MIA MARKET 2019_Lucia Milazzotto

Source: MIA Market

Lucia Milazzotto

Running October 14-18, the sixth edition of Rome’s MIA Market brings the latest opportunity for industry professionals to meet together in person, even as Covid-19 restrictions are coming back into stronger force across Europe.

The market will feature 50 projects from more than 20 countries to be showcased in the pitching forum and the co-production market, where 50% of the projects are led by women. New features from Sebastiano Riso, Christopher Murray, Sofia Exarchou, Money Heist director Alex Rodrigo and Pablo Larrain (the latter as a producer) are part of this year’s selection.

In addition MIA is expanding its activities by collaborating with Venice Production Bridge to showcase some of their projects, while also debuting a new platform for Italian projects in early stages of development called Wanna Taste IT?. In previous iterations, MIA has only presented projects that have a least 25% of their budget in place.

MIA Market director Lucia Milazzotto spoke to Screen about organising this year’s hybrid edition.

How much is this a hybrid edition?
Everything you can do in person can also be done online, all of the events, talks, pitches and showcases, even the Q&As. Screenings will be at the same time online and on site, minding the different time zones. In addition our online platform will be open for an additional seven days after the end of the market, so everybody will be able to catch up with what they’ve missed.

What are the benefits in that case for delegates to attend MIA in person?
The benefit of being here is all in the possibilities you can create for yourself. We have more stands compared to last year. Unifrance came with nine sales [companies] and this year they have 18. Human contact is not to be undervalued. As well, the chances of accidentally meeting and establishing contacts that would’ve never happened otherwise is a big part of making business. I don’t think the digital part will ever be become predominant.

Is this why many events are scheduled for the evening?
Yes, we want to ease participation in real time from other continents and give everybody – whether they’re online or on site – the same opportunities. We’ve even separated them in smaller slots to optimise fruition. It’s not easy to follow a pitching session that lasts three hours on a computer as you would’ve done on site.

So who is attending MIA in person this year?
On site we have a large number of European professionals, while those coming from America, Middle East and Asia have all switched to online. We’re looking at a 30-40% drop in on-site attendance.

Were you restricted on numbers in order to guarantee social distancing?
Luckily not, we have a 1,500-square-meter space indoors and double that outdoors. We are signalling as much as we can that seats in the screening rooms are less than usual and we’re using a lot of plexiglass and masks for those areas that are more at risk. In addition we have uninterrupted air purification in every room.

Did you had to reshape some of your activities?
With Wanna Taste IT?, we aim to give a shot to the less internationally established producers and let them test their projects on a global stage. Sometimes you’re looking for a European co-production or maybe an OTT already in the early stages of production. This year it will be focused only on Italian projects. If it works, we will extend it to international ones.

Which Venice Production Bridge projects did you choose to feature?
This year visibility windows for the industry have shrunk so much that we thought a double window for some projects was a good idea, but [unlike Venice] we don’t do gap financing. So it wasn’t a choice based on the type of project. We looked for those that could actually benefit from MIA, those looking for potential investors that do have a chance of getting some attention.

Are the changes to markets that have been necessitated by Covid permanent?
The direction I see the industry going towards is a stronger closure. Industry professionals will choose fewer and fewer markets to attend, only those that are really efficient for their business plan. So you better work on your specific offer instead of trying to satisfy every demand.

Is the digital part of MIA Market here to stay?
Yes because it enables a stronger participation. Our selling proposition is to be a cost-efficient market, a digital branch helps us to let our guests take advantage of all we have to offer. In addition, a digital platform of our own will help us to follow the projects throughout the year.