Good times for TV series but uncertainty for independent films at the German-French Film Meeting
by Birgit Heidsiek
- At the 13th German-French Film Meeting in Marseille, producers discussed European film politics and production possibilities
The Digital Single Market, new financing sources and platforms, and sustainable production were the key issues at the recent German-French Film Meeting in Marseille. In total, German Films and Unifrance welcomed more than 200 participants to the southern French city. Overall, it was clear that the film community fears the consequences of decisions that might be made in Brussels. As Alfred Hürmer, president of the German-French Film Meeting, stated in his opening speech, the introduction of the Digital Single Market may mean that the European copyright law, the principle of territoriality and the collecting societies could all be at stake. “We need to stick with the principle of territoriality. If we give up on it, we will destroy the basis for international co-productions,” emphasised Marie Masmonteil, producer of films such as Party Girl [+see also:
interview: Marie Amachoukeli, Claire B…
Another hot topic is the automatic distribution support provided on the European level. The European Commission plans to further increase Creative Europe support for distributors in small countries, while those in bigger countries (in terms of film), such as France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy, will get less funding. “A German distributor that releases a French film theatrically will get only 25 cents instead of 40 cents. That is completely the wrong way around,” Johannes Klingsporn, managing director of the German distributors’ association, remarked.
“Germany is a very important market for French films,” underlined Frédérique Bredin, president of the CNC, which has worked with four regional funds in Germany to launch a new development support programme for fictional TV series. Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry for Economy in Germany greenlit €10 million for the co-production of international series, as Christine Berg, deputy chairman of the FFA, reported. She also announced in Marseille that script support would be strengthened by the new German film law, which was discussed at the round-table with Monika Grütters, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
French scriptwriter Dan Franck, whose credits include the TV series Marseille, gave an insight into the collaboration with Netflix. “The decisions are being made quicker, but the budgets are about the same,” he said. Nevertheless, many producer talents are being seduced by this new world. “I still see a role for the producer, but the question is: who has the power?” emphasised British producer Alex Boden, who co-produced films such as Cloud Atlas [+see also:
film profile] with Pistachio Pictures. “I still believe in the role of a creative producer.”
But also, the distribution models that are offered by global players such as Amazon or Netflix are not very attractive for independent European productions. “The VoD release has more of a symbolic character for us because we generate 90% less with it than with the DVD release,” reported Torsten Frehse, CEO of Berlin-based distribution outfit Neue Visionen. “I don’t think that VoD is an alternative, because it is difficult to deal with US platforms.”
In Marseille, there are several TV series being produced, as Séréna Zouaghi, City Councillor in charge of cinema and audiovisual media, pointed out. Among them is the sustainably produced serial Plus belle la vie. French organisation Ecoprod has developed various tools for green production, which the organisation’s co-founder, Olivier-René Veillon, has introduced to the industry. At popular locations in Paris, productions can get power directly from the grid so that they don’t have to use a pollutive generator and can even save money. “Solutions like this can be implemented anywhere,” said Veillon. So far, measuring the carbon footprint of a production does not form part of the funding guidelines in France or Germany.
At the German-French Film Meeting, the funding committee greenlit an amount of €849,000 for four German-French co-productions. The projects that are being supported by the mini-traité include Rückkehr nach Montauk by Volker Schlöndorff, High Life by Claire Denis, Die Sanfte by Sergei Loznitsa and Diamond Island by Davy Chou. In addition, for the first time, up-and-coming producers received development support for their projects: in this regard, the mini-traité supported the development of four projects with a total sum of €180,000.