Inside the European Film Market

I’ve been coming to the European Film Market for years as the business tends to happen here. The whole Melbourne adventure began here back in 2009, and there have been countless times where crazy conversations started over gross biers in smoky bar somewhere in town (I remember Miriam Allen heckling me one year to get her one of those ‘doctorate’ things. I nominated her for one last year and she got it). This year is a little different as I’ve been having very civilised coffees with various filmmakers about their projects and the possible ways in which they can progress. I think the 72 has inspired a few people to find alternative ways of getting their cinematic babies into the world. How lovely. It is great to meet new people and have such engaging conversations about the many possibilities that now await for filmmakers. Here’s a little clip that shows the inside of the market:

My visits here began in 2008 and pretty much run along side the global financial crash. It’s amazing that the market, despite its up and down years, demonstrates that there is still so much filmmaking going on. Some argue that there is too much, and that the market is flooded with too much material which is driving down the prices that people can get for their films. We’re in an age of abundance of content vying for our attention.

I’ve always enjoyed walking into this bear pit and wondering how we’ll differentiate ourselves from the others. Will a snazzy poster and a punchy synopsis really cut it out from the crowd? Is there anything else that we can do? Obviously the 72 developed along these lines…

What I find incredible in this space is the lack of transparency. It’s propped up by bullshit. Lots of governments are competing for the business of film production, offering subsidies and tax breaks to attract people to their shores in the hope that the camera will bring some other expenditure into their economies. This is all black box economics – it’s incredibly hard to follow where the money actually flows from and to. The other ironic paradoxical tragedy being, that if any of these quangos actually established a successful sustainable filmmaking economy in their region, it would put the quango out of business! Therefore there is always a business case for saying that the film market requires their intervention otherwise it would collapse. It’s in their interest for the market not to work. And everyone is ‘in’ on the joke and plays along with it; looking for the loopholes that open up any possibility to get a film made.

This process is called ‘showbusiness’. Welcome to the mad house.

James

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