Cannes 2023 – Marché du Film
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Producers and audiences connect the dots at Cannes’ impACT
CANNES 2023: A panel discussion aimed to examine audience development in the diversified and evolving European audiovisual landscape, offering up some valuable industry insights
The ever-changing audiovisual landscape presents significant challenges and opportunities for audience development in the European film industry. In the Cannes Marché du Film impACT section, a panel discussion titled "Producers, Films and Audiences: How to Connect the Dots" was moderated by Tamara Tatishvili from MEDICI. Industry experts explored the complexities of this topic and offered diverse perspectives based on their experiences in different territories.
Tomas Eskilsson, head of strategy at Film i Väst, chairperson of CineRegio and the author of the report "Public Film Funding at a Crossroads II", emphasised the challenges brought about by digitalisation and globalisation in the film industry. He questioned the effectiveness of producing content solely for movie theatres, bearing in mind the rise of streaming platforms. Eskilsson stressed the importance of audience development throughout the filmmaking process, advocating for a balance between inspiring and engaging audiences without imposing preferences. These points laid the foundation for a comprehensive discussion on the role of producers in understanding audience development and attracting larger audiences.
Danish producer Louise Vesth from Zentropa shared her perspective on embarking on the filmmaking journey in Denmark, a country renowned for its policy frameworks and support mechanisms for the film industry. While emphasising the value of the cinema experience, Vesth acknowledged the need to explore alternative distribution channels. She advised producers to focus on making good films and to believe in their own vision, emphasising that audience preferences have not changed significantly over the years. She mentioned the importance of finding talented individuals who can contribute meaningfully to films, and encouraged early promotion and engagement with the audience throughout the filmmaking process. She also referred to the Danish Film Institute’s "Closer to the Audience" initiative, which provides valuable data on Danish audiences, enabling filmmakers to better understand their target viewers.
Anamaria Antoci, representing Tangaj Production from Romania, discussed the challenges faced by producers in countries with limited production capacity and poor public support mechanisms. Antoci emphasised the importance of defending the vision of filmmakers and finding new tools to reach the audience. She shared her experience with the movie Men of Deeds [+see also:
interview: Paul Negoescu
film profile], highlighting the difficulties of promoting arthouse films in Romania. To overcome this, they developed a targeted marketing campaign emphasising the film's genre and dark-comedy elements, rather than marketing it as a drama. She stressed the need to adapt marketing strategies for each project and consider the screens available for arthouse films. She also discussed the financial challenges of marketing campaigns in countries with limited public support. She advocated for better understanding from funding bodies regarding the importance of reaching audiences and suggested increased funding for distribution. Antoci believes that funding bodies should continue supporting films even after production to ensure they reach the intended audience.
Kjersti Mo, CEO of the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI), shared insights into the relevance of public funding in countries with support mechanisms that are limited or totally absent. She emphasised the need to shore up independent producers and filmmakers in order to enable them to compete in the current streaming-dominated environment. Mo highlighted the importance of increasing audience awareness and interest by focusing on relevance and understanding their needs. The NFI supports the development phase of projects, placing a strong emphasis on scriptwriting, testing and audience understanding.
Eskilsson echoed the need for policymakers to reinvent the purpose of public funding and adapt to the changing landscape of film consumption. He stressed the importance of supporting movies that can attract audiences and called for diversity in public funding choices. He highlighted the complexity of the discussion, including the challenge of balancing limited public funds, inflation and the desire for artistic freedom. He also touched upon the need for relevant and attractive support mechanisms that align with the objectives of public funding.
All of the experts emphasised the importance of understanding regional differences in audience preferences and consumption patterns. Producers were encouraged to create films that they genuinely care about, believe in their own vision and engage with the audience throughout the filmmaking process. Additionally, there was a call for policymakers to reinvent public funding objectives, support diverse talents and consider new technological solutions while maintaining a balance between artistic freedom and commercial success. By implementing these strategies, the industry can successfully navigate the evolving audiovisual landscape and connect films with larger and more diverse audiences.
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