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MIA 2020

The 3rd MIA talk explores Europe's plans to rebuild the TV industry post-coronavirus

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- The virtual discussion, which took place on 12 June, saw the participation of seven industry speakers

The 3rd MIA talk explores Europe's plans to rebuild the TV industry post-coronavirus
The participants in the third MIA online talk, “European Plans to Rebuild the TV Industry"

The third MIA Audiovisual International Market online talk, entitled “European Plans to Rebuild the TV Industry”, took place on 12 June and was organised in co-operation with CEPI, the European Coordination of Independent Producers. The 80-minute debate, moderated by film journalist Nick Edwards, saw the participation of seven prestigious industry speakers: Elena Lai (CEPI's secretary general), Filip Bobiňski (CEO of the Czech Republic's Dramedy Productions), Dariuz Jablonsky (CEO of Poland's Apple Film), Nicola Söderlund (owner and managing director of Sweden's Eccho Rights), Nicola De Angelis (CEO of Italy's Fabula Pictures), Thomas Saignes (head of the International Department at France's Cinétévé) and Ran Tellem (head of International Content Development at Spain's Mediapro Studio).

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Following the opening remarks by the moderator, the floor was given to Lai, who explained that CEPI had to run a mapping initiative to calculate the economic impact of the crisis, which she defined as “a tedious, but crucial, task to guide the European Commission's decisions on funding in the best possible way”. The organisation's survey found that 66% of its members had to halt film production and that many producers had to break contracts with third parties. Moreover, despite the positive efforts made by national bodies (especially in terms of the implementation of health protocols), Lai highlighted three things that are of primary importance in guaranteeing the sector's recovery: the creation of a user-friendly database displaying all of the funding opportunities, increased cash flow that would allow both large and small outfits to survive the downturn, and the approval of specific insurance measures to protect them from a second wave.

Next, Jablonsky (also a member of the European Producers Club) talked through the association's ten-point rescue plan proposed in mid-March and the role of the coronavirus crisis in revealing the industry's weaknesses, such as the lack of social security for most of its manpower, given that they work as self-employed or freelance professionals. Speaking about the Polish market, he said: “Over 160 productions were halted at the beginning of March, but shoots are now slowly resuming, in compliance with the safety measures.”

Meanwhile, Bobiňski reported that film shoots in the Czech Republic restarted in May, and testing for actors is not compulsory any more. However, many are still performing them as a precaution. In general, the limited impact of the outbreak in the country has helped cast and crew to get back on set without too many concerns.

Söderlund confirmed that, nonetheless, Sweden “has been producing all the time”, and so far, protocols have proven successful, as no COVID-19 cases have been reported in relation to film shoots. Later, De Angelis remarked that Italian crews would be back on set on 22 June and that, luckily, local pubcasters' funding has not changed, whilst private broadcasters are suffering severe advertising-related losses. In addition, the Italian producer hopes that the state will try to revitalise the industry with additional provisions.

Tellem said that five shows were launched during the pandemic, and some of them were finalised before the beginning of the outbreak, while others were already in post-production. Even though the “only good thing about this weird period is that people are much hungrier for great content” and budgets will be significantly smaller, Tellem argued that this crisis would favour more sturdy international collaborations. However, creators should seriously start thinking about productions that “can be shot in one place” (one country, in this context).

Speaking about future scenarios and co-productions, Lai was confident that, for obvious reasons, “the animation sector's recovery will be slightly faster”, whilst Jablonsky believed that the so-called “Europudding” and the American production model (where “you fly over many countries with your crew and your equipment”) will no longer be viable. On the other hand, The Pleasure Principle's (directed by Jablonsky himself) co-production model, where cast and crew are sourced locally, will still be feasible. Finally, Saignes is also very hopeful about the future of co-production opportunities, especially if the new models require tighter budgets. In this respect, he said that broadcasters will be happy to spend “€600,000 per episode instead of €1 million for the same type of quality”. On another positive note, De Angelis concluded that the crisis may favour experimentalism and perhaps be an opportunity to give a voice to new, unique talents and visions of the world.

The 2020 edition of the MIA will unspool from 14-18 October.

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