An Italian developmentcompany is to start holding a series of EU-funded workshops and seminars acrossEurope this year as part of adevelopment training programme aimed at European producers.

The first of the week-longresidential MAIA workshops, which are funded by the Media Programme, will kickoff in Italy in June and will focus oncreative development. Topics discussed will include script scouting andpitching skills, as well as digital technology, pre-marketing presentations andtesting the viability of a project on the international market.

The second workshop, inSeptember 2006, will explore business development, focusing on European privateand public funding, distribution and co-productions.

MAIA will also hold three2-day seminars this year, the first of which will take place in April in Madrid and will deal with thestyle and content for European films and their market. The second seminar willbe held in Budapest in July and the third isscheduled for October in Rome.

The MAIA workshops are aimedat new European producers, and in particular those from Mediterraneancountries, Eastern Europeand territories with a low production capacity or have only recently accessedthe Media Programme.

MAIA has a budget of $215,360(Euros 180,000), with $107,698 (Euros 90,000) funded by the Media Programme andthe remaining amount by private and public sponsors, including national Italianfilm school Centro Sperimentale and Rome culturalagency Zone Attive.

The workshops are organizedby three-year-old Rome-based outfit Fabula Film,whose partners include European development agencies Aristaand ACE. Fabula, which is Italy's only development company,offers services ranging from searching for funding partners, script analysis,and consultancy services for foreign producers who want to develop projectswith Italian producers.

Fabula recently also made itsfirst foray in film production, with a documentary on the 20th Century Italianwriter Italo Calvino, that was broadcast on RAI last year.