A post-Covid world will be like “the roaring twenty-ones” for content creators, a veteran producer told an AFM finance conference panel on Wednesday (November 11).
Brad Krevoy, the CEO of Motion Picture Corporation Of America whose personal producer credits include the Dumb And Dumber franchise, said content will come back strong and noted that ad-supported VoD will be key.
“That is going to give life to us for many years,” said Krevoy. “AVOD will be the ship we all ride on for a while.”
Cinetic Media founder John Sloss, who was also speaking on the session about producing without a completion bond, said documentaries were currently faring well.
“They’ve not been as impacted,” he said. “We’re all moving towards episodics… they’re doing that for scripted, doing that for docs, and I think that is a very fertile area to focus on in this moment.”
Sloss, Krevoy and The Exchange CEO Brian O’Shea all agreed there was a need to work harder than ever to find protection on productions where very few carriers are offering pandemic coverage since the lockdown.
“It’s really been a standstill ever since Covid happened,” said O’Shea. “We were in the midst of one production we had to stop… we moved the production from Eastern Europe to the UK, and found that there was more of a likelihood of finding a bond given that there were more insurance-backed opportunities there.”
“It’s the films in the middle that are really challenged,” said Sloss. “The ones above $2m but below studio I think have largely ground to a halt… In England, they’ve got $500m from the government to subsidise production.
“What that does is give an additional ability to attract production to your physical location, so if you’re willing to basically be the insurance company as a government, you can have a leg up certainly on the US but on a lot of other locations.”
A later session on low-budget films with huge profit potential heard from The Forest Road Co Zachary Tarica, who warned about the impact of Covid on budget.
“[In one instance] a false positive Covid test can cost the production company about $200,000, so think about that when you have a…$1m to $5m budget film,” he said.
“The issues of quarantine, a bubble, travel, the contingency, the insurance, the things that go into [planning for Covid] are things that we’re not always thinking about as filmmakers that really come into play here.”
XYZ Films partner Nick Spicer, whose company has made a name for itself championing international filmmakers, said, “Local language is booming… Netflix is capped out on subscribers in the US so their growth is entirely international, so there’s a pretty great appetite for local language content.”
Village Roadshow Pictures EVP of content Jillian Apfelbaum advised the audience not simply to gauge success in monetary terms.
“It is not often that a high-risk, low-budget movie can have huge financial returns,” she said. ”That doesn’t mean it’s not a success, especially if you’re trying to prove a filmmaker, build relationships, build your own production company, try it for awards… there are achievements that have value in the long-term growth of a producer or company.”