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Xavier Troussard • MEDIA Programme

“The aim is to raise people's interest in European film”


- Cineuropa talks with the new head of the MEDIA programme about Europe's upcoming support to audiovisual sector

Xavier Troussard • MEDIA Programme

In 2014, MEDIA will be integrated into the new programme Creative Europe. Xavier Troussard, the new head of MEDIA, talks to Cineuropa about the approach and goals of the new funding scheme.

Cineuropa : Which kind of funding measures will have priority in the new MEDIA programme?
Xavier Troussard : First of all our most important task is to ensure a smooth transition from MEDIA 2007 to the new Creative Europe MEDIA sub-programme at the beginning of 2014. Therefore we have not proposed any radical changes to the existing actions. The main funding priorities remain training, development, TV programming, distribution, market access and festivals. We will introduce 3 new actions: a support scheme for international co-production funds, a scheme for video game development and an action dedicated to audience development offering funding for film literacy initiatives and other events that will raise people's interest in European film. Audience development and use of digital technologies will be a cross-cutting element through all action lines of the Creative Europe programme.

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How will that be adapted in practice?
For example we will ask MEDIA supported festivals to reinforce their audience development and film literacy activities; we will encourage training that help professional to seize the challenges of digitization and in the market access scheme in addition to physical markets we will support new online tools to facilitate networking. On the basis of the results of the first year of Creative Europe we will then gradually adapt all the guidelines to increase the structural impact of the programme. Already for the second half of 2014 we plan to publish a new call for digital distribution which will bring together the current video-on-demand (VOD) and pilot project action line. In particular this action will however need a closer assessment and input from the experts and professional in the field.

How does MEDIA deal with the issue that there are no real revenues generated with online distribution so far?
MEDIA has been supporting VOD platforms for a couple of years now. Although this support was important to get European projects off the ground, I believe we have to reassess our support schemes in the light of the development of the VOD market and the emergence of new market players. In 2014 we will launch a consultation with stakeholders with the aim to develop a broader online distribution scheme that also offers funding possibilities for business to business operators in this field. The challenge is to establish a positive environment favouring the availability, discoverability and promotion of European films in VOD services.

What will be the part of conventional theatrical distribution within the new programme?
To increase the circulation of non-national European works is one of the main objectives of the MEDIA sub-programme. Support for theatrical distribution will of course continue to play a major role because this is the release window that creates the value of a film. In 2014 more than half of the budget for the MEDIA sub-programme will go to distributors and sales agents, not to forget the support for the Europa cinema network. At the same time we have to find new ways to increase the circulation of those films that never make it to the cinema screen or are not released beyond a few key territories.

Which distribution channels can benefit from the new audience development initiative?
Audience development includes projects for new media and traditional distribution in cinema and on TV. The aim is to raise people's interest in European film in particular young people and children. Children today navigate continuously across numerous offers on numerous platforms, expecting to access any content they want anywhere and at any time. Cinema is only one place for them where they can watch films. In this context of competition of leisure activities we have to actively raise their curiosity and enable them to make informed choices about what and where they want to watch. To that end with the new audience development action line we will support cooperation in film literacy for children and young people as well as screening events for adults that target new audiences. Film literacy will also be an important element of the festival support scheme.

The Commission's proposed increase in Creative Europe’s budget, up to €1.8 billion for 2014- 2020, has not been approved by the European Council and Parliament. The new budget is €1.46 billion. Will that lead to cutbacks in existing funding segments because the new programme comes up with even more initiatives?
Compared to the current level of funding for the cultural and creative sectors, we have still achieved a remarkable increase in the budget of 9%. However, the €1,46 billion is not evenly spread over the 7 years. The programme is heavily backloaded which means that the budget increase will only be visible in 2016 and the following years.

When will the first calls be published?
We try to make applications as easy as possible. We have introduced online application forms and for the future we will also switch to online reporting. The first calls together with the guidelines will most likely be published in December. These calls will cover most action lines namely training, development, distribution, festival and market access. New actions such as audience building will come slightly later. Currently we are in the phase of negotiation of the Work Programme for 2014 with the Member States.

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