In 2011, the MEDIA Program will be twenty years old.
This is an important anniversary for the organization that promotes the growth of the European audiovisual industry, with 32 countries supporting the development and distribution of thousands of movies, as well as training activities, films, festivals and promotional projects all over Europe through its seven year Programs.
However, the allocations planned for 2014-2020 will depend on the results of an online public consultation which concluded at the end of 2010, the results of which will be published soon.
“In recent months we have been heavily involved in promoting this Consultation and making members of the trade aware of it, because a low rate of feedback would have jeopardized the planning of the new Program. The early results seem to me to be very positive”, explains Giuseppe Massaro, director of MEDIA Desk Italia.
“We still don’t know the qualitative results, just the quantitative ones, with Germany and France providing the highest number of responses, followed by the United Kingdom and Italy, confirming a considerable interest amongst countries considered to have a high audiovisual production capacity.
It will be interesting to verify the results also in terms of assessing any new areas of intervention suggested or the different business models to be supported.
There is not much money and there are worries that the budget, which is already insufficient, will be further reduced because the European Union is experiencing the same problems we are having in Italy.
We only hope that it is able to demonstrate a greater sensitivity towards culture and audiovisuals”.
In the meantime, the European Commission has announced the creation of a Guarantee Fund dedicated to production as part of the current MEDIA program which ends on December 31st 2013.
The 8 million Euro Fund (which it is estimated should generate over 100 million Euros), will be managed by the Commission itself with the cooperation of France’s IFCICInstitut pour le Financement du Cinéma et des Industries Culturelles and Spain’s Audiovisual SGR – Sociedad de Garantàa Recàproca para el sector Audiovisual.
It will, however, be necessary to wait until at least the middle of February for the public notice to be published.
“The line of financing linked to the digitalization of movie theaters should be presented by the end of 2010”, adds Massaro. “Now the notice is ready, it will soon be made official.
The budget is 2 million a year, with the possibility of distributing a maximum of 20 thousand Euros per screen.
This can potentially be multiplied by the number of active screens in each individual theater.
Possible beneficiaries of the financing, such as Europa Cinemas for traditional distribution, are European-owned movie theaters that show at least 50% European movies (30% of which of non-domestic origin). Countries which do not have any state concession mechanisms will be facilitated”.
Cinema and television, as well as new media and new technologies:
“We are seeing the Program move progressively towards new media. There is a gradual increase in attention to video games which will never become our core business, but which should still not be neglected as a sector because they represent a segment that has caught MEDIA’s attention “” after some initial resistance.
There are forms of financing for developing interactiveworks which some Italian operators have been able to access.
With regard to the use of new technologies, obviously there is the Internet that is moving more and more towards video on demand platforms that are expanding massively in Italy as well, and which have had dedicated MEDIA financing since 2007.
Now it seems that even the owners of Italian utilization rights have finally ended their resistance to going online due to piracy fears, fears which, for me, were groundless seeing as there will always be piracy and online channels are gradually replacing off line ones, and that is not something you can ignore.
The trend in Europe is moving heavily towards VOD as a form of utilization (at least parallel with television and after cinema, of course) and the Italians, who are rather behind the game, seem to be finally starting to make a move”.
What about television?
“We have been supporting the television sector since’96 with financing (TV Broadcasting) aimed at television producers making co-productions with at least three European broadcasters, or who have pre-sold their product to at least three European broadcasters (including their national one).
The problem”, continues Massaro, “is that Italy has to cope with an objective situation of duopoly (now partially modified, thanks to the arrival of Sky), plus the fact that producers have very little contractual power.
This means that they cannot meet one of the essential conditions for accessing MEDIA financing, i.e. that, in the case of pre-purchase, the rights cannot exceed a period of 7 years for the first transfer and, in the case of a co-production, 10 years.
MEDIA does not finance broadcasters (production companies linked by shareholdings to a network or which work on an ongoing basis withthe same broadcaster are also excluded).
In the end, Italian TV producers are penalized because they are often unable to keep the rights to their work.
What happens is that, in Italy, 90% of the financing for television goes to documentary-makers (who normally sell their rights for a fewer number of years) and not to producers of drama (except for some rare cases where the producers have the contractual power to keep the rights), and also because it is easier for documentary-makers to reach agreements with non-Italian countries”.
Which channels do you use to communicate with Italian professionals? “An important step that we have recently taken towards improving communication with professionals is the creation of a website together with Antenna MEDIA Torino.
This year we have also started to provide consultancy “at home” through our Desks, organizing meetings with sector associations and individual operators, as well as themed breakfast meetings”.
At the next Berlin Film Festival, MEDIA Desk Italia will make its first public appearance alongside Cinecittà Luce, where it will soon be inaugurating its new offices: “Concomitantly with the sudden exit of the Roma Lazio Film Commission, which was one of the Association’s founder members and who we thank for hosting us in their head office as well as their helpful collaboration on various projects, Cinecittà Luce “” with which we intend to establish some synergies in the future “” offered to give us a home in their studios where we will maintain our character as an independent association.
Immediately after Berlin our relationship will be made official during a press conference in Rome.
We hope that this new synergy will help increase Italy’s participation in the MEDIA Program”.
The Berlinale will also be an opportunity to launch the twentieth birthday celebrations for the MEDIA Program, inaugurated by Program chief, Aviva Silver.
“There will be some specific “celebratory” initiatives and, throughout the year, an ad hoc MEDIA logo will be placed alongside the normal one.
As MEDIA Desk Italia we a preparing a video about the first twenty years which we will be presenting later this year”, concludes Giuseppe Massaro.
“It will be a moment of reflection for members of the trade as well as a chance to expand our target group and involve the general public which, at the moment, only knows our brand because they see it amongst the credits on movies we have financed”.