The European Film Agency Directors (EFADs) association of national funders from 31 countries across Europe met in Berlin this week to discuss key objectives and address future challenges facing the film industry.
EFADs president Peter Dinges of Germany’s FFA said that a formalised structure for the network of national film funders meant that it could serve as an interface between the national governments and film industries and the European institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament.
Bulgarian-born Iveta Dimova had been appointed as General Secretary operating out of Brussels and had already began liaising with other pan-European organisations such as CineRegio, FERA and the Society of Audiovisual Authors.
¨European questions need European answers and we want to be part of the answer,¨ Dinges declared.
Speaking to Screen before the meeting which was also attended by Germany’s Minister of State for Culture and Media Monika Grütters, BFI CEO Amanda Nevill explained that EFADs’ mission ¨has always been there to ensure that creativity can flourish across all of Europe - no matter what strictures governments or the Commission might try to put in the way - in order that business can prosper. So it’s about marrying those two things.¨
¨ If you look at the size of the industres we represent and the economic value they have, it’s our job to protect that,¨ she said, stressing that EFADs’ mission should be to strike ¨a balance between the economic and cultural.¨.
Nevill revealed that the EFADs first meeting under its new formal status as a non-profit international organisation would address such issues as ¨the challenges, but also huge opportunities¨ of the Digital Single Market, ¨education in the diigtal arena and how that links to infringement of copyright¨, and ¨how we balance the rights of the creative owners with our desire to ensure that consumers can enjoy as much as they can.¨
Meanwhile, Christophe Tardieu, CNC’s Director General, added that the association would also be discussing combatting piracy and ways of obliging online operators such as YouTube and Amazon to contribute to the financing of creation. ¨We also want to see how one can promote a legal offer of films,¨ he said.
Turning to Monday’s lunch meeting with European Commissioner Günther Oettinger, Dinges said that this first encounter had been ¨fruitful¨. ¨Such a first meeting is always about atmosphere, chemistry and information, and in this respect, it went very well and the contact was made.¨
¨ It was the first step in a dialogue and this is what we were looking for,¨ he continued, while Tardieu observed that Oettinger ¨seems to be very open to discussion because he doesn’t yet have any concrete solutions [to the challenges facing the European film industry]. On several occassions during the meeting, he asked: ‘What would you do if you were me?’¨.
In an exclusive interview with Screen, Oettinger had diplomatically side-stepped the question of whether one of European cinema’s problems is a case of over-production - 1,546 feature films produced in the EU in 2013 compared to 455 productions (with budgets of at least $1m) in the USA .
Instead, he preferred the bang the drum for the (circulation) opportunities offered by digitalisation: ¨ Indeed, for each product and film, we should think about how one can make it more accessible for more audiences and more European outside of the country of production. This is connected with marketing, distribution channels in the digital world, dubbing or subtitling.¨
¨ I think one should think from the point when a screenplay is complete about whether a film can have acceptance on a European level, or at least on a regional level.¨
As to the question of how Creative Europe’s avowed focus on audience development will be assessed, Oettinger said that he had ¨ only limited resources¨ to ensure that a comprehensive collation of data is possible.
At the moment, data on the acceptance and consumption of European films is ony available in concrete and reliable form for the theatrical release of film in cinemas. However, statistics for the market share of European films on other platforms such as TV, DVD/BluRay and VoD are sketchy or non-existent.