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Incontri Film Conference 2022

Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming

Producers and streamers lean towards a more equal-footed relationship

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Producers and platforms exchanged views on new projects, new opportunities and the need for new rules at the 11th Meetings event

Producers and streamers lean towards a more equal-footed relationship
A moment from the panel

Shooting is due to commence in January 2023 on Paramount+’s first Italian original series, Miss Fallaci Takes America, dedicated to the iconic Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. It was producer Gianluca Curti, CEO of Minerva Pictures Group, who made the announcement at the 11th edition of the Meetings film conference, organised by the IDM-Film Commission Südtirol and unspooling in Merano (South Tyrol) between 26 and 29 April: “We’ll be filming for five and a half months, mostly in Rome and in Tuscany, with a few weeks planned in New York. The series will be released in September 2023 in eight 50-minute episodes”.

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While taking part in the panel discussion “The Evolution of Streaming Strategies... What’s In It for Producers?” – a moment of reflection dedicated to the evolution of relations between streamers and producers, just a few days on from the shocking news that Netflix’s subscriber numbers have fallen for the first time in ten years – Curti spoke about his experience of working with the American platform Paramount+ which, for its part, is actually expanding into Europe (read our news), and whose launch in Italy is planned for the second half of 2022. “Ever since the project won the competition organised by Paramount at Rome’s MIA, we’ve found ourselves in a tunnel of positive energy. They have a very democratic approach and they’ve always listened to our screenwriters”, the producer pointed out, now venturing into the world of series for the first time after producing 87 films in 30 years.

As Paramount Global’s SVP for Streaming in Central & Northern Europe and Asia Sabine Anger explained via video link from Berlin, Paramount+ will offer two different tariffs, either with or without commercials (“Netflix are also considering this option; advertising is still an attractive model”). Moreover, the platform has already approved 50 new original, international scripts in Europe for 2022. “Creative freedom is essential”, Anger stressed, “but local content also needs to travel globally”.

Attending the Meetings event on behalf of Disney+, a platform which has enjoyed surprising growth after being launched at the height of the pandemic, Benjamina Mirnik-Voges (VP, Original Productions GSA, The Walt Disney Company) was of a similar opinion: “Like Paramount, Disney has a very strong storytelling brand. We intend to adhere to this tradition, but we’re also looking for heavyweight creators, stories with the potential to resonate in local markets but also to travel. Our plan is to produce 60 shows in league with Europe by 2024”.

Austrian producer Heinrich Ambrosch, who produced the hit series Freud alongside Netflix by way of his own firm Satel Film (“it was fun and it earned our little company a lot of attention”), is convinced that the golden age of streaming isn’t over: “It’s yet to reach its peak, it needs to carve out its own place. The biggest challenge now is to find expert crews and talent, that’s why education is so important”. And it’s to this end that Ambrosch has founded the International Screen Institute, a media training platform created with the support of the European Union and the Austrian Film Institute.

The merits of producer-platform relations came into focus when the co-CEO and Head of Development and International Co-Production at Fabula Pictures Nicola De Angelis (who produced the first Italian Netflix original series Baby together with the streamer, as well as Zero [+see also:
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) took to the stage: “We need to shake off the initial excitement we feel about producing on behalf of platforms and think in a more structured way as a wider industry”, he insisted. “Platforms need to enter into relationships with us on an equal footing; we should be seen as partners, not just content providers. I believe licenses are the future for cooperation between producers and streamers. The golden age we’re experiencing is destined to change”.

In short, this first free and unregulated streaming era seems to be ending. Regardless of the prestige associated with producing for a big platform, now is the time to think about fees and rights. As Curti concludes: “There’s a need for wider, more honest and more democratic collaboration between big studios and independent producers. Whatever we bring to the table in terms of tax credits should be matched when it comes to IP and sales rights. Every company should be able to bring home a slice of the pie when it comes to IP, both nationally speaking and worldwide”.

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(Translated from Italian)

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