Methodology, Skills and Professional Benefits Participants Participants' Comments MEDICI Coordinator and Head of Studies «The 12 Labours of Hercules» Report of the Reports – Workshops 1 to 4

Reports Previous Workshops

Introduction

The first cycle of MEDICI took place between 2012 and 2014. Composed of four Workshops, it was conceived in real time and progressively adapted in order to cover the main challenges faced by the funds, starting with “Strategies & initiatives for the film funders” (1st Workshop – Sigtuna/Sweden from 15 to 17 April 2012), followed by “Financing Strategies” (2nd Workshop – Retz/Austria from 7 to 9 November 2012) and “Impact of digital in the film business and production decision making processes” (3rd Workshop – Limelette/Belgium from 17 to 19 September 2013), ending with “Promotion, distribution and success evaluation (4th Workshop – Štiřín/Czech Republic from 16 to 18 September 2014).

The participation in those four Workshops was as followed:

What emerged during those four Workshops, is the participants' desire to take time to share, experience and exchange, and to use this “moment in time” as a source of inspiration, discussion and reflection.

A new cycle started in 2015 with the Fifth Workshop that took place in Santpoort (The Netherlands) from September 29 to Thursday October 1, 2015 . The event was attended by 25 participants (excluding the guest speakers) representing 23 public funds (18 national funds and 5 regional funds) from 20 countries (incl. 2 non EU countries). A moderator ran the two-day workshop. Four guest speakers (incl. 2 representatives of film funds) were invited to present respectively Module 2, 3, 4 and 6 (See Details about participants PDF).

This new cycle was followed by the Sixth workshop that took place in Warth (Switzerland). Twenty-seven funds were represented (including 2 guest speakers) from 19 countries (incl. 3 non Eu countries), 16 from national funds from and 7 from regional funds. 56% of those participants came for a second or more time.

In 2017, the Seventh Workshop took place in Lørenskog (Norway). Thirty funds were represented (including 1 guest speaker) from 23 countries (incl. 3 non EU countries), 22 from national funds and 8 from regional funds. 57% of them came for a second time or more.

In 2018, the Eight Workshop took place in Royaumont Abbey (France). Twenty seven funds were represented (including 1 panelist) from 21 countries (incl. 2 non EU countries), 22 from national funds, 7 from regional funds and 1 supranational fund. 52% of them came for a second time or more, but 26 funds (96%) out of the 27 represented came to the Medici workshop for a second time or more. Two producers, one from Belgium and one from Denmark were invited to attend a panel about coproduction and moderated by Roberto Olla (Eurimages). Among the guests speakers, there were two representatives of broadcasting channels, Yle/Finland for Module 2 and 3 and Media TFO/Canada Ontario for module 4. (See Details about participants PDF)

MEDICI's target group includes the persons working within European film-funding bodies – the Heads of such institutions, but also the persons in charge on a daily basis of project management, decision procedures and contracting procedure requiring real involvement in setting the rules to access film funding.

In terms of financial value, the public funds participating in the eight MEDICI Workshop represent a total budget of 1,4 billion euro1 . The total financial value of the European funds is estimated at 1,3 billion2, 59% of the 2,2 billion euro spent by European funding on project support activities like scriptwriting, development, production, distribution and promotion (according to the study published by the European Audiovisual Observatory – Public financing for film and television content/The state of soft money in Europe, published in July 2016). (See Details per fund XLSX)

Given the fact that MEDICI is composed of Workshops with different – and sometimes similar (upon the participants' request) – issues to be addressed, specific reports have been drawn up for each of them providing a summary of the main issues and discussions, with some questions and conclusions.. Each report should be considered as a piece of a puzzle that evolves with time. The outcomes of the discussions sometimes overlap: that means that certain discussion topics represent the main challenges and concerns of the public funds.

1 Excluding the annual budget of CORFO (Chile)

2 Excluding SODEC (€25 M/ CAD 38M) and Telefilm Canada (€66,5 million / CAD 101,6M)

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1. Context

The audiovisual sector's financial instability has grown over the last few years, due to different moves within the sector:

1.1 Audiovisual financing

Beyond the economic situation's various contingencies, technological changes as well as the presence of other screening devices have drastically modified content production and distribution. The stage-and-television generation (people over 50) is starting to be replaced by the digital users generation, and this is bound to have a direct impact on the traditional business model and more particularly feature film revenues from box office and TV sales that have dramatically decreased over the last 5 years. It is becoming very difficult to pre-sell a project to distribution companies or sales agents. For them, the financial risk is too high: they prefer to lower the price or wait until a film is finished before buying it. Even if the need for content does not disappear, new forms of producing and distributing will be appearing without any guarantee as to their economical viability.

Other factors that bear consideration:

1.2 Public funds

As previously mentioned, the economic environment has not had the same impact on national cultural policies.

On the one hand, the interaction between the cultural and economical dimensions of film production has triggered new funding bodies and incentives over the last decade, aiming to support a national and European culture, to develop and consolidate local facilities by attracting European or other foreign shoots and, on a larger scale, to participate in the economic promotion of a territory.

On the other hand, those facing budget cuts or reversals in political priorities are under constant pressure to meet the demand, while at the same time being obliged to restructure their teams.

What projects to fund? How to fund them? And at what level? How to prioritize support programs or type of funding? What is the role of funds in the future? Even though the respect for some of the European Commission's requirements produces certain similarities, each fund shapes its own policy and draws up its own set of rules. That leaves it up to the producer to link all these funding programs and mechanisms with each other, in order to match budget and financing in a mutually satisfactory manner for all concerned. An exhausting and expensive exercise!

1.3 And now…

European institutions attach great value to the policy of transparency, and to loyal competition between the Funds. Therefore, the exchange and sharing of experiences between film funders — in order to get a larger picture of the financing landscape and of the influence of each mechanism on a production — has become an absolute necessity.

Film funders need a venue away from the constant pressure of decision-making, delivering money and attending strategic meetings or Workshops, to discuss together the challenges that they are facing, as well as to think about what is to be done, why and especially how—mostly in view of European production and distribution. MEDICI is meant to be such a venue.

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2. Objectives of MEDICI

Objective 1 – To improve, stimulate and challenge business practices in the funding of European films by public players

By following step-by-step the stakes confronting any film funder, MEDICI wants to give participants the opportunity to address their concerns, to present and explain their own practices and find a variety of solutions or alternatives, leading to the transmission and improvement of their practices.

“MEDICI is the best use of unproductive, out-of-office time.”
Laurent Steiert, Head of Automatic Funding (Federal Office for Culture, Film section)

“I really feel like I am not just meeting people formally here. I am aware of them, their countries, their local problems. I receive their feedback and opinions.”
Peter Dinges, CEO (German Federal Film Board)

“Yes, it is a great forum to exchange knowledge, to share both experiences and new ideas. As workshops are about sharing, it is more useful than any industry event could be”
Rolandas Kvietkauskas, CEO Lithuanian Film Center

“It's always a pleasure taking part in interactive methods, and the Fifth Medici Workshop was one of this kind.”
Kozeta Kullakshi, National Film Center / Albania

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Objective 2 – To enhance potential cooperation in policies between public film funds

By creating a specific training program where players with the same mission but with different backgrounds can meet and exchange ideas, MEDICI offers a unique opportunity to stimulate relationships between film funders, for the benefit of funding European films most efficiently.

“We all have different jobs within public funds. It is very good because it provides a diversity of opinions. Another good thing is that we work here in a very informal setting. And this informal context continues even after the workshop, since we keep exchanging all kinds of information. I would be happy to come back.”
George van Bremen, Head of Finance (Netherlands Film Fund)

“Although I am from Canada, it would be interesting for my fund to attend even future workshops because it helps us in networking and finding new partners. It is important because otherwise you feel alone in your country. The second benefit is that we re-negotiate and re-define here the role of film funds.”
Michel Pradier, Head of Feature Film (Telefilm Canada)

“I realize we have all the same challenges, but have different ways to solve them. To get inspiration and understanding…”
Anna Serner, CEO, Swedish Film Institute

“We got certain ideas that might be implemented in our fund”
Iris Zappe-Heller, Deputy Director, Austrian Film Institute

“The Medici Workshops fill a void that I have considered for some time in bringing peers together from a variety of like-minded funding agencies to compare best practice approaches to business and culture development in the international film industry. We all left with a suitcase of ideas and a number of new contacts from across Europe and beyond.”
James Weyman, OMDC/Canada

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Objective 3 – To form a network of film funders creatively active in the defense and improvement of European films

By the very fact of assembling many film funders and exposing them to problems and solutions to be shared, it is hoped that a new force will emerge, able to contribute to the future challenges of the European film industry.

“The real value of MEDICI is that you have a real and deep conversation with your peers about the difficult issues that are really difficult to explain to people outside the industry who do not understand the complexity of what we are operating.”
Stine Helgeland, Executive Director, Promotion and International Relations (Norwegian Film Institute)

“By exchanging views, comparing experiences with other peers, we are forced to step in and get a fresh perspective on shared issues”
Sanja Ravlic, Head of Development, Croatian Film Center

“We should not solve problems here but only get inspired”
Claus Ladegaard, Danish Film Institute

“Exchange of good practices, discovering new support systems, dialogues about issues in different countries, gives opportunities for feedbacks and inspiration for our own work”
Emmanuel Roland, Head of Production Department, CCA/Belgium

“It´s a useful opportunity to work along common issues and goals, meet new partners and compare with other realities in film funding. A real must go.”
Inés Peñagaricano, ICAU/Uruguay

“I particularly appreciate the relationships that come out of these events and have a number of good contacts to call on in future.”
James Weyman, OMDC/Canada

3. Methodology of MEDICI

The methodology is interactive as generally used in professional training, whereby all participants contribute to the topics addressed in the Workshop and share with the others their own experience outside their daily routine. MEDICI is the place where representatives of funds have the opportunity to question, present, propose and challenge their own practices and policies, so that these might be better suited to their film business community.

During the course of the four workshops, the methodology has evolved. Even if the Workshops are still structured in Modules dealing with topics designed to integrate the challenges of film funders, the duration of each of them has been shortened to allow more topics to be discussed and discussions to be more focused. Each module—now lasting between one and a half to two hours—is led by a Moderator assisted by the Head of Studies, Joëlle Levie. Their role is to stimulate discussion and ensure that all the participants have a chance to speak out, either of their own volition or as requested by the moderator.

To prepare the discussions

Based on the questionnaires, each topic is then discussed, with case studies presented by selected participants reflecting different approaches from different funding bodies. Additional guests (like CEOs of some funding bodies, producers and/or distributors and/or directors…) are invited to participate in some of the discussions in order to gain an external and “user” point of view.

“I like the selection of diverse case studies that are chosen to demonstrate new opportunities. It is not the recipe of how to make a new Skyfall, but rather examples from every-day life so to say.”
Rolandas Kvietkauskas, Director (Lithuanian Film Centre)

“I really enjoy the combination of the experts’ input and the exchange among the participants.”
Christiana Wertz, Head of Film Fund and Film Commission (BLS Suedtirol Alto Adige)

Discussions take place in groups or plenary sessions, depending on each topic.

I am awfully exhausted

See Details about the programme of the six Workshops

Photos by Daniel DePierre and Michiel Bartels, Illustration by Jean-Philippe Legrand – called "Aster"

First Workshop Report — 25 to 27 April, 2012 — Sigtuna (Sweden)

Second Workshop Report — 7 to 9 November, 2012 — Retz (Austria)

Third Workshop Report — 17 to 19 September, 2013 — Château de Limelette (Belgium)

Impact of Digital in Film Business and Production

Decision Making Processes

Fourth Workshop Report — 16 to 18 September 2014 — Štiřín (Czech Republic)

Promotion, Distribution and Success Evaluation

Fifth Workshop — 29 September to 1 October 2015 — Santpoort (Netherlands)

International Co-productions, Development, Gender and quotas

Sixth Workshop – 27 to 29 September 2016 – Warth (Switzerland)

The Development of Content: Challenges and Opportunities – Public Funds as Pawns or Players?

Seventh Workshop – 27 to 29 September 2017 – Finstadjordet, Norway

The Role of Public Film Funds in the Future

Eighth Workshop – 26 to 28 September 2018 – Royaumont Abbey, France

Cooperation between public funds in an increasingly complex and international environment: opportunities, actions, ideas

Schedules Previous Workshops Partners Contact