Berlinale 2021 - EFM
Industry Report: Market Trends
At the EFM, film commissions discuss how they are overcoming the obstacles posed by the pandemic
BERLINALE 2021: Representing three different locations, commissioners and producers talked about the way local offices helped their productions during the troubling times of the pandemic
A session with film commissioners and producers was held during the European Film Market (EFM), during which they exchanged about how they each dealt with the pandemic and in what ways the film commissions helped with the productions.
The first of the panels was focused on the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the measures they took during the past year and the first months of 2021 and how the commission assisted with locations for the European versions of the TV reality franchise Survivor, with the Israeli version being the next to shoot in the Philippines.
The Portugal Film Commission, represented by the commissioner Manuel Claro, welcomed British producer Julian Hicks (Moviebox), who staged Tim Lewiston’s There’s Always Hope in the Algarve region, a project funded by the Portuguese cash rebate system; Brazilian actor, director and producer Márcio Rosário (Tetelo Frames), who was shooting his latest co-production Fortune Cookie in Porto; and José Amaral, producer and managing director of Portuguese company SPi, who is responsible for the first Portuguese Netflix original Glória (read the news) and the series Back Home and Dry Water (both co-productions with Spain), all funded by the cash rebate. Claro underlined that despite some cases of Covid, none of the production sets were confined, meaning that all the safety measures were well-implemented and it was possible to film in Portugal during the lockdown.
Hicks mentioned that it wasn’t just the locations and the weather conditions that made Portugal a suitable place to shoot, but that the support from the local film commission and the municipality in Algarve was also important, and that the whole system is well organised for all the stages of the preparation necessary for a shoot. One of his upcoming plans is to develop a studio in the region and possibly to start constructing it by the end of the year.
As for Fortune Cookie, which was supported by the scouting programme of the Portugal Film Commission, according to Rosário, the shooting period was really difficult due to the ever changing situation of the pandemic. The production decided to confine the crew and the cast in order to secure the safety of the whole set, despite the associated extra cost. He also added that the locations in Porto were so impressive that they picked the Portuguese city over the originally planned location, San Francisco. Thanks to the scouting programme, his team was able to discover all these locations, which will also serve them for the future films they are planning to shoot.
Filming on Glória was completed last month and Amaral mentioned how difficult the process had been. He added that thanks to the highly competitive cash rebate system, Portuguese producers have a strong negotiating element to bring international partners to the country, noting that apart from Netflix, he also works with HBO for Dry Water. Among his upcoming projects is the adaptation of a bestselling book for a local broadcaster, which will begin filming by the end of the year.
For the final panel of the session, project manager Henrik Greisner officially presented the newly launched Film Office Görlitz, which aims to create a gateway for everybody who wants to shoot in the town of Saxony and to make the process so easy that one could meet everyone needed just “by using one phone number”. Situated close to the Polish and Czech borders, the office also aims to work with these neighbouring countries in the future.
Producer Felix von Böhm (LUPA Film), who is participating in this year’s Berlinale Competition with Fabian – Going to the Dogs [+see also:
interview: Albrecht Schuch
film profile] by Dominik Graf, shot the film in late 2019, in the pre-pandemic era. He mentioned that the architecture of Görlitz resembles a certain period of Berlin, but more than that, it’s a place where you can create a home situation and where the team can be very focused on work. He added that the experience of being for more than two months there was wonderful and truly effective.
Managing director and producer Stefan Arndt (X Filme Creative Pool) shot Alone in Berlin [+see also:
film profile] in Görlitz and he was the one who had the idea for placing the Film Office there. He fell in love with the area while shooting Cloud Atlas [+see also:
film profile] ten years ago, as 30% of the film was staged in Saxony. The town is perfect for various eras, from 1900-1945 Berlin to current settings. This is getting better thanks to the support from the citizens and the municipality of the town as well. He added that the film industry is now working nonstop, that it is a real industry which both entertains the audience and spends almost 70% of its budget on labour, and that it could easily surpass car manufacturers in importance. The plan is to hire more people on location, develop more locations for shooting and make cities like Görlitz a place where someone can find everything for a film set.
Markus Bensch (Studio Babelsberg), a production executive on locations, has worked among other projects on The Grand Budapest Hotel [+see also:
film profile] which was also staged in the area, and before that, on Around the World in 80 Days and The Reader [+see also:
film profile]. He explained that the “can do” attitude of the local community and their love for the film industry make Görlitz a truly special place for making films. He also argued that everything there works perfectly and should not change, as communicating with the local authorities was extremely important.
The panel also agreed that it is important to create a network to keep locals involved in the film industry, even to help young people get a step into it. It is also important for producers to come with a smaller crew to the region and then find other members on location, thus making overseas travels more cost effective. Ideally, the locals could also be better trained to the film set’s needs, so that they could easily switch to these professions when needed, making Görlitz a unique place with high standards in Europe, and not just a location for shooting during summertime.
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