On September 14, Jan Miller's baby turns 10. Strategic Partners (SP), the co-production market she founded in 1998 will begin a new decade.
Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada as an adjunct of the Atlantic Film Festival, the three-day event has developed a reputation as a no-nonsense destination for producers looking for a firm commitment from a seasoned player.
For Miller, time has flown: "Five years ago, if someone had been asked, 'What's the market going to look like in five years'', people had a clear idea," says Miller. They were wrong but they had an idea. "Now, no-one is even making predictions."
Not only is it harder for producers to find financing for their projects, it's harder for the traditional sources of financing to choose which platforms to back. There are more channels, more niche markets, she says.
"Broadcasters are more diversified so each one is bringing a little less to the table, so you need more of them to complete the financing. Meanwhile, advertising is diversifying where it puts its money. It's the democratisation of distribution and broadcasting."
The dynamic is also forcing many producers to embrace both film and television, a shift that has played to Miller's favour, given that she conceived SP as both a TV and film market. "Producers find they have to bring more to the table, not just a title but a package - a feature, a series, a couple of projects."
Miller points to Canadian companies with a foot in each camp, such as Vancouver's Brightlight Pictures, Toronto's Shaftsbury Films and Halifax's own Halifax Film.
These are the companies producers from the US, UK and France will look to speak with at the tenth anniversary event. Last year, SP's applications jumped 30% and Miller is expecting a jump again this year. "We used to only accept submissions from our main co-production partners but now we've opened it globally."
For Miller, the co-production world has never been more exciting, as the end market is in such flux. "One of my challenges is figuring out who should be seated at the table with the producers." This year Miller is devoting a panel to 'Tech-tonic shifts', acknowledging the growth of multiplatform delivery. She is hoping to woo internet television service Joost. "We want them to tell us what they want," says Miller.
JAN MILLER'S CULTURAL LIFE
Favourite book: I'm mid-way through The Memory Of Running by Ron McLarty
Favourite recent film: Isabel Coixet's The Secret Life Of Words. It stays with you. The simplicity of the plot and the incredible performances by Sarah Polley and Tim Robbins. It's the kind of co-production that makes me say, "That's why we do this."