PRODUCTION VALUE

The European Scheduling & Budgeting Workshop

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Production Value 2007 to 2019 Reports

Production Value 2019 in Sweden Summary | Full report

The Gentle Art of Making It Real

When taking on an assignment, any assistant director or line producer, whether experienced or novice, faces the same challenge: “How do I manage the given framework if I see this framework clearly doesn’t work for the project?” At Production Value, we do not affirm that every framework (schedules and budgets) needs to be revised, nor do we think that all given frameworks are set in stone. We believe in the collaborative process between producers, directors, line producers and assistant directors. We nurture this creative relationship, which can never be totally “equal” – assistant directors and line producer are indeed the operational partners of producers and directors – but need to be “equitable”.

Easier said than done. From the producer’s point of view, making sure his/her line producer keeps the budget at all costs is often vital. From the director’s perspective, the more money is available for the film the better it is. Even though the contractual link between all players is clear (the producer’s perspective prevails), the reality is often more complicated, especially with productions of feature films in continental Europe, where the position of the director is somewhat stronger than in the English-speaking world. This context and the cultural differences when it comes to expectations and deliveries are at the heart of Production Value.

PV19 PV19 Stuart Renfrew PV19 Scott Kirby

Senior Assistant Directors Stuart Renfrew (UK) (left) and Scott Kirby (Germany) (right) are both established first assistant directors with impressive lists of credits. Renfrew has a longstanding working relationship with British Director Stephen Frears and Kirby is currently making his third film with legendary Director Terrence Malick. Both are masters in handling requests from directors and conditions set by producers. They represent the quintessence of the art and craft of being an assistant director – always keeping the director’s vision in mind, always respecting the producer’s financial conditions!

PV19 Michael Schwarz PV19 Marco Valerio Pugini & Kaare Storemyr

The three senior line producers present at this edition have three different professional profiles: their respective culture as well as the nature of the projects they normally handle cover a large spectrum. Michael Schwarz (Germany) (left) has been very much involved in television series after a long career in feature film, including films by Wim Wenders and Roman Polanski. Kaare Storemyr (Norway) (far right) was in charge of some of the most complex Scandinavian projects of the last decade. Marco Valerio Pugini (Italy) (right) has completed the Italian shoots of several gigantic American productions in Italy, from the TV series “Rome” to Michael Bay’s 6 Underground for Netflix.

The juniors selected for Production Value 2019 were a fine bunch of young professionals. The amount of work they went through was huge, the data they had to absorb for each project assigned was complex. And in nearly every case, the frameworks given to them were not easy to handle; so the respective challenges were considerable. Head of Studies Denis Rabaglia (back into this position after two years of absence) says: “They walked into these projects with efficiency, clairvoyance and… charm. They managed to find their way between pleasing and confronting the producers and directors who had kindly accepted to have their babies being broken into pieces for the workshop. They always seemed to be on top of the job, even when they were bringing bad news.”

PV19 Ragna Nordhus & Midtgard Svetlana PV19 Amber Ripley & Sebastian Schelenz

Set up as a Canadian-Belgian coproduction, Elle is a period piece about a woman who crossed the Atlantic and turned into a bear. This legend from the Middle Ages set up in frozen territories and involving fantasy elements was assigned to Latvian Junior Assistant Director Svetlana Punte (left) and Norwegian Line Producer Ragna Midtgard Nordhus (far left) who had to do a lot of research to find appropriate and accessible locations as well as old ships and to match them so as to get a consistent plan. Part of the coproduction structure – set up by Amber Ripley (Canada) (right) and Sebastian Schelenz (Belgium) (far right) , a former PV11 Junior Line Producer himself – was subsequently altered to match the needs of the production.

PV19 Khalid Maimouni & Matthew Cooper PV19 Joonas Kauppinen

Norwegian Producer Khalid Maimouni (far left) felt sometimes quite alone when bombed with questions by British Assistant Director Matthew Cooper (left) and Finnish Junior Line Producer Joonas Kauppinen. The project was called Save, the Last of the First, a heroic fantasy film where the “underworld”, full of creatures, represents almost 75% of the story. In the absence of the director, a lot of assumptions and decisions had to be made by the above trio, including on the visuals. The exercise shows that for some projects, the process must go beyond traditional scheduling and budgeting and include a kind of production design work in order to be useful.

PV19 Bedtime group

This was the case for the project Bedtime. Almost entirely shot in a studio, a three-story house had to be built to become the arena for unleashed evil forces. Combining child actors, tons of make-up and SFX, it was thanks to the involvement of Director Roberto San Sebastian (3rd from left) and Producer Kevin Iglesias (Spain) (4th from left) that Swedish Junior Assistant Director Simon Ekbaek Nordstroem (2nd from left) and Italian Junior Line Producer Isabella Roberto (1st from left) managed to put together a very tight and comprehensive package. A lot of creative and physical aspects had to be taken into account to make this horror film a successful contribution to the genre.

PV19 Frank Schlegel PV19 Niko Remus

At this stage, it must be mentioned than other key consultants are involved in the Production Value process. Without these pillars of the workshop, the results achieved by the juniors would not be credible. One of them is Visual Effects Consultant Frank Schlegel (Germany) (left), in charge of providing SFX and VFX solutions for each of the six projects. In every edition, Frank has scanned all scripts and has moved from one team to another to creatively assist juniors and seniors. For PV13, upon request from the seniors, a post-production consultant was introduced to the process, mainly because post-production workflows are changing so fast that it is almost impossible to keep up; Hans Van Helden (now director of post-production for Netflix International Originals) was succeded as from PV19 by Niko Remus (Germany) (right).

PV19 Christelle Michel & Cora Aarnoutse PV19 Saara Saabela PV19 Mark Lwoff

Both of them, just like Dutch Junior Assistant Director Coora Aarnoutse (far right) and Swiss Junior Line Producer Christelle Michel (right), were heavily involved in setting up a consistent and realistic plan for the eco sci-fi epic Memory of Water, brought by Producer Mark Lwoff (left) and to be directed by Sara Saabela (Finland) (far left). The work for this project included not only VFX, SFX and children on set, but also real remote locations to be arranged (versus studio work) and the wish to comply with “green filmmaking”.

PV19 Sabina Katkeviciute & Raquel Morte PV19 Ina Sohlberg & Jon Norstedt

But not all the projects brought to the workshop this year were VFX-based. Then Came Garbo was quite the opposite. This biography of legendary film actress Greta Garbo is a good example of scheduling and budgeting problems entailed by high-standard drama based on real people and events. The challenge for Lithuanian Junior Assistant Director Sabina Katkeviciute (right) and Portuguese, Belgian-based Junior Line Producer Raquel Morte (far right) was to recreate the world of film between World War I and World War II in Sweden and Hollywood with great accuracy, but limited resources. Producers Jon Nohrstedt (left) and Ina Sohlberg (far left) from SF Studios, the oldest film production company in the world, left the workshop delighted and fully convinced that they had the best possible plan in their hands!

PV19 Colin Azzopardi PV19 Ronny Bregulla PV19 John Norton PV19 Leif Lillehaugen

Limited series have been introduced to Production Value at PV18 in Apulia, Italy. It was a matter of course that this new format had to be included into the workshop, since it had become the new standard for the fiction industry, but also because assistant directors and line producers are increasingly expected to plan a whole limited series based solely on information about the first episode and a few synopses. This year’s limited series project was an ideal case: Europe by Train, an American-Irish coproduction developed by Leif Lillehaugen (right) and John Norton (far right) is a thriller series in which each episode takes place in a different European country. Building up a complete calendar and budgeting the series was a huge challenge for German Junior Assistant Director Ronny Bregulla (left) and Maltese Junior Line Producer Colin Azzopardi (far left), both experienced TV professionals, but who had never been in a situation where they had to actually define the main parameters (such as days per episode, budget per episode, amortized costs, postproduction workflow) of a new limited series.

PV19 Location

The week was as pleasant as the people who were on board for this 13th edition. Everybody was concentrated and committed, and when the producers and directors joined the workshop at the end, the juniors showed mastery and diligence when presenting their results and dealing with the respective reactions. Exactly the way you would like them to be in real life.

Projects

Europe by Train – TV Series Ireland / US
Junior Line Producer Colin Azzopardi - Malta
Junior Assistant Director Ronny Bregulla - Germany
Senior Line Producer Michael Schwarz - Germany
Senior Assistant Director Stuart Renfrew - United Kingdom
VFX Supervisor Frank Schlegel - Germany
Guest Participants John Norton (co-producer)
  Leif Lillehaugen (head of development)
Elle Canada / Belgium
Junior Line Producer Ragna Midtgard Nordhus - Norway
Junior Assistant Director Svetlana Punte - Latvia
Senior Line Producer Kaare Storemyr - Norway
Senior Assistant Director Stuart Renfrew - United Kingdom
VFX Supervisor Frank Schlegel - Germany
Guest Participants Sebastian Schelenz (co-producer)
  Amber Ripley (producer)
Save – the Last of the First Norway / Sweden / Denmark / Germany
Junior Line Producer Joonas Kauppinen - Finland
Junior Assistant Director Matthew Cooper - United Kingdom
Senior Line Producer Marco Valerio Pugini - Italy
Senior Assistant Director Scott Kirby – Germany
VFX Supervisor Frank Schlegel - Germany
Guest Participants Khalid Maimouni (producer)
Bedtime Spain / Canada
Junior Line Producer Isabella Roberto - Italy
Junior Assistant Director Simon Ekbaeck Nordstroem - Sweden
Senior Line Producer Kaare Storemyr - Norway
Senior Assistant Director Scott Kirby – Germany
VFX Supervisor Frank Schlegel - Germany
Guest Participants Kevin Iglesias (producer)
  Roberto San Sebastian (co-writer & director)
Then Came Garbo Sweden / Germany
Junior Line Producer Raquel Morte - Belgium
Junior Assistant Director Sabina Katkeviciute - Lithuania
Senior Line Producer Marco Valerio Pugini - Italy
Senior Assistant Director Stuart Renfrew – United Kingdom
VFX Supervisor Frank Schlegel - Germany
Guest Participants Jon Nohrstedt (producer)
  Ina Sohlberg (producer)
Memory of Water Finland / Norway / Germany / Estonia
Junior Line Producer Christelle Michel - Switzerland
Junior Assistant Director Cora Aarnoutse - Netherlands
Senior Line Producer Michael Schwarz - Germany
Senior Assistant Director Scott Kirby - Germany
VFX Supervisor Frank Schlegel - Germany
Guest Participants Mark Lwoff (producer)
  Saara Saarela (director)
  Tiina-Mari Pitkänen (line producer)

Photo Gallery

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Production Value 2019 was proposed by
FOCAL
Norwegian Film Institute
Swedish Film Institute
Finnish Film Foundation
Film i Väst

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