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Lucía Recalde • Head of Unit, Creative Europe MEDIA

“MEDIA will constantly adapt to new situations and realities”

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- Cineuropa sat down with Creative Europe MEDIA’s Head of Unit, Lucía Recalde, during the second edition of the European Film Forum in Tallinn, and before its 25th anniversary edition in Brussels

Lucía Recalde • Head of Unit, Creative Europe MEDIA
Lucía Recalde, at Tallinn's European Film Forum (© BNFF)

Last week, Tallinn’s Black Nights Film Festival hosted the European Film Forum for the second time (read the news). Creative Europe MEDIA’s Head of Unit, Lucía Recalde, was present at the event, and we took the opportunity to discuss some of the most pressing issues in the industry with her. After the Tallinn event, the European Film Forum is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the MEDIA programme with a special edition in Brussels, under the title "Investing in Creativity, Building the Future" (read the news).

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Cineuropa: During the year, over the different European Film Forums, what developments have you witnessed?
Lucía Recalde: I think now the dialogue has established itself. We think it has had a positive effect on the different actors in the value chain, who have come together more regularly, discussing with each other. On the topics that we have covered through these dialogues, we didn’t want to set up a top-line agenda, so we initially left them deliberately open. We really wanted to know what the views and the most important concerns of the stakeholders were, and what we see now is that there is already some consensus on the most important themes that we should be working on in the future.

What will those themes be?
There are five main themes. The first one is that we really need to invest in people. Europe has a wonderful pool of talent, and we need to nurture this talent and adapt these different professionals to the digital shift. The professionals need to be equipped with creative, technological and entrepreneurial skills so that they can make the best use of data and social media to engage with the audience, promote the films, understand marketing and so on. The second theme is experimenting more with content and format. Technology is key to doing this, and the MEDIA programme should include that diversity and context in its actions in the future. The third one, the theme we spend the most time discussing without a doubt, is fostering access to content across borders. There is a very good reason for this, which is the discussion on the legislative proposal on the Digital Single Market (DSM). But within the DSM proposals as such, for example, most stakeholders agree on the importance of subtitling and dubbing to make European content travel better. We have a number of proposals regarding this that we would like to put on the table to meet the demands from the audiovisual industry. The fourth theme is the importance of promotion, which is the Achilles’ heel of the audiovisual industry. There is a really overwhelming consensus on this. Promotion means not only discovering films, but also the prominence of the works, for example, on online platforms. We have heard a lot of things about the importance of data analytics and algorithms, and we think there is a really big opportunity to explore these concepts. And finally, the fifth topic is the financing model. It is clear that the current financing model has its limits, and we need to explore new ones.

What is very important is that there is no one-size-fits-all, because what might work for a large-scale movie might not work for a small-budget one. We need to embody this diversity in our discussions. So what we need to explore in the future is to what extent we could combine grants from MEDIA with other sorts of investment, or also come up with new investment vehicles that really push the audiovisual industry. We have heard a lot about scalability, which means some players haven’t got the scale or the weight to really try things in this new market reality, so we need to think how we can foster adaptation in the value chain in the future more than we are doing now. In order to do this, we have to know that data is already the most important thing.

There is an ongoing discussion when it comes to these guidelines: should the European Commission establish them, or should the industry do it?
It’s precisely through this dialogue involving industry players across the value chain, the public, the authorities (let’s not forget that film funds are putting much more money into this than the European Commission) and so on… It’s everyone’s responsibility to decide on this guidance together. I don’t think there is just one part alone that is capable of doing it.

This has been a very interesting year for the MEDIA programme, with the new map of Europe (Brexit, Turkey’s exit, Israel’s entry, etc). How are you facing up to these challenges?
The main element of MEDIA’s value has, since the beginning, been its capacity to adapt to challenges. This is part of the DNA of the programme, and from that point of view, MEDIA will constantly adapt to new situations and realities. That continuous situation is part of the programme, and we are always in discussion with the member states to constantly make sure that the programme can respond to these challenges. So it’s not new; it’s been like that forever.

Will next year see a lot of changes for the programme?
We have an exciting year ahead of us for the MEDIA programme, and for Creative Europe in particular. We are currently working on the mid-term evaluation of Creative Europe. Next year, we will submit to the Parliament and the Council the Commission’s information on the programme, which will be very important for preparing the ground for the new successor to the Creative Europe MEDIA programme, the proposal for which should be submitted soon, in 2018.

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