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MEPs Discuss Making European Films

MEPs met at the European Parliament to discuss the challenges and potential of European film and television. Tim Raats reports from the workshop.

On Tuesday November 18th, the Creativity Works! coalition, in collaboration with the European People’s Party (EPP), the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party, hosted a workshop at the European Parliament in Brussels dedicated to ‘Making European Films and Television’.

The first part of the workshop focused on the challenges involved in producing and distributing film in Europe. Featuring Charlotte Lund Thomsen (International Video Federation), Pauline Durand-Vialle (Federation of European Film Directors) and Jan Runge (International Union of Cinemas), the panel paid particular attention to the film financing puzzle, the creative players involved in film production, and the high risks involved in making European film.

A royal affair

A Royal Affair (2012)

A Royal Affair served to demonstrate how the high-risk character of European film production particularly relates to its long development process (from idea to script and shooting), as producers have to absorb high costs without any grasp of how successful a movie might be when its distributed. The Danish costume drama took up to five years of development, including the production of two different scripts, one in English and the other in Danish, and involved over 20 different financing sources.

High production standards, a great script and a well-known cast generated eight foreign pre-sales after the film’s promo-reel was shown in Cannes in 2011. Of the film’s total budget of €6.42 million, 23% (or €1.47 million) came from private investors/producers (Danish, Swedish, Czech Republic, private investors and a tax break), while 37% (€2,38 million) was invested through pre-sales of various platforms and linguistic versions and territories (by comparison, the Lord of Rings trilogy secured 65% of its €350 million production costs through pre-sales to a consortium of 25 distributors worldwide).

The remaining 40% of the budget (€2.57 million) derived from subsidy grants from Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic and Eurimages.

Looking at the specific challenges for European policy, the panel highlighted the importance of various windows and exclusive rights, as well as the contractual freedom to organize and share risks involving the financing and distribution of film. The panel also pointed to the crucial importance of programming strategies on various platforms, be it theatres or broadcasters, to generate the best possible exposure, as well as the need for policymakers to guarantee access and broadband for new media distribution platforms.

Download a copy of the workshop programme. Creativity Works! have also produced a handy infographic on How to Make a Film – available here.

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