Can you tell us more about what happened? And, what was the impact?
We had two titles, including the local Australian film Long Story Short, that were recorded with a camcorder at local cinemas and released online during the first weekend of theatrical release. It’s difficult to quantify the commercial impact but it’s not hard to guess that a newly released film, available online for free is going to be attractive to certain viewers.
What was most disappointing about the incident was that despite having CCTV footage of the man entering the cinema, evidence of the camcording and knowing where he lived an arrest did not take place.
I do think if a key piece of art was stolen from the Art Gallery of NSW and it was known where the thief lived, the artwork would be retrieved, and an arrest would happen within 24 hours.
Unfortunately, people mistakenly believe theatrical films are a lot more commercially viable than they actually are; it can be tough generating a return from lesser-known theatrical releases. For local films, they need all the support they can get as they don’t benefit from an international publicity campaign.
How do you think Australia is measuring up in its response to piracy?
More could be done to speed up our responsiveness to piracy to ensure the perpetrators are dealt with in an appropriate timely manner.
What TV shows are you watching and recommending to friends at the moment?
I’m finishing up the current season of Succession and I just completed The Diplomat; I thought the chemistry between Keri Russell and Rufus Sewell was excellent and great to see a strong female lead.
What’s the last great film you saw?
John Wick 4 of course; it was brilliant and the Box Office results showed that.
What excites you about the future of your industry?
The ever-changing dynamic environment, shifting consumer habits and competitive landscape. Our industry never bores me, I love my job, my team and working for Studiocanal.
Elizabeth Trotman has over 25 years experience in the entertainment industry. After completing her BCOM/BA, she started her career working for The Walt Disney Company in New Zealand and then across Asia. During her tenure with Disney, she worked on THE LION KING, TOY STORY, and the global re-branding for WINNIE THE POOH. This led to a position working for Warner Bros in London where she worked with industry giants such as William Friedkin on the re-release of THE EXORCIST and Will Smith on WILD WILD WEST. She moved to Australia to take up a role for BBC Worldwide overseeing the launch of Teletubbies across Asia, including China. In 2002, she returned to New Zealand to oversee the marketing of both the Hoyts cinema chain along with Hoyts Distribution theatrical films. Over the past 20 years she has distributed more than 400 films covering all genres and scale, including TWILIGHT, THE QUEEN and PADDINGTON. Elizabeth is an active participant across multiple industry bodies including AIDA, AHEDA and FEDCAC.