Venice 2023 – Venice Production Bridge
Industry Report: Green Industry Initiatives and Sustainability
At the Venice Production Bridge, Screens of Tomorrow unveils its three new sustainability and inclusion guides
VENICE 2023: During the event, the speakers agreed that true change must come about through awareness initiatives, policymaking and the mentoring of top decision makers
On 1 September, Hotel Excelsior’s Spazio Incontri hosted a panel titled “How to Write, Produce and Broadcast More Inclusive and Sustainable Fictions?”, during which three new Screens of Tomorrow guides were unveiled. The event was part of this year’s Venice Production Bridge (31 August-8 September) and saw the participation of Françoise Guyonnet, executive managing director of TV Series at StudioCanal; Paula Alvarez Vaccaro, producer and screenwriter at Pinball London; Helge Albers, CEO of the MOIN Film Fund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein; and Mercedes Fernandez Alonso, managing director of the TorinoFilmLab. Screens of Tomorrow reps Caroline de Chantérac and Sandra de Bailliencourt served as the moderators for the event, which was organised by partners Vivendi and Canal+.
After a brief contribution by de Bailliencourt, during which she highlighted the power of fiction works to “shift the narratives” by “creating consciousness” on social and environmental issues and “provoking reactions through emotions”, de Chantérac asked the panellists to talk through their respective countries’ efforts in terms of improving inclusion and sustainability.
Guyonnet said that every country is following a different approach, but the industry is overall “moving in the same direction” in the implementation of sustainability guidelines. She lamented how France lacks a proper system of data collection to “quantify” representation, thus lagging behind countries such as the UK, where, for example, “two out of four diversity standards set out by the BFI are needed [for a title] to be eligible for the BAFTAs”. She added, however, how awareness is growing among the industry, including broadcasters and viewers who wish “to see themselves” more often on screen.
Alvarez Vaccaro pointed out how it’s the industry’s “duty to fight in order for things to change”, and this should be done both at the policy level and in terms of data gathering. When it comes to diversity, one of Europe’s biggest mistakes is, she argues, considering nationality as an eligible parameter. Nationality, however, includes different cultures, beyond the established “template” of “white, European, mostly male”. She suggested to look around the teams and see how diverse their members are in terms of background, ethnicity and native language, for example.
In his contribution, Albers stressed the fund’s efforts to ensure that the “taxpayer’s money” is spent in a “fair, equitable fashion”, and mentioned how the topics of sustainability and inclusion have been prioritised by the body for ten years already. He said that in order “to change the picture”, the staff asked themselves questions such as “How do we communicate internally and externally?”, “Who do we address?”, “Who do we support?” and “How do we educate ourselves as an organisation?”
Next, Alonso underscored the importance of TorinoFilmLab’s selection process, which aims to be “a good mirror of reality and not be Eurocentric or white-centred”. The chosen professionals and the stories they tell are of the utmost importance, as the participants are asked to work with the lab for one year in order to fully develop their projects. Alonso acknowledged how tricky this point may sound, but added how the participants’ “freedom to write what they need to” and to express “their vision” should spark a conversation that is timely and enriching.
Later, Vaccaro touched upon the Anti-Racism Taskforce for European Film (ARTEF), set up during the pandemic, and the need for more training and mentorship initiatives aimed at top executives. “We mentor entry-level people very well, but the crucial moment when you’ll really need to make a change is when those people who really wield power open your door,” she said.
Alonso mentioned other initiatives such as Green Ink and the Green Film Lab (launched two years ago and focused on the environmental impact of film production), and spoke about the lack of skilled sustainability managers who can work alongside producers.
Finally, the three Screens of Tomorrow guides were presented. The first focuses on writing, the second on production and direction, and the third on distribution and broadcasting. They aim to provide “food for thought” and cover a wide range of topics. For example, the first guide tackles the depiction of stereotypes, the representation of diversity in terms of gender, disability and sexuality, and the creation of a diverse team, ensuring diverse casting choices; meanwhile, the third covers topics such as sustainable distribution and impact campaigns.
The guides can be accessed for free here.
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