“Something is moving, but there is still a lot to do”. ANICA President, Riccardo Tozzi, has no doubts: the Italian audiovisual industry still has to develop its own export model.
The latest figures on the subject show a business volume on foreign markets of the domestic movies produced in the five year period 2006-2010 of 45 million Euros (source: Ufficio Studi Anica), with a strong penetration in the European area and a basically constant trend, whilst TV drama recorded a 58% drop in exports between 2006 and 2012 (source: Rapporto Fondazione Rosselli), with few Italian titles becoming sales champions. “In Italy we have never had a policy of promotion or adopted specific tools for accessing international markets, unlike France which represents a model with UniFrance. But in the last few months something has changed”. Encouraging signs, “that indicate a future direction and make it possible to glimpse a possible change of course”.
For the very first time audiovisuals have been recognized by the Ministry for Economic Development as one of the industrial categories of Made in Italy, giving them the identity of an Italian product of excellence. This means that it will not limit itself to organizing retrospectives on Italian cinema abroad, but will also attempt to penetrate other markets. To give you a better idea, we will go from an allocation of 700-800,000 Euros to 4 million Euros: a big leap in quality.
How will these funds be distributed and who will manage them?
Part of the funds will be allocated to the foreign distributors that distribute Italian films, as already happens in other countries.
The ICE-Italian Trade Agency will be responsible for distributing the funds.
Will it be important to work on the products in parallel?
Absolutely yes, what we have to do is think above all about the product, carefully studying the case of France.
France has carved out for itself a slice of the comedy market, whereas we make comedies that are not very exportable. It is not enough to export an individual movie, because what we need to take abroad is a moviemak- ing industry.
We have to create a strong and recognizable image for ourselves. The French have managed to do just that: when one of their comedies is released, the audience knows what it is getting and goes to the movie theater.
This is also demonstrated by the success of so many remakes of French comedies realized in Italy, from “Benvenuti al Sud” onwards.
We are still at the occasional exports stage, the cinema we sell abroad is art-house cinema – the movies that go to the Cannes Film Festival, to stay on topic.
Sorrentino, Garrone and Moretti are proof of this…
Of course, they are recognizable filmmakers and three out of four of the Italian titles selected for Cannes were filmed in English. Clearly their chances will be greater on international markets. But we should emphasize another aspect: normally exportable movies are high budget – “small” phenomena-movies are mostly “flashes in the pan” – and the average theatrical budget in Italy is lower than in other countries. Having said that, we have had 15 years of constant growth on the domestic market which has led to industrial growth that can only benefit the whole sector, with repercussions for the product.
The international sales of the three Italian movies in competition at Cannes have been entrusted to European companies of British and French origin: a trend that is not new for our film industry.
Over the years Italian foreign vendors have become weaker, so the sales have been entrusted to international brands.
On the other hand what reasons do you give for the clear drop in TV drama exports?
All over the world general-interest production is of a domestic nature, whereas the productions made by specialist channels or for pay TV have more opportunities abroad. But Italy has seven general-interest channels.
The advent of Sky in the production field has led to the development of a new type of series, and hints about the reform of Rai imply the possibility that one of the public service networks will be destined for this type of production.
Audiovisuals is a strategic sector for the national economy and for Italy’s image abroad. Four movies selected for Cannes, some TV series that are traveling around the world (“Montalbano”, “Romanzo criminale”, “Gomorra” first and foremost), the launch of a Made in Italy policy and the reform of Rai make us think the twe are starting a new journey, but there is still a lot of work to be done.