Lack of a cross-border insurance guarantee fund cripples the ability of the European film industry to get back on its feet amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of experts told the European Film Forum, presented by Creative Europe at the San Sebastian International Film Festival on Tuesday (September 22).
Luis Chaby, president of the European Association of Film Agency Directors (EFAD), noted that seven Member States have set up insurance guarantee funds at national level – “Austria, France, Countries -Bas, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany and soon Ireland, “he said. âThese instruments are mainly intended for filming national productions in the respective companies. These represent a huge problem for European productions, which is why we are tirelessly calling on the European Commission to set up an insurance guarantee fund for European co-productions. So far we have failed to find a suitable solution, but I am sure that we will achieve something in this area as it is vital to keep our populations alive.
Chaby called for action on funding and regulation. He applauded the EU’s stimulus package but asked for more information on “precisely how this money will be distributed in practice to the audiovisual sector via Member States and regional authorities”.
He added: âAn ambitious media program is a must for usâ, and he called for a doubling of the program’s budget.
He said he was also looking for more interactions between Digital Europe, Horizon Europe and Creative Europe to “explore synergies between different programs”.
On the regulatory front, he noted that the streamers had taken advantage of the pandemic and called for more contribution to the financing and promotion of European works. âWe want better promotion of European works. And fair compensation online which is crucial to us. He also called on platforms to share their audience consumption data with rights holders as well as public regulators.
Peter Dinges, CEO of the German Federal Film Office (FFA), also expressed his concerns about the obstacles encountered by co-productions in 2020 and 2021. âWhat about a co-production that is filmed in France, but the Covid -19 case is happening in Germany? This is a contradiction so we limit our guarantees and only to German production or to majority German production. How to harmonize this network of guarantee funds within Europe, so that co-productions are still possible? It’s a big challenge. “
The need for new co-production funding and cross-border insurance guarantees was also suggested by Ãlvaro Longoria, Spanish producer and president of the European Producers’ Club at an event held the same day in San Sebastian.
The 10 billion euro hole
During the Forum, the European Audiovisual Observatory warned that end-market revenues for audiovisual works in Europe are expected to drop by â¬ 10 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic.
LucÃa Recalde, Head of Audiovisual Industry and Media Support Programs Unit, European Commission, noted that Creative Europe has tried to âinject as much flexibility as possibleâ to help the European film industry to navigate the storm. A measure already taken by Creative Europe is to allocate 5 million euros to cinemas, which, according to it, “has spillover effects on the entire value chain”. Discussions are underway on the next support measures, but it is good news that the European Commission has named the creative industries “one of 14 industrial ecosystems considered particularly vital for the recovery of the European economy” .
FranÃ§ois Yon, partner and head of sales and business development for the French group Playtime, spoke of the impressive support that many European companies have already received. âI think every entrepreneur in any small business in Europe felt happy that they weren’t in China or the United States, you felt supported. And this is a very important thing, that professional organizations and state organizations and government organizations have been extremely good at coming up with ideas and plans.
Even though Covid had not hit the world in 2020, the film and television industries were already changing rapidly, the Forum heard. As Beatriz Navas, director of the Spanish Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts – ICAA, said: âWe have different [audiovisual] laws in Spain that have been in existence for more than 10 years. So we need a little refreshing, we need to recover, and we need to look to the future. She recognized that pan-European cooperation was crucial. âWe need to work at national level, but also bring that to European level, to see how these efforts can have a bigger impact. We must strengthen our policies individually and then cooperate together. “