Erwin M. Schmidt, managing director of the German Producers Association, looks back at the first Explorer Konferenz which took place as part of the FilmFest Hamburg on September 27.
What is your biggest takeaway from this year’s inaugural event?
“We knew there is quite an interest among the members of the German Producers Association - and the producer community at large - to explore the challenges and opportunities of producing for cinema, streaming and TV in the coming five years. But we were surprised by the huge demand - with a total of 220 attendees at this first edition, we were at the absolute maximum capacity for the venue, which we had already upgraded once.
What was the format of the conference?
It was an experiment. Curating a succession of 11 speaker slots of 20 minutes each and just one panel came with the risk of overwhelming the audience. But we wanted to take this risk and deviate from the traditional panel format.
After the conference, many of the attendees mentioned the format as a clear benefit alongside the diverse range of topics and speakers. The partnership triangle between the German Producers Association, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein and Filmfest Hamburg was a powerful asset. We all share a deep interest in the questions relating to the future of producing and wanted to put a new type of B2B event in the film industry calendar.
What do you have planned for next year? Will Hamburg remainthe venue and are you considering opening the event up to international professionals?We have not yet finished the evaluation of this year’s edition, but I can already say that the Explorer Konferenz will be back in Hamburg next year. And we have found a home for the half-yearly members meeting of the German Producers Association here. Having both events - our internal meeting and the public Explorer Konferenz at the same location and on the same weekend - is a good strategy to connect to a large producing community and explore the future of producing together.
Very deliberately and for practical reasons, the first edition was only addressed to German attendees. Now that we have successfully tested a few of our assumptions and the conference was a great success, we will design the next editions in such a way that they cater to both a German and an international audience. For 2020, we are thinking of different podiums with different formats, including in-depth case studies and workshops.”
The Explorer Konferenz was organised in collaboration with Filmfest Hamburg and Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, with Creative Europe Desk MEDIA Hamburg, Chili VoD, lawyers Unverzagt von Have, KinoHerz VoD, and Hamburg lebt Kino! as network partners.
The Filmfest Hamburg runs from September 27 to October 5.