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Industry Report: Documentary

Agnieszka Moody • Director, Creative Europe Desk UK

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- EDN has talked to Agnieszka Moody about the work of the Creative Europe Desk and the possible consequences of the pending Brexit

Agnieszka Moody • Director, Creative Europe Desk UK

Agnieszka Moody is the Director of Creative Europe Desk UK, and she is based at the BFI (British Film Institute) in London. Previously the director of MEDIA Desk UK, Agnieszka has helped over 400 British companies to secure funding for their projects from the EU and also organised a range of industry events and conferences promoting international cooperation. EDN has talked to her.

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Can you start by telling a bit more about your background and your road to the Creative Europe Desk in the UK?
Agnieszka Moody: I graduated from the Production Department of the Polish National Television School and worked in different production capacities on several films. I left Poland for France and then for the UK where I settled with my British husband. We ran a production company in the North of England. In 2001 I started my work at what was then called MEDIA Desk UK at the UK Film Council. Since 2011 this office has become part of the British Film Institute, which is where I work now.

In each EU member state there is a national Creative Europe Desk, which functions as an entrance to the EU-funding. Can you give us some further insights to the work and the focus areas of the Creative Europe Desks?
The main purpose of the Desks is to raise awareness of the opportunities that the Creative Europe programme offers to a wide range of professionals. Naturally their primary interest is funding but we advise also on other opportunities, for example Creative Europe supports around 50 international training initiatives, 50 co-production forums and markets, 40 film festivals - we promote all of them and guide producers in choosing what's best for them.

My personal ambition is to make different players aware of the parts of the programme they may be less aware of and pointing out that, as a whole, the programme is construed in a really clever way - plugging the gaps and intervening across the entire value chain. For example producers will be aware of the funding schemes that are available to them, but less so of the fact that once they offer their films to the market - the distributors and sales agents will also be supported, alongside cinemas, festivals and VOD platforms.

At the Desk we are also the source of knowledge of all things European urging our documentary filmmakers to explore the opportunities outside of the UK. We have seen it so many times when a documentary filmmaker makes the usual approach to several UK commissioning editors and if they all pass on the project some of them give up and others seek interest from broadcasters and financiers abroad.

How prominent are documentaries within Creative Europe? Often documentaries seem to be in the shadow of the fiction films. How do you see this and has this notion changed in recent years?
It is true that fiction films tend to dominate but thankfully the programme makes an explicit commitment to supporting documentary and care is taken to give it a fair share of support. This is also reflected in many documentary specific initiatives being supported such as IDFA or our British Sheffield Doc Fest meetmarket and Good Pitch. There are also training courses, festivals and specialist VOD platforms.

And we enjoyed very much organising the Doc Day for UK based filmmakers. Throughout the day we presented a whole range of projects and initiatives that will help a documentary filmmaker work internationally.

Can you share some success stories from your work at the Creative Europe Desk, which involves documentaries?
Sometimes docs break out to the big screen where they attract a sizeable audience and I think this is very exciting. Amy [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
 (Asif Kapadia, 2015) is my favourite example of this but there are many others. 

What will in your opinion be the consequences for the British audiovisual industry after a potential full brexit in 2019?
Brexit is a disaster for creative industries. Our sector didn't vote for it. This sector is not afraid of immigration, on the contrary, free movement of people, services and goods is its cornerstone.

But even if it looks like the UK is indeed leaving the EU - as our Prime Minister said - we are not leaving Europe. I have no doubt that the collaborations and links to our European friends and partners will not stop or falter. They will be supported in a different way perhaps but they will continue to thrive.

Thankfully the co-production is governed by the Co-production convention, which appears not to be affected as it is an instrument of Council of Europe and not the European Union. Our participation in Creative Europe beyond Brexit is uncertain but entirely possible. With the transition period successfully negotiated between the EU and the UK it is possible that the UK could stay in the programme at least until the end of 2020 - which is when the current programme is due to expire.

What would your advice be to international producers seeking opportunities in the UK at the moment?
Come to Sheffield in summer, there isn’t a better way to get plunged into the UK’s documentary world, and indeed the world’s, than during Doc/Fest. There had also been a very exciting announcement made in the last few days about a brand new funding for documentary launched by the BFI to be administered by Doc Society - I’m sure there will be opportunities to find ambitious international projects through this new fund.

Last but not least - what lies next for you and the Creative Europe Desk UK?
We are going to increase our efforts to bring the continental Europe and the UK closer together so that professionals continue to collaborate. We are very keen to be helping EDN with your European strategy for documentary media and the society.

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