PRODUCTION VALUE

The European Scheduling & Budgeting Workshop

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Production Value 2007 to 2020 Reports

Production Value 2020 in Hungary Summary | Full report

The limited exercise of unlimited potential

The question of who understands the potential hurdles ahead of a complex feature or limited series is more relevant than it seems. The number of projects that are written and developed without a clear idea on how they could be implemented is high in Europe. It is often said that planning will take place “as we go along”, and will ultimately depend on financing. “As we go along” may be the right approach, but can it be a reasonable solution when there are millions of euro at stake to get a project made?

We at Production Value believe that a sound plan is the best way to understand the depth and complexity of any project. Such a plan will change during the development stage, but making an initial plan will confront the producer and the director with a number of inherent challenges. This is the real advantage of all early scheduling and budgeting processes because all subsequent changes will be easier to handle. To make this plan viable, an assistant director and a line producer need to be hired as early as possible.

PV20

Implementing a proper scheduling and budgeting culture within the European film industry has been one of the main objectives of Production Value since its first edition in 2007. We aim to train young talents as much as change the attitude of producers and directors who will hire them. We believe that attitudes must change on both sides: assistant directors and line producers need to understand that they play an important part in the planning of any complex project - and they need to be empowered to do so-, and producers and directors need to allow them to step in at the appropriate moment in the development process.

PV20 Stuart Renfrew PV20 Daniela Forn Mayor

If you were to ask our Senior Assistant Directors Daniela Forn Mayor (Spain) (on the right, in white) and Stuart Renfrew (UK) (on the left) how often they were part of the solution, they would tell you that they often “save the day” or “save the scene”. This is the main skill they are hired for: the ability to ensure that aspects in the script that scare production are properly handled and correspond to the creative vision of the director. Such skills are not taught in film schools. They are acquired through experience, mistakes and dedication. Production Value is the only place where such experiences are shared.

PV20 Matthias Schwerbrock PV20 Kaare Storemyr, Jose Luis Escolar

Along with Daniela and Stuart, the team of experts consisted of three established European line producers, who were eager to transmit their know-how, passion and approaches to their junior colleagues. All of them have been regular trainers over the years. Each of them handles different kinds of productions but all three share the same high level of expertise: Jose Luis Escolar (Spain) (on the right, in the middle) has enjoyed a long career in handling American productions that are shot in Spain before moving to limited series for his home market; Kaare Storemyr (Norway) (on the right, at left) is a top-notch line producer in Scandinavia and has shot all over Europe; Matthias Schwerbrock (Germany) (on the left) has combined German and overseas productions, shooting in the world’s most exotic locations.

The juniors selected for Production Value 2020 had many expectations. But they also expressed excitement (and some anxiety) when they were assigned their projects. The group was carefully put together by Head of Studies Denis Rabaglia (Switzerland), who hosted the workshop for the 12th time (out of the 14 editions). “The task of selecting juniors is an important one because I must balance experience and nationalities. But it’s when I select the projects and assign them to the juniors that the workshop really starts to take shape. It’s a bit like casting: getting the right talent for the right job”.

PV20 Ruslan Fradkin PV20 Molly Sjöwall

The team consisting of Latvian Junior Assistant Director Ruslan Fradkin (on the left)and Swedish Junior Line Producer Molly Sjöwall (on the right)were handed DROP KICK. The challenge of this German thriller was to find out whether a German-based production would be more interesting than recreating Berlin in an Eastern European country. What looked like an easy exercise involved double calculations alongside major action scenes. Since most Eastern European countries have developed aggressive cash-rebate politics (combined with lower wages than other countries), many Western productions are facing this dilemma. Handling this project was therefore somehow a “classic” in terms of scheduling and budgeting a European feature film.

PV20 Daniel Gudmon PV20 Karin Martinson

Just as tricky, but in a different way, was ECHOES, a first feature film with a dystopian touch. At first glance, it seemed straightforward but new options emerged as the material was analyzed in depth. Estonian Junior Assistant Director Karin Martinson (on the right) and Hungarian Junior Line Producer Daniel Gudmon (on the left) ended up with many options and investigated them expertly, but it was only when the director and the producer joined the workshop that everything fell into place. The lesson is clear: for some projects, the director’s vision is essential to finalise the plan. However, prior research and proposals facilitate adjustments at a later stage.

PV20 Stephanie Nowak, Dagne Puodziunaite PV20 Frank Schlegel

The third feature film project required highly experienced juniors. Most of PUNISHMENT involved water sequences combined with a supernatural atmosphere. Lithuanian Junior Assistant Director Dagne Puodziunaite and German Junior Line Producer Stephanie Nowak had to come up with solutions and planning. “I honestly thought I had seen everything, but I was wrong”, admitted the latter, whereas the first one said: “I generally don’t underestimate myself but this was frightening when I first read it…”. Yet, they broke the task down step by step and ultimately proposed a sound plan including all details. An additional expert supported their effort: German Visual Effects Supervisor Frank Schlegel (on the right) who designed everything that needed to be solved. As in other years, Frank was involved in all workshop projects – a huge task. Incidentally, Production Value is also a challenge for each senior involved.

PV20 Emma Parsons PV20 Antti Pöllanen

The major aspect of this year’s edition was the exact balance between feature films and limited series projects. Limited series were introduced in PV18 in Italy with two projects, followed by one project in PV19 in Sweden. PV20 in Hungary was the occasion to refine the scheduling and budgeting process within the workshop. Two Swiss projects with international ambition were selected. The first one was to be shot in the city of its title – GENEVA – and in a middle East country. Nothing extraordinary as such but since only one episode existed, the entire series had to be extrapolated from A to Z. This was the task of Finnish Junior Assistant Director Antti Pöllanen (on the right) and British Junior Line Producer Emma Parsons (on the left) (who ended up calculating a budget of more than 15 million euro).

PV20 Jordi Abarcà PV20 Lea Noordhoek

The second Swiss-yet-international limited series was ALPHA, to be shot in Zurich, Dublin and Morocco. Circling the square was the challenge of Dutch Junior Assistant Director Lea Noordhoek (on the right) and Spanish Junior Line Producer Jordi Abarcà (on the left) , who had many financing parameters to deal with. They suggested radical cuts and changes. Once they were accepted, they managed to reduce the project to the initial framework. This is another example of an excellent collaboration that highlights the importance of early input by an assistant director and a line producer. The two limited series also benefitted from the expertise of German post-production consultant Niko Remus (below) , who helped to design their entire workflows, an element that is crucial to limited series. Returning for the second time as an expert, Niko is himself head of studies for the international workshop APostLab.

PV20 PV20 Bente Maalen, Pauliina Talikka

Niko was unable to do much with the last limited series project: SEDOM, a 7-part mini-series set up during WWII and written and produced by a Spanish creative team. The reason was that, for the first time within Production Value, the scheduling and budgeting exercise had to be simplified because the seven episodes turned out to contain too much material to handle during the workshop. Yet, an incredible amount of work was performed by the Finnish Swedish Assistant Director Pauliina Talikka (in the middle) and Junior Norwegian Line Producer Bente Maalen (on the left) . They managed to cover every single main decision to be taken and translated them into a rough but consistent schedule with decent figures.
With this project, we played with the limits”, admitted Denis Rabaglia.

The 14th edition of Production Value reflected the change the film industry is going through: more limited series and fewer feature films to be produced in the years to come. The relevance of Production Value as a tool for scheduling and budgeting complex European productions has been proved in the past but its capacity to do the same for limited series had to be demonstrated. PV20 in Hungary did just that.

PV20

Projects

Sedom – Limited Series Spain / Hungary
Junior Line Producer Bente Maalen – Norway
Junior Assistant Director Pauliina Talikka – Finland
Senior Line Producer Kaare Storemyr – Norway
Senior Assistant Director Daniela Forn Mayor – Spain
VFX Consultant Frank Schlegel – Germany
Guest Participants Fernando Garcià (producer)
  Angel Gùtierrez (associate producer)
  David Tejedor (writer)
Alpha – Limited Series Switzerland / Ireland
Junior Line Producer Jordi Abarcà – Spain
Junior Assistant Director Lea Noordhoek – Netherlands
Senior Line Producer Mathias Schwerbrock – Germany
Senior Assistant Director Stuart Renfrew – UK
Guest Participants Peter Reichenbach (producer)
  Mary Callery (co-producer)
Geneva – Limited Series Switzerland / Sweden
Junior Line Producer Emma Parsons – UK
Junior Assistant Director Antti Pöllanen – Finland
Senior Line Producer Jose-Luis Escolar – Spain
Senior Assistant Director Stuart Renfrew – UK
Guest Participants Thierry Spycher (producer)
  Christelle Michel (line producer)
Drop Kick – Film Germany / Austria
Junior Line Producer Molly Sjöwall – Sweden
Junior Assistant Director Ruslan Fradkin – Latvia
Senior Line Producer Jose-Luis Escolar – Spain
Senior Assistant Director Daniela Forn Mayor – Spain
VFX Consultant Frank Schlegel – Germany
Guest Participants Skady Lis (co-writer & producer)
  Kristian Stern (line producer)
Echoes – Film Germany / Sweden
Junior Line Producer Daniel Gudmon – Hungary
Junior Assistant Director Karin Martinson – Estonia
Senior Line Producer Kaare Storemyr – Norway
Senior Assistant Director Stuart Renfrew – UK
VFX Consultant Frank Schlegel – Germany
Guest Participants Nicole Gerhards (producer)
  Kai Gero Lenke (writer & director)
Punishment – Film Spain / UK / Belgium
Junior Line Producer Stephanie Nowak – Germany
Junior Assistant Director Dagne Puodziunaite – Lithuania
Senior Line Producer Mathias Schwerbrock – Germany
Senior Assistant Director Daniela Forn Mayor – Spain
VFX Consultant Frank Schlegel – Germany
Guest Participants David Canelo (producer)
  Carlos Martin Ferrera (director)

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Production Value 2020 was proposed by
FOCAL
Norwegian Film Institute
Swedish Film Institute
Finnish Film Foundation
Film i Väst

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