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Pascal Diot • Head, Venice Production Bridge

"A platform like this has to stay in tune with the constant evolution of our industry"

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- On the cusp of the Venice Film Festival, we sat down with Pascal Diot, head of the Venice Production Bridge, to talk about the concept of the industry event and the changes to this year's edition

Pascal Diot  • Head, Venice Production Bridge
(© Birgit Heidsiek)

The Venice Production Bridge (VPB) is attracting a growing number of financiers and broadcasters, including streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. While various VR experts will present their projects at the Venice Gap-Financing Market (VGFM), financing models and release strategies for VR films will be an issue for discussion at the China-Europe Virtual Reality Technology Summit Forum. Pascal Diot, head of the Venice Production Bridge, explains the concept of the industry event and the changes to this year’s edition.

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Cineuropa: What is the approach taken by the Venice Production Bridge, and how does it reflect the changing film and media market?
Pascal Diot:
 The Venice Production Bridge is firmly focused on all aspects of the production of films, but also of TV and web series and VR projects. That’s why the VPB is offering the possibility to acquire book adaptation rights from 19 international publishers, to complete financing through the Venice Gap-Financing Market and to show works in progress with Final Cut in Venice. Our strong VR section in the VGFM (comprising 17 VR projects, including the Biennale College Cinema VR) as well as the five European TV series show that the boundaries between different media are getting thinner and thinner, and that a platform like the VPB has to stay in tune with the constant evolution of our industry.

Is there a change in terms of the industry participants who are attending the Venice Production Bridge? In which area do you see the biggest demand right now?
Thanks to the VGFM, we are welcoming more and more financiers and broadcasters, including streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, plus VR experts and companies. The financing of projects is, of course, the number-one concern of producers, and we have received a record number of projects (270) for the VGFM but also works in progress (more than 60) for Final Cut in Venice. The VR section really is the topic of tomorrow, as we can see through our VPB section, through the special VR Island we have created, through the VR films in competition at the festival, and through the European Film Forum organised with Creative Europe and the European Commission, which offers several panels and meetings on virtual reality.

How many bridges have been built by the Venice Gap-Financing Market over the past few years? Are any of the films being shown at the Venice Film Festival?
We are proud to say that each year, we have at least one film at Berlin, at Cannes, at Venice and at Toronto (just to name the most important film festivals) that has come from the VGFM. But I could also add Final Cut in Venice to this, with Felicity [+see also:
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interview: Alain Gomis
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, which was in competition at Berlin, plus some other titles at Dubai and Sundance. At this year’s edition, we will have one film in competition, Hannah [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
 by Andrea Pallaoro, which was a VGFM project in 2015. 

Some projects from last year’s VGFM will be presented in the new Venice VR competition. This year, almost half of the projects are in VR formats. Do these market developments give the festival a boost?
I think so, and that’s why Alberto Barbera has created this new section of the festival with a dedicated jury. We are always in a win-win situation: a festival needs a market, and vice versa. 

Is the industry developing special financing models and release strategies for VR films?
This is indeed one of the major issues related to this new medium, and that’s why we are organising, in addition to the initiatives I have spoken about, special meetings and panels on those subjects between professionals and countries. For instance, together with ANICA, we have organised a China-Europe Virtual Reality Technology Summit Forum on 2 September. 

The Final Cut in Venice workshop programme presents six projects from Africa and the Middle East that are competing for 12 awards worth €70,000. Is there a growing demand for world cinema?
I think so, because several countries in the region are developing new incentive programmes that will bring more projects onto the market. Even if I am not optimistic about growth in the distribution of those films in theatres, I am convinced that the streaming platforms could, and should, be the ideal media for those films.

With the pitching possibilities at the Book Adaptation Rights Market, production at the Biennale College as well as the financing opportunities at the VGFM and Final Cut in Venice, the VPB covers the entire production chain, while the development of the industry is an issue at the European Film Forum. How do you envisage the future development of the VPB?
I think we have to keep and develop the three pillars we have (VGFM, Final Cut in Venice and the Book Adaptation Rights Market) as well as keeping up with the development of VR and – why not? – having a dedicated market for this new medium here in Venice. I also think that the growing importance of visual and special effects, together with post-production, could also be an avenue of development for the VPB.

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