Choukri Ben Meriem is the Creator/CEO of Mavericks of Cinema, a relatively new site that is hoping to help connect actors, directors and screenwriters with producers looking to create.
My thanks to Choukri for taking time out to answer my questions.
Q: First up, how about a little bit of background on Choukri Ben Meriem, how did you get into the industry?
A: Well, I started to take drama class in South of France. Then I was involved in short films in Paris as an actor. Later, I directed a short film in Canada. After that, the idea of The Mavericks of Cinema crossed my mind.
Q: How would you describe The Mavericks of Cinema to a new writer or someone interested?
A: It’s an opportunity given to different artists who want to get involved in their own film projects. It’s a great feeling to get attached to your movie.
Q: And what prompted you to develop and launch The Mavericks of Cinema?
A: I was going around in circles in Paris. After directing my first short film, I questioned myself to know what is the next move. I came across some traveling videos and I decided to travel by myself. Back from Australia, I realized that there was a gap for an actor if you don’t have an agent or manager. Sometimes, actors and actresses have a ton of ideas but they don’t know how to deal with it. And they want to get attached to their projects as a lead role. So instead of waiting for something, I was wondering why not creating a bridge between them and producers.
Q: When was The Mavericks of Cinema launched?
A: Last year, in 2019.
Q: There are plenty players in the market these days, what do you think differentiates The Mavericks of Cinema?
A: We propose an alternative to make movies. There is no one formula but thousands.
Q: A general concensus amongst screenwriters is that producers are already inundated with scripts, why would producers come to you to look for material?
A: With the Mavs, you gain some visibility. It’s another way to get involved in your film project. And the internet offers a great tool to have this exposure. We just change the way producers look for some scripts.
Q: Your describe your platform as for actors and filmmakers too, why this combination
A: As a matter of fact, I thought about the actors first and then in the middle of the processus I decided to include filmmakers and screenwriters as well. For me, they have something to propose on the table.
Q: What are you finding is the split between the actors/filmmakers/screenwriters signing up?
A: This formula is a great bargain for them.They offer different material when they submit their film projects to producers.
Q: You don’t charge screenwriters to list on the site, only producers, why that business model and do you think producers will pay?
A: We only charge a small fee for producers because they look for something and in that case, film projects.
Q: I believe you are based in France, do you see this as a more European centric service or is it worldwide?
A: I’m from France. When we designed the website, we’ve always thought about it worldwide.
Q: Are prospective producers vetted before they are allowed access?
A: When they sign up, they have to fill an entry form to know which company they work for. By signing up, they agree to our terms & conditions.
Q: Have you had much interest from producers/the industry?
A: First, they’re intrigued and then they found that’s a good idea.
Q: Once a producer finds someone or a script through the site, what happens next?
A: When a producer has expressed interest in a project, he/she will contact you via our messaging service. Together, you can decide what to do with the film project. And no additional fees or percentage taken on a movie.
Q: Have you had any success stories so far that you can share with us?
A: In the next few months, we’re going to share it.
Q: There are a lot of people competing for aspiring screenwriter’s attention, from guru’s, through coverage services, and a plethora of competitions. What makes The Mavericks of Cinema a good investment of time?
A: We tend to create a bridge between artists. Over time, they will have built trust. We hope to give the momentum for some people to make great movies. If we trigger artists to make movies, everybody wins.
Q: At the minute the site seems fairly Actor focused, are you planning to develop this for more for writers in future?
A: We included writers at the end of the process and they have their chances with the Mavs.
Q: And what about future developments in general?
A: I prefer to keep it for myself. I would talk about it once it’s done. That’s my virgo side.
Q: Any advice in general for the aspiring screenwriters in terms of breaking in?
A: I don’t like to give advice but I can say that: Trust your gut no matter what!
And now for some getting to know Choukri questions.
Q: Fave movie?
A: Too many… Today, I would say How to Make it in America. Actually, It’s a TV show.
Q: Fave script?
A: Too many as well… Inception.
Q: Best and worst screenwriting advice you’ve heard.
A: Best: you need to add some background to your characters. Worst:
Q: Fave food?
Q: Fave drink?
Q: Fave sport and team if applicable?
A: Ice hockey (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Q: Fave thing to do outside of managing The Mavericks of Cinema?
A: I travel myself around the world. I try to mingle with people and we talk about movies. I’m intrigued by their perspectives and that’s why I decided to make some videos by filming them. And I called it Mingle Films Voyages.
Q: Any final words of advice to the aspiring writers out there?
A: Stay creative!
Again, thanks to Choukri for such an excellent interview.