makers 4

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FOCUS 2019

CHINA CHALLENGE Is doing business with China really worth it?

STREAMING WAR Which platforms will emerge victorious?



Welcome to the fourth edition of makers, the biannual magazine for the global production industry. This issue is packed full of features, reports and interviews that reflect the founding aim of makers – to focus on all creative production sectors, from film, TV, commercials through to games, and to do so on a truly global scale.

The broadcasT secTor has, of course, been upended by pioneering sTreamers like neTflix and amazon prime. buT now They face disrupTion Too from a wave of new enTranTs To The markeT.

editor Tim Dams

locations editor Shona Smith

art direction & cover iMage Les éditions du bois du Marquis creative direction Sue Hayes

head oF Production David Lewis international sales consultants Alice Blanc, Juan Hincapie

coMMercial director Clara Lé

research & develoPMent director Chloe Lai

For example, we investigate the rise and rise of the esports industry, which is set to cross the USD1 billion revenue mark in 2020, and is being eyed up by many in the production industry given its potential for growth. At arguably the opposite end of the production spectrum, we also report on the burgeoning market for natural history programming, which is thriving amid audience concern about the environment as well as growing demand for the genre from the streamers.

Big bets are also being placed by Quibi that the short form market is ripe for disruption too, and makers weighs up its chances of success. Sticking with the theme of disruption, makers also showcases new technology that promises to make the production process more streamlined and efficient. The TV, film and commercials industry has relied on old fashioned tech – paper, the phone and email – for years to help organise production. But, as programme making gets ever more complex, can production management technology tools help streamline the process? All this and more is rounded out by makers’ regular reports on some of the world’s best countries to film in, weighing up the infrastructure, skills and incentives on offer.

The broadcast sector has, of course, been upended by pioneering streamers like Netflix and Amazon Prime. But now they face disruption too from a wave of new entrants to the market, such as Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max. In this issue, makers asks who will be the winners – and losers – in this second streaming wave.

We hope you enjoy this issue. makers will be back again in the spring. If you have any feedback, or would like to get in touch, do drop us a line at Tim Dams, Editor

data & Marketing executive Daniele Antonini

Please address all enquiries to the Publishers

contributors Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE, Kieran Doherty, Helen Langridge

T (44 20) 7036 0020 E E W

Finance Desmond Kroats, Farhana Anjum

Managing director Jean-Frédéric Garcia consultant Ben Greenish Founder Murray Ashton

Printers Barley Print, UK

The Location Guide, Unit 6A, Oakwood House, 414-422 Hackney Road, London E2 7SY, UK

2019 © The Location Guide Limited All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced in any form whatsoever, by photocopying, electronic or mechanical means without prior written consent of the publisher. The publisher has taken all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information presented is accurate and correct, but cannot take responsibility for any omissions or errors, nor take any liability for any misuse of images or of the information.




020 Around the World


Six locations chosen by location manager Aurelia Thomas

038 Contributor


008 News in Brief

Production news from around the world

010 The World at a Glance

Mapping global production trends

012 Tech & Facilities News

From cameras to studios, the latest in production technology news

022 FOCUS 2019

Previewing a globally focused show, aimed at all the creative screen industries

042 Festival Spotlight: BERLINALE

2020 looks set to be a landmark year for the Berlin Film Festival

056 Festival Spotlight: ADFEST

The regional advertising show is fast building a reputation as Asia’s answer to the Cannes Lions festival

>CLOSE UP 014 Making of MIRAGE

Broadcasters unite to counter the streamers with a big budget, Abu Dhabi-set thriller 6


How to get into gaming

040 Report


Are campaigns to improve the representation of female writers & directors in the industry working?

054 Interview with


The founder of drama producer Sid Gentle, whose credits include global hits Killing Eve & The Durrells

063 Contributor


What’s going on in China?

088 Interview with


The co-founder of the international drama streaming service Walter Presents talks scripted trends

090 Making of


First images from Element Pictures’ adaptation of Sally Rooney’s hit novel

115 Briefing

How will 5G impact the media industry?

135 Industry Profile

096 Capturing the Wild


makers profiles one of the world's top ad producers

138 Contributor

Natural history production is thriving as climate concerns fuel a boom

108 Who are these People?

There are now a number of niche jobs that barely existed a decade ago


Give commercials crew a chance


122 The Streaming War

New streaming platforms are coming to market but which will emerge victorious?

030 The Green Challenge

The entertainment industry has to step up if the world is to tackle climate change

048 Quibi: Short Form’s Saviour

or Sucker? With a USD1 billion budget, Quibi has attracted a raft of top talent

148 Tools for the Trade

Which production management tools can help streamline the production process?

159 Politics of Location

What happens when production & politics collide?

078 Betting on the Future of Esports

The market is being eyed up by many in the production industry



From incentives to location highlights, makers presents a series of in-depth guides to some of the world's most film friendly countries 017 Australia 028 Austria 033 Baltic States 044 Benelux 053 Cyprus 058 Dominican Republic 069 England 083 France

093 Ireland 100 Italy 104 Japan 111 Jordan 112 Morocco 116 New Zealand 121 Northern Ireland 126 Panama

131 Scotland 136 South Africa 141 South Korea 142 Taiwan 145 United Arab Emirates 150 USA: West Coast 156 Wales 7






ritish broadcasters are doubling down on their own catch up services, such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All4, to fend off growing competition from US streaming services. Younger viewers in particular are eschewing linear TV in favour of SVOD platforms, YouTube and rival forms of entertainment such as social media and gaming. UK regulator Ofcom recently revealed that YouTube and Netflix are now the UK’s third and fourth most viewed channels, behind only BBC One and ITV. The “iPlayer is going to be total TV”, said BBC director general Tony Hall in September, explaining that the BBC is transforming iPlayer from a catch-up service into a destination in its own right. “iPlayer will be the place you go to for your news, your sport, the place you go to for drama, documentaries, live channels – everything we do.” Hall added: “It’ll offer the very best of the BBC – all in one place – playing to our strengths: our liveness, the breadth of our genres and storytelling, the fact that we’re both local – and global.”

Scandinavia has moved beyond ‘Nordic Noir”, according to the executive producer of Agent Hamilton (above), a high concept Swedish spy thriller that had its world premiere screening at Mipcom this October. Patrick Nebout of Dramacorp argues that the highly competitive Scandinavian market, with its big concentration of broadcasters and platforms such as HBO, Amazon, Viaplay and Netflix, is “always looking for the next big thing”, and has “decisively moved beyond Nordic Noir.”


ITV, meanwhile, was due to launch BritBox, its joint venture SVOD platform with the BBC, as makers went to press. “It is not a rival to Netflix and Amazon, who spend billions and billions. This is a way to use the archive of the BBC and ITV… British people are mostly interested in British programming,” said ITV director of television Kevin Lygo. “Although Netflix and Amazon are wonderful things, they don’t do a lot of British programming at all. They say they will, but I haven’t seen anything yet that is great.”

Peacock will be the exclusive streaming home for popular sitcoms like The Office (pictured right) and Parks and Recreation, as well as movies in the Fast & Furious franchise. NBCUniversal says that pricing will be announced closer to launch, and that the service will be both advertising and subscription supported.


“The Crown will look like a bargain” in years to come, joked Hastings, speaking at this year’s Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention, where he admitted that Netflix had been outbid by Amazon for Fleabag. “If there’s a show I wished we had, that is one.”

“I believe this is a huge opportunity for people like us. In this market, services that are distinctive and different will stand out.”

NBC to hatCh PeaCoCk NBCUniversal’s new streaming service will be called Peacock and is set to roll out in April 2020, with over 15,000 hours of content from NBCUniversal's shows and films.

be direct-to-consumer… We’ve been preparing this for a long time because we’ve known it’s been coming.”

etflix CEO Reed Hastings (pictured) acknowledges that the streamer is facing “tough competition, no question” from the launch of rival OTT services by firms such as Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal. He said the launch of new streaming platforms was “going to be unbelievable” for producers in the next couple of years, because they would be able to take their titles to a much wider number of companies, many of whom will raise their bids for the best content.

Hall explained that the move to beef up the BBC iPlayer comes amid a “second wave of disruption” to the market. The first wave saw the rise of Netflix, Amazon and Spotify “market shapers that fundamentally changed audience behaviour, often taking on huge losses or massive cross-subsidy.” The second wave, he added, will see a range of new entrants entering an already crowded market, such as Disney and Apple.

Hastings also promised that Netflix would be less secretive and defensive about sharing its rights and viewing data with producers and the industry in the future. He said Netflix has been prepping for the launch of more streaming platforms since 2012 and expressed surprise that it has taken so long for other big companies to launch their own services.

He pointed out that Netflix is now sharing data with producers, and said “the best solution” would be for measurement firms Barb and Comscore to extend their technology to measure Netflix audiences. “That would be great for us and for everyone.”

“When we first did House of Cards, people asked, ‘Why don’t you just license content?’. We said that because eventually all those companies are going to

“We’re trying to grow up a little bit. We’re definitely guilty of having been a little bit simplistic. We're trying to learn.”

BACK TO CONTENTS in Q1 This year, youTube

removed 8.3 million videos. ouT of These, 76% were

found by classifiers, and

The majoriTy – over 70% – of These didn’T have any views on Them.

taCkliNg harMful CoNteNt is youtuBe’s NuMBer oNe Priority YouTube’s “number one priority” is making sure it protects its users from harmful content, according to Cecile Frot-Coutaz, head of EMEA at the platform.

WarNerMedia uNveils geNder stats WarnerMedia’s global workforce is 46% female, according to the media giant’s first annual company report on diversity. On a global basis, said the company, half of all new hires and promotions to vice-president posts and above were women. However, in the company’s non-film scripted programming, females get only 34% of onscreen roles and 23% of behind-thecamera jobs. In non-manager jobs, 42% of WarnerMedia employees were people of colour, according to the report, though representation decreases at more senior levels.

Frot-Coutaz, who joined YouTube last year after serving as CEO of production and distribution giant Fremantle, says the platform has invested heavily in machine learning processes to detect such content, and “vastly increased” the number of human reviewers it employs. In March, the company also disabled all comments on content that featured minors. Her comments come in the wake of a tough year for YouTube, even by tech backlash standards. The company has come under fire on numerous occasions about content on its platform, and a number of major advertisers pulled their spend. Frot-Coutaz said: “The leadership is taking it very, very seriously. It is super important.” She noted that being an open platform, YouTube is open to abuse. Frot-Coutaz added that YouTube is “constantly updating its content policies, because there are bad actors out there… everytime we update a policy, we make sure we train classifiers (an automated flagging process) to work against the policy, and the same thing with our human reviewers. It is an ongoing process, a lot of investment and time and focus is in place on this.” Having said that, she pointed out that, given the scale of the platform, harmful content accounts for a very small percentage of the views. “I am a YouTube user, and I have never come across a really egregious video on YouTube. Yes, these videos exist… but in numbers it is a small problem.” She cites YouTube’s Transparency Report, which is published every quarter: in Q1 this year, YouTube removed 8.3 million videos. Out of these, 76% were found by classifiers, and the majority – over 70% – of these didn’t have any views on them. “Machine learning is starting to work really, really well. Perfection will never exist, because it is an open platform. However, I think we can say with real confidence that we are seeing the progress that we can make through these systems and processes.”

harMful feMale stereotyPes doMiNate filM Playing a boss does not stop women being treated as eye candy in films, according to a study that found “harmful stereotypes” still dominate the big screen. Rights group Plan International and the Geena Davis research institute found that female leaders were four times more likely to be shown naked on screen than similar male roles, after studying the 56 top-grossing films of 2018 in 20 countries. “A woman 007 or superhero in film is welcome. But our research shows they are exceptions and not the rule,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, chief executive of Plan International. “The bigger picture is that gender discrimination and harmful stereotypes still dominate on screen... We need to stop the sexualisation and the objectification of women and girls on screen and everywhere else.” us sCriPted hits Peak CoNteNt The US drama sector has reached “peak levels of content” and quality could be compromised as a result, according to former ABC Studios executive Howard Davine. “From a scripted point of view, I think we’re at risk of being at peak level because there is limited supply of great talent – both in-front of and behind the camera,” said Davine, who left ABC Studios in the summer and was speaking at the RTS Cambridge Convention. “There is a finite amount of the best and brightest.”

Murdoch, Snider & Featherstone launch Sister Three of the most acclaimed female executives in the TV and film industries have teamed to launch global production company Sister Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone (pictured below) are co-owners and co-founders of Sister, which they describe as a global production and development company working across TV and film. Sister is based on the foundation of Featherstone’s scripted indie, Sister Pictures, and will have offices in Los Angeles and London. Its corporate “sTacey snider, The HQ is in the UK. former chairman of

Murdoch, who founded hollywood sTudio superindie group Shine 20Th cenTury fox, is Group in 2001 and global ceo and head sold it to her father’s of sisTer la.” 21st Century Fox in 2011, becomes executive chairman of Sister, and is reportedly putting up most of the financing for the new company. Acclaimed TV producer Jane Featherstone, who ran Broadchurch indie Kudos before founding Sister Pictures and scoring a major hit with Chernobyl, becomes head of Sister London. Stacey Snider, the former chairman of Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox, is global CEO and head of Sister LA.

The combination of Featherstone’s drama track-record, Snider’s Hollywood industry expertise and relationships, and Murdoch’s financial resource and track record in building production companies is likely to make Sister a formidable player in the international market. In a statement, Murdoch, Snider and Featherstone said: “We are fortunate to be well capitalised, to have the independence and confidence to write our own rules, to be bold and bespoke in the choices we make, and to utilise our resources to champion visionary story-tellers. And to those story-tellers we say – come and be brave, come and be rebellious, come and do your best work.”


The world

at a glance

10 new york

ireland 9

4 los angeles

france 6

spain 5

egypT 7

nigeria 2

3 laTin america





souTh korea 8

china 12


11 india




new zealand




NeW ZealaNd Amazon Studios has confirmed that its The Lord Of The Rings series will shoot in New Zealand. J A Bayona is set to direct the first two episodes of the series, which is set before the events of J R R Tolkien’s first The Lord Of The Rings novel.

egyPt Kenneth Branagh’s latest Agatha Christie adaptation Death on the Nile is to shoot in Egypt. Based at Longcross Studios in Surrey, the Twentieth Century Fox follow up to Murder on the Orient Express will shoot scenes in the country.

Nigeria Nigeria is submitting a film to the Oscar’s international feature competition for the first time. The country, which boasts one of the largest film industries in the world – Nollywood – has put forward Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart, which debuted at Toronto 2018.

south korea Hit South Korean entertainment format The Masked Singer has continued its global roll out, being picked up by Spanish broadcaster Atresmedia, the UK’s ITV, Australia’s Network 10 and TV4 in Sweden. The series became a global phenomenon after it was adapted in the US by Fox.

latiN aMeriCa Amazon has signed an exclusive one year deal for Latin American rights to a suite of Disney content, despite the imminent launch of Disney+. The house of mouse’s direct-to-consumer offer isn’t launching in Latin America until 2021.

irelaNd AMV BBDO won The Grand Prix at the Kinsale Sharks for Libresse’s Viva La Vulva, as well as Agency of the Year. BBDO won Network of the Year, while Stink was crowned Production Company of the Year.

los aNgeles Netflix has renewed hit show Stranger Things for a fourth season and signed on its creators, The Duffer Brothers, for a multi-year deal. sPaiN European telco Telefónica is partnering with Spanish broadcast group Atresmedia, the backer of hit thriller La Casa de Papel, to form a new content production firm. The unit will produce original films and series for Movistar+ and Atresmedia’s portfolio of channels. fraNCe Canal+ has become the last major pay TV player in France to offer access to Netflix via its platform. The new Canal+ bundle, including Netflix and OCS, which also offers a suite of HBO content, costs EUR35 a month.

NeW york Talent agency and entertainment conglomerate Endeavor is now expected to list on the stock exchange next year, after dramatically calling off its USD405 million initial public offering in September, citing “unfavorable market conditions.” iNdia Netflix has entered into a long-term partnership with Indian filmmaker, producer and television personality Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment to create a range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films. ChiNa China is set to become the largest cinema market in the world next year, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Box office revenues were USD9.9 billion in 2018, and PWC expects growth rates of 9.4% a year, overtaking the US market.








NEWS tech & facilities





eading drama and film producers have been complaining for several years about the challenge of locating studio space in the UK, amid booming levels of production. In recent weeks, the challenge has become more acute as both Disney and Netflix have snapped up prime studio space.

Disney has signed a deal to take over most of Pinewood Studios for at least a decade. The film and TV giant will lease 20 stages plus other facilities which will likely become the home of at least three Star Wars sequels. The company is also planning four Avatar sequels, a fifth Indiana Jones film and numerous other live action films. Many of those can be expected to come to Pinewood. It follows news in July that Netflix is taking a long-term lease on Shepperton Film Studios. Its plan is to create a dedicated UK production hub,

CBS Television Studios has unveiled CBS Stages Canada as the first Hollywood studio-branded facility in Canada, with six soundstages over 260,000 square feet of space. The multi-use production studio in Toronto, including production offices and support facilities, currently hosts a shoot for In The Dark. CBS estimates its branded CBS Stages Canada facility will generate around USD200 million in annual production expenditures.

including 14 sound stages, workshops and office space at the site owned by the Pinewood Group. Filming on Netflix's action film The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron, is already underway at the studio. High levels of production in the UK have led to a rush for studio space, and new facilities are planned for Dagenham in east London, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Leeds, while there are plans to expand Shepperton with 16 new stages that won't be part of the Netflix hub. Elstree Studios is also converting space previously taken up by the Big Brother house into two new large stages for film and TV, which are due to open next year. A report published last year by property company Lambert Smith Hampton said land the size of 100 football pitches was needed to meet demand. It’s likely that figure may have to be updated in light of the Netflix and Disney deals.

PiCture head Buys the farM Top UK post production house The Farm (pictured right) is mulling expansion into the VFX market following its sale to Los Angeles-based post and VFX group Picture Head. Picture Head Group, which owns Hollywood facilities Picture Head, Picture Shop and Formosa Group, is backed by private equity firms Trive and 5 Crowns. It acquired Vancouver-based post firm Finale in May. lioNsgate iNvests iN NeW york studio Lionsgate is a minority investor in a new studio complex will include three 20,000 square feet complex being built in Yonkers, New York, 30 and two 10,000-square-feet stages, a fully miles north of Manhattan. Great Point Capital operational back lot and the opportunity to create a Management has signed a deal with Lionsgate to location-based entertainment property. Lionsgate build the new production facility, which is expected has already established similar properties in China to open in late autumn 2020. The USD100 million and the Middle East.

ew cameras from Sony and Canon look set to shake up the factual/entertainment and drama/commercials market respectively.


said: “The FX9 is an evolution of the FS7, and then does more on top. In 2020, people will be wanting to use the FX9.”

Sony unveiled its new FX9 camera (pictured right) in September, which is being seen as an ‘evolution’ of its market leading FS7 model.

Meanwhile, Canon also released its new 5.9K full-frame C500 Mark II. They are pitching the C500 update as a versatile, portable camera for 4K, that’s also well suited for High Dynamic Range (HDR) shoots.

The FS7 is the dominant camera model in documentaries, factual and light entertainment. The new FX9 has roughly the same basic ‘run and gun’ style body as the FS7, but with some notable improvements – including a full-frame 6K sensor and a better autofocus system. Matt Marner, director of broadcast hire firm Video Europe, which recently bought 20 of the cameras, 12

Barry Bassett, managing director of broadcast hire firm VMI, describes it as “a truly stunning camera” that he thinks will challenge the Alexa Mini’s position as a mainstay of high end drama productions and commercials. “It’s equivalent to the Alexa Mini, only better, but for less than half the money.”

BACK TO CONTENTS The currenT media

localisaTion indusTry’s

fragmenTed, manual

8K comes into focus

and non-sysTemaTic

approaches are ouTdaTed and inefficienT.

duBBiNg deMaNd sParks iNdustry Mergers & Moves Growing demand for dubbed and subtitled content has prompted the merger of two of the top localisation providers, Iyuno Media Group and BTI Studios. Meanwhile, another key localisation player, Zoo Digital, has moved into a new London studio that is triple the size of its former headquarters. The moves come as localisation industry is witnessing strong growth thanks to streaming demand for dubbed and subtitled content, with the likes of Netflix and Amazon regularly releasing shows on a global scale.

BlaCkMagiC lauNChes 6k CaMera Blackmagic Design has unveiled a new 6K version of its popular Pocket Cinema Camera. The handheld camera has a full Super 35 size 6K HDR image sensor, and offers 13 stops of dynamic range. It also has an EF lens mount to provide compatibility with a wide range of lenses from Canon, Zeiss, Sigma and Schneider. The launch comes a little over a year after Blackmagic released a 4K version of the camera at NAB 2018.

However, this has put pressure on a fragmented industry to be able to react quickly, and at scale, on a global basis. Singapore-based Iyuno Media Group and London-based BTI Studios are among the five largest in the localisation industry globally, and will merge under the Iyuno Media Group brand. They will be headquartered in London. The Group now has a total of 40 facilities across 30 countries. “Clients need a better solution,” said David Lee, founder and former CEO of Iyuno Media Group. “The current media localisation industry’s fragmented, manual and non-systematic approaches are outdated and inefficient.” Zoo’s clients include Disney, Amazon, Apple, Warner Bros, Lionsgate, ITV, All3Media, Fremantle and the BBC. Spending on content localisation services for the EMEA market in the TV, movie and video sector exceeded USD2.3 billion (GBP1.9 billion) in 2018, according to a Media & Entertainment Services Alliance report. The report forecasts 5-8% continued annual growth through to 2021 for content localisation services, based on the growth of the OTT market, with the likes of Disney and Apple set to launch their own platforms. Dubbing accounts for 70% of localisation spend in EMEA, with France, Italy, Germany and Spain particularly strong for dubbed rather than subtitled content.

PiNeWood sells atlaNta studios stake The Pinewood Group has sold its equity in Pinewood Atlanta Studios (above), the second largest purpose-built film and TV hub in the US, to its joint venture partner in the facility, River’s Rock. Pinewood will provide sales and marketing support for the studios for a period of up to 18 months during which time the operation will remain branded and operated as a Pinewood facility. Pinewood said it was part of a new strategy to focus on the UK and other international markets. vaNCouver studio set for exPaNsioN Vancouver’s Martini Film Studios has submitted plans that could see the site more than double in size. The development features more than 600,000 square feet of purpose-built soundstages, offices and production support buildings in Langley, 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver. The announcement marks the region’s first major studio development since Martini Film Studios first opened the doors to its 250,000 square feet of combined studio facilities two years ago. Martini said the planned expansion would raise the sound stage capacity of the busy filmmaking region by 15%


K production emerged as one of the big talking points at this year’s IBC technology show in Amsterdam. It was being mooted as a genuine option for acquisition and broadcast at IBC, even though many viewers are not even watching 4K on their TV sets. BT Sport showed the potential for the technology by demonstrating one of the world’s first live 8K sports broadcasts, of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby 7s tournament. The sports market is an early adopter of new technology, having used 4K to drive subscriptions and retention, so BT’s decision to demonstrate 8K was significant. BT Sport director of “There was sTanding mobile strategy Matt room only aT bT’s Stagg says there was standing room only at sTand for The live BT’s stand for the broadcasT.” live broadcast: “The purpose of the demo was to learn about 8K productions and push the technology envelope, the same as was done for 4K.” Stagg says that 8K is not ready to be launched in the near term, but “once the full ecosystem is available to scale then we will see if we could work with it.” To date, demand for 8K has largely been driven by the Japanese market, where broadcaster NHK started airing 8K content regularly at the beginning of the year. NHK also plans to showcase 8K during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

NHK also organised a series of screenings and talks on 8K video at October’s Mipcom programme market. For the first time, the market hosted the NHK 8K Theater, complete with a 248-inch 8K screen. The 8K screenings featured the international premiere of the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel An Artist of the Floating World as well as the world premiere of drama The Return (pictured above).


Making of Mirage




BACK TO CONTENTS ith a budget of USD2.3 million per episode, everything about Mirage is ambitious.

expat community in the UAE and is the first scripted series to use the spectacular new Louvre in Abu Dhabi.

The English-language spy thriller is the first co-production for France Television and Germany’s ZDF as part of the alliance they formed last year to create dramas with international appeal that can compete with Netflix and other SVOD players.

Marie-Josée Croze (Jack Ryan, The Barbarian Invasions) stars as a widow who is starting her life over again in Abu Dhabi, and whose new expat life becomes overshadowed by intrigue, espionage, and a love triangle after she discovers that her late husband is still alive. Clive Standen (Vikings, Taken) co-stars.

With locations increasingly important to making a drama stand out, Mirage is set in the

Directed by Louis Choquette (Versailles, 19-2, Philharmonic), it is produced by Connect3 Media and Lincoln TV in partnership with Wild Bunch Germany. Cineflix Rights has worldwide distribution rights to the series, including the US and UK. Bell Media Canada and Superchannel Canada are also commissioning broadcasters. Julien Leroux, SVP, global scripted co-productions for Cineflix Media, said: “We wanted to create a series with the exciting pace and intrigue of The Night Manager and the complicated relationships in The Americans.”




AUSTRALIA production paradise

With a generous and ever-expanding array of incentives on offer, australia’s world-class infrastructure, wide-ranging locations and experienced crew have never looked so inviting. the broad mix of action-packed tentpoles and globally skewed series currently in the country are already taking advantage of this.

ext year is shaping up to be another strong one for the Australian production sector. In large part due to a supportive film-friendly government, Australia continues to attract both footloose productions and global corporations who are setting up shop in the country.

A range of federal incentives are available, all of which can be stacked with an increasing array of local state incentives on work including post-production. With co-production treaties in place across the globe, feature projects emanating from many countries, including the UK, Canada and China automatically qualify for the 40% Producer Offset if they meet the AUD500,000 QAPE (Qualifying Australian Production Expenditure) requirement. Television projects qualify for a 20% Producer Offset.

Those without access to a co-production treaty still have access to the Location Incentive & Location Offsets combined as a 30% rebate. The 13.5% merit assessed Location Incentive began operation in 2019 topping up the “a focus on The 16.5% location offset.

posT-producTion secTor has encouraged a growing number of inTernaTional players To enTer The ausTralian secTor.”

The move means that Australia is now able to compete on an incentive basis with the rest of the world. Access to the combined incentive has already been successful in bringing productions to the country proving there is an appetite for working in Australia

loCatioN highlight

Flinders Ranges, Australia

The Flinders Ranges, in the South Australian outback, is a region of red hued mountains, deep gorges and desert interspersed with townships, cattle stations and railway sidings located five hours north of Adelaide. One of the most striking natural locations in the region is Ikara, or Wilpena Pound, a natural basin that appears from the air to be a huge crater stretching six miles across. In reality, Ikara is a sunken valley surrounded by a ring of rugged mountains. A favourite for TVCs and films alike, Flinders Ranges starred in Philip Noyce’s Rabbit Proof Fence (pictured above), a poignant feature set in 1931 which follows three half white, half Aboriginal girls who escape domestic training by journeying across the outback. The Prairie Hotel in Parachilna is under an hour’s drive from many of Flinder’s locations and caters to productions shooting in the region.

Australia’s location portfolio spans tropical beaches and rainforests through to snowcapped mountains and metropolitan cities, allowing



the country to double for international locations including New Orleans in Wolverine, Mexico in The Shallows, as well as period Japan and Virginia in Hacksaw Ridge. Australia also enjoys a strong relationship with Asia. In February, the continent’s largest global sports property ONE Championship filmed in Australia for the first time. The Singapore-based martial arts contest came to Sydney for a nine-day shoot with Andrea Gorddard of Australian Fixer HQ, who explains it “captured all the very Australian landscapes and logistics” for a Pan Asian audience. Two units captured the background of candidates as well as filming challenges that stretched them as athletes. In addition to iconic imagery of Sydney, the crew then travelled through the region surrounding Sydney. The athletes drove four-wheeled trucks in the rough terrain of The Hunter Valley against the backdrop of Gum trees, two and a half hours north of Sydney. To the west filming took place in the Blue Mountain National Park, while the athletes also went hang gliding along the stunning coastline to the south of Sydney. Australia’s high-end facilities are in demand too. Marvel Studios, for example, has become a frequent visitor. 2017’s Thor: Ragnarock (pictured above) chose to film at Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland after a large ninth stage was built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, making it the largest studio complex in the Southern Hemisphere. The Queensland Government is an example of Australia’s film-friendly administrations that support the local industry, responding to producers in Brisbane looking for studio space by converting two existing warehouses into soundstages providing studio space to complement the larger studios on the Gold Coast.


Thor is set to return to Australia in 2020, this time basing production at Fox Studios Australia in New South Wales. Currently in pre-production at the Sydney studio is Marvel’s Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and filming is scheduled for early 2020. The feature is set to be the largest to date at Fox Studios Australia. South Australia is also currently hosting its biggest ever feature with Mortal Kombat filming in Adelaide. Warner Bros.’ videogame adaptation will film and post-produce in South Australia. Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis project, which is shooting in Queensland’s Village Roadshow Studios will also stay in Australia, moving to New South Wales for post work. Warner Bros.’s VP of production Danielle Dajani recently explained that the state’s new PDV incentive allowed for “consistency and confidence to productions” which enabled the studio “to utilise the world-class facilities in New South Wales for our upcoming Baz Luhrmann project in 2020”. New South Wales’ new 10% post, digital and VFX (PDV) incentive puts the state in line with South Australia, who introduced their own PDV offset in January 2019. A focus on the post-production sector has encouraged a growing number of international players to enter the Australian market too. Technicolor recently opened its first studio in the southern hemisphere in Adelaide and is operating under The Mill banner. The state government provided an AUD6 million grant as they estimated the studio will bring in more than AUD250 million to the state over a decade. In Sydney, George Lucas’ visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) recently announced it is establishing a studio at Fox Studios with post-production and visual effects work shortly commencing on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

marvel’s SHANG CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS is scheduled for filming in early 2020. The feaTure is seT To be The largesT To daTe aT fox sTudios ausTralia.

soMethiNg else

A recent report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) advised that a special branch of the organisation should be formed to scrutinise how companies used algorithms to match advertisements with viewers. The new department was one of 23 recommendations in the ACCC report that also advocated strengthening privacy laws, protections for the news media and a code of conduct requiring regulatory approval to govern how internet giants profit from users’ content. In August 2019, the chairman of the ACCC said that “Australia can, if necessary, act alone” adding that “Facebook and Google are clearly subject to our laws. They either comply or do not do business in Australia”. The country joins antitrust investigations, hearings or cases taking place in Germany, France, the European Union, Israel, India, Singapore, Russia and Mexico against Google and Facebook.


1 - hall Place, bexley - The Crown This marked a real change for me as it was a move away from superheroes. Producers are always thrilled when they find a new location and this was the first time Hall Place was used to double for some of Windsor Castle’s periphery buildings.

2 - cern, geneva - Dr STrAnGe On large-scale fantasy projects there can be a lot of visual effects work which is used for research or as an element within a story. The Hadron Collider is 175 metres under ground so we could only take VFX image photographers there rather than a crew.

3 - loch arkaig, lochaber - hArry PoTTer & The hAlf-BlooD PrinCe This was Dumbledore’s proposed funeral site. Designer Stuart Craig needed a Scottish loch, with mountains behind, that would look stunning at sun set. I drove 11 miles with him to the end of a bumpy road and there it was – simply stunning.

4 - notting hill, london love ACTuAlly Designer Jim Clay wanted a Notting Hill mews house. This was not an easy ask but I was in luck as



urelia Thomas has worked in the industry for over 20 years. Her first job was in Craft Service on Saving Private Ryan where Tom Hanks referred to her as “The Bun Lady’. Her passion was ignited, but it wasn’t for buns.

Locations is the perfect fit for Aurelia. She particularly enjoys the early stages such as presenting visual options to the Production Designer and Director. Her credits include Harry Potter, many independent features, a string of Marvel films as well as the latest series of The Crown.

I knew the owner of the house from University. It was perfect and the upstairs bedroom inspired a studio build, at Shepperton.

5 - sainsbury centre For visual arts, norFolk AvenGerS: AGe of ulTron I needed to find the Avengers’ training facility for Jamie Lengyel. Thor needed to walk straight out of this curved corridor to the grass outside to be beamed to the bi-frost. Following a rather surreal chat with the Museum Curator, I got there. 6 - kensington gore, london - The nuTCrACker The view of the Royal Albert Hall from the East side of Kensington Gore is considered to be beautiful and iconic. It was an enormous challenge closing the road for a night shoot but it was all done in one day!




At FOCUS 2019, attendees can meet with content makers, film commissions, production services and locations providers from a record 80 countries, as well as attending a conference programme featuring over 150 industry leaders. makers previews a free-to-attend show that is truly global in nature – and that’s aimed at all the creative screen industries.



ow in its fifth year, FOCUS – the Meeting Place for International Production – returns to the Business Design Centre in London on 3-4 December. The event remains completely free to attend for industry professionals.

At FOCUS 2019 delegates can discover filming incentives, locations and services to maximise screen value – for all production types and budgets – right through from development to post-production. Meetings with exhibiting organisations can be pre-arranged using FOCUS’s online scheduler.

FOCUS is aimed at all the creative screen industries – including film, TV, advertising, animation and games – and is the only UK trade event where attendees can meet with content makers, film commissions, production services and locations providers from a record 80 countries.

One of the centerpieces of FOCUS is its free to attend conference programme, which features over 150 industry leaders – delivering keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and case studies that span the entire spectrum of the screen industries.

A record number of exhibitors – over 250 – are also attending this year. Brand new territories for 2019 include Costa Rica, Montenegro, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic.

The programme has been developed in consultation with leading industry organisations, including the British Film Institute, British Film Commission, Pact, Directors UK, Advertising Producers


Association, The Production Guild, ScreenSkills, UK Screen Alliance, Creative Europe Media Desk UK and Women in Film and TV to ensure that it addresses current needs and concerns. This year, the conference is running with the theme of Forces of Change – What’s Next? In particular, the sessions examine the change that has been wrought on the screen industries around the world by streamers such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu – and at the change to come from new streaming services from the likes of Apple, Disney, AT&T, Comcast and Quibi. “now in iTs fifTh year, focus is aimed aT all The creaTive screen indusTries – including film, Tv, adverTising, animaTion and games.”

The conference looks at what the screen industries must do to meet a growing demand for high quality content – from more studios to more skilled crew to work on the volumes of content being commissioned and produced. How the creative screen sector is responding will be reflected in many of the discussions and workshops. Meanwhile, there is a fear that independent filmmaking will be crowded out by the streamers – and this will be investigated in sessions at the festival. The launch of Quibi looks set to throw the spotlight on short form next year, and ahead of its launch the conference will also examine the key trends and opportunities in the short form market.

And then of course, there is Brexit. The conference will investigate how the UK’s departure from the European Union will impact the industry at home and abroad – revealing what TV and filmmakers really need to know about Brexit. The opening session, ‘Nobody Knows Anything’, moderated by attorney turned filmmaker and Co-Chairman of the PGA International Committee Kayvan Mashayekh, will be a dynamic discussion about this changing landscape. Will the nimble and small companies have an advantage when it comes to innovation and change or will the behemoths of media with their capital and might, dictate the future?


Elsewhere, the session Under Pressure will follow up on The Film and TV Charity’s industry-wide study this year about the well-being and mental health of the UK’s film, TV and cinema workforce, and how they can be better supported. Panelists include The Film and TV Charity’s CEO Alex Pumfrey and The Production Guild CEO Alison Small, who will consider the types of pressures that professionals now face and the reasons why – and what can be done to help. Scaling up: The impact of a streamer on your local economy will take a closer look at the impact of a streamer creating a production hub in your local region. The benefits of such a production hub to the local economy and to the production community can be tremendous – but how do you scale up to ensure you can support the volumes of production? Panellists include Amber Dodson, Film Liaison for the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico – the home of Breaking Bad. On a practical note, there’s also a session devoted to co-production, titled Co-Production – True or False. It is designed to address 10 of the most common reasons that make producers wary of co-productions. Featuring European and UK producers, it is designed to be a lively exchange that will explore the arguments and drill down into the detail. Panellists include the director of the Creative Europe Desk (UK), Agnieszka Moody. Meanwhile, Intimacy Coordination: from the what and why to the how will explore the role of the intimacy coordinator, which has found its way onto many sets in the UK and EU in the wake of the #MeToo movement. But what does the role entail, and how does a coordinator work with directors and actors and collaborate with other departments? Panellists include intimacy coordinator Yarit Dor. The Politics of Location will also be debated at FOCUS. With US states such as Georgia the subject of a backlash from filmmakers as a result of its ‘Heartbeat’ abortion bill, the politics of a location has become an increasingly important factor when production decide where to shoot. Elsewhere, the session Flexible working across the creative screen industries will examine the shortage of skilled workforce for the booming film and TV industries – at a time when many have left


BACK TO CONTENTS networking events, including a Producers Brunch in association with Variety, the Location Managers Christmas Drinks, the Advertising Producers Association Christmas Party and receptions by a wide range of film commissions including Italy, Thailand, Finland, Croatia, Estonia, Ukraine, Madrid, Creative England/FO:UK, Poland, Cyprus, Portugal and Marseille. FOCUS also continues to expand its international reach, creating additional formal partnerships and inviting overseas delegations. Over 30 associations from 20 European countries, representing producers, directors, location managers and other audiovisual professionals are affiliates for the 2019 edition of FOCUS.


the industry because of the demands it places on their lives. This panel discussion features professionals from across the Creative Screen industries who will discuss what is being done to address the idea of working flexibly or creating job shares that would work both to the benefit of the employees and the employers. Panellists include Knickerbockerglory managing director Jonathan Stadlen and The Mill’s group head of learning and development Simon Devereux. The Space Race, meanwhile, will focus on the demand for more studio space to lure productions and how regions can sustainably and effectively meet this demand. Another session on the golden age of documentaries will look in detail at the factual boom, asking why docs are suddenly so popular and what kinds of factual programming is resonating with audiences – and why. Panellists include Dogwoof CEO Anna Godas and the BFI Doc Society Fund executive Lisa Marie Russo. The games industry will also be in the spotlight at FOCUS, with a session profiling executives who started in the film and TV industries but moved over to games. The session will find out what they have learnt from the move, and their opinion on the similarities – and differences – between the industries. The FOCUS conference programme will also feature a number of case studies of high-profile productions. Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield opened to strong reviews at this year’s London Film Festival, and a masterclass with production designer Cristina Casali and supervising location manager Harriet Lawrence will see them discuss how they helped meet the director’s vision on the film. In addition to the curated programme, sustainability will continue to play a major role at FOCUS. For 2019, in association with AdGreen and BAFTA’s Albert, FOCUS will work with the Business Design Centre to reduce the carbon footprint of the whole event. Sustainability issues will be embedded throughout the content programme, addressing the environmental impact of the production industry at every opportunity. The Green Zone, showcasing eco-friendly companies and offering dedicated sessions at The Green Academy, will be expanded. The extensive networking opportunities presented at FOCUS will be refined and expanded for the 2019 edition, offering bespoke brokering of relationships. FOCUS 2018 hosted thirty dedicated


Exhibitors at FOCUS come from every single continent and from over 80 countries, ranging from film commissions to location providers and production services, and cater for all production types and budgets – from development right through to post-production. If you are looking for filming incentives worth up to 50% of your budget, there’s millions of dollars’ worth of tax break programmes to discover. You’ll also find exhibitors offering a range of versatile locations or production solutions from around the world that can add real screen value. Meanwhile, if you are planning to film in the UK you can meet with Film London, Creative England, Film Offices UK and Creative Scotland, alongside a wide range of UK locations and services. It’s possible to pre-arrange meetings using FOCUS’ one-to-one online meeting scheduler, or simply to network with your peers at the many receptions and happy hours held at the show. FOCUS has established itself as an important date in the screen industry calendar. Dawn McCarthySimpson MBE, Pact UK Managing Director of Business Development & Global Strategy and Chair of the 2019 FOCUS Content Advisory Board commented: “FOCUS is one of the top events that happen in the UK, where you can meet 70 countries, and find out incentives and partners and potential opportunities. A key factor is that it is free. FOCUS is inclusive and brings everyone together – a whole range of people at different levels of their career”. Mikael Svensson, representing the Swedish Film Commissions said: “It’s an incredible achievement to create such an indispensable event in such a short time”. FOCUS takes place at the Business Design Centre, in London, every December. It remains completely free to attend for industry professionals. For more details, see


AUSTRIA definite drama at the top of Tirol’s Sölden mountain, which starred as the villainous Blofeld’s high-tech lab. Luckily, impressive architecture isn’t limited to mountaintops. Modern and baroque architecture can be found throughout the country and Vienna has enough exteriors and interiors to satisfy any period production. Vienna has over one hundred and fifty city and garden palaces scattered amongst more contemporary architecture.

from Bond to Bollywood, austria looks great on screen. it has a blend of dramatic landscapes, elegant architecture and efficient filming infrastructure that is hard to surpass. larger scale projects can take advantage of the fisa scheme, providing up to 25% on production costs.

Incoming production can access Austria‘s Film Industry Support Scheme (FISA) to mitigate the financial commitment of shooting in the country. Grants of up to 25% of eligible Austrian production expenditure are allocated on a first come, first served basis from an annual budget of EUR7.5 million. FISA has supported projects including Jessica Hausner’s sci-fi drama Little Joe and documentary Heimat is a Space in Time from Thomas Heise. roductions lucky enough to shoot in this central European country will be met with a well-oiled production infrastructure.

The Tirol region in particular is sought after by productions looking for easily accessible Alpine landscapes. Fox Searchlight comedy Downhill shot here in winter 2019 for this reason. The feature stars Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus on a family skiing holiday that morphs into a reflective experience after a narrow escape from an avalanche. Based in Tirol, the film shot in Ischgl, Fiss and Kaunertal. Anthony Bregman, producer on Downhill from Likely Story Film production noted “we looked at “we looked aT ski ski resorts around the world, and resorTs around the Tirol gave us some of the best The world, and The options” adding that “good access Tirol gave us some to a ski resort, which would of The besT opTions.” facilitate our filming need – access to runs, access to cable cars, ski lifts and all other ski infrastructure was essential. Both resorts have not only been helpful with co-operation with the ski slopes and infrastructure, but have been extremely helpful on securing accommodation for us in peak ski season”. Bollywood action feature SAAHO recently shot in a location made famous by Bond’s Spectre. The feature filmed at the modern glass ICE Q restaurant


loCatioN highlight

Café Sperl, Vienna

First opened in 1880, this coffee house retains a Jugendstil interior, the art nouveau style that became popular in Germany and Austria in the late eighteenth century. The café epitomises Viennese sophistication with high ceilings, brass chandeliers, billiard tables and wooden bar. A versatile spot, the café features in 1995 romantic drama Before Sunrise, as well as A Dangerous Method (pictured above) which follows the relationship between influential psychologists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud in Vienna on the eve of World War I. Director David Cronenberg noted that, “We almost had to change nothing to make it feel like 1907”.

The Green Challenge

The entertainment industry has to step up if the world is to tackle climate change. makers rounds up the resources and initiatives that can help programme makers do their bit.


here’s now an unprecedented global consensus that we are headed for a world of extreme weather patterns with devastating consequences for hundreds of millions of people. It’s also agreed that, if we’re to have any chance of avoiding truly catastrophic climate change, then countries, industries and individuals must work much harder to cut carbon emissions in a bid to stop temperatures rising more than 2C above pre-industrial levels.

This includes, of course, the entertainment industry. The average TV programme produces tens of tonnes of carbon dioxide, while the figure is in the thousands of tonnes for a feature film, according to Bafta’s Albert consortium.


Albert has emerged as the key UK body helping to coordinate sustainability initiatives in the UK, providing advice, a carbon calculator, contacts and certification for production companies looking to reduce their environmental impact. In the US, the Producers Guild of America partnered with studios ten years ago to launch the Green Production Guide. It offers a range of resources, including the widely downloaded Peach (Production Environmental Accounting Checklist) best practices checklist, the Pear (Production Environmental Accounting Report) carbon calculator, and the Plum (Production Lumber Material) worksheet.



Further advice and resources can be found on a European level from Green Film Shooting, which bills itself as the European centre for sustainability in the media world. There’s also the Dutch initiative Green Film Making; France’s Ecoprod; as well as two projects called Green Screen. One is an EU funded initiative, which includes partners such as Film London (UK), the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (Belgium), Ile-de-France Film Commission (France) and Promálaga (Spain). Film London in partnership with Green Shoot also offers a Green Screen online tool that helps productions shooting in the capital to set their own environmental targets. Productions that have achieved a Green Screen stamp include The Crown (Netflix), Free Fire (Rook Films) and City of Tiny Lights (BBC Films). Making use of the sustainability checklists provided by such organisations is important, as they help a production to work out where key carbon reductions can be achieved. For most productions, Albert estimates that 50% of its carbon footprint will come from power used, 25% from transport, 20% from the food eaten and 5% from the items bought. Then it’s time to explore alternatives to traditional production methods, taking into account recent environmental innovations in costume, lighting, finance, transport, set design and almost every other department (Some of these can be found at the annual FOCUS Show in London in December. FOCUS has hosted a popular Green Zone for several years, which attracts many suppliers offering sustainable solutions for production). Most important is to communicate and to speak up – asking suppliers how they can help reduce your production’s carbon footprint, advises Albert. Then it’s time to define and communicate your intentions – once you’ve got a plan, make sure everyone on a production knows what it is. It’s a myth that going green costs more. The PGA recently produced a cost benefit analysis of sustainable filming called Going Green and Saving Green, which showed how pro-environmental measures can translate into budgetary savings for productions. For example, it said water costs could be 51% lower if a production ditched plastic bottles on set in favour of hiring water coolers and using compostable cups and reusable bottles. Transportation costs, meanwhile, could fall 12.7% by incentivising crew to use public transport, bike use or switching to hybrid vehicles. Dealing with waste more effectively offers some of the biggest savings, of up to 40%, by recycling sets, costumes and composting food waste.

Creating sets for productions can be notoriously wasteful, with much of the set simply sent to landfill afterwards. However, a recent case study by Albert showed how producer Mammoth Screen, for example, built the sets of its recent Agatha Christie adaptation ABC Murders with left over materials from series four of its ITV series Poldark – and reused them again for series five. Another major contributor to a production’s carbon footprint and its spend is generator fuel. Mammoth Screen was able to save GBP20,000 by using the mains house power wherever possible reducing their need for fuel. To reduce their travel impact, the team employed local crew in the Yorkshire and Lancashire areas. This switch meant they saved money “once you’ve goT on both travel and a plan, make sure accommodation, saving everyone on a GBP16,000. Mammoth producTion knows also hired a catering whaT iT is.” company which took sustainability seriously: no polystyrene was used and ingredients were locally sourced where possible. To reduce their plastic consumption, reusable water bottles were issued to all cast and crew. Scripts and paperwork were also only printed on request or when absolutely necessary, saving the crew time and money. It says this simple change saved the production over GBP10,000. Albert has also started calling on programme makers to try to tackle climate change on screen, as well as behind the scenes. TV and film can, of course, be very powerful in embedding positive behaviours. In the 1980s and 90s, for example, the term “designated driver” made it into hundreds of primetime US TV shows, such as Cheers, helping to normalise the behaviour across the US and to reduce drunk driving fatalities. Albert wants today’s programme makers to do the same, and earlier this year produced a guide – Planet Placement – to help them do it. It provides examples of how TV shows and films have embedded sustainability into story narratives, and sets out the tactics and opportunities that can be used to spread the word. Given the soft power of the entertainment industry, this could its most important contribution to tackling climate change.




belle of the ball

the Baltic states have provided the setting for some of 2019’s most anticipated releases and critical successes. With an assortment of locations, experienced local service companies and essential facilities, the Baltic states pack serious production punch.

ithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the three countries that make up the Baltic States, are roughly the same size as Uruguay. They have recently emerged as one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Only hours away from London, Paris and Moscow, the region is well connected with the east and the west.

Without the large studios with extensive soundstages that are available in Hungary or the Czech Republic, the Baltics have so far mostly catered mostly to productions predominantly looking for specific locations. This ranges from brutalist Soviet era architecture to elaborate baroque palaces, remnants from the era of the Russian Tsars. Each capital has a distinct architectural style too, with baroque Vilnius, Jugendstil Riga and medieval Tallinn providing options for period productions.

However, there are facilities available in the Baltics too. Vilnius Film Cluster is a hub for a number of audio-visual companies covering lighting and grip rental, set “each capiTal construction and postproduction. has a disTincT The VFC Pavilion soundstage archiTecTural measures 11,840 square feet and sTyle Too, wiTh has a green screen working area.

baroQue vilnius, jugendsTil riga and medieval Tallinn providing opTions for period producTions.”

However this could be about to change as Tallinn Film Studios, in Estonia’s capital, is on track to open in Spring 2020. The complex received investment from the Estonian government and aims to become the largest studio complex in the Baltic area.

loCatioN highlight

Skrunda-1, Latvia

Skrunda was once a communist-era secret city in Latvia that had a thriving military and scientific community. Created during the Cold War, the site has been deserted for over 20 years making the brutalist apartment blocks appear even more bare. After independence, the base continued to be run under Russian supervision until 1998, when the Latvian government organised the demolition of the town’s radar building in a symbolic gesture. There are many similar sites across the Baltic States, some of which have been repurposed. For example, a military ghost territory once used as a nuclear missile base has been developed into a paintballing site and in Lithuania the Plokstine Missile Complex has been transformed into a Cold War museum, and eco-education centre. The ghost town was used as a setting for a battle scene in 2017’s Justice League, and provided a large set for filming an epic action sequence.



This growing infrastructure complements the range of incentives that exist in the Baltics. Incentives have been introduced and expanded in the last few years to keep international production interested in the countries. Productions can access anything between 20-30% in the region. Lithuania’s 30% is available to productions with a Lithuanian partner company and spending at least 80% of costs in Lithuania. Latvia has a 20 – 25% rebate, and the higher rate depends on whether the story is set in Latvia or references its architecture and landscapes. This rebate can be combined with the Riga film fund, which provides up to 25% expenses, and like the national scheme a portrayal of the country in the project garners a higher percentage. Estonia’s 20, 25 or 30% depends on the level of Estonian production costs eligible, but if two creative employees are tax residents of Estonia, the 30% rate automatically applies and drops to 25% for one. One of the biggest success stories that highlights what the Baltics can do is HBO’s Chernobyl. The highly-acclaimed series shot mostly on location in Lithuania. Baltic Film Services handled the shoot in Lithuania which was centred in the capital, Vilnius. The district of Fabijoniskes in the capital, which was built around the time of the Chernobyl disaster, was chosen because it resembles the nuclear city of Pripyat. Another key location in Lithuania that prominently featured in the series was the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, Chernobyl’s sister plant which was able to double for Chernobyl plant before the explosion. Now decommissioned and safe for filming, the site hosted principal photography with high levels of security and safety measures in place. Lineta Miseikyte, producer at Baltic Film Services underlines the fact that the region’s skilled crew were key to the success of the project and securing large incoming productions such as Chernobyl. “No incentives would work for attracting foreign films to Vilnius if the skills of our film industry workforce wouldn’t be up to par with global standards. Lithuania has a rich history of cinematography, and our highly skilled film personnel are a testament to that” she says. There is also a wealth of production companies that cater to international commercial projects and can engage in fast paced shoots. Companies like Stellar and Cuba Films in Estonia have worked on high end TVC’s for the likes of BMW, Ikea and Lenor. This base of crew has been built on so that the region can facilitate the larger shoots that are increasingly frequent. More international projects than ever are descending on the region, many of which choose to shoot in more than one Baltic country because of the proximity of locations. The Last Czars for Netflix, BBC’s War and Peace and HBO/Sky co-production Catherine the Great (main image) used a combination of locations in the region to



Nils sChWeMer Md & exeCutive ProduCer

Iconoclast Germany

Q: What was the project? A: We actually shot two projects back to back.

One was a more editorial or let´s say short film for a collaboration between Ssense and Gucci, the other one was more of a traditional spot for Nivea. Both directed by Matt Lambert. Q: What was concept behind the shoot? A: Both projects were very different from each

other. One is a more stylized, rather dystopian look into the future, where a tribe of camp performers come together to congregate and perform together (Ssense x Gucci). The other film is about intimately told stories that our skin tells… the stress it endures but also the resilience that gives us character. Q: Have you worked in Lithuania / The

Baltics before? A: Yes. We love to shoot in The Baltics,

especially in Lithuania with The Magic. It always feels like seeing your Baltic family. We´ve shot projects for car manufacturers, German supermarkets and insurance companies. Q: Is there infrastructure set up to support

commercial productions? A: Totally. There´s a great bunch of very

talented people in all departments and everybody is very friendly too. Very modern and open-minded crews that we enjoy working with.



esseNtial faCts

Co-ProduCtioN treaties

Lithuania: France. Latvia: Canada. Estonia: France, Canada, Israel & China. All three are members of the EU Convention on Cinematic Co-production. tax iNCeNtives

20-30% Lithuania: up to 30% Estonia: A 20, 25 or 30% cash rebate on eligible production costs. Latvia: up to 20-25% for foreign productions shot in Latvia. studios

Kino Studija, Vilnius Film Cluster, Cinevilla Studio Backlot & Riga Film Studio. ata CarNet


iNterNatioNal taleNt

Directors Audrius Stonys, Arunas Matelis, Sharunas Bartas, Kristina Buozyte, Tanel Toom, Moonika Siimets & Laila Pakalnina. Actress Aiste Dirziutei. Images: Catherine the Great & Chernobyl © Sky UK Ltd.


create the rich and wealthy world of the Russian nobility. In contrast to Chernobyl (pictured above), which focused on Soviet era locations, all three of these productions were looking for the elaborate palaces and interiors fit for Russian royalty. Rundale Palace, a major baroque palace in Latvia, is a particularly popular destination for productions like this. Rumsiskes open air museum in Lithuania has a number of buildings that exhibit the lives of everyday people during this period too, and played the role of the Siberian village where Rasputin was exiled in The Last Czars. All the buildings are kitted out with furniture and implements accurate to the period, so can act as a quick, ready made set. Elsewhere in the Baltic States, Estonia was one of the locations sought after by Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Tenet. The film, distributed by Warner Bros is shrouded in secrecy but has been described as an “action movie set in the world of espionage”, and has been shooting across the globe since May 2019. In November Latvia and Estonia, together with neighbour Finland, launched the North Star Film Alliance to promote themselves as a harmonised filmmaking region. The alliance will help producers make the most of the region’s incentive systems, and traverse the region with logistic and administrative ease.

soMethiNg else

Surprisingly, Latvia is one of the top countries at basketball. Fox sitcom New Girl introduced one of the main characters, Winston Bishop, as an ex basketball player who returns to the US after playing professional basketball for the eighth best team in the Latvian league. While this sounds like an unlikely backstory, the Baltics do have a particularly strong basketball culture. Lithuanians are the biggest fans of the game, having established a dominance in the international leagues before the second world war. Even under the Soviet regime, the basketball culture was kept alive and the team won two Olympics and World Cups and thirteen EuroBasket championships during these years. Since independence, many of the country’s top players have joined NBA teams. In Latvia and Estonia basketball is still popular, but ice hockey is equally as loved.



How to get into gaming


reating quiz shows for TV is a hard game. Not only do they have to be fun to play – they have to be fun to watch – and that’s the killer. The bins in our development office are full of game mechanics that didn’t quite translate to television.

We had one such idea for a game show called The Glitch. It was, essentially, a spot the difference game. We showed you a photo – for example a black and white photo showing farm workers from the 1900’s – but something isn’t right in the pic. All you have to do is spot the glitch; one of the guys is holding a mobile phone. It was great fun to play but we couldn’t make it work for TV. At the time, we had a guy called Stewart Murdock working for us in development who was finishing up his degree at uni and needed an end of year project. He asked to take The Glitch and work it up as an app. He’s something of a genius in these things so we took it out of the bin and gave it to him. During this period we were shooting Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (WWTBAM) with Jeremy Clarkson. I was in the green room looting sweets from the international buyers when I bumped into Stephan Zingg (Digital Consultant Sony Pictures Television). We talked about the WWTBAM app and how much work goes into re-versioning it for all the different territories – the language issue for the questions etc etc – and it suddenly dawned on me that a game that didn’t rely on language could launch globally, instantly, with zero work required. Stewart had created this fantastic playable PDF for The Glitch and I showed it to Stephan. He loved it. We struck a deal in the room to develop the app. I left the green room with as many sweets as I could carry.

Stewart took over lead development duties on The Glitch, it really is his baby. Our TV development department became his test dummies. To build the actual game we partnered with Two Way Media – the company behind the WWTBAM app. Within a few months we’d launched the first version. We launched Spot the Glitch as a Facebook Gaming App first, and we’re now developing it for Android and the App Store. It’s quite a straightforward process to get a game on Facebook Gaming, and much of the work required for an Android launch is done at the same time, so it’s a very efficient way of working. We’ve used the feedback from our players to help shape the next version we’re about to launch on the other platforms. In TV, by the time you find out if people like your gameshow, it’s too late to do anything about it. With The Glitch we were getting feedback and we were constantly making iterations. We still are. It’s so addictive. Now I look at all our ideas differently. Nothing goes in the bin until Stewart has had a chance to look at it. I don’t think anyone creates an App with the expectation that they’re going to get rich. In saying that, I’m an eternal optimist - Spot the Glitch could be the next 4 Pics 1 Word – but I’m also a pragmatic optimist – I know it probably won’t be but the investment isn’t huge and it’s worth a punt. There are only a few ways to make money in the app world – in game advertising, purchases, etc – but they all require a critical mass of people. So, just like in TV, to be a success you have to reach as many people as possible. The only difference being, in TV the risk is stacked against the broadcaster. In the app world – we’re self funded – and all the risk is stacked on us. But then again, all the rewards will be ours too. See? I told you I was an optimist.

Kieran Doherty is the joint managing director of TV production company Stellify Media, which he formed with Matthew Worthy as a joint venture with Sony Pictures Television in 2014. Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Stellify specialises in producing entertainment and factual entertainment shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Blind Date and Flinch. It recently branched out into games production. 38

Gender Revolution?

Campaigns to improve the representation of female writers and directors in the TV and film industry have been high profile and well supported. Are the green shoots of change finally starting to appear? makers investigates.



blizzard of statistics in recent years has shamed the TV and film industries into acknowledging that they suffer from a marked and profound gender imbalance.

Time’s Up, formed in 2017 amid revelations of widespread abuse and misbehaviour in the entertainment industry, launched the #4percentchallenge in 2019 – named because only 4% of the top 1,200 studio films over the last decade were directed by women. It calls on key on and off screen talent to commit to work with a female

director on a feature film in the 18 months – and has been supported by a raft of high profile actors and producers. In 2018, meanwhile, the Writers Guild of Great Britain published a study which found that only 16% of working film writers in the UK are female, and only 14% of prime-time TV is female-written. It too launched a campaign, Equality Writes, to tackle the problem – calling on public funders to pledge a 50/50 split between male and female written films by 2020.




The writing figures are similar in the US – on the top 100 grossing films of 2018, women represented just 15% of writers (and only 3% of cinematographers and 18% of producers and exec producers) according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. Kathryn Bigelow, meanwhile, remains the only woman to ever win the Academy Award for Best Director. It’s still early days, but there are signs that such statistics and campaigns have prompted the industries into taking action – and that positive change is now starting to take place. At the recent BFI London Film Festival, some 60% of films in competition were directed or co-directed by women. High-profile films such as Céline Sciamma’s period lesbian romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Sarah Gavron’s London-set portrait of female friendship Rocks generated buzz, while female-directed films won two of the festival’s four competitions. At the festival, an industry panel hosted by critic and screenwriter Kate Muir featured writers Theresa Ikoko (Rocks), Charlie Covell (The End of the F***ing World), Claire Wilson (Rocks), Nida Manzoor (Lady Parts), and Moira Buffini (Harlots) speaking on the subject of female authorship. “These are exciting, ground breaking, fourth wall breaking moments for women’s writing on television and the big screen,” said Muir, citing a raft of acclaimed TV shows that have been penned by female screenwriters – including Fleabag, Derry Girls, Russian Doll (pictured left), Sex Education (main image), Chewing Gum, Gentleman Jack, Killing Eve, Harlots, The End of the F***ing World (pictured above) and The Bisexual. Muir also pointed out that the Cannes Film Festival’s best screenplay prize had been won by female writers for the past three years (Céline Sciamma for Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Alice Rohrwacher for Happy as Lazzaro, and Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here.) Buffini, who made her name as a playwright and wrote the film screenplays for Tamara Drewe and Jane Eyre as well as creating Hulu’s series Harlots, said that for a long time there has been a very short

list of women who would regularly be offered work in the industry – and that because of her past credits, she was on that list. “Finally, it now feels like it is evening up.” Buffini says that Harlots, which is now in its third series, aimed to work with female writers and directors from the outset. “By the third series, we were having trouble finding women writers. It was the same with directors as well. We had our pick of amazing directors in series one, but by series three they were all working.” Buffini explained: “I do think there has been a change. It is a fragile and amazing and brilliant change that must be well looked after to make sure that it is lasting and sustainable.”

“These are exciTing, ground breaking, fourTh wall breaking momenTs for women’s wriTing on Tv and The big screen.”

Buffini was recently part of a Times Up delegation of writers who went to see UK channel executives to ask them to commission shows from a more diverse range of writers. “We said you have to change the storytelling, because there are all these stories that are not getting told and people who don’t see themselves reflected on the screen.” Scripts written by men will often largely cast men, she explained. “Where are the older women? They are just not there. Where are the people of colour? They are not there as they are in society. We just said, change the storyteller.” Buffini says the channels were listening. Since that meeting, she says that 40% of the writers now under commission at Channel 4 are female, with a similar figure at Sky. Over at ITV, meanwhile, comedy commissioner Saskia Schuster announced in the summer that writing teams must aim towards 50:50 gender representation – and that she will no longer commission any show with an all-male writing team. She’d found that writing teams for comedy entertainment shows were predominantly all male. For scripted comedy, for every five scripts sent to her by a man, she would receive just one by a woman. Schuster said: “Our productions should aim to represent the world we experience. Diverse voices, in my view, lead to more interesting characters and stories, a wider range of jokes, better shows.”

Images: Sex Eduaction, Russian Doll & e End of the F***ing World © Netflix.



BERLINALE 2020 2020 looks set to be a landmark year for the Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale). Marking its 70th anniversary, the festival is being run this year by new co-chiefs Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek. The former artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, Chatrian has taken on the same role at the Berlinale, handling film selection. Rissenbeek, the ex-managing director of promotion agency German Films is festival manager, running the business of the festival, including organisation and sponsorship. Previously, Dieter Kosslick – who stepped down earlier this year after 18 years at the helm – had handled both roles. In 2018, 79 German directors, including Maren Ade, Fatih Akin and Christian Petzold, signed an open letter calling for a “new beginning” after the


berlinale in numbers

the first year of the festival held iN West BerliN


Mark Peranson. There’s also a new programming team for the Forum section of the festival, run by film critic, author and curator Cristina Nord.

Changes have already started to take place. This year’s event has been pushed back two weeks so that it starts on February 20, avoiding a clash with the Oscars (Feb 9th) and Baftas (Feb 2nd), and giving it some breathing room after Sundance (23rd Jan- 2nd Feb). The date move could help the festival become a more effective launch pad for projects at the beginning of the year.

Julia Fidel takes over at Berlin’s increasingly high profile TV drama screenings, Berlinale Series (Feb 24-26th) having previously worked for the Panorama and Generation sections of the film festival.

There’s been a number of new appointments too. Chatrian has appointed a new seven-member selection committee, which will be chaired by his former Locarno colleague, head of programming,


There’s also a new competitive section, Encounters – a platform for “aesthetically and structurally daring works from independent, innovative filmmakers.” It will comprise a maximum of 15 works – world or international premieres of fiction or documentary films at least 60 minutes in length.


For more information about the festival see

NuMBer of filMs iN the festival PrograMMe iN 2019

NuMBer of sCreeNiNgs iN 2019


the nuMber oF female winners oF the golden bear since 1951 exhibitors at european film markeT

TickeTs sold in 2019

nuMber oF gerMan directors to win the toP Prize, the golden bear, including faTih akin & rainer fassbinder

the duration oF the Festival, FroM 20 february - 1 march



Kosslick era in a bid to “revive” the festival. The Berlinale’s line-up has been criticised for its large size and perceived lack of Hollywood star power.

FilMs by female direcTors in coMPetition in 2019 10 were by Male FilMMakers


films in compeTiTion in 2019

eur26 million

the annual budget oF The berlinale



BENELUX creative cool

from politics to commerce and culture, the Benelux union is firmly at the heart of europe so it’s not surprising that the production sector also has a firm foothold here. With large studio facilities and experienced crew, Benelux is a region on the up.

n many ways the commercial sector has paved the way for the current success of Benelux, consisting of Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. There is now a steady stream of high-end TV and films shooting in the region and a growing number of post-production houses working on international projects.

The strength of the commercial industry in Benelux is obvious when you look at the concentration of top international agencies in the region. 72andSunny whose European office is in Amsterdam, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam and the BBDO network are all here. They have strong relationships with brands including Ikea, Nike, Panasonic Europe, and Uber EMEA. Dynamic production companies such as CZAR, which has offices in both Brussels and Amsterdam, Caviar in Brussels, Mr. Frank and The Panics have fostered a real creative buzz in the region.

“projecTs based in The uk ofTen find much needed sTudio space in benelux as The region has a number of high-end sTudios.”

Ania Markham, executive producer at Amsterdam-based The Panics notes, “It’s pretty amazing that you can have the level of talent that you have here”, and suggests that it is “the openness of agencies and brands to work together and take chances that has resulted in bigger and more integrated campaigns coming out of the region”.

The Netherlands’ government is squarely focused on an economy based on creative and technological innovation, supporting start-ups and investing in technology. Markham points to a recent AR demo


loCatioN highlight

Luxembourg’s Kirchberg district Modernsit Kirchberg is in the north-east of Luxembourg City and sits isolated on a plateau above the historical district. The area is a cultural hub with museums including the Mudam museum of modern art, the Philharmonie concert hall and the European Parliament’s plenary chambers. The district also houses the national sports and culture centre with an Olympic sized swimming pool. According to 2018 statistics, the area is home to 76% international residents, about 5% above the city’s average. Emmy nominated German-Luxembourg TV drama Bad Banks utilised the district as its modern architecture and rising skyscrapers complemented the story of a young investment banker Jana navigating the world of high finance. The thriller follows Jana who, after being wrongfully dismissed, accepts an offer for her dream job which comes crashing down as she realises her former boss is manipulating her.


and accompanying narrative film for Dell in collaboration with Nike where they were presented with ultra-modern haptic technology, which uses ultrasound waves to create the sensation of 3D touch in mid-air. Dell asked The Panics to create the film and AR demo looking at how the technology might be used in the workplace in the near future. The resulting project, created in collaboration with Nike, explores how trainer designers could both visualise and touch trainers they were working on in real time and was shared across the globe on social media and news outlets. The region’s post-production industry underlines its reputation as a tech hub. The Netherlands Post Production Alliance unites Dutch imaging, sound design and visual effects studios under one organisation and helps incoming producers navigate the landscape, which they say has grown into a “flexible and resourceful” industry. Post-production work is eligible for the 30-35% incentive in The Netherlands while in Belgium, the Belgian Tax Shelter as well as regional funds from Screen Flanders and Screen Brussels cater to post work too. This level of international work taking place in Benelux extends to high-end film and TV. In March 2018, The Goldfinch shot in Amsterdam at multiple locations around the city, including an action sequence in an underground garage and along the city’s famed canals and Emmy award winning Killing Eve recently shot along the city’s canals during its second series. Both productions also showed the grittier side of the city. Roy van Rosmalen, locations scout on The Goldfinch, notes that “the Amsterdam world was supposed to be a bit dodgy. The fate of the priceless painting The Goldfinch hung in the balance and you have to feel that tension in all the locations”. In Killing Eve, assassin Villanelle commits a murder in the red-light district. Belgium hosted much of the production on the BBC’s Les Misérables, doubling for Paris. Outside Brussels, Limbourg, Ghent and Namur all played a part in providing bridges, squares and streets for the production. Screen Brussels notes that the capital’s “varied architectural heritage offers a wide range of potential period locations”. Co-produced by CZAR TV, Belgium is in easy reach for crews in London, Paris and Amsterdam providing great flexibility and access to film professionals who are specialised in international co-productions. Benelux as a whole is well set up for co-productions and international shoots because professionals often work in English meaning that incoming crews are able to quickly find their feet and fuse together as a team.

Q&A eliZa Mellor ProduCer

The Widow

Q: Why did The Widow choose to shoot

in Rotterdam? A: Jack and Harry Williams, of Two Brothers

Pictures, scripted Rotterdam as they wanted to get a real contrast between Africa, where most of the story for The Widow was set, and a modern northern European city. But they were also very open to other suggestions in terms of where to shoot so we asked local producers to give us budgets for shooting in Hamburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam. We finally chose Rotterdam as it gave us the locations we wanted at a reasonable cost. Q: What main locations did the

production use? A: We wanted to show the modern

architecture of Rotterdam so we chose locations such as De Rotterdam building, where we filmed both inside and on the waterfront outside. Q: How much of the crew were locally

sourced? A: We sourced local crew through our service

company, Hotel Rebel, who were fantastically helpful and made shooting in Rotterdam very easy. We brought our DOP, costume designer and make-up designer but used a local gaffer, electricians, grips, sound recordist, art director and local costume and make-up artists. Q: Do you have any recommendations for producers thinking of shooting in The Netherlands, or Benelux more generally? A: It was a very positive experience – great

locations which were easy to access, professional crew and some of the best catering I’ve ever had!



soMethiNg else

Benelux is a forward-thinking region with an international outlook and business-friendly governments so start-up companies are common. One particularly interesting start-up is Unifly who are on a mission to create a safer airspace by integrating drones into existing manned aviation systems. Founded in 2015 by air traffic controllers and pilots, the company has developed a Unmanned Traffic Management software platform which addresses the needs of all stakeholders in the drone industry. It connects authorities with operators to integrate drones into the airspace safely and securely by translating complex aviation data into a format that non-aviators can understand and use. Authorities can use the platform to enforce local regulations and streamline the flight approval process. Airspace managers can also visualise and approve drone flights and configure no-fly zones in real-time. Unifly has started being used by national authorities in Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Austria and is looking to expand into the US sector. It has also been used in Africa to support UNICEF’s drone corridor in Malawi and in Asia at the Fukushima Robot Test Field Centre.

Because of its location, projects based in the UK often find much needed studio space in Benelux and the region has a number of high-end studios. AED Studios in Antwerp, for example, has 16 studios, and has hosted international features including A Quiet Passion, Kursk and Grace of Monaco. AED also has one of Belgium’s two indoor water studios. In April Lites Studio in Brussels opened its advanced underwater stage whose movable pool floor can be positioned at any depth including for dry set construction and provides water FX capabilities. The studio also has four other stages, and camera and lighting rental houses in Flanders, Wallonia, Amsterdam and Brussels. To underpin the production sector, incentives and regional funds are available throughout Benelux. The Belgian Tax Shelter provides up to 42% of the Belgian expenses for film, TV drama and TV documentary and is open to European works, and qualifying international co-productions. The scheme is stackable with local funds from the regional commissions in Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders. The Netherlands meanwhile has a cash rebate incentive open to feature films and feature-length animated films who can obtain up to 35%, and high-end TV series for up to 30% on eligible production costs. The Luxembourg Film Fund has invested in international productions including Element Pictures’ Black ’47, and Emmy award nominated drama Bad Banks (main image). The fund is selective and provides discretionary loans to producers to finance development and scriptwriting, distribution and production/co-production for fiction, animation, documentaries and short films.

esseNtial faCts

Co-ProduCtioN treaties

The EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. Additionally Belgium has 16 including Tunisia, Israel, China, Morocco & Canada. The Netherlands has 10 including Canada, South Africa & China. Luxembourg has seven including China & Canada. tax iNCeNtives

30-42% In the Netherlands TV dramas, documentaries, animations & single episodes can access a 30% cash rebate. Feature films, feature documentaries, & feature animations can access up to a 35% cash rebate on production costs. The maximum award is EUR1.5 million In Belgium producers can access more than 40% in finance of the Belgian-eligible expenses. European or fiction film, documentaries or animations intended for cinema or international projects within the scope of a bilateral co-production agreement qualify. Each region also has additional funding opportunities. Three regional funds, Screen Flanders, Screen Brussels & Wallimage offer funding for productions in their respective regions. studios

A variety of studios exist in the region. Belgium has leading studios including Lites Studios & AED Studios. The Netherland’s Amsterdam Studios has facilities close to the city centre. ata CarNet


iNterNatioNal taleNt

Producer Ellen De Waele. Director & Writer Tom Van Avermaet. Director Halina Reijn. Animator & director Aichael Dudok de Wit. tiMe ZoNe

GMT+1 47

Quibi: short form’s saviour or sucker? Elba vs Block is an eight episode car stunt series, produced by Workerbee for Quibi, starring Idris Elba and rally driver Ken Block. Each episode comes in at under seven minutes. Because they are meant to be watched on mobile phones, the storytelling and visual elements of a Quibi short are very different to traditional TV.



With a USD1 biLLiOn prOgramming bUDget, Jeffrey Katzenberg anD meg Whitman’S premiUm ShOrt fOrm pLatfOrm QUibi haS attracteD a raft Of tOp taLent tO create ShOWS aheaD Of itS LaUnch next year. MAKERS taLKS tO SOme Of thOSe maKing ShOWS fOr the Start-Up – anD aSKS if QUibi WiLL be abLe tO perSUaDe miLLenniaL mObiLe vieWerS tO bUy intO the Service.

You have to be absolutely brutal in the edit – a lot of what we shot, including entire scenes, have hit the cutting room floor.” So says Rick Murray, reflecting on the challenges of producing content for the soon to launch premium short-form platform, Quibi.

His company, Workerbee, has just produced Elba vs Block, an eight episode car stunt series starring Hollywood A-lister Idris Elba and renowned rally driver Ken Block for Quibi. Each episode comes in at under seven minutes. It’s one of the first series to deliver to Quibi, which is due to launch in April 2020, and has been on a commissioning spree in recent months, backed by a $1 billion programming budget. Set up by former DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and ex-eBay and HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi’s content will consist of scripted and unscripted series, broken down into short chapters (or Quibis, short for quick bites) and made specifically for mobile viewing. “You can’t take your time with the storytelling,” explains Murray about Elba vs Block, which pits the two drivers against each other in a series of stunts with names like Wall of Death, Car Tightrope and Flaming Obstacle Course, while playing tricks on each other along the way. “You have got to very little time to set up the motivation for the joke, or how it is going to play out. You have to make everything very visual, so viewers get it immediately.” There’s no voiceover either, just captions to help move the show along. Because Quibi’s content is made to be watched on a mobile phone, “the text has to be huge”, adds Murray. “The Quibi guys told us that their research said that six minutes 40 seconds is the average time that 15-25 year olds now spend watching content on their mobiles. So six minutes 40 seconds is what we were aiming at.” The result, reckons Murray, is a “very refreshing form that absolutely rattles through – I’ve actually become very fond of it.”

Content also has to be filmed so it can be watched either vertically or horizontally on the phone. “You’d think there would be a really high tech solution for this, but we used camera tape on the monitors to tape out a vertical frame, so that we could be sure we were framing for both horizontal and vertical,” says Murray. Because the content is filmed in 4K, the resolution is high enough for an image to be cropped to the right dimension in the edit without suffering any loss of quality. The big question now, of course, is whether this kind of short form content will prove popular when Quibi launches next year.

“Quibi told us six minutes 40 seconds is the average time that 15-25 year olds now spend watching content on their mobiles. so six minutes 40 seconds is what we were aiming at.”

The challenge that faces Quibi is daunting. Nobody has yet successfully managed to crack the paid-for short form market; two attempts to do so – Vivendi’s StudioPlus and Verizon’s go90 – closed down last year, nursing heavy losses.

The problem for them, and others, came down to effective monetisation. At a time when so much short form content is available for free on YouTube, it has proved hard to persuade younger audiences to pay for premium content. Quibi is also launching into a streaming market that is becoming increasingly crowded, with deep-pocketed players such Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and Comcast all readying their own offerings. Even though these services will primarily offer long form content, there is a question mark over the number of platforms that consumers are prepared to pay for. The streamers themselves are likely to offer short form content to subscribers too. Netflix, for example, has been ramping up its short form output in recent months, launching series such as Special, I Think You Should Leave and It’s Bruno, with each show running for around 12 minutes.

Not only are Quibis different from longer-form TV content in terms of storytelling, but they are visually distinct too.

However, Quibi does not see itself as a direct competitor to streamers like Netflix or indeed traditional TV, maintaining that its primary competition is mobile-first services like Facebook Watch, Instagram’s IGTV and Snapchat.

Big wide shots of a car driving in the distance don’t work so well on a mobile, so footage has to be tight and up close for the small screen.

In its favour, Quibi has entered the market with a gusto that is unlike anything seen in the short form space before. It has greenlit projects that have talent


BACK TO CONTENTS including Elba, Liam Hemsworth, Don Cheadle, Tyra Banks, Laurence Fishburne and Jennifer Lopez. Steven Spielberg (pictured left), meanwhile, is making After Dark, a horror series that users will be able to watch only between sundown and sunrise local time. Other top directors on board Quibi projects include Steven Soderbergh, Antoine Fuqua, Guillermo del Toro and Doug Liman.

QUibi maintainS that itS primary cOmpetitiOn iS mObiLe-firSt ServiceS LiKe facebOOK Watch, inStagram’S igtv anD Snapchat, rather than StreamerS LiKe netfLix.

This innovative IP ownership model stands in stark contrast to a streamer like Netflix which likes to take all global rights for long periods of time when it commissions.

Quibi’s target audience is people aged 25 to 35, and its larger demographic could include people aged 18 to 44. The start-up is focused on providing videos for mobile phones from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“The rights model is smart,” says Turton. “Jeffrey knows what he is doing – he is playing into the hands of overseas producers who understand the value of rights.”

Those videos are separated into three categories: long-form narratives distributed in short chapters; alternative content, which includes reality, documentaries and food shows; and so-called Daily Essentials, which include daily news such as morning and evening shows from NBC News that target millennials.

The company says it has USD150 million in upfront ad deals from advertisers including Google, Procter & Gamble, Walmart and PepsiCo.

As the business matures and if it is a huge success, the deal terms and budgets may of course change. But for now, Quibi’s generous budgets and rights model have helped it attract top talent, producers and ideas, and in a very short space of time. “They have judged it absolutely right,” says Murray. “There is a real buzz about it.” So much so, it seems, “the challenge that producers are that faces Quibi inundating the platform with pitches. The way to is daunting. win a commission, he nobody has yet says, is to think about successfully where Quibi is in terms managed to crack of its life cycle – as a the paid-for short new platform that will be unfamiliar to most form market.” potential subscribers. “They need content that people feel at home with – so faces that people know. Or content that is going to hit you round the face.”

Quibi’s starry and well-funded commissions give a clear sense of its ambition in the short form market, while its backing from both investors and advertisers suggest a high degree of confidence that it can carve out a successful niche for itself.

In many ways, it is counter intuitive for Quibi to be launching a short form service in an era when platforms such as Netflix have made a business out of audiences’ increasing willingness to binge-watch long series.

Within the industry, Quibi has also attracted a lot of interest – far more than any of its short form predecessors.

But, just as the long form SVOD market is about to become even more crowded, Quibi’s very different offering could make sense.

Jane Turton, the chief executive of superindie group All3Media – which owns producers such as Neal Street, Raw TV, Studio Lambert and Lime Pictures – says its production companies are starting to pick up work from Quibi in both the scripted and nonscripted space. “You would never bet against Jeffrey Katzenberg. He knows the sector so well, and he can get to the good projects – and people are intrigued.”

Quibi is telling its producers that they should imagine viewers watching their content sitting on the bus, or viewing in a lunchbreak while eating a sandwich in one hand and holding a phone in the other.

The well-funded start-up, which launches initially in North America, has backers including Disney, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Lionsgate, ITV, Liberty Global and China’s Alibaba. It’s offering subscriptions with two tiers of pricing: USD4.99 with short ads, and USD7.99 without them. In its first year, Quibi aims to deliver 7,000 pieces of content.

The budgets on offer help too: it is estimated that Quibi is paying the equivalent of $3m an hour for some projects, similar to a Netflix budget. The rights model is also attractive to producers. As part of its deals, Quibi pays the cost of a show, plus a generous production fee. For this, Quibi exclusively licenses the content in bite-size viewing form for seven years, after which the rights revert back to the creators and producers. QUIBI



But, crucially, after two years on the service, the creators will be able to edit the short form version into one feature length project, and can sell the rights to international buyers.

It’s an image that rings true for many busy, timestarved people, an increasing number of whom say they struggle to fit in all the many talked about drama series that are now available on streaming platforms. “Quibi is coming out with a very specific product that is aimed at a specific demographic who watch content in a certain way,” says Murray, who points out that the industry hasn’t seen something like this since the advent of YouTube or streaming. “It’s so refreshing to have someone trying something new.”



CYPRUS golden glow The island is well used to handling commercial productions. Most recently, Estrella Damm shot its summer campaign Soul (pictured left) in the country. The spot extols the need to protect the Mediterranean’s sensitive ecosystem. Produced by Spain’s Agosto, the ad sees a free diver dancing before becoming entangled with plastic pollution.

cyprus is an established destination for commercial shoots looking to capture seascapes and rugged Mediterranean terrain. the island has now ramped up its offering with a generous new incentive.

Dionysus Manganis line produced the spot for Green Olive in Cyprus, and notes that “it was the first underwater shoot of that scale to be shot in Cyprus. We were against Israel, Turkey and Greece on the pitch and Cyprus won because of the beautiful seascapes and the water temperature. Cyprus offers a great visibility under the water too. There are no currents so the protagonist, a free diver can dance”. Being a tourist destination the island has developed a serious diving scene so the local know-how, and necessary support such as boats, medics and hyperbaric chambers, is of the highest standard. yprus has a new production incentive that offers either a 25-35% cash rebate or a tax credit up to 35% of the eligible expenditure. Although relatively new, the incentive has already been used by one large feature film, Jiu Jitsu starring Nicolas Cage. Simos Manganis, executive producer at Green Olive Films, who serviced the five-week shoot in Cyprus notes that the island is capable of handling small and medium sized feature films but the new incentive should grow the infrastructure with each incoming production. While there are no studios on the island, sets were built in large hangars.

Cyprus is well positioned to “the island has become a feature film destination. developed a Manganis explains that, in addition to the rebate, Cyprus is a serious diving "secure country, with very good scene, so the local and reliable financial services" and know-how is of established auditing, legal and the highest consulting firms are interested in standard.” working in the film industry too. Moreover, "the fact that it has a low corporate tax means producers can combine business together with shooting a film here". Together this "shows a level of organisation" that is necessary to support incoming films.

location HiGHliGHt

Potamos Liopetriou

Cyprus’ generally dry and rugged terrain means that there are few rivers, especially during the summer months. However, the coastline offers some flexible options. Potamos Liopetriou is an area of coastline, on the East of the island, where the sea flows inland creating a small river-like setting (pictured above). The Jiu Jitsu script necessitated a river so the production doubled this location for a Burmese river. All the boats were removed and replaced with typical Burmese fishing boats.



interview withderssally pici woodward gentle ally Woodward Gentle is the founder, with Lee Morris, of drama producer Sid Gentle, whose credits include global hits Killing Eve and The Durrells. She’s previously worked at Limelight Films, Kudos, the BBC and Carnival Films.


Tell us about Sid Gentle. SallY WooDWaRD GEntlE

We set up six years ago. I had never done my own thing, and just felt the time was right to do it. We wanted to be a small, hard-working company that can make big shows. We are still quite small as a core team – there’s about eight of us. A year and a half ago, BBC Studios bought us – which is a lovely partnership because they are supportive and ambitious for us. But we continue to operate in an incredibly independent, self-determining way. MaKERS

What kind of projects does Sid Gentle like to make? SallY WooDWaRD GEntlE

We are driven by our taste, and we like to do things that feel ambitious, and are a little bit different from other things – stuff that makes TV an interesting place to participate in both as a viewer and as a programme maker. We've got a slate of probably 40% adaptation, and 60% original pieces. It has just happened organically that we are working with a lot of female writers. We don’t positively discriminate – it’s partly because


of our taste, but also because of Killing Eve we've been exposed to a lot of female writers – we deliberately looked to female writers for it. I think there is a quiet subversion to most of our shows. They have all got a little bit of dark wit to them. We are not a great ‘kitchen sink,’ tub-thumping drama maker – but all of our shows have got great heart and are about something. You should watch them and think that you are slightly better for having watched them, not in any didactic way at all – they could have given you great energy or made your heart swell. MaKERS

What was it about The Durrells and Killing Eve that turned them into big hits? SallY WooDWaRD GEntlE

It is really hard to say why. There is just extreme pleasure in both of them. There is a sort of glory to both of them that people have responded to. And they are authored. Simon Nye wrote every single hour of The Durrells. He is such a lovely human being, and you feel that in the script. I don’t think you could create The Durrells if you didn’t have that at the centre of it. You would feel the cynicism. Killing Eve had Phoebe Waller-Bridge authoring the first season. She is not afraid of being really dark, quite truthful and really brutal – and at the same time has a fantastic, absurdist sense of humour, and loves great clothes. I think great pleasure comes from it, there’s even pleasure and black humour in some of the kills. Killing Eve

came at a moment that probably needed it as well. You never know if you are picking up the zeitgeist, but maybe there was something in the air that just said we need a drama that has got unashamedly fearless women at the centre of it. MaKERS

What is Sid Gentle up to at the moment? SallY WooDWaRD GEntlE

We have started filming the third season of Killing Eve, and then we are just waiting for a hell of a lot of answers from broadcasters on other shows. We are working with some amazing writers on very different projects, all of them very authored. MaKERS

What’s the market like for drama producers? SallY WooDWaRD GEntlE

It does feel like there is a massive demand for projects. But I have never known a time when writers have got so much power because of the market demand for voices, and for people who can actually pull it off. Amongst that, I think you need great producers who can work with newer, less experienced writers and sort of pick them up by the elbows and help them through the process. MaKERS

How have the streamers changed the market for producers?

access to them, and that they are making themselves accessible. My slight fear is that the power of these people may reduce the creative heft that we within the British programme making have got used to, particularly because we’ve had the ownership of our shows. I worry about having to sign over ownership. We own Killing Eve, and it’s always hugely reassuring that we own it – it does mean the relationship that we have with everybody over the show actually respects the creative at the centre. MaKERS

What do you sense that broadcasters and streamers are looking for at the moment? SallY WooDWaRD GEntlE

It does feel like people are after new voices, and stuff that feels ambitious, and defines them. I get quite a lot of conversations about shows needing to be ‘undeniable’. Having worked in commissioning, I get that. In such a crowded market, I can’t watch a tenth of what is out there. I hope that the strength and originality of a concept, combined with authorship, allows things to stand out. But it does feel at times that we have gone back to needing great heavyweights in terms of people in front of the camera in order to give validity to a show. That would be a shame, and a big backward step.

SallY WooDWaRD GEntlE

It is great that there are so many new buyers, and that we have



ADFEST 2020 Regional advertising show Adfest is fast building a reputation as Asia’s answer to the Cannes Lions festival, attracting the attention of all the big global agencies. It’s not hard to see why. According to Dentsu Aegis Network research, the Asia Pacific region will be a leading contributor to global ad spend growth in 2019, accounting for 42% of the increase alone, led by markets China, Japan, India and the Philippines. Dentsu also predicts that growth will continue to be dominated by digital, with the medium taking close to half of APAC's share of total ad-spend. Within this context, Adfest has become an important event to mark creativity in the region, and to bring together leading agencies, producers and clients. It is one of only eight regional festivals included in the WARC Rankings, the successor to The Gunn Report. These rankings combine the winners' lists

from the world's most important awards to establish the annual worldwide league tables for the global advertising industry. In 2019, Dentsu Inc was named agency and network of the year at Adfest, while production company of the year went to Hub Ho Hin Bangkok / Shots Post Production Bangkok. Adfest returns from 18th to 21st March 2020 in Pattaya, Thailand. The theme for the festival is ‘Fired Up!’ – which it describes as “that fire in your belly that inspires you to say your piece and make a difference through the power of creative thinking.” The 2020 festival has named the driving force behind the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, Judy John, as its Grand Jury president. John joined Edelman as its first-ever global chief creative officer in April 2019 after 19 years at Leo Burnett, where she was chief creative officer for North America and CEO for Canada.

There are 20 categories in total, all competing for the festival’s Lotus Awards. This year includes two new categories: the Digital Craft Lotus, which celebrates the execution of technological craftsmanship; and the PR Lotus, which awards work that effectively uses PR to increase brand awareness and positively impact reputation. Adfest 2020 will again be divided into two streams: Craft@Adfest on 18-19 March and Creative@Adfest on 20-21 March. The former is dedicated to craft and technology, highlighting the latest production, digital, content and technology trends. Creative@Adfest will “focus on inspiring and pushing the boundaries of the creative and communications industry in the Asia Pacific and MENA region,” according to Adfest.

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For more details about the festival, see

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the duration of adfest, from 18 - 21 march 2020 number of lotus award categories

20th december the deadline for entries to this year’s adfest


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nuMbER of aWaRD EntRiES in 2019

new lotus prize categories for 2020 – the pr and digital craft lotus prizes

the number of cities worldwide that delegates to adfest came from last year


number of countries that delegates to adfest came from


cost in thai baht of a full delegate pass to adfest, about usd1300



the Dominican Republic has set the scene for some iconic films, and continues to be a pre-eminent destination in the caribbean. additionally, the rebate is amongst the highest in the region and Pinewood has a major studio facility there.

he Dominican Republic is one of the most established filming hubs in the Caribbean, providing an exotic destination with reliable filming infrastructure. One of the first big budget features to film in the Dominican Republic was 1974’s The Godfather II. Set in pre-revolution Cuba, Santo Domingo stood in for Havana. With US-Cuban relations strained, directors have kept returning to the Dominican Republic to capture a slice of the Caribbean. The Sydney Pollack film Havana, for instance, is set on the eve of the revolution and also shot entirely in the Dominican Republic for the same reasons.

Larger than its neighbouring islands, the Dominican Republic has architecture and landscapes able to double for much of the region. “in part thanks to The country has also doubled its heritage of for Jamaica in the three-part adaptation of Andrea levy’s The filming, and the Long Song, about a young slave establishment of whose life is turned upside down the pinewood when a young overseer arrives on studio facility in the island determined to improve 2011, the dominican the plantation for both slaves, and mistresses. The shoot took place at republic’s filming Pinewood’s Dominican Republic infrastructure studio, which provides the most has flourished.” extensive filming facilities in the Caribbean. In addition to three large soundstages, there is a 60,500 square feet horizon water tank that has blue screen capabilities 58

location HiGHliGHt

El Rincon Beach

This is one of the Dominican Republic’s secluded Caribbean beaches and has featured on a top ten beach list by Conde Nast Traveller. For productions wanting the archetypal Caribbean beach, with white beach fringed by palm trees against the aquatic blue sea, it’s perfect. Only a few bars and restaurants are dotted along the four kilometre stretch of beach so it can play a deserted spot. The beach is located at the end of the Samana Peninsula, to the north of the island. In 2003, Captain Jack Sparrow swaggered along the beach in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The franchise scouted all over the region filming on some of the best beaches in Puerto Rico, Dominica and St. Vincent.


and an inner tank. Features including 47 Metres Down and xXx: Return of Xander Cage have used the water facilities. Thanks to this heritage of filming, the establishment of the Pinewood studio facility in 2011, and one of the first incentives in the region established the same year, the filming infrastructure has flourished with smaller soundstages, equipment rental and crew available now available too. There are post-production houses as well, such as Lone Coconut, a visual effects and animation company which has worked on animated campaigns such as Copa Coca-Cola, for the Latin American market.

ESSEntial factS

co-PRoDuction tREatiES

Puerto Rico.

taX incEntiVES

25% A 25% transferable tax credit is applied to local spend. Features, TV movies and series and music videos qualify. There is a USD500,000 minimum spend. StuDioS

Pinewood Dominican Republic & Estudio Quitasueno. ata caRnEt


intERnational talEnt

Director & Writers Jose Maria Cabral & Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias. Director Yanillys Perez. tiME ZonE

GMT-4 Images: The Long Song © BBC, If Beale Street Could Talk © 2018 Annapurna Releasing.

Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk (pictured left) is a great recent example of using the filming framework available in the island. The film was set to shoot in Puerto Rico, until Hurricane Maria hit the island. Instead the period feature filmed in the Dominican Republic at shorter notice than anticipated. Although key crew lined up for the Puerto Rico shoot were brought to the Dominican Republic in order to inject money back into the devastated country, this was not a necessity as the depth of crew available in the Dominican Republic is some of the best in the region. In addition to equipment, talent and locations the island has an incentive. The 25% transferable tax credit is applied to pre-production, production and post-production of films. A local production company must be used to service the production, or form a company in the DR. To access the incentive, 25% of the labour must be Dominican personnel. There is also a minimum USD500,000 spend and feature films, documentaries, TV series and music videos qualify. There is also a VAT exemption for goods and services. Because music videos qualify, music artists often shoot in the country and it seems to be a hot spot for hip-hop artists. Most recently Bad Bunny filmed the video to La Romana in a colourful neighbourhood on the island as well as car stunts on a sand flat. American rappers Quavo and Born shot in the country at a luxury villa and through the lush jungle. Another music video, from Ozuna and Akon, shot on one of the island’s ready-made sets at the Altos de Chavon. The location is a re-creation of a Mediterranean style European village at the top of the Chavon Rover in La Romana and has a Grecian style outdoor amphitheatre. The Dominican Republic Film Commission is the best resource for those wanting to film in the country. Incoming productions should work with approved local production service companies, and the commission has a database of certified crew and technicians. They also deal with the permits which are necessary to film here.


IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK was set to shoot in puerto rico, until hurricane maria hit the island. instead the period feature filmed in the dominican republic at short notice.


A rare artefact in the city of Puerto Plata influenced Spielberg’s Jurrassic Park. The famous mosquito, frozen in amber which appears at the beginning of the film can be visited at the city’s Amber Museum. According to some, the museum’s artefact inspired Spielberg’s whole concept. For filming, the artefact was taken to Hawaii. Scenes of the miners were shot at Ho’opi Falls – a series of waterfalls on the east shore of Kauai island. Dominican amber is amongst the most valuable in the world, and the museum has four rooms with a variety of fossilised plants, insects and animals including a twenty million year old gecko.




What’s going on in China?

After initial positive signs, doing business with the People’s Republic has proved to be far from straight forward for the TV and film industry. Pact’s managing director of business development & global strategy, Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE, explains why she has put her China strategy on hold for now.


homegrown audiences, achieving some of their highest ratings. This success only made those broadcasters hungry for more foreign content to hold the interest of demanding advertisers.

Within the TV sector, companies were drawn to China by the promise of big buck deals amidst the opening up of TV schedules to accommodate more foreign programming. Chinese broadcasters benefitted too, as the new foreign programming playing on their channels proved popular with

Since the early noughties, China’s media and tech industries have grown at astonishing rates. Over the last decade alone, more than 60,000 cinema screens have opened around China, and the country has more than 800 million internet users – around two and half times the total US population. China’s top three streaming services are Tencent Video, Alibaba’s Youku and iQiyi. To give you a sense of the scale of these outfits, when I was last in China this summer, iQiyi announced that it had reached 100 million subscribers.

he 2008 Beijing Olympics marked the start of the opening up of China to the world. As well as wowing audiences around the globe with a magnificent opening ceremony, China used the games as a launchpad to project itself as an outward-facing country, engaged with the wider world and open for business. Unsurprisingly, thousands flocked to this mammoth market, desperate to get a slice of the large Chinese pie.



These developments meant international trade with China initially looked promising; deals and partnerships were fast-tracked, with photos of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signings taking place in grand ceremonies acting like visual proof of the promise of business to come. But after the initial enthusiasm and positive signs, doing business with the People’s Republic proved to be far from straight forward.

Reality Check

traDe iS becOming mOre cOmpLex amiDSt increaSeD cenSOrShip, pOLiticaL tenSiOnS anD Knee-JerK pOLicy enfOrcementS. the hOng KOng DemOnStratiOnS, hUaWei SecUrity ScanDaL, anD trUmp traDe War have aLL cOntribUteD.

I was one of those people gripped by what was happening in China. I quickly prioritised the market in our international strategy at Pact, introducing and educating hundreds of independent UK production companies to the many exciting opportunities China seemed to hold for them. We felt like kids in a candy shop being drawn by the sugary sweets on offer. But it soon became clear that those tempting treats could lead to some serious toothache. I travel to China two or three times a year, and even though I have noticed that it has become a more difficult country to trade with I have tried to maintain my optimism for its possibilities. However, after my most recent visit, I had to concede that maybe it was an impossible dream after all. Trade is becoming more complex amidst increased censorship, political tensions and knee-jerk policy enforcements. The Hong Kong demonstrations, Huawei security scandal, and Trump trade war have all contributed. It hasn’t been a good year for anyone in film and TV trading with China, with these political and economic uncertainties leaving many deals floating in mid-air. It’s been a sober reminder that China remains a one-party state, and collaboration within our sector can quickly be slowed down, or stopped, at the whim of the government. We’ve witnessed a number of direct interventions in recent years. In April 2014, the then US President, Barack Obama, took part in a high profile Asian tour meeting with political leaders in Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. China felt snubbed, and retaliated swiftly by targeting the US TV industry. The tour was barely over when reports came in that the Chinese regulator (the State National Radio and TV Administration) had ordered online video streaming sites to remove four US TV shows – The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS and The Practice – from their platforms.

Similarly, the South Korean TV industry was hit after its government agreed to allow the US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system to be based on Korean soil. China was not happy with the decision, and argued that the system’s radar could enable spying on Chinese territory. During this sensitive time, South Korea – one of China’s biggest supplier of entertainment formats – saw their content disappear from Chinese channels. Deals in progress were stopped, and Korean talent appearing in Chinese shows had their faces “china remains a blurred out. There were one-party state, even reports that Korean and collaboration names were replaced within our with Chinese ones in programme credits. sector can Quickly be slowed down,

This demonstrates the or indeed stopped reach of state control altogether, at within China, and the whim of the the Communist Party’s willingness to weaponise government.” their lucrative media market; using the global industry’s desire to exploit the market to score political points in completely unrelated areas.

Rip Off & Restrictions When the THAAD decision was taken, Korean film and TV rights sales to China simply collapsed. But popular Korean formats didn’t disappear completely from Chinese screens. In October 2018 The South Korean newspaper, JoongAng Daily reported that China had 34 reality shows that bore resemblance to Korean programmes. They identified infringements ranging from the copying of graphic design elements right through to blatant rip offs of entire formats. Three of the shows reached agreements with the creators of the originals, but the vast majority never responded to the claims and faced no serious consequences.

BACK TO CONTENTS This kind of copyright infringement has long been a concern of international producers. In 2013, the newly appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, announced his great vision for the future of China. Much to the delight of those looking on, he promised to tackle corruption and IP infringement as part of his new regime. Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE is managing director of business development & global strategy at UK producers’ alliance Pact, where she is responsible for developing opportunities for international, IP exploitation and markets.

For a while at least, Xi Jinping’s words looked to be turning into actions. Programmes were being licenced properly, China was investing heavily in original content, and becoming an active co-production partner. But it didn’t take long for the old reputation to return, and all too regularly we are again hearing about IP infringement and illegal IP activities. The licensing of international formats has always been big business in the TV world, and over the past decade China has been one of the largest consumers. However, a few years ago the Communist Party restricted broadcasters to licencing just two international formats per year (including re-licensing). Unsurprisingly, I’ve been informed that this has been a big driver for the increase in IP infringement.

i’ve pUt my Strategy fOr china On hOLD. i am nOt ignOring it, bUt have pOStpOneD activitieS fOr 2020, anD WiLL nOt reSUme them UntiL pOLiticaL tenSiOnS have eaSeD anD We can feeL mOre cOnfiDent abOUt the chineSe marKet.

The infringements manifest in two ways: 1) The Chinese broadcasters announcing to the license holder that they have made so many changes to the format they have been licensing for several years, they now feel it is a Chinese format. 2) They see a format they like but their current quota is filled, so they attempt to do a straight copy (often very badly). Whilst there have been out of court settlements in some cases, it’s a growing problem. Equally, another restrictive policy is on the import of films and foreign dramas, which is currently limited to 34 per year. Chinese audiences are therefore regularly watching foreign films and TV shows through VPNs or illegal streaming services. I even met someone in China this year who was an episode ahead of me on a BBC drama which I’d missed whilst travelling! Foreign content is also coming up against more heavy-handed government censorship. There are general rules in place for censorship, but as all content has to be cleared by the regulator, their decisions are often subjective and come down to whether the Communist Party consider the content offensive. Some films get passed on the condition that there are changes, such as last year’s blockbuster hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, which had to remove references to Freddy Mercury being bisexual, amongst other things. It feels like a new rule is announced almost every month. In July of this year, the Party issued even tougher guidance aimed at ‘improving national morality’. This included a controversial rule that actors be banned from showing any “abnormal” sexual relations or sexual behaviour, prohibiting story lines showing homosexuality, prostitution, one-night stands, sexual abuse, perversion, incest or sexual freedom.


Another crackdown that shocked many was on men wearing earrings on TV – celebrities had to have them pixelated out – and the showing of tattoos. Rap music was also hit in this latest round of bans, with Rap artists being pulled from reality shows. A ban on ‘entertainment idol-style’ and ‘costume drama’ programming was introduced for 100 days leading up to the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China because it was felt they have a negative influence on society. The censorship rules trying to prevent ‘alternative cultures’ gaining influence are getting so hard to navigate that even local producers are struggling not to fall foul.

Ignore It At Your Peril Despite all of the issues faced by producers looking to trade with China, it cannot be ignored. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study forecasted that in 2020 it will overtake the US as the world’s No. 1 film market. In July of this year, it took just nine days for animated film, Nezha to make USD510 million at the domestic box office, becoming China’s biggest-ever animated film. The levels of investment on offer are quite staggering. I recently met several Chinese investment companies who are all looking to buy into high-end drama. They are not interested in historical costume drama for Chinese screens, but modern “another stories that reflect the restrictive policy current lifestyles of is on the import of 30-somethings. They are also not restricted to films and foreign investment in purely dramas, which is domestic dramas, but currently limited keen to explore Chinese to 34 per year.” stories or Chinese actors within global dramas. As an industry they are industrious, they move quickly, and invest big to get what they want. They are determined to be the world leader, and you often hear ‘997’ being quoted by the Chinese in reference to their typical working week: 9:00am to 9:00pm, seven days a week. That’s what we are competing with. The original statements made at the launch of the Beijing Olympics about co-operation and collaboration feel like a thing of the past. Now China talks about power, ownership and domination. Because of this, I’ve put my strategy for China on hold. I am not ignoring it, but have postponed activities for 2020, and will not resume them until political tensions have eased and we can feel more confident about the Chinese market. For now, I will watch from a distance (albeit keenly).


ENGLAND regional ringleaders

as production booms across the uK, England’s regional cities are undergoing accelerated development. cities are now production hubs in their own right, with studios, content funds and talent coming together to create a breeding ground for high volume and high-end production.

n large part thanks to the UK’s 25% High-End TV and Film tax rebate, an ever-increasing volume of production is taking place in England. Pact UK’s 2019 TV Census shows both domestic and international revenues growing in 2018 to their highest ever level at GBP3 billion, a major proportion of which is generated out of England. International SVODs now account for 40% of international commissions income and Hollywood is ever present too, with Disney having recently announced a long-term lease at Pinewood Studios and big budget features routinely shooting around the country.

As a result, the nation’s regional hubs are busier than ever and a top-down push to decentralise the industry has started to take shape on its own accord. Demand for studio space has certainly pushed many producers “leeds underwent to look outside the capital, but the a period of rapid nation’s regional hubs have growth between implemented strategies to cultivate 2009 and 2015, as much needed talent and yorkshire & infrastructure.

humber was the fastest growing region for screen production in the uk.”

This super-charged growth has seen Leeds charge to the forefront of regional migration. Channel 4 chose the city as its new national HQ moving around two hundred jobs from London to Leeds in a move which Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said “enables us to capitalise on a strong and fast-growing independent production sector in cities across the north of England”. In January 2020, the National Film and TV School will open a hub in Leeds as part of “the school’s ongoing strategy to support the growth of film and television production outside London”.

location HiGHliGHt

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard is part of HM Naval Base Portsmouth which is open to the public. With several historic buildings and ships located at the site, the naval base has been in operation for over 800 years and still operates as one of the UK’s most important naval bases. The museum itself opened in 1911, as the national museum of the Royal Navy. The dramatic opening scenes of Tom Hooper’s 2012 Les Misérables, where Jean Valjean is hauling a ship into a dock in stormy conditions (pictured above), were filmed in one of the dry docks. The two day shoot used rain and wave machines to create the dramatic storm. The dockyard often hosts filming, but Les Misérables has been one of the biggest productions to use the site to date.




alEX WintER PRoDucER & DiREctoR

The Panama Papers

Q: Can you give us the background to

the project? A: This is all under lock and key. I was working with journalists whose lives are still at risk because of the story and ongoing investigations into the leaks. We did film in the room at The Guardian where they broke the Snowdon and WikiLeaks story. This was the last significant feature doc I did in the UK. Q: Have you worked in the UK in the past? A: I’ve been working with Michelle Stapleton and Madam for years. We were a producingdirecting partnership for a long time and we have a very close working relationship. She is one of the best producers I have ever worked with and seems to have a better on-the-ground knowledge of production in the UK than pretty much anyone else I’ve ever encountered. Q: How does shooting in the UK compare

to other locations? A: I love shooting in the UK because the crews there are particularly good. The type of docs I do shoot all over the world. We work in far flung places and first world places – both can be equally as difficult to shoot in. However, the UK is always a dream.

Leeds underwent a period of rapid growth between 2009 and 2015, as Yorkshire & Humber was the fastest growing region for screen production in the UK according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Hugo Heppell, head of investments at Screen Yorkshire says the ONS measured “all the key metrics in terms of number of companies in the screen industries, turnover, and employment”. Heppell says that what “differentiated Yorkshire from the other regions was the Yorkshire Content Fund” that was set up in 2012 and has invested in over 40 projects including Official Secrets and Ackley Bridge. Open to TV, film, video games and digital sectors the fund typically invests up to GBP500,000 per project, providing this investment is matched on identical terms with an equivalent amount of private sector investment. “That ability to stimulate production was an essential part of the wider growth of the sector as a whole” says Heppell. “More production gives more confidence to people who are working in the industry and into all the support elements”. Most recently, the fund has invested in Channel 5 and PBS production All Creatures Great and Small which will shoot for the rest of 2019. 2018 also saw the establishment of Screen Yorkshire’s new Film Office in Leeds whose brief is mainly to attract international productions. Heppell explains “we are very conscious that the majority of international production is looking for studio infrastructure”. In order to cater to both domestic and international work, Leeds City Council announced a new studio facility in the centre of Leeds due to come on stream in 2020. The site will join Church Fenton Studios, where ITV’s Victoria was based for three seasons, as the region’s foremost production spaces. Sound stage space in Manchester has also led to the city’s emergence as a filming hub. Space Studios Manchester is the biggest purpose-built soundstage outside of London and has six stages measuring up to 30,000sqft. Bobby Cochrane, development manager at Screen Manchester, labels the studio “a beacon to international film and TV” and says it has been a key facet in advancing the city’s production sector by encouraging not only location shoots but longer-term projects to stay in the city. On location in the city, high-end productions often frequent its streets in search of both period and modern day settings. Marvel’s Morbius recently doubled Manchester for modern day New York while Sky’s Das Boot came to double for New York in the 1940’s.

In some locations I can’t bring crew in and I can’t trust local crew to be good enough to get the quality of work I need. This is never the case in London. The crews here are often better than the ones I have at home. You know you are getting people absolutely at the top of their game.



Cochrane notes that the production sector is strong here with companies actively making drama such as RED who produced Years & Years and Trust Me for BBC One. In 2017, Kudos set up sister company Kudos North to focus on drama ideas outside London that get under the skin of diverse lives across SoMEtHinG ElSE

The BBC has announced that a digital voice assistant, akin to Amazon’s Alexa, will launch in 2020. The BBC has said that the hardware will be able to recognise regional accents, a challenge to current devices on the market. The voice assistant – currently called Beeb – has been designed to work on all smart speakers, TVs and mobiles. A spokesman for the BBC explained that the move into AI technology is to “experiment with new programmes, features and experiences without someone else’s permission to build it a certain way”. Staff have been invited to record their voices to help train the programme to pick up on regional accents. “Much like we did with BBC iPlayer, we want to make sure everyone can benefit from this new technology, and bring people exciting new content, programmes and services – in a trusted, easy-to-use way”.

the United Kingdom. “Film and TV related businesses have decided to come up and set up offices in Manchester, so it starts to build that environment and infrastructure that can cater for film and TV production on a high volume scale. I think that what makes it a perfect breeding ground to produce as much content as we do”, he says. To the west, Bristol is another production hub that has grown since the opening of the Bottle Yard Studios which is often used as a base for international series, such as Starz’s The Spanish Princess and UK productions such as Mammoth Screen’s The Pale Horse and Ecosse Films’ The Trial of Christine Keeler for the BBC. Natalie Moore of Bristol Film Office identifies the studio as a key reason for the “huge infrastructure of crew based here” adding that productions, such as ITV’s Sanditon (pictured above), enjoy being based here because there is access to crew from London and Wales too. In 2017, the city became a UNESCO City of Film, a designation which Moore explains “opens up a lot of national and international partnerships and opportunities that really benefit the city”. Bristol was also named in 2018 as one of the two new regional hubs for Channel 4, a move that Moore hopes will lead to more commissions for local production companies, and the development of the production sector in the city. Meanwhile, Birmingham and the West Midlands now has its own new screen body, Film Birmingham. Sindy Campbell, head of Film Birmingham says its role is “to help coordinate and collaborate the work that is already happening here.” Mayor Andy Street


bristol is another production hub that has grown since the opening of the bottle yard studios, which is often used as a base for international series.



points to Leamington-Spa’s gaming cluster, which employs 10% of the UK gaming industry, as an example of the strong screen industry currently in the region, and hopes the body will make sure “our region’s screen sector fulfils its enormous potential”. The future looks increasingly bright for Birmingham as a Peaky Blinders (main image) writer Steven Knight is on track to open a new studio in the area. Meanwhile, The West Midlands Production Fund operated by Creative England is an established programme that directly encourages the region’s screen sector. The fund provides investments, usually ranging from GBP100,000 – 500,000, into projects that have commercial potential, by Small Medium Enterprise companies in the West Midlands who commit to production activity in the West Midlands region. Projects to have secured funding include The Girl with all the Gifts, the BAFTA nominated Jawbone and Line of Duty series one. In April, the Liverpool Film Office announced a film fund of its own, which differs from the types of regional funds already in existence. The fund has an initial allocation of GBP2 million and Lynn Saunders, head of Liverpool Film Office notes that the fund is “part of a five-year growth plan” by the Film Office in advance of the GBP50 million Littlewoods studio development that is expected to open in 2021. “The fund is to build capacity and develop supply chain services and the talent pipeline in advance of Littlewoods being up and running” explains Saunders. The fund is the first of its kind in the UK for six years and differentiates from those in Yorkshire and the West Midlands which are funded through ERDF, European money. Saunders explains “the idea is this money should be easy to match and should be easy to get out the door without being too prohibitive in terms of the output. It is a maximum investment of GBP500,000 and we are probably going to make 4/5 investments”. Even without the new studio and funded productions, Liverpool has seen filming days skyrocket. 2018 was the busiest year in its thirty year history, but Saunders expects “2019 to smash 2018 records” pointing to the fact that more high-end TV dramas are coming, and staying longer. A production network of crew and facilities in proximity to each other exists in the North West with hubs Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool having created a buzz in the region. As these areas become increasingly busy, the North East could see a rise in popularity too. While ITV’s Vera, and well-loved features such as Harry Potter, and Transformers, have utilised the region’s landscapes the region lacks a sizeable production industry of its own.



MEGan KEllY founDER & ManaGinG PaRtnER

Honor Society

Q: What did you shoot? A: We shot a Kitchen Aid campaign in

London. The spots made up a global campaign for their blender product line. ‘Man on the street’ talent was recruited to taste test smoothies and have their reactions filmed. Q: What brought you to London? A: We hadn’t filmed here before but we knew

the city could offer us the diversity of talent that was important for a global campaign. It was also cost effective with the current exchange rate. London turned out to be the most economical of the cities we considered. Q: Who did you work with? A: We worked with Madam Films. This was a

fast-moving job with lots of moving parts and a large cast. Additionally, there was a tabletop component of the job with food and product. It was like shooting two very different jobs at once. From the start of the bidding process Madam were diligent and attentive, especially with the many revisions that needed to be made (as is the nature with bidding a fastmoving job with evolving creative). They were detail oriented and careful with every detail of the production. They are a smart, hardworking yet incredibly pleasant team to work with.



ESSEntial factS

co-PRoDuction tREatiES

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (TV & Film), France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand, Occupied Palestine Territories, South Africa (TV & Film) & EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. taX incEntiVES

25% UK tax relief for high-end TV, features, animations, children’s TV & video games. Productions must qualify as British or as an official co-production. There is no cap on the amount that can be claimed but the tax relief is capped at 80% of the UK core expenditure. There is a 10% minimum UK spend for high-end TV, features, animations & children’s TV & a 25% UK/EEA state qualifying production expenditure for video games. StuDioS

Pinewood Studio London, 3 Mills Studios London, Shepperton Studio London, The Bottle Yard Bristol, Church Fenton Studios Yorkshire, Space Studios Manchester & more. ata caRnEt


intERnational talEnt

Screenwriters Sally Wainwright, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jack Thorne, Jed Mercurio & Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Directors Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan & Susanna White. Costume designer Joanna Johnston. Production designer Eve Stewart. Actors Tom Hiddleston, Judi Dench, Daniel Kaluuya, Emma Thompson & Idris Elba. Images: Peaky Blinders © BBC / Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd 2019 / Robert Viglasky, Sanditon © Red Planet/ITV, & e Crown © Des Willie / Netflix.


location HiGHliGHt

Despite the fact that regional production is rapidly growing, Michelle Jenkins, head of production services at Film London, notes that London too is seeing a “truly unique moment of expansion and development”. London remains a nucleus for UK production, particularly when it comes to advertising and the post-production industries. A report from UK Screen Alliance found that 89% of jobs across the animation, VFX and post-production sector are based in the capital. The city is also home to four thousand production companies. Jenkins asserts “it’s all hands on deck in order to respond to industry demand”. Just as the push to decentralise production is aimed at making the industry more reflective of the nation and regions, Film London is also pushing to make the capital’s industry reflective of its inhabitants. Jenkins notes that addressing key challenges of the production sector is “at the heart of everything we do” and highlights work done to ensure “the capital’s screen industries represent the diversity of the city itself ”.

Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, London The church is London’s oldest parish church and is at the heart of the Smithfield area. Built when Henry I, son of William the Conqueror was King of England, it survived the Great Fire of 1666 and World War Two bombings. Its Romanesque architecture has drawn many film and commercial shoots. Priory church has featured in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Snow White and the Huntsman and Four Weddings and a Funeral as the location for Hugh Grant’s wedding. The church also doubled for the crypt of St Paul’s church in 2009’s Sherlock Holmes.

Betting on the future of esports USD34 million in prize money was up for grabs at 2019’s esports event, The International, held in Shanghai, China. The winning team, OG Dota, won record-breaking USD15.6 million, the largest first-place prize earned in an esports tournament.



the eSpOrtS marKet, Which iS Set tO crOSS the USD1 biLLiOn marK in 2020, iS being eyeD Up by many in the prODUctiOn inDUStry given itS pOtentiaL fOr grOWth. MAKERS prOfiLeS the rapiDLy expanDing SectOr.


he numbers are breath-taking. There was a prize pool of more than USD33 million at The International (TI), an esports tournament of the game Dota 2, held in Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz stadium in August.

That surpassed a record esports prize pool of USD30 million set only in July for the Fortnite World Cup, held in New York’s Arthur Ashe stadium – home of the US Open tennis tournament. There the 16-year old winner took home USD3 million – more than Novak Djokovic or Simona Halep earned for their wins at this year’s Wimbledon tournament. Fortnite creator Epic Games said viewing peaked at 2.3 million viewers across Twitch and YouTube, the main viewing platforms for esports, during the solo finals. The stadium itself was sold out during the three-day event. According to a recent Futuresource Consulting report, esports revenues are expected to surpass USD1 billion in 2020 – and to triple in the next five years. It’s little wonder that esports is a market that is being eyed up by many in the production industry, from live event producers through to outside broadcast specialists, studios, manufacturers and rental firms. Both digital platforms and TV companies are also competing to tap into the growing esports sector, which is particularly attractive because it reaches legions of hard to reach younger audiences around the world. Yet to many outside the predominantly young audience who play, esports is something of mystery. Chester King, the founder and chief executive of the British Esports Association – which was set up in 2016 to promote and build awareness of esports – says they are very different from “mind-numbing video games.” The difference, he says, is that esports is competitive video gaming, but is always ‘human vs human’. As such, he says esports can teach key life skills – from communication through to tactics, leadership, strategy and competitiveness. Esports can be played on PCs, consoles and mobiles, either online or as spectator events in arenas. Depending on the game,

the format can be 1v1, up to 6 v 6. King says that, despite this element of competition between teams and players, esports is not a sport. He describes it as a modern kind of chess or bridge. Recognised esports titles break down into four main categories: Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games such as Fortnite, League of Legends and Dota 2; first-person shooters (FPS) like CSGO, Call of Duty and Overwatch; fighting games like Street Fighter and Smash Bros; and sports-based titles including FIFA, PES and Forza. Each kind of esports game produces its own community, based around, say, Fortnite or Rocket League, and players specialise in one of these “esports revenues games. “It’s a bit like are expected to choosing to play triple in the next baseball or cricket – five years. but to they are completely different sports. Most many outside the people from the predominantly outside think it is just young audience kids playing video who play, esports games, but they is something of don’t understand the differences between mystery.” each one or skills that you have to have… if you are a Dota player, you would never play League of Legends.” There are many different organisations involved in esports, from games developers, to tournament organisers, venues, teams, platforms and advisory services. In terms of developers and publishers, some of the most well-known include Valve (Dota2), Epic (Fortnite), Riot Games (League of Legends), Microsoft (Forza), Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty), Capcom (Street Fighter), Hi-Rez Studios (Smite) and EA Sports (Fifa 19). Many see esports events as a useful way to market their games, organising competitions and contributing to prize pots. Others licence their games for others to organise events. Major tournament organisers include ESL, Major League Gaming (MLG), ELeague, DreamHack, Gfinity and Multiplay. Twitch is the market leading online streaming platform for viewing esports events. Bought by Amazon in 2014 for USD950 million, it has over



100 million viewers a month. Microsoft-owned platform Mixer is trying to take on Twitch – it recently signed top esports streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, the most popular gamer on Twitch with 14.7 million followers, in an exclusive deal. the eSpOrtS marKet iS being eyeD Up by many in the prODUctiOn inDUStry, frOm Live event prODUcerS thrOUgh tO OUtSiDe brOaDcaSt SpeciaLiStS, StUDiOS, manUfactUrerS anD rentaL firmS.”

Due to the large revenues available in esports advertising, traditional and mainstream content providers such as Sky, with its dedicated esports channel Ginx Esports, have also entered the market. But esports’ young audience remains very much online, rather than watching on TV. “The streamers have very much been making the money, to the detriment of the TV channels,” says King. Producing esports events requires a combination of specialist esports know-how, as well as experience of running large scale events. Each kind of esports game also requires a different production set up. League of Legends, for example, is a 5vs5 game that takes place on a Mobile Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Instead of a camera tracking a single ball around a pitch, 10 different characters are tracked around a virtual map. “If a player is about to do an amazing move, you have got to broadcast that in real-time. And you’d only know about that if you were a proper esports person, and you had the manpower to track it,” says King. “It is not like you can just turn up and film it. It is incredibly labour intensive.” Sports TV producers Noah Media Group (Bobby Robson: More than a Manager, Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans) recently branched out to esports, working as Gfinity’s production partner on the Gfinity Elite Series. Noah’s remit includes working on show formats, and putting together production teams. It includes pre-production work, making creative inserts and features for shows, as well as providing key personnel to run live production in the gallery. “The kit we use is largely the same as that used in live sports production,” says Noah’s executive producer Pete Thomas. “We use the same specialists that would feature in some of the biggest sports broadcasts every week in the UK.”




Gfinity’s technical team integrate the gameplay into the broadcast, which airs on TV networks around the world as well as platforms such as Facebook. “The differences probably come from the specific games – some need more setup or adjudication than others,” says Thomas. “There are probably more idiosyncrasies than in a lot of live sports production, because those broadcasts and sports have a tried and tested formula. New games require a new approach and a realisation that “each kind of you have to respect the esports game needs of those players produces its own on that game.” Thomas also thinks the outlook is good for esports. “In my experience, it brings together really talented and progressive people. This has to be a great indicator for growth.”

community, based around, say, fortnite or rocket league, and players specialise in one of these games. it’s a bit like choosing to play baseball or cricket – they are completely different sports.”

Another newcomer to esports is dock10 studios in Salford, just outside Manchester. Home to shows such as The Voice and Match of the Day, dock10 recently hosted its first gaming event – the final of JDX, organised by JD Sports, which included FIFA 19, Rocket League and Fortnite tournaments, and was broadcast over Twitch. Dock10’s head of production innovation Richard Wormwell says that the bigger professional events, as they grow in popularity, are looking for the same high quality of broadcast television output. “With audiences around the globe watching the events live on social platforms, it’s the stability of output and connectivity that becomes crucial.” Wormwell too is optimistic about the future of esports: “This is a growing market and a global one. Games like FIFA 19, Rocket League and Fortnite have an international following and the demand is growing for high quality content.”



FRANCE star power

france’s regions have increased their funding offers to become more competitive in attracting international productions. not only are both native and incoming projects increasingly looking outside the Paris region, they are also spending more time in the country when shooting on location.

rance has always been an artistic powerhouse, but a very centralised one, with the Paris region acting as the base for most production companies and studios.

A strong regulatory system has been particularly effective at making sure that the local film industry has not been eclipsed by international films. A 2017 study by the CNC shows that attendance of French films grew by 3.6% to reach a market share of 37.4%. Meanwhile, American imports suffered an 8.6% drop, compared to 2016 reaching 48.8%. The production sector is particularly alive too. France is one of the most proactive and collaborative film producing countries making well over five hundred co-productions between 2007 and 2016, the most out of any EU nation.

In spite of its strong regulatory system to protect the national industry, the same focus has not been applied to encouraging regional development throughout the country. Paris has long been at the epicentre of the “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: French sector, not only for feature FALLOUT broke the film and TV but advertising too. record for foreign In 2003 for instance, over 50% production spend of feature filming days were on french soil in made in Ile-de-France region, compared to 23% in every other 2018 spending region combined, less than the eur25 million on remaining 25% shooting abroad. location in the Ile-de-France’s share of days for country.” web and TV projects followed the same trend. However, this is slowly changing and regions outside Ile-de-France are seeing a steady rise in production levels in response to regional strategies designed to attract productions.

location HiGHliGHt

Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Paris

Pont de Bir-Hakeim crosses the river Seine connecting Paris’ fifteenth and sixteenth arrondissements. Constructed out of steel and built at the turn of the twentieth century, the columnated bridge has multiple storeys. Designed by prominent French architect Jean-Camille Formige, the bridge has two levels separating vehicle and pedestrian traffic from the Paris Metro line six which runs along the viaduct above. Originally named Pont de Passy after the Passy district it reaches, the bridge was renamed in 1948 to commemorate the Battle of Bir Hakeim in the Libyan desert. Films to have shot at this charming bridge includes Last Tango in Paris, where Marlon Brando’s apartment is located and Inception, where Leonardo Di Caprio teaches protagonist Ellen Page how to build dreams.



Since France’s tax rebate was raised to a competitive 30% in 2016, an increasing number of incoming productions are choosing to shoot in the country. OTT services are increasingly using France as their playground from Jack Ryan and Sense8 to Netflix’s French originals like thriller Marianne (pictured left) and Family Business (pictured next page). Film France notes that around 50 projects are supported each year by the incentive, but total spend is increasing each year. Last year, Mission Impossible: Fallout (pictured left) broke the record for foreign production spend on French soil in 2018 spending EUR25 million on location in the country. Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch upped this to EUR28 million during production in 2019. Moreover, Anderson’s film shot in the Angoulême region in Nouvelle-Aquitaine rather than Paris which has traditionally welcomed the most incoming productions, including Fallout. While Paris has such iconic scenery, its locations are often used as “postcards” says Calvin Walker of Film France. “Filming in a region makes the region an actual part of the story. Once the Eiffel Tower or Montmartre appears in the establishing shot, the scene is located in Paris for the audience”. But when a not-so-well known region is chosen to base a story, filmmakers often choose to bring the region to life by spending more time exploring the locations it offers on camera. Other high-profile productions to draw on regions across France include Sky Original series Riviera (main image), that uses the glamour and sophistication of the French Riviera as the backdrop of their thriller series. The rural wine region of south-west France will provide a rural setting in upcoming period horror Eight for Silver, that sees a man arrives in a remote village to investigate a mysterious attack. Between 2016 and 2018, French regional supports for both French and non-French projects, increased by 35% to reach a total EUR80 million. These funds are generally used to support co-productions or provide direct funding to non-French projects. The BBC series Death in Paradise, for example, has received support from the Region Guadeloupe for eight seasons. These funds have been implemented as part of wider strategies to attract productions. In terms of French productions, a shift outside the capital has emerged too. In 2017, the Ile-de-France region recorded 38% of the filming days, with Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur welcoming 19%. Walker notes, “We clearly see a growing interest from TV channels and screenwriters for the narrative universe of French regions”. This comes amid a global trend in the creative industries for backing a more diverse range of projects that better reflect the lives and experiences of their audiences.



aDRian KEllY linE PRoDucER

Killing Eve

Q: The French scenes in series two were set

between Paris and Calais, what were the main filming locations? A: Our main filming locations were the Place

de République area and streets near The Eiffel Tower. The Gare De l’est (pictured left) was also prominent. We also had some locations slightly out of town to double for Calais. Q: Have you shot in the country before,

or was this the first time for you? A: Killing Eve filmed there for series one,

which was my first time. Q: Were there any technical, or logistical

problems you had to overcome? A: We were in Paris primarily for exterior

locations, so we had issues in managing crowds of tourists, cyclists who don’t know how to stop and lots and lots of traffic. However, the challenges were mostly not as difficult as filming in Central London. In fact, I find that the filming methods in Paris take into consideration the obstacles and creative solutions are put in place to deal with them. For example, the ability to put up a tent pretty much anywhere and run catering from it is a total game changer. We could really benefit from permission to do this in London. Q: Do you have any advice for those

considering shooting in France? A: I urge anyone going to Paris to find a local

producer who understands the filming culture that you’re coming from. Then do listen to that producer and follow their advice closely. They will help you understand what adjustments you have to make to your own approach to be successful filming in France.




ESSEntial factS

co-PRoDuction tREatiES

59, including the EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-production, China, Brazil, Algeria, South Korea, Romania, Cambodia, India, Ukraine, Mexico, Georgia, Turkey & South Africa. taX incEntiVES

30% Non French projects completely, or partly made in France qualify. Five days minimum shoot for live action. The incentive is capped at EUR30 million per project. There is a minimum spend of either EUR250,000 or 50% of the total budget. StuDioS

Many, including Studio Lite in Paris, Provence Studios, Studios Post & Prod, Marseille & TSF Studios d’Aquitaine. ata caRnEt


intERnational talEnt

Cinematographers Bruno Delbonnel, Philippe Le Sourd & Guillaume Schiffman. Costume designers Madeline Fontaine & Catherine Leterrier. Directors Damien Chazelle & Michel Hazanavicius. Film composers Alexandre Desplat & Ludovic Bource. Visual effects artist Stephane Ceretti. tiME ZonE

GMT+1 Images: Riviera © Sky UK Limited, Mission Impossible: Fallout © 2018 Paramount Pictures, Marianne © Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix, Family Business © Julien Panie/Netflix, Killing Eve © BBC.


To cater to the growing production sector, studio space is expanding and updating across the country. Nice’s Studios de la Victorine has announced a new 30,000 square feet studio is to be built, while Backlot 217 opened in Bretigny-Sur-Orge thirty minutes south of Paris just last year. Although 85% of studio space is split between Paris and Region-Sud or PACA [Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur] , there are smaller spaces in Lyon to the east, Lille in the north or Bordeaux to the south-west. However, sectors of the industry still remain tied to the Ile-de-France region. France’s strong animation scene is often seen as a Parisian affair, but even this sector is somewhat decentralised. Some of the top global animation schools are found in France, such as Gobelins in Paris, Rubika near Lille, MoPA in Arles and ESMA in Lyon, Toulouse, Nantes and Montpellier. However most leading studios are based in Paris, such as Illumination Mac Guff, the feature production company behind Despicable Me and Minions. Advertising work also remains particularly Paris-centric, having grown around the agencies that work with French based brands such as Chanel, Evian and Cartier. Incoming productions are also often looking for the “postcard” shots that add an element of Parisian chic.

Celebrity French chef Marc Veyrat (pictured below) recently announced he is suing the Michelin Guides after losing the third star on his restaurant in the French Alps. The guides demoted the restaurant to two stars in January 2019 and Veyrat has been suffering with depression since. The guides are an important mark for distinguished chefs, and restaurants are assessed with visits from surprise Michelin inspectors. Veyrat claims the inspector marked the restaurant down for using cheddar in a souffle rather than local cheeses, explaining that saffron used in the recipe yellowed the souffle to make it appear like the English cheese. “I’ve been dishonoured” he says and is suing the guides to clarify the exact reasons for the grade. In contrast, another French chef has found himself “surprised” to be back in the 2019 guide after requesting to be removed in 2017. At the time he had two stars, but didn’t like knowing that an inspector could visit at any time.


interview walter withderspici iuzzolino alter Iuzzolino is the co-founder of the international drama streaming service Walter Presents, which launched in the UK in 2016, backed by Channel 4, and has since expanded into markets such as the US, Australia, Italy and Belgium. Speaking to makers, Iuzzolino talks global drama trends and how niche SVODs can compete with deep pocketed rivals like Netflix and Amazon.



What do you see as the big international drama trends?

Tell us about the background to Walter Presents. WaltER iuZZolino

When we started, some foreign language drama had arrived in the UK, like The Killing and The Bridge on BBC4. But there was no real sense of what the rest of the world produces. According to our research, there was a sense of snobbery associated with foreign language drama and subtitles. It was very ‘opera club’, rather elitist fare. We wanted to be inclusive, commercial, fun and mainstream. In the UK, for example, dramas like Bodyguard, Downton Abbey and Line of Duty are good fun and beautifully made and watched by millions of people. So what are the equivalents in other countries? That was our guiding principle. MaKERS

What dramas have worked for you? WaltER iuZZolino

Deutschland 83 has been huge. It was perfect for us – incredibly well crafted, but at the same time great fun, full of fashion and retro


humour. And Locked Up too. Nobody was touching Spanish language drama at that point – it was pre-Narcos and all that has come after. It led to a whole wave of Spanish content. Then we have gone Belgian, and found some really great shows like 13 Commandments which have become big hits. Italy has recently started to punch way above its weight in terms of great drama.

WaltER iuZZolino

Established producers like the Scandi countries went into a slightly repetitive ‘missing girl in a forest’ type trope that became successful in the market but was quite boring creatively. They struggled for a while to reinvent themselves but recently they have re-emerged stronger than ever with titles like Ride Upon the Storm – a wonderful melodrama about a family of priests which touches on themes of faith, religion, and good and evil. Europe has exploded – when we launched in 2016 it was the year of Germany thanks to Deutschland 83. Germany is now quite firmly established as a power house. Then Spain and Italy have been great over the past couple of years, thanks to [the broadcasters] Movistar and Rai respectively. As well as the Elena Ferrante novels produced with HBO, Rai has made wonderful crime shows Maltese and Thou Shalt Not Kill. And Belgian dramas are always funny, dark, noir, and blend genres. In the past year we have had so many Belgian hits. But the rest of the world is catching up very fast. We have

just bought our first African show, and last year we bought our first Japanese show. MaKERS

Is it harder now to acquire foreign language drama given that the big streamers show so much? WaltER iuZZolino

I think the reverse is true. The market has changed in that the big streamers tend to produce their own shows now. They are piling up commissions across Europe and the rest of the world. But it means that lot of stuff made by local national broadcasters remains unsold. We’ve found if anything that more titles are available. Five years ago, the quality level was still quite patchy. Right now the quality element has risen exponentially; everyone now produces top notch drama. MaKERS

How do you compete as a niche player against much deeper pocketed rivals? WaltER iuZZolino

The biggies, Netflix and Amazon, have created the customer habit, persuading the world to adopt streaming. They have carved a path for us to follow, with our own ideas, curation and with very specific principles. At the very beginning when the big financial push from Netflix was happening in terms of commissioning, it felt like it was going to be difficult to survive in an ecosystem dominated by such enormous forces. But I think it has come full circle – the revolution that has been driven largely by Netflix and Amazon has allowed for a lot of other services to thrive and exist.


Any key decisions that have helped Walter Presents be a success? WaltER iuZZolino

To launch as an AVOD service, not as a pay SVOD. It meant we had to be mainstream, and not niche. The scariness about AVOD is that it is ad supported, so you live or die by the number of streams you get. If you don’t get any, you can’t acquire any programming. But it was a winning strategy – ultimately anyone could get Walter Presents free of charge. When we launched with Deutschland 83 we truly were in the households of millions of British people. That tipped the balance. Had we taken another path, it might have been much harder to reach the level of penetration in people’s consciousness that we have achieved. The naming of it was also crucial. Walter Presents was Channel 4’s idea; they wanted us to differentiate ourselves. They thought that if we had an abstract corporate name like World Drama Originals, it would seem like yet another slightly metallic brand. The conversation with the channel was, ‘Let’s have a name that tells the real story of the brand.’ This principle has remained incredibly pure, five years since we founded. I watch and chose the dramas. I follow my gut, I don’t always get it right, but fundamentally I stay coherent – viewers have learned to like that and give us credit for that.




Making of Normal People




BACK TO CONTENTS ne of the most highly anticipated dramas for 2020, Normal People is the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s international hit novel.

Produced by Element Pictures (The Favourite, Room, The Lobster, Dublin Murders) as a 12-part drama for BBC Three and Hulu, Normal People has been adapted by Rooney with Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe. Oscar nominated director Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald share the directing duties.

A love story, it stars Daisy Edgar Jones (War of the Worlds, Cold Feet) as Marianne and Paul Mescal in his first television role as Connell. Filmed in Dublin and Sligo in Ireland, and in Italy, Normal People tracks the tender but complicated relationship of Marianne and Connell from the end of their school days in small-town west of Ireland to their undergraduate years at Trinity College.

Following Rooney’s critically acclaimed debut novel Conversations with Friends, she was named 2017’s Sunday Times Writer of the Year. Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018 and more recently it won 2019’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. In America, Normal People entered the New York Times Bestseller list at number three. Endeavor Content is handling international sales.

Images © Element Pictures/Enda Bowe.



IRELAND awards aplenty

Having hit its stride in 2019, the outlook is bright for the irish production sector. not only are its high-end facilities, crew and enhanced incentive in demand, but native irish projects are consistently met with the highest of accolades.

n June, Ireland launched Global Ireland, a strategy to renew and expand the country’s international presence in areas such as diplomacy, culture, business, overseas aid and trade. The strategy leading up to 2025 is looking to grow and diversify export markets, inward investment and tourism. All of these are pertinent to the filming industry in terms of inward productions, exporting home grown content and the knock-on tourism this can create. To aid this goal, a full time representative based in LA will be appointed to evolve links to leading studios and content companies and the Irish advertising sector is positioning itself as a centre of creative excellence.

Element Pictures is one of Ireland’s success stories, having produced multi-award winning titles including The Favourite, and Room. From the beginning “a new 5% uplift the company has co-produced has also been projects and ventured into the applied benefitting distribution and exhibition productions businesses. Increasingly it has shooting outside become involved in TV content too. Normal People, an adaptation dublin/wicklow of Sally Rooney's award winning and cork city and novel for BBC Three and Hulu, is county.” one such production and was the first large scale Irish project to benefit from Screen Ireland’s new TV drama production fund for homegrown content. There is a lot happening in the Irish post-production, too. Covered by the tax incentive, international work often finds its way to the country. VFX Association Ireland was founded by the largest VFX suppliers in the country: Windmill Lane, Screen Scene, Egg and Piranha Bar. The organisation promotes the industry on a national and

location HiGHliGHt

Kilmainham Gaol, County Dublin The former prison (pictured above) is one of the largest gaols in Europe. The site is now a museum run by the Office of Public Works which details the political and penal history of the prison. Opened in 1796, many of the inmates involved in the struggle for independence were imprisoned here. Henry Joy McCracken, founder of the United Irishmen was the first notable inmate of the prison, while many more were imprisoned after the 1916 Easter Rising. The prison has been used as a setting for many productions. Famous actors to have been behind its bars include Liam Neeson in Michael Collins, Michael Caine in The Italian Job and Cillian Murphy in The Wind that Shakes the Barley. One of Ireland's most iconic exports, U2 also filmed the video for A Celebration.



international level. Together, these companies count ABC, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers and more as clients. Most recently, Screen Scene completed post-production on Netflix’s The Irishman (pictured left).

ESSEntial factS

co-PRoDuction tREatiES

South Africa, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Australia, Canada & the EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. taX incEntiVES

32-37% Film, TV & animation all qualify for Ireland’s Tax Credit programme. There is a per project cap of EUR70 million or 80% of the total cost of production. There is no annual limit & international crew & cast working in Ireland also qualify. There is a 5% regional uplift which can bring the credit to 37%. It is applicable to projects substantially produced in the regions outside Dublin/Wicklow &Cork City & County. StuDioS

Ardmore Studios, Ashford Studios, Troy Studios, Kite Studios & Stiúideo Telegael. ata caRnEt


intERnational talEnt

Producer Ed Guiney. Director Lenny Abrahamson. Actors Saoirse Ronan & Michael Fassbender. Screenwriter Terry George. Production designer Josie MacAvin. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan. Costume designer Consolata Boyle. Visual effects supervisor Richard Baneham. Star Wars: e Last Jedi © 2017 Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., All Rights Reserved, e Irishman © Netflix 2019.


Its animation output, too is award winning. Academy Award winning animation feature, The Breadwinner was a co-production between Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon and its Canadian and Luxembourg partners. Upcoming productions from the studio include Puffin Rock Movie, based on its children's series that broadcasts on China’s Tencent, and Netflix. The country’s increasing standing on the international stage has no doubt been aided by the 32% tax credit that covers everything from feature and TV productions, to post-production, animation and creative documentaries. A new 5% uplift has also been applied benefitting productions shooting outside Dublin/Wicklow and Cork City and County, although this does drop to 3% in 2021 and 2% in 2022. This will appeal to many of the high-end features and series that choose to shoot in Ireland for its wild landscapes. Star Wars shot on the west coast’s Wild Atlantic Way for recent features The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi (main image) and found the setting for the First Jedi Temple’s on the craggy island of Skellig Michael off the Dingle Peninsula. Heads have been turned in the advertising world too. Charley Stoney, CEO of the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland says, “Creativity is in our DNA” – a notion that is at the fore of the institute’s campaign promoting the country as “a centre of excellence for those brand owners wishing to have an English-speaking hub with access to the Eurozone”. Moreover, she notes, “we continue to be this society that has its finger on the pulse, and a creative environment which has its finger on the pulse. As a brand owner wanting access to those that live, breathe and work in a progressive society – and want to resonate with progressive and new cultures – we are a great place to house that creative spirit”. This is proven by the increasing success at international awards. At Cannes 2019, for instance, Ireland’s Rothco won four Lions, while JWT and In the Company of Huskies won one award each. Sleeping Flags, a campaign from Rothco, saw the Irish flag repurposed into sleeping bags for the homeless. Developed with O.N.E, a charity that provides emergency accommodation for homeless veterans, the campaign provoked a debate in parliament and contributed three Lions to Rothco’s 2019 collection.

element pictures is one of ireland’s success stories, having produced multi-award winning titles like THE FAVOURITE, ROOM and upcoming sally rooney adaptation NORMAL PEOPLE.


Attractive to tourists looking for a familiar warm welcome, Irish pubs can be found in most countries across the world. But the oldest recorded pub in Europe is actually to be found in Athlone, County Westmeath. Archaeological records prove that the pub, now called Sean’s Bar has been serving patrons alcohol since 900 AD. Found on the River Shannon’s west bank, the pub has been located here for over 1100 years. Originally called Luain’s Inn, the establishment drew in visitors as its strategic position, on the bend of the river, was a safe point for crossing. Merchants, Vikings and pilgrims all traversed the river on their way through the country.

Capturing the wild

New entrants to the market like Netflix, Apple and Quibi are fuelling demand for natural history shows. So too are audiences who are increasingly concerned about the growing fragility of the natural world.


here’s been plenty of talk in recent years about the boom in the drama market, fuelled by spend from new entrants like Netflix and Amazon. Although it has not garnered quite as much attention, the natural history market is also booming.

There’s been a slew of premium, big budget shows that have hit screens in recent months, or that have been announced by broadcasters, streamers or digital platforms. Netflix’s launched its first foray into the genre in April with big budget series Our Planet. The streamer also announced a multi-year 96

output deal with Blue Planet 2 executive producer James Honeyborne’s Freeborne Media to produce nature and science series – which kicks off with a major five part series on the world’s oceans, currently in production. Apple is suddenly in the market for series too, having ordered three major natural history shows for its streaming service Apple TV+. Discovery is set to launch a global streaming service in 2020 following a USD400 million programming deal struck with the BBC earlier this year that will


see it offer output from the BBC’s famed Natural History Unit (NHU), including landmark series Planet Earth and Blue Planet.

natUraL hiStOry prODUctiOn iS DefiniteLy On the creSt Of a Wave. iS it the beSt it haS ever been? it prObabLy iS.

National Geographic is also showing renewed appetite for premium natural history series, while specialist streaming service Love Nature has stepped up commissioning. New players like short form service Quibi have also stepped into the market, ordering a bite-sized natural history series from the NHU. International broadcasters are also busy commissioning. Japanese broadcaster NHK ordered an 8K series exploring Africa’s Okavango Delta from Bristol’s Icon Films, while China Central Television recently took delivery of 14 long-form 4K wildlife shows from South African-based Earth Touch. A clear indication of the premium nature of natural history TV now is the talent attached to some of the programming. One of Apple’s new shows, Prehistoric Planet – about the last days of the dinosaurs – is being produced by Jon Favreau, producer of The Lion King, Iron Man and The Jungle Book. Titanic director James Cameron, meanwhile, is executive producing deep sea exploration series Mission OceanX with the NHU for National Geographic. It’s hardly a surprise that there is such activity in the natural history space. The audience numbers for premium series can be huge. Netflix’s Our Planet racked up 33 million views in its first four weeks, surpassing the streamer’s prediction of 25 million. The company says Our Planet is now the most-watched original documentary series on the platform, ahead of Making a Murderer and Chef's Table. Meanwhile, David Attenborough's underwater documentary series Blue Planet 2 was the most-watched TV show of 2017 in the UK, more popular even than perennial favourites like Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent. “Demand for natural history programming has never been so great,” says Julian Hector, the head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit, which is making shows

Images: Our Planet © Netflix / Hugh Pearson / Sophie Lanfear / Jeff Hester / Skylar Sherbrooke.


for Apple, Quibi, Discovery and Nat Geo. He says a billion people have seen its most recent landmark series, Planet Earth 2, Blue Planet 2 and Dynasties. Hector cites two key reasons for the demand. The first is structural changes in the TV industry, which has seen the emergence new platforms looking for standout content - and being willing to pay for it. The second reason is that “the natural world has never been more important” to viewers, says Hector. “People are beginning to get really bothered by what it is that is wiping out the natural world in such large numbers… with the terrible ecological and environmental crisis that we’re in, the whole topic “there’s an arms of conservation has got race between bigger and bigger.” streamers and broadcasters

His point is echoed now, with both by Andrew Jackson, concentrating president of international on bigger, production at Plimsoll premium series.” Productions, which produces acclaimed series Hostile Planet for National Geographic and has won a natural history order from Apple. “Natural history is definitely on the crest of a wave. Is it the best it has ever been? It probably is,” says Jackson, who is a former head of the BBC’s NHU. He says the “switch to premium content” is the big change in the past five years, citing demand from Netflix, Nat Geo, Discovery, Apple and Quibi. “There is a lot of what feels like good new money coming. And that is really helping the market.” 10 years ago, says Jackson, there was a sense that the natural history epic – which can cost USD3-5 million an episode – was dying on its feet, with few broadcasters outside the UK and the US able to afford the genre. So the market shifted to producing mid-budget, presenter led content. “What we’ve now seen is a shift back to the amazing epic. And that is primarily because Planet Earth 2 was so successful.” Jackson says there is something of an “arms race” between streamers and broadcasters now, who are concentrating on bigger, premium series.



BACK TO CONTENTS As a result, it’s something of a boomtime for leading natural history producers, many of whom are concentrated in Bristol in the UK – which has been dubbed ‘Green Hollywood’. Bristol is home to most of the UK’s top natural history production companies: the BBC’s NHU, Plimsoll, Silverback, Icon Films, John Downer Productions, Ammonite, Humblebee and Off the Fence as well as newly launched indies Offspring Films and Wildstar. Silverback, for example, was founded in 2012 by former BBC NHU bosses Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey. It produced Netflix’s Our Planet, and also made Disneynature feature Penguins, released earlier this year. “We have a full order book for the next three years,” says Jane Hamlin, the head of production at Silverback.

peOpLe are beginning tO get reaLLy bOthereD by What it iS that iS Wiping OUt the natUraL WOrLD in SUch Large nUmberS.

Plimsoll has also grown fast since being founded in 2013, and now has 250 staff. The NHU, meanwhile, which was founded 61 years ago and has long been the anchor for the natural history community in the city, now has around 350 people working for it. “We’ve never been so big,” says Hector. That’s partly to do with the cost of making premium series now, he adds. A landmark series is comparable in price to drama, and might hire upwards of 1,000 people during the course of production, which takes up to four years to make. (The NHU is currently working on Planet Earth 3, which is scheduled for broadcast in 2022). It’s also because the BBC recently commercialised its inhouse production division, allowing it to produce shows for other broadcasters and not just for the BBC. This growth in natural history production has been of huge benefit for Bristol, with millions of dollars of production pouring into the city in recent years. “This is the place to be a wildlife filmmaker,” says Hector. “Loads of very fine indies have set up over town. We are now way above a critical mass of people. The talent is moving into town – from directors, exec producers and camera operators.” It’s created challenges for programme makers though, not least because the market for top talent has become increasingly competitive. Finding enough talent in natural history is a key challenge for Silverback’s head of production Jane Hamlin. “With more players in this space, there aren’t enough people coming through to staff the shows.” The lack of specialist camera talent is a particular issue, she says. As for the programmes themselves, these are changing too as budgets rise and technology improves. Most obviously, shows are now being much more candid about the environmental crisis and the threats facing the natural world. Blue Planet 2



contained “big messages” about coral bleaching and plastic pollution, says Hector, while Dynasties highlighted the lack of space in the wild for animals. “With all our big landmarks, conservation and our relationship with the natural world is embedded in the offer now,” says Hector. There was a strong environmental message running right through Netflix’s Our Planet too. “There’s a general feeling that “Our Planet” is actually making a difference, which is hugely satisfying,” says Silverback’s Hamlin. Hector also says the storytelling in natural history is innovating so that it “gets more and more inside the heads of animals, looking at their plans and intentions.” Dynasties, for example, was full of insights into specific animal’s behaviour and motivations, allowing viewers to engage emotionally with the characters – just as they might with characters in a drama. Wildlife SVOD Love Nature has also recently switched its focus to character-led programming. There’s also a much more direct focus on the brutal nature of animal behaviour. Dynasties, for example, showed how political, scheming and savage animals can be. One of the most talked about episodes followed two rival packs of painted wolves as they battled for territory on the banks of the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe, fighting off each other as well as buffalos and hyenas. It also showed in full detail a crocodile lunge suddenly out of the water and snatch a tiny, painted wolf cub. Likewise, Jackson cites the “visceral nature” of Plimsoll’s Nat Geo series Hostile Planet, which showed baby geese leaping from a huge cliff face in a bid to reach food – with only a 50% survival rate. But the one factor that unites premium natural, landmark history programming is the “promise to audiences that we will offer a new perspective”, says Hector. This could be achieved through the use of improved technology, such as putting cameras on animals – like Manta Rays – to show the world from the animal’s point of view. Or it might be revealing different behaviour of quite familiar species. Hector cites a sequences in the BBC’s latest landmark Seven Worlds, One Planet which portrays polar bears hunting beluga whales, a new behaviour that is almost certainly the result of loss of ice from climate change. As climate change plays out in the coming years, it’s likely that much more of this kind of behaviour will be documented by natural history programme makers – and that demand for such shows to document the fragile natural world will become even greater.



ITALY drama central

large-scale italian stories are increasingly being greenlit by international networks. Many of these are co-productions that place italian narratives and settings to the fore. international broadcasters are also paying close attention to italian talent, both in front and behind the camera.

taly is in the midst of a production boom. Not only has the country welcomed the hottest international productions of 2019 including James Bond’s No Time to Die for an action sequence in the small town of Matera, and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, but original local Italian dramas are experiencing a moment of popularity on the global stage.

The country’s TV producers and broadcasters are increasingly involved in projects with international distribution deals such as HBO’s My Brilliant friend and The Young Pope (pictured above) for Sky and HBO. Many of these are co-productions, but have a distinct central Italian foundation.

Some of the biggest US and European broadcasters including AMC, Netflix and HBO are investing in large scale productions that tell “Some of the Italian stories once reserved for biggeSt US and local audiences. Italy’s biggest players including RAI, Mediaset eUropean and Cattleya are increasingly broadcaSterS finding production partners in inclUding amc, Hollywood and beyond.

netflix and hbo are inveSting in large Scale prodUctionS that tell italian StorieS.”

Since Sky Italia arrived on the scene in 2008, and competition from streaming platforms intensified, Italian dramas reflective of international TV trends have become more commonplace. Producers have focused attention and budgets on telling ambitious, Italian stories. One of the first signs of this new Italian wave was 2014’s Gomoraah, from independent producer Cattleya. The series, which tells the story of organised crime in Naples, was sold in over a hundred countries and kickstarted renewed interest in the Italian market.


location HiGHliGHt

Ceresole Reale, Turin

This region is part of the Gran Paradiso National park to the north of Turin. An area of Alpine mountains covered with woods, rocky slopes, glaciers and a plateau overlooking the mountains and lakes, it’s visited by tourists year round for skiing, ice climbing and mountaineering. 1969 classic The Italian Job filmed its cliff-hanger of an ending here. As the team make off with their stolen gold from the nearby city of Turin, the credits roll as the getaway coach precariously balances off a cliff edge on a mountain road. The iconic ending wasn’t originally in the script by Kennedy Martin – Paramount executive Bob Evans wrote in the ending. At a screening of the film in 2007, Martin commented, “had I delivered that cliffhanger ending, I imagine I would have been sacked”.


ESSEntial FactS

co-production trEatiES

40 including: Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, China, Chile, South Africa, Russia, Macedonia, Uruguay, Canada, Mexico, Venezuala, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco & the EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. IncEntiVES

30% Foreign projects can access a 30% tax credit. Feature films, short films, TV series, documentary, animation & web products all qualify. The incentive is capped at EUR5 million. ata carnEt

YES StudioS

Cinecitta Studios, Rome, MM Studio Roma & Four Studios, Turin. intErnational talEnt

Production designers Alessandra Querzola, Dante Feretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo. Screenwriter Roberto Benigni. Composers Ennio Morricone & Dario Marianelli. Storyboard artist & animation director Enrico Casarosa. Makeup artists Alessandro Bertolazzi & Giorgio Gregorini. Directors Luca Guadagnino, Alberto Grimaldi & Roberto Benigni. Editor Pietro Scalia. Costume designers Milena Canonero, Antonella Cannarozzi & Gabriella Pescucci.

Images: The Young Pope © Gianni Fiorito, My Brilliant Friend © Eduardo Castaldo.


In tandem with the new filming incentive introduced in 2014, international producers became more inclined than ever to invest in the country. The incentive, now standing at 30% of Italian expenditure, drew much more production to the country including Italian set dramas that had previously filmed elsewhere due to lucrative tax breaks. The Borgias, for instance, which aired for three series on Sky Italia, Netflix and Canal+, charted the rise of Borgia’s dynasty in the 15th and 16th century, but was based in Hungary's Korda Studios. Comparatively Netflix’s Medici: Masters of Florence series, a British-Italian co-production between luxVide and London’s Big Light, has now shot three series in Tuscany where the ruling family lived during the Renaissance. In June, Sky announced the mammoth production Romulus from Groenlandia and Cattleya would be shooting in the Lazio region. Serialising the history and myth that surrounds the founding of Rome, the 10 episode series is set to film in the city and surrounding regions for 28 weeks using thousands of extras and hundreds of stunt people. Matteo Rovere, founder of Groenlandia and showrunner and a director of the series, explains that the series is expected to appeal to overseas audiences, because although it is "a great, epic fresco, a highly realistic reconstruction... above all it is an investigation into the origins and the profound meaning of power in the West". Moreover, production will be filmed in archaic Latin, a step on from series like My Brilliant Friend (pictured left) which shot in Italian language. As such it banks on the audience’s taste for authentic regional content, in both Italy and across the world. In April, three new Italian originals were announced by Netflix that move away from typical period and crime sagas. They include Curon, a supernatural drama set in a northern Italian village produced by Milan based Indiana Productions, and teen romance series Three Steps Over Heaven produced by Cattleya. In October, it was announced that Netflix has also forged an alliance with one of Italy’s largest broadcasters Mediaset. In a bid to increase its Italian output a deal has been struck to jointly produce seven features together. Coming of age dramas, sports films and historical romances are amongst the slate to be premiered on Netflix in 2020 and aired on the Italian broadcaster’s linear channels for free 12 months after their Netflix debuts.

mammoth prodUction ROMULUS, SerialiSing the hiStory and myth that SUrroUndS the foUnding of rome from groenlandia and cattleya, will be Shooting in the lazio region for 28 weekS.


In 2019 and 2020 art lovers across the world are celebrating Italy’s renaissance masters. 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death and 2020 will commemorate his contemporary, Raphael who died a year later. The last work attributed to da Vinci, the so-called Earlier Mona Lisa (below) was sold for USD450 million, the highest amount ever paid at auction for a single work of art, in 2017. In Autumn 2019, The Louvre held an exhibition to commemorate the fifth centenary of da Vinci’s death. It has five core works in its collection but more drawings, sculptures and paintings were set to be placed together in one exhibition. A swap of paintings between Italy and France became entangled in a wider diplomatic dispute surrounding immigration when a new Italian government came into power in May, but was resolved in time for the exhibition.



JAPAN sporting style

2020 is set to be Japan’s year. With the tokyo olympics taking place during the summer, Japan’s presence will be elevated on the international stage. increasing advertising work may well follow, and recent indications suggest that more larger-scale shoots will be encouraged too.

his year has seen global brands turn their attention to the wealth of stories, talent and settings that Japan can provide. With Japan hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2019, AOI Pro, the production company behind Cannes Palme D’or winner Shoplifters (pictured above), recently worked with New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks, and insurance company AIG Japan, on a comedic spot titled How NOT to drive in Japan for insurance company AIG. Filmed on Tokyo’s busy streets, the production team did tests of the stunts and action scenes for the shoot in order to avoid any potential risks to the players during filming. The spot is aimed at tourists who may not understand the rules involved when driving in Japan.

Similarly, Guinness released a documentary style ad recounting the story of Liberty Field, Japan’s first female rugby squad in Japan. “gUinneSS releaSed Produced by Stink Films, the spot a docUmentary and accompanying five-minute documentary recounts how the Style ad team went against social recoUnting the conventions of 1989 Tokyo which Story of liberty labelled “women who played field, Japan’S firSt rugby as vulgar” – but the team female rUgby made it to the Women’s Rugby World Cup in London where they SqUad in Japan.” came up against the top teams in the world. In coming months, further sports-led ads featuring Japanese stories, culture and talent are likely to come out in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In other sectors, Japanese culture continues to inspire storytellers from around the globe. One example of this is the upcoming series based on


location HiGHliGHt

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine (picture above) is one of the biggest attractions in Kyoto, Southern Japan. The city served as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence between 764 and 1868, meaning that it is a great place to find ancient Japan. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the most impressive in the city, with five shrines connected by wooden pathways winding up Mount Inari. Four kilometers of paths are lined with 10,000 red wooden gates, or torii tunnels. The tunnel featured in flashback scenes in Memoirs of a Geisha, where a young Sayuri is running through the vivid tunnel. The film mostly filmed in California, but key locations featured in the production were found in Kyoto such as the Heian Jingu Shrine which has a water garden, and the Gion district where some Geishas still live.



ESSEntial FactS

co-production trEatiES

China, Singapore & Canada. taX incEntiVES

Regional Incentives and grants are available in various regions. ata carnEt


TOHO Studios, Tokyo. intErnational talEnt

Production designer Yohei Taneda. Costume designers Eiko Ishioka & Emi Wada. Animators & founders of Studio Ghibli Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata & Yasuyoshi Tokuma. Directors Takashi Miike & Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Actors Ken Watanabe, Rinko Kikuchi, Masi Oka & Tamlyn Tomita. tiME ZonE

GMT+9 Images: e Shopliers © underbird Publishing & Tidying Up with Marie Kondo © Denise Crew / Netflix.


James Clavell’s novel Shogun which is currently in development at FX networks. Set in medieval Japan, the story revolves around an English sailor who ends up shipwrecked in feudal Japan of the 1600s. Primetime BBC drama Giri/ Haji, from Sister Pictures for BBC Two and Netflix, spent 10 weeks shooting in Tokyo. Opening with the first 25 minutes of the series subtitled in Japanese, the crime thriller shows the modern and non-clichéd side of the city. Celebrated Japanese actors Takehiro Hira and Yosuke Kubozuka take on the main roles in a mixed British and Japanese cast.

primetime bbc drama GIRI/ HAJI, from SiSter pictUreS for bbc two and netflix, Spent 10 weekS Shooting in tokyo and ShowS the modern and non-clichéd Side of the city.

The high standard of Japanese filmmaking has long been known on the international stage. Features such as Shoplifters, about a family who makes their living with petty crime, and Born Bone Born (pictured above) about the Okinawan ritual of washing the bones of deceased family members, have been recent successes on the international film festival circuit and testify to the talent available in the country. Japan has a comprehensive network of regional commissions. The islands of Okinawa, where Takeshi Kitano filmed several of his features, have a film commission which supports productions through the pre-production process with scouting assistance and help with filming permissions. Others have film aid funds of varying sizes, such as those offered by the Matsumoto and Nagoya commissions, or provide free extras. Despite this, the lack of a federal tax incentives has remained a barrier to attracting more incoming productions. In May 2018, however, a “research project on attracting foreign projects to promote regional economies” was announced which asked for applications from large-scale overseas TV and film projects. The fund research project offered support of 20% of production costs in Japan, for projects with direct production costs in Japan exceeding Y800 million, total production costs exceeding Y3 billion and direct production costs exceeding Y200 million, or projects scheduled for distribution in over ten countries with direct production costs exceeding Y300 million. This project signals an interest from officials in attracting more large-scale projects to Japan.


Japanese lifestyle guru Marie Kondo has amassed a legion of fans from around the world because of her approach to tidying up. Kondo’s wildly popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing became a New York Times best seller in 2011 and spawned an Emmy nominated reality series on Netflix. Released on January 1st, just as the world was resolving to change their bad habits, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (pictured below) became a viral sensation. The KonMari method involves going through items one at a time, keeping only those that “spark joy”, and thanking those you are letting go for their service. Kondo’s technique draws on her Shinto background, a Japanese religion which believes that everything has a spirit and value. The method has also been connected to danshari, the Japanese philosophy tied into the minimalist teachings of Zen Buddhism that highlights the importance of being able to detach yourself from possessions.


Who are these people?

Check out the credits for films these days, and you’ll come across a raft of jobs that are so niche that they barely existed a decade ago. makers investigates how the business of big budget film production has become even more specialised and complex.



ot so long ago, it used to be something of a tradition to stay in your cinema seat at the end of the film and watch the credits roll by after the final scene. That’s hardly possible now. The credits on some of the most popular movies are so long, it’s become a bit of drag to stick it out to the very end in a darkened auditorium.

Crew numbers, it seems, have rocketed in size. Take for example, the original 1977 Star Wars film: its crew numbered 500. Forty years later, 2017’s Star Wars: the Last Jedi (pictured above) boasted a crew of over 2600. For further proof, look at the original 1968 version of Planet of the Apes, which lists a mere 140 crew. By the time 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes came around, this had risen to 1,600.

2018’s big budget Avengers: Infinity War, for example, lists over 4,300 crew – and that staggering number doesn’t include cast.

The well documented ballooning of film budgets, with some now crossing the USD300 million mark, has been accompanied by a swelling in the ranks of crews.


Sarah Bradshaw, the executive producer of The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and Last Christmas and producer of The Mummy, says one of the key reasons for the growth is an increase in demand for visual effects and post production services. Such is the work required on many superhero franchises that it is common nowadays, she notes, for visual effects work to be split between four or five major vfx houses to speed up the process.


Occasionally, though, one facility will handle an entire movie. That was the case with this year’s The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau, which saw 1250 artists, production and support staff from MPC work on the film: 650 in London, 550 in Bangalore and 50 in LA, all linked together through cloud-based virtual production technology. Between them, the MPC team (representing more than 30 different nationalities) produced all VFX and animation for The Lion King – a total of 1,490 shots. If you pour through the credits of any big budget movie, you’ll see job titles that barely existed a decade ago: facial motion capture artists, matchmove artists, depth artists or rotoscope artists. Rather than the generalist VFX experts of previous years, these are highly specialist roles. They will work as part of a team, all collaborating on a single shot. Analyst Stephen Follows, who runs the highly regarded film data site, recently calculated that visual effects is the department to have grown the most on a film, with the average number of VFX crew rising by more than 325% on the top 200 grossing movies between 1997 and 2016. Other departments to have grown significantly include costume and locations, which again reflect the increasing scale and ambition of movies. In fact, Follows registered growth in nearly all departments – from art, electrical and lighting, through to music, stunts and transportation. Even the number of executive producers, producers and writers has grown. (Follows clocked a 168% rise in the average number of executive producers on a movie in the

CREW Images: Star Wars: e Last Jedi © 2017 Industrial Light & Magic, Avengers: Infinity War ©Marvel Studios 2018, e Lion King © Walt Disney Pictures 2019.

period). Special effects was, notably, the only department to have fallen in size – presumably a victim of the success of the visual effects department. Bradshaw confirms that there are more people on movie sets than when she first started working in the industry in the 1990s. She cites a rise in paperwork and form-filling involved in production, which needs more people to handle it. “Take clearances for example. Now you have to clear everything you put in front of a camera.” Other areas are completely new, such as digital asset management or motion capture, while health and safety has also expanded leading to greater supervision within departments. “From a safety point of view, that’s not a bad thing – it’s about “other departmentS the industry evolving to have grown and changing the way it Significantly works,” says Bradshaw. inclUde coStUme and locationS, which again reflect the increaSing Scale and ambition of movieS. ”

Not all films, of course, come with the budgets of Hollywood-backed productions. Follows crunched the numbers for UK films produced between 1994-2013, and worked out that micro-budget UK films (made on under GBP150,000) credited an average of just 32 people. Moving up the budget level, he said that crew sizes increase relatively slowly, with UK films budgeted between GBP1 million and GBP2 million crediting an average of just under 100 people. “However, when we get to films budgeted over GBP30 million we see a huge increase: those films have an average of 1,140 crew credits – 36 times more than that of micro-budget films,” said Follows. That said, it’s not always the case that big budget, modern-day films are inevitably bigger than those in the past. Visual effects teams can now skilfully recreate crowd scenes, for example – something that wasn’t possible when Richard Attenborough directed Gandhi in 1981. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the movie as having the most extras ever – an astonishing 300,000 of them.





JORDAN picture perfect disrupted when a Jinn – a spiritual figure is accidentally summoned by the group during a trip to the UNESCO world heritage site of Petra. Although the series was met with some criticism from more conservative Jordanian figures, the Royal Film Commission Jordan clarified that their role is to encourage local production, attract foreign productions and help facilitate filming in general, not to look into scripts or censor productions.

Jordan’s impressive track record of facilitating major features such as Aladdin, The Martian and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a testament to the iconic locations it provides. With major productions becoming regular visitors to the country, supporting infrastructure has matured.

Due to the success of recent productions, Jordan has raised the upper limit of its filming incentive to 25%. The Royal Film Commission Jordan administers the tax incentive that provides a 10–25% cash rebate depending on the sum of eligible expenses. Features, TV series and TVCs spending at least USD1 million in the country can apply. To access the incentive, a quota of Jordanian crew members and interns must be met which helps to develop and sustain the experienced crew base in the country. he Wadi Rum is Jordan’s drawing card and has become a particular favourite for sci-fi features. The vast desert with striking rock formations most recently welcomed Denis Villeneuve’s Dune adaptation featuring as the desert planet of Arrakis. Greig Fraser, Dune’s director of photography has a track record of working in the unique setting after both Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story also shot in the Wadi Rum.

Location manager Peter Bardsley who has worked on two features in the Wadi Rum including Disney’s Aladdin notes that “the steady stream of large features means everyone is well used to the process. Infrastructure in the country to support filming continues to get better and better, “commercialS, film in part thanks to the strong and tv SerieS may relationship between the service company producers and the qUalify for the military, but also the number of 10–20% caSh rebate experienced Jordanian crew, on expenSeS in suppliers and members of the local the kingdom if Bedouin communities”.

prodUctionS Spend iS at leaSt 20% of their total bUdget in Jordan.”

Elsewhere, Netflix’s first original Arabic series Jinn (pictured above) was set and shot in Jordan. The series follows a group of high schoolers whose lives are

location HiGHliGHt

Umm Qais

In the northwest corner of Jordan, above the Jordan valley, is Umm Qais, a site with both an abandoned Ottoman village, and Roman ruins. The longest Roman aqueduct in the world, stretching 170km from Jordan to Syria, passes through Umm Qais and renovation to conserve a portion of the tunnel finished in late 2018. A Private War, which told the life of war correspondent Maria Colvin shot much of the movie in Jordan doubling for countries including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Syria. Director Matthew Heineman noted that the Royal Film Commission “helped us find and secure amazing locations”, one of which was the tunnels at Umm Qais. Main image: Jinn © ABS18 / Ahmad Blaibleh.



MOROCCO classic action of New York to Morocco, with its heat, sand, colour, and rolling dunes. It’s a pretty intense change of pace”. The four-week shoot took place entirely on location in the port city of Essaouira (pictured below) – whose bustling Medina was successfully closed for an explosive night shoot – and Erfoud, an oasis town in the Sahara Desert.

one of north africa’s foremost filming destinations, Morocco is more than capable of handling large productions. Foreign production are eligible for a 20% rebate, but the captivating urban settings and impressive landscapes are what really puts the country on the map.

In terms of grittier settings, Amazon’s country hopping thriller series Hanna shot on the east coast of the country, around the city of Nador, which is a destination for migrants trying to make the crossing to Europe. Location manager Ana Arrarte notes that the production was after “a mixture between the kids trying to cross borders illegally, the authentic bazaars, the desert zones and the amazing red sand beaches”, adding that “the Moroccan local crew guided us through this craziness” of the region, where production infrastructure is less developed than much of the country. n 2019 two of Hollywood’s most successful action franchises looking to expand their universes called upon the impressive settings found in Morocco. Both Men In Black: International and John Wick 3: Parabellum (pictured above on set with actor Saïd Taghmaoui) shot here, where filming ranged from the classic golden desert dunes, to the world famous Souks and streets of Morocco’s cities.

Morocco has an abundance of locations – from snow-covered mountains to palaces and deserts – but many international productions come for the more distinctive settings. For example, Men in Black: International situated an “for Some of itS Alien chop shop amidst the hubbub of Marrakech’s Souk, and grittier SettingS, items found in a Moroccan amazon’S coUntry Antique Shop incite thrilling hopping thriller action sequences. The production HANNA Shot on the went on to film in the Merzouga eaSt coaSt of the Desert and the coastal city Tangier.

coUntry, aroUnd the city of nador.”

John Wick 3: Parabellum‘s producer, Basil Iwanyk, explained that filming in Morocco was a way “to see how the John Wick vibe might translate to a sun-soaked locale. We loved the contrast of going from rainy, grey, textured concrete


location HiGHliGHt

Portuguese Cistern, El Jadida El Jadida’s main attraction is the UNESCO listed sixteenth century coastal fortress built during the city’s Portuguese occupancy. Orson Welles visited the Mazagan fortress, now referred to as Cité Portugaise, while filming his classic Shakespeare adaptation of Othello. While most of the Moroccan portion of filming took place in the city of Essaouira, one key fight scene, was shot in the Portuguese Cistern of the fortress. The cavernous cistern (pictured above) is supported by columns and has an arching roof. In the centre, a pool of water overflows, creating a thin layer of water to pool on the floor which adds to the atmospheric feel of the cistern. Main image: John Wick 3: Parabellum © Mark Rogers.


how will 5G impact the media industry? lowly but surely, 5G is starting to roll out around the world. It’s likely to revolutionise how the media industry produces content, and how viewers consume content. Indeed, video, gaming, music, advertising, AR, and VR will all see fundamental changes due to 5G. The global media industry stands to gain USD765 billion in cumulative revenues from new services and applications enabled by 5G (USD260 billion in the US and USD167 billion in China), according to a recent Ovum report for Intel.


What is 5G? First there was 2G, a set of standards governing wireless telephone calls. Then 3G arrived, making it possible to surf the internet on a smartphone. 4G delivered speeds that enabled video streaming. The fifth generation of wireless technology promises faster delivery of content, low latency, and enhanced capacity. MaKErS

When can we expect it? Given the costs, the buildout of 5G won’t happen overnight. In April, Chicago and Minneapolis became the world’s first two cities with commercial 5G mobile services serving 5G-enabled smartphones through US carrier Verizon. In the UK, network


operator EE switched on 5G in May in select locations including London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. 5G launched in Shanghai in October, and the city will have full 5G coverage by 2020. However, large-scale deployment is unlikely to take place until the early 2020s. MaKErS

What will it be used for? Advocates say 5G will offer speeds of up to 100 times faster than 4G, opening up new possibilities for a life-transforming applications such as 3D video to immersive media, autonomous vehicles and the enablement of smart cities. MaKErS

How will it change the media industry? 5G will drastically increase media usage. Watching content on the go will become much easier because of fast download speeds and higher quality streaming, boosting OTT services such as Netflix and Spotify. UK regulator Ofcom suggests that 5G could offer speeds of 20Gbps. That is fast enough to download an ultra-high definition 4K movie in less time than it takes to read its description. As a result, the global paid-for video, music, and games market delivered over cellular networks will almost double in the next 10 years, from USD77 billion in 2018 to nearly USD150 billion in 2028, according to Ovum.


What about advertising? 5G will supercharge the digital advertising market. Mobile display advertising will present a significant revenue opportunity, with an expected market of USD178 billion worldwide by 2028, says Ovum. The research company thinks 5G will have a fundamental role in transitioning traditional display advertising toward social and media immersive experiences MaKErS

How else?

5G also has the potential to change how we produce content, particularly live events such as sport, news and the arts. Currently the industry relies on a number of technologies to get footage from cameras into broadcast centres and onto screens – fixed link fibre connections, satellites and even motorbike couriers delivering hard drives. For several years, the news industry has used ‘bonded cellular’ tech, sending live video feeds from cameras over a number of 3G or 4G connections. This has allowed journalists to go live from anywhere with suitable coverage without the need for large vehicles and lots of cables. 5G will allow this to happen much more easily, effectively and sustainably. Currently, at large events the connections become unreliable as they fight for

connectivity with large crowds. It will mean more events can be covered live, at a much lower cost and more creatively too as ‘untethered’ cameras will be able to roam around venues. MaKErS

Will live events producers really be able to rely on 5G? Yes. One key component of the 5G technology is network slicing, according to BBC R&D. This enables a dedicated part of the network to be made available for a dedicated set of users, so they can be sure they will be able to broadcast from a certain location without worrying about loss of connection. MaKErS

Isn’t it all just a bit overhyped? Maybe. But when the current 4G was being built, wearables weren't even a thing yet, much less the internet of things or services such as Uber. Now, as with 4G before it, nobody knows exactly what 5G will usher in. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, there’s a host of ‘unknown unknowns’ that it could lead to. But you can expect far more connected devices, self-driving cars and improved augmented reality and virtual reality. For example, Ovum reckons 5G will unlock augmented and virtual reality applications that will create more than USD140 billion in cumulative revenues between 2021 and 2028.





nature & nurture

Bold locations and stellar studios make new Zealand a top choice for large scale feature films after expansive backdrops. However, mid-budget productions are also catered for by the 20% film incentive, the range of studio space and first rate crews.

ew Zealand’s breath-taking landscapes are no secret thanks to Hollywood. The country’s starring role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit saw Tolkien-inspired tourism become a way to market the country. This is only likely to intensify as Amazon begins pre-production on their serial adaptation of the books.

However, New Zealand’s location potential can’t be defined by Tolkien’s fantasy series. It has successfully doubled for the Canadian Rockies in Wolverine, while Wellington doubled for a futuristic Hong Kong for Ghost in the Shell, and The Chronicles of Narnia trilogy spent much of its time in the country. Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Mulan, set for release in 2020, is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to be drawn to the country’s compelling landscapes. Set in China, New “the maJor citieS Zealand’s snow-covered locations of chriStchUrch, can be seen in the trailer.

wellington and aUckland are all on the coaSt and can be USed aS baSeS for ventUring inland.”

New Zealand is capable of handling these productions in part because of the infrastructure available. Numerous sound stages are dotted across the country and crew is experienced. Stone Street Studios in Wellington is the most extensive facility with nine sound stages, including a 24,500 square foot stage. However, stages appropriate for smaller productions can also be found both in and out of urban centres. Kelly Park Studios, for instance, hosted 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia and is half an hour from Auckland, situated in the rolling hills of the Wainui region. Kumeu Film Studios, meanwhile, is one of New Zealand’s newest complexes and has two sound stages and an underwater dive tank.


location HiGHliGHt

Mount Taranaki, Egmont National Park This dormant volcano rises by more than 2,500 metres above the Egmont National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The symmetrically shaped mount (pictured above) hosted the period drama The Last Samurai as a double for Japan’s Mount Fuji. Nearby, a Japanese village was built in the Uruti Valley and Lake Mangamahoe hosted filming for horse and battle scenes. Both locations provide views of the mountain in the distance. In 2018, the mountain was legally granted “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person”. This was the third natural landmark to be awarded the status of legal personality in New Zealand because of its particular importance to the Maori People – they believe mountains are living beings. Although access to the Taranaki hasn’t changed, harm or disrespect to the peak will be treated as if done to a member of the Maori tribe.



ESSEntial FactS

co-production trEatiES

Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, South Africa & the UK. IncEntiVES

20 - 25% A basic 20% of Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure with a 5% Uplift available for a smaller number of productions that are invited to apply & can demonstrate significant additional economic benefits to New Zealand. Post Production & Visual Effects can access a grant of 20%.

To strengthen New Zealand’s production offer, an incentive was introduced in 2014 which has seen increasing interest. The New Zealand Screen Production Grant is catered to medium and large budget productions and provides those eligible with a cash grant of 20% on Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure. A smaller number of productions which can demonstrate significant additional economic benefits to New Zealand are invited to apply for a 5% uplift. Projects to successfully access the uplift include Mortal Engines, Ghost in the Shell, The Meg and Pete’s Dragon.

Expenditure must exceed NZD15 million for film & NZD4 million for TV & other non-feature films, however there are no per-episode or hourly requirements.

Six-part series The Luminaries (main image) produced by Working Title Television and Southern Light Films for BBC Two is an epic love story set on New Zealand’s South Island during the gold rush of the nineteenth century, and another example a production supported by the New Zealand Film Commission.

Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure includes fees & expenses of non-New Zealanders who work on the production for at least fourteen days in total.

Post, digital and VFX productions can also access a 20% grant of QNZPE (qualifying NZ production expenditure] up to NZD25 million, while an 18% rebate kicks in above the NZD25 million mark.

ata carnEt

YES StudioS

Dedicated studios in Auckland & Wellington such as Kumeu Film Studios, Stone Street Studios, Auckland Film Studios, Kelly Park Studios, Studio West. Other studios & warehouse spaces are used for shooting in regions including Christchurch, Queenstown & Dunedin. intErnational talEnt

Directors Taika Waititi & Peter Jackson. Production designer Grant Major. Costume designer Ngila Dickson. Special effects & designer Richard Taylor. Cinematographer Rodney Charters. Images: e Luminaries © BBC / e Luminaries Production Ltd 2018 / Kirsty Griffin, Follow You Till I Die © Film Construction.


Varied topography for location shoots can also be found in relative proximity to New Zealand’s urban centres. A recent anti-tobacco spot, Follow You Till I Die, by New Zealand’s Film Construction needed a flexible, yet cinematic location to base the shoot. Producer Jozsef Fityus found a suitable property located half an hour from downtown Auckland for the one-day shoot. Production covered a beach, pine forest (pictured left), a building site as well as interiors all half an hour from the city. This is not uncommon in New Zealand, as the major cities of Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland are all on the coast and can be used as bases for venturing inland.

Since Peter Jackson founded Weta Digital in Wellington in 1993, a thriving postproduction industry in New Zealand has followed. Now, there are digital hubs in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin that specialise in VFX, while high-quality postproduction companies are located throughout the North and South Island. VFX heavy Mortal Engines, released in late 2018, was able to base production from beginning to end in New Zealand utilising Stone Street Studios, Weta Digital and Park Road Post.

new zealand iS capable of handling maJor prodUctionS in part becaUSe of the infraStrUctUre available. nUmeroUS SoUndStageS are dotted acroSS the coUntry and crew iS experienced.


New Zealand researchers have named a new species of insect Psylla Frodobaggins, after the hobbit Frodo Baggins. Researchers Dr Martoni and Dr Armstrong from the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University, New Zealand, say it is “identified most easily by its small dimension, light colours, and uniformly spotted wings”. The species was named after the literary character for a number of reasons. Firstly, like hobbits, the species is a smaller type of psyllid – which itself only measures three millimetres. Secondly, much like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the research was carried out across the South Island. New Zealand has strict biosecurity controls to protect its singular ecosystem which developed in isolation over millions of years. Researchers note that more native species such as Psylla Frodobaggins effectively hide in plain sight contrary to a common notion that new species are only to be found in uncharted or non-urban environments.



what’s next?

The crew base that Game of Thrones fortified ranges from set construction to prop and costume design, all of which provide a ready environment for high-end fantasy and period productions. In fact, Northern Ireland could see HBO returning shortly. The network has been exploring multiple options for a series and shot a pilot for Blood Moon in June. The network also commissioned House of Dragon which tells the story of the House Targaryen and the early days of Westeros.

Game of Thrones has dominated the northern ireland production sector for 10 years. the series undoubtedly transformed it but will another fantasy juggernaut head to the country to occupy a GoT shaped space?

The region has also attracted dramas such as ITV’s Marcella which moved production from London to Belfast for the entirety of its third series, and Line of Duty relocated from Birmingham to Belfast in its second series. BAFTA nominated series Mrs Wilson and Derry Girls have also shot in Northern Ireland in recent years as part of a consistent flow of productions to the region. lthough Game of Thrones filming destinations, such as Dubrovnik in Croatia and Seville in Spain were catapulted into the spotlight, Northern Ireland’s production sector was truly reinvigorated by the series. Over 60 locations within an hour and a half of Belfast and studios in the city provided longer term bases for eight series, leading to huge investment into the region.

Belfast Harbour Studios’, which opened in 2017, first guest was Superman prequel Krypton for the Syfy channel. Post-production facilities have grown in the country “a crew baSe with too, with companies like Yellow Set conStrUction Moon expanding into twenty-five throUgh to prop cutting rooms that can service all and coStUme post-production. This infrastructure deSign SkillS all expansion is indicative of an increased demand for shooting in provide a ready the country. environment for high-end fantaSy and period prodUctionS.”

Samantha Perahia, head of production UK at the British Film Commission says, “the UK’s regions and nations have strong, established TV drama and independent feature film crew hubs” but notes that “in Northern Ireland’s case, as well as expansion of studio space, there has been investment in skills and training and establishment of production funds”.

location HiGHliGHt

Bangor Castle Walled Garden Bangor Castle is a country house found in Bangor County Down, which is now the town hall. Its walled garden (pictured above) has four distinct horticultural sections with sculptures inspired by Bangor’s maritime history. Dystopian feature High-Rise, starring Tom Hiddleston, filmed in the garden. Thanks to digital effects the garden played the private rooftop for the high-rise’s godlike architect. Only five minutes from the garden, the brutalist Bangor Castle Leisure Centre was able to provide interiors including a swimming pool, squash court and many corridors. Image: Game of rones © Home Box Office, Inc.



The next 12 months looks set to be a pivotal year in broadcasting, with an array of streaming services entering the fray from the likes of Apple, Disney, Comcast and WarnerMedia. Who is likely to win the streaming wars, and can traditional broadcasters respond?


Our industry is about to enter a second stage of disruption.” So reckons BBC director general Tony Hall, referring to the launches this year and next of new streaming services from the likes of Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia, Comcast and CBS. The first stage of disruption, of course, was all about the rise of Netflix and Amazon – “market shapers that fundamentally changed audience behaviour, often at the cost of huge losses or massive cross-subsidy,” according to Hall, speaking at a Royal Television Society event in September.

The BBC boss predicted that the established streamers would shrink as the big studios pulled their content away to play on their own services. Indeed, the market seems to agree. Netflix’s share price has languished in the past 12 months as the plans and ambitions of rival players have become known. Having enjoyed a phenomenal stock market run as it built its global business almost unchallenged during the 2010s, the reality of the competition about to hit Netflix has tempered investor enthusiasm for the company.


That said, the second wave of new entrants are late to the party and face formidable challenges themselves. They are entering an already crowded market at a time when the established players have an impressive lead in terms of subscriptions. Netflix, for example, already has over 150 million global subscribers.


Apple was the first to market in November with Apple TV+, priced at USD4.99 a month, undercutting competitors such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney. Apple customers who purchase a new Mac or iPhone receive a free year of the service. With a user base of 900 million active iPhones worldwide, analysts believe that Apple could sign up 100 million consumers on the streaming front in the next 3-4 years – using the service primarily to lock in users to the Apple ecosystem. However, the service debuted with only a handful of original TV shows, paling in comparison to the offerings from the other streamers (although this is likely to grow). Its small originals slate includes The Morning Show, a comedy-drama about a morning news programme that stars Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. Other launch titles include the Jason Momoa-led See and Ronald D Moore’s For All Mankind, a drama about NASA’s continuing space race. For USD2 more than Apple TV+, the family friendly service Disney+ comes with a complete library of classics, along with new series that include The Mandalorian, based on Star Wars movies, an update of the High School Musical franchise, the return of the Disney Channel classic Lizzie McGuire and a live-action remake of the 1955 film The Lady and the Tramp. Containing content from across Disney’s formidable range of different assets, including its animation archive, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and Fox, its November launch in the US will be replicated in international territories through 2020 and 2021. Disney is bundling Disney+ with its sports hub ESPN+ and the ad-supported version of Hulu, now under Disney-ownership, for USD12.99. As you go up the pricing escalator, Netflix is next, starting at USD8.99 a month, then Amazon Prime Video which works out at USD9.92 a month, or USD119 a year (with deliveries thrown in).

Images: Game of rones © 2019 Home Box Office, Inc, e Morning Show © Hilary B. Gayle / Apple TV+, e Mandalorian © Lucasfilm / Disney, Doctor Who © BBC & e Office © NBC.


Meanwhile, AT&T's WarnerMedia appears to be focusing on HBO as the centre of its streaming offer. Its upcoming streaming service HBO Max launches in Spring 2020, featuring programming from HBO, as well as other WarnerMedia brands like Warner Bros, DC Entertainment, TBS, TNT, and CNN for a price of USD14.99 a month. HBO Max will have original series and movies, as well as a potent back catalogue that includes shows such as Friends, Game of Thrones and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It also has a licensing deal with BBC Studios to stream Doctor Who and other shows on the service. Unlike Netflix, HBO Max will also have live sports and news, though likely not at launch. Comcast plans to launch its NBCUniversal streaming service in April next year, built on a similar platform to Sky’s Now TV streaming service. At the time of writing, there are few details about the kind of content expected on the service, but it will play host to The Office after NBC’s existing deal with Netflix expires at the end of 2020. The platform is also likely to host content from Sky Studios, which Comcast purchased last year as part of its acquisition of Sky. Meanwhile, the recent USD30 billion merger of CBS and Viacom brings together a range of streaming options. CBS is expected to build out its CBS All Access service – which provides network and NFL content – priced at USD9.99 per month, or USD5.99 with ads. The company also offers an online version of Showtime, which costs USD10.99. Meanwhile, Viacom acquired the free, ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV in January, a platform that offers more than 100 channels. So which of these services is likely to win out? It depends on who you speak to. Some think Netflix will be hard to dislodge, given its huge head start and because it is spending more of its USD15bn content budget on its own programming, to make up for the films and dramas that the studios will pull from the service for their own platforms. Others say Disney’s



BACK TO CONTENTS access to great content gives it a distinct advantage, while others still note that Apple’s universe of existing hardware customers will make it easier for them to attract subscribers. “I think there is room for all of them,” says Guy Bisson, research director at Ampere Analysis, who describes the launch of new streaming services as “a clear evolution of the channel business – and we think nothing about having 100s of channels.” “In terms of who will win, I think whoever has access to the best content – that is the key. Now Disney clearly does have access to great content, so I wouldn’t want to bet against them. Smaller studios may find it more challenging.”


Lucas Green, head of content at production group Banijay, says that although it is easy to lump the new streaming services together, they are actually very distinct offers that will appeal to different audiences. Disney, he says, is targeting the “broad family entertainment” market with shows that can be watched with kids and grandparents. Netflix is edgier and more irreverent, allowing producers to take more risks on shows. By comparison, Apple has “very clear brand guidelines”, meaning it may look to avoid shows that could cause offence. Amazon, meanwhile, is interested in “big names and big IP” to help it attract subscribers to its Prime delivery service. Enders Analysis senior research analyst Tom Harrington notes that households in the UK subscribe to an average of 1.4 SVOD services each – “so it will be difficult for one of the new services to stand out and build scale.” Adding to the challenge, Harrington also points out that local broadcasters are working hard on their own VOD services to meet the threat from the US streamers. In the UK, for example, traditional broadcasters have been doubling down on their own catch up services, such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All4, to offer more flexible viewing to audiences who increasingly want to watch at a time of their own convenience. They are also seeking to play to their strengths by commissioning more diverse British content from right across the country in a bid to stand out against the international offers of the streamers. The BBC has also successfully lobbied regulator Ofcom to let it air original shows on BBC iPlayer for 12 months after first broadcast, saying the previous 30 day window it had for commissioned programmes wasn’t fit for purpose. As a result, it is now increasingly looking to commission programmes that will work across both the linear channels and BBC iPlayer.




UK broadcasters are also using their catch up services in much more of a Netflix style “library” way, and putting much more effort into their role as curators. At the BBC, you can now hear executives speak of overnight ratings as the equivalent to cinema “opening weekends”, and the shows in the traditional schedule being “marketing tools” for iPlayer. Meanwhile, the BBC and ITV have joined forces to launch BritBox, a new platform priced at GBP5.99 which promises the biggest collection of British TV content ever assembled in one place, as well as new commissions specifically tailored for the service. “It is not a rival to Netflix and Amazon, who spend billions and billions,” said ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo at this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival, explaining the positioning of BritBox. “This is a way to use the archive of the BBC and ITV…British people are mostly interested in British programming.” It’s a similar story in other countries, where traditional broadcasters are fighting back. In June, German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media and Discovery launched an ad funded streaming joint venture, Joyn, with a premium version planned to go live this winter. Joyn is a key plank in ProSieben’s strategy to turn around its fortunes as it battles weak advertising on its commercial channels, and younger viewers being lured away by rival digital platforms. Joyn is home to around 50 channels, including public broadcaster ARD and Discovery’s Eurosport. Elsewhere in Europe, Italy’s RAI, France Televisions and Germany’s ZDF have joined forces to combat the streaming giants in the international TV market with a scripted content co-production pact. Called the Alliance, it pools funds from the public service broadcasters to co-finance big budget, high profile series (see Making Of on page 16 for details of Alliance project Mirage, pictured top left, which has a budget of USD2.3 million per episode). Bisson says it’s important for linear broadcasters “to fight fire with fire” to stem the threat from the streamers. He also says they have faced huge threats to their dominance before, most notably during the transition to digital in the 1990s when a limited number of channels were joined by hundreds of newcomers. He argues that even if the industry transitions to an entirely streaming environment, there is not going to be one single streaming provider. “The fact is that we are perfectly happy navigating [a pay TV service like] Sky with 300 channels, but we don’t watch them all. We probably watch 10-15 of them on fairly regular basis. So to have 10-30 plus SVOD services – I don’t think will be that odd in 20 years’ time.”


PANAMA city & surf

in a country the size of Scotland, panama offers everything from caribbean style islands to lush valleys and mountains, rainforests and a metropolitan built up city. it also offers a 15% rebate, and has handled a number of large scale productions.

anama has hosted several big action features. James Bond’s Quantum of Solace, which doubled a port city near the Panama Canal as Haiti’s Port au Prince, also shot in the capital’s old town. The Bond production led to a spate of big budget action features coming to the country including the original Fast & Furious and heist drama Contraband. In the intervening years the country’s filming infrastructure has matured.

Although the country has no soundstages, basic equipment is available from rental houses. The nearest centre to bring in additional equipment from is Miami while Mexico and Columbia provide a cheaper option. LCA Productions are one of the top production service companies working in Panama, as well as Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Recent “contraSting international productions for the elementS of likes of Bacardi and Pepsi capture the Caribbean flavour on offer in panama city can the country, but Panama City itself hoSt modern has a range of locations on offer featUreS like FAST too. The modern metropolis has a AND FURIOUS, skyline full of skyscrapers, and as or period it sits on the coastline it can double for cities such as Miami or prodUctionS Shanghai at a fraction of the cost. SUch aS THE TAILOR Moreover, the city also has a OF PANAMA.” historic old town with much colonial architecture. Due to these contrasting elements, Panama City can host modern features like Fast and Furious, or period productions such as The Tailor of Panama. In late 2019, Panama hosted Treasure Island with Bear Grylls (pictured above). The series films


location HiGHliGHt

Bocas Del Toro

Bocas del Toro is an archipelago with nine inhabited islands and many more small ones. The main island, Isla Colon, has the most infrastructure and is particularly favoured by tourists not only because of its bright and colourful clapboard and stilt houses built on wooden jetties, but because it is a good base from which to explore the archipelago. 2014 feature, Escobar: Paradise Lost, starring Josh Hutcherson and Benicio Del Toro shot here. Doubling for Colombia, the entire film shot in Panama and follows the story of a young surfer who meets the woman of his dreams and is welcomed into her family, only to discover her uncle is the infamous Pablo Escobar. Elsewhere in the country, Chiriquí Province hosted the production providing a different scenery as the region boasts Panama’s tallest mountains, fertile valleys and longest rivers.


contestants on a remote island, where they have to fend for themselves in increasingly fractious groups. The group is placed on a small island in the Las Perlas archipelago, about thirty miles from the coast of Panama. With picturesque golden sand beaches and crystal clear waters, the islands can seem remote on camera, but there is infrastructure in the area that facilitates filming. The largest island, Isla del Rey has

ESSEntial FactS

co-production trEatiES

Latin American Cinematographic Co-Production Agreement. IncEntiVES

15% 15% cash back on qualified foreign production for total spend in the country. Covers feature films, TV pilots, TV series, TVC’s, music videos, industry videos, documentaries, video game design & creation. The minimum qualifying local expenditure is USD3 million. ata carnEt


intErnational talEnt

Actor, Producer & Director Carlos Carrasco. Director & writer Abner Benaim. Writer Arturo Montenegro. Actress Daphne Rubin-Vega. Actor Ruben Blades. tiME ZonE

GMT-5 Image: Treasure Island with Bear Grylls © Channel 4,


a population of nearly two thousand while Casaya island, the closest to the mainland has the most infrastructure with hotels and even a small airport. With over three hundred islands to choose from, productions can find the perfect location and the survival reality show has itself shot on three of the islands over six series. Other adventure, reality series and nature documentaries have shot here including US Survivor and Planet Earth. The fact that documentaries and TVCs are eligible for the 15% cash rebate is particularly appealing for nature documentaries, who will find a wealth of material in a country with nearly fifty ecological reservations. The incentive is available to foreign productions, including film and TV series, that incur upwards of USD3 million qualified spend in Panama. TVC’s, music videos and documentaries are all eligible for the cash rebate. The Panama Film Commission acts as a one stop shop for film permits, and can help with facilitating visas and work permits for crew. Permits must be sought when filming on public property, however most public locations are free. The country is not part of the ATA Carnet system, however the commission will help productions obtain a special customs permit which allows hassle-free entry of equipment. The country is known for its lush vegetation and while many productions will want to shoot during the dry season, the wet season (from April to November) will offer a few dry hours to capture the country at its most verdant. Flights from LA average at six and a half hours, while from New York it is only five hours and the time differences are minimal.

docUmentarieS and tvcS are eligible for the 15% caSh rebate, which iS particUlarly appealing for natUre prodUcerS, who will find a wealth of material in a coUntry with nearly fifty ecological reServationS.


Panama is a unique business and entrepreneurial hub. It is one of only seven countries in the world where women are involved in business at rates equal to men. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that this extends to the entrepreneurial sector. The government has encouraged the start-up ecosystem to develop and academic institutions such as the Technological University of Panama. A good example of this culture is Panama City’s “The City of Knowledge” campus which houses entrepreneurs, NGOs, international organisations and scientists in a bid to encourage social change. Opened in 1995, the government supported the transformation of the site after local businessmen had the vision of a “Socratic forum” where a community of innovators could participate in research and experiments.


SCOTLAND forward motion

in 2017 tV and film production spend in Scotland was the highest on record. With plans for a new studio facility afoot, the country will be able to build on this success.

ver the last decade production spend in Scotland has increased more than 300%, reaching GBP95 million in 2017. Much of that came from high-end international projects. For example, Eon Productions’ upcoming Bond film No Time to Die recently shot in the Highlands, while Universal’s Fast and Furious 9 spent four weeks in Edinburgh shooting in both the New and Old Town.

While its range of urban and natural landscapes have attracted many location shoots, Scotland has a relatively small amount of studio space. Amazon’s Outlander has been based out of Wardpark Studios since its creation. Currently hosting Outlander’s fifth series, the studio is only half an hour from “Screen Scotland both Edinburgh and Glasgow iS cUrrently in airports, and in proximity to the advanced Highland region. Wardpark is negotiationS with currently the only high-end film the preferred and TV studio in Scotland, offering five stages that reach up to bidder for a 13,000 square feet. The facility is StUdio in leith.” undergoing expansion too, adding a 5,000 square foot sound stage and office space. The facility also recently obtained planning permission to build an additional 17,000 square foot sound stage. The developments at Wardpark are part of a wider move to increase production space across the country. Screen Scotland is currently in advanced negotiations with the preferred bidder for a studio in Bath Road, Leith. Once finalised the operator will be announced and work on the building will begin.

location HiGHliGHt

Devil’s Pulpit, Finnich Glen, Stirlingshire The Finnich Glen gorge (pictured above) is carved out of sandstone and runs 70 feet deep. Completely moss covered, the gorge has a red river rushing through which provides a mysterious setting for film and TV. The gorge itself has a number of small waterfalls, but Devil’s Pulpit refers to a particular rock formation that looks similar to a church pulpit. According to local lore the devil preached to followers here, ancient druids met and witches carried out rituals. The location is about 30 minutes by road from Glasgow. The gorge is not signposted, and descending on slippery rocks can make it precarious, but a number of productions, such as Outlander, have utilised the spot. Most recently, Detective Pikachu filmed here in March 2018 during a stint filming in the Scottish Highlands that required a helicopter and drone filming.



Isabel Davies, executive director at Screen Scotland notes that, “the UK is in the eye of the storm for global production boom. Our project to develop infrastructure is very much in response to that”. Elsewhere, a site in Salter’s Gate in Dalkeith has been identified for development by Pentlands Studio Limited, and the proposed studio is currently going through planning.

ESSEntial FactS

co-production trEatiES

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (TV & Film), France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand, Occupied Palestine Territories, South Africa (TV & Film) & EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. taX incEntiVES

25% UK tax relief for high-end TV, features, animations, children’s TV & video games. Productions must qualify as British or as an official co-production. There is no cap on the amount that can be claimed but the tax relief is capped at 80% of the UK core expenditure. There is a 10% minimum UK spend for high-end TV, features, animations & children’s TV & a 25% UK/EEA state qualifying production expenditure for video games. ata carnEt

YES StudioS

Wardpark Studios, Cumbernauld, Pyramids Business Park, Edinburgh & Buchanan Park, Glasgow. intErnational talEnt

Directors Lynn Ramsay, Kevin Macdonald, David Mackenzie & Paul McGuigan. Costume Designer Jane Petrie. Cinematographers Michael Coulter & Nick Higgins. Actors James McAvoy, David Tennant, Ewan McGregor, Alan Cumming & Gerald Butler. Production Designer Pat Campbell. Screenwriters John Niven & Ed McCardie. Images: Outlaw King © Netflix / David Eustace, Guilt © BBC /E xpectation / Happy Tramp North / Mark Mainz.


Samantha Perahia, head of production UK at the British Film Commission says that “appropriate studio space is essential to attract major film and TV projects. However, this must be accompanied by an equal focus on ensuring that appropriate crew is available and other support services”. In Scotland, Davies says “we have such wonderful talented crew, there is no doubt that with more infrastructure we will be able to host and develop more work here.” She points towards the work done over the years to create a bedrock of crew. Shadowing and trainee schemes have evolved alongside the sector, such as the Outlander Trainee Scheme which has now had over one hundred trainees and Netflix feature Outlaw King (pictured above), produced by Glasgow’s Sigma Films, which had the largest trainee programme of any single film production in Scotland, and HBO’s Succession. In addition to the UK’s Creative Sector Tax Reliefs, Screen Scotland manages three funds: the Production Growth Fund which has GBP2 million to support film and high-end TV drama; the Film Development and Production Fund which supports indigenous productions and co-productions; and the Broadcast Content Fund launched in September 2018 that has already supported forty-three projects totalling GBP4.5 million. Davies notes that “we have been given the budget to be more ambitious with the sector” and adds that the enhanced funds for film, and brand new funds for TV “are not only to develop the local centre and to create more ambitious local content and local production companies but to have them work on a more global platform”. This has already started to take shape as in late 2018 Channel 4 announced that Glasgow would be one of its regional hubs. In early 2019, the BBC signing a MOU with Screen Scotland to build a sustainable industry in Scotland. BBC Two’s Guilt (main image) is the first project from this work, and is the first joint drama commission from the BBC Scotland Channel and BBC Two.

appropriate StUdio Space iS eSSential to attract maJor film and tv proJectS bUt thiS mUSt be combined with a focUS on appropriate crew and SUpport ServiceS.


The steady decline of Scotland’s island population has turned around, according to the Islands Revival project. The organisation, which champions Scottish islands, points to credible evidence of “green shoots” of a population turnaround in the region where on some islands, young people are choosing to stay, return or relocate. Efforts to make sure public policy maximises opportunities and supports the creation of sustainable populations are underway. Scotland’s Rural College, Community Development Lens (CoDeL) set out the intangible assets that islands provide such as wellbeing and community, culture and identity and points to examples of entrepreneurial communities who are increasing their populations. Community Land Scotland Policy director Dr Calum McLeod also highlighted that ‘local control of land and marine assets’ have stimulated positive population change.


PROFILE Rattling Stick

rattling Stick director danny Kleinman is working on the title sequence for the next James Bond film, no Time To Die – just one example of how the award-winning commercials production company makes a diverse range of content outside its advertising heartland.


attling Stick is such an acclaimed name in the advertising world that it hardly needs an introduction.

Founded in 2006 by top directors Daniel Kleinman and Ringan Ledwidge and producer Johnnie Frankel, the commercials production company has won all the awards going: Golds and Grand Prix prizes at the Cannes Lions, D&AD pencils of all colours, and the British Arrows Production Company of the Year four times. Its list of ads includes award winners such as Audi’s Clowns (pictured left) and Duel, Guinness’ NoitulovE, and The Guardian’s Three Little Pigs.


“There are more stakeholders and a lot more groundwork to put in up front on longer form projects which is why it’s important to have the right infrastructure to house it and the resources to invest...It feels like there’s a lot more to lose and this is not a sustainable model for independently owned commercial production companies in terms of how income is constantly needed to be generated.”

Rattling Stick has long been a diversified production company too. Kleinman, for example, is set to direct the title sequence for Bond 25, No Time To Die. It’s the eighth Bond film Kleinman has worked on, following on from his 007 credits including Spectre, Skyfall and Casino Royale. Rattling Stick’s feature documentary Nureyev was released in cinemas worldwide last year. Meanwhile, its dedicated music video department has credits including Massive Attacks’ Voodoo in My Blood and Ed Sheeran’s Beautiful People (pictured below).

WHat arE you WorKinG on BEyond coMMErcialS?

Rattling Stick first lady Katy Keith says any move into new areas by a commercials production company can be difficult “perhaps because of misconceptions about our industry, our talent, our ways of working and what motivates us.”

WHy arE you BrancHinG out into nEW arEaS?

FoundEd 2006


Asked about the differences about commercials and other mediums, Keith says an obvious one is timescale: commercials generally have a fairly fast turnaround, whereas TV and film is usually much longer, particularly at pre-production phase.

She says, however, that Rattling Stick’s diversification has been organic. “We are lucky in that we have directors who have worked in TV, film, theatre, etc, so are very used to the different pace and processes.” For example, Rattling Stick director Sara Dunlop’s short film Dreamlands played in the official competition section of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Keith thinks perceptions are beginning to change though, noting that areas like comedy are opening up bit more as TV looks to how commercial writers and directors make humour work so quickly and efficiently to engage their audience.

“We’re still making music videos, branded content, film and TV titles on a regular basis and then features when the right opportunities arise. Sometimes it’s about getting behind a feature idea one of our directors has and helping get it off the ground, or it might be entering a co-production with another company on something we are all excited about.”

“We’ve been involved in the creation of content outside of commercials since we started – certainly long before there was any perceived “need” to do so. The changes in the advertising industry have definitely opened up plenty of exciting new opportunities and whilst we are pursuing those – as we’ve always pursued any creative opportunity – we also know what we are good at and what we’re passionate about. It’s less about branching out, more about continuing to find the interesting and creative challenges for our directors.” WHat can coMMErcialS producErS BrinG to otHEr GEnrES?

“We’re all in the business of storytelling, regardless of time-length, and there are universal practices in terms of the attraction of good ideas, compelling writing, attention to craft and the extensive backroom processes and support required to enable the creatives to do their jobs properly.”



broadcast boom

South africa has long been favoured as a location due to a perfect blend of conditions, infrastructure and expertise. High-end dramas are increasingly shooting in South africa while advertising productions continue to frequent the country.

n example of the varied locations that can be found in the country are evident in Amazon’s adaptation of Neil Goodman’s fantasy Good Omens which partly shot in South Africa. The production was looking for opposing locations during the shoot; an abundant green paradise was required for within the confines of the ‘Garden of Eden’ while outside, an arid desert stood. Both locations were shot in the vicinity of Cape Town. The Atlantis dunes, a forty-five-minute drive to the north of Cape Town provided the desert setting while at the other extreme a country manor provided a spot for the lush garden.

Director Olly Blackburn successfully doubled South Africa for the Congo for ITV drama The Widow (pictured above). The Congo proved too dangerous to film in, so the country’s tropical green landscapes and Belgian “SoUth africa colonial architecture were found in haS long been South Africa. Studios in Cape popUlar aS a Town were used for interiors, SUre bet to while large exterior scenes were deliver long mainly shot in Durban. Blackwood explains: “We shot for a month in SUnlit dayS Durban, that feels way more like dUring the Kinshasa that Cape Town does. northern There is a big riot sequence in my hemiSphere’S episode of The Widow that was winter.” all shot in Durban, because the buildings look really good. It took a lot of work but we got permission to lock down one of the main streets there called Dr Goonam Street, which is where a lot of productions shoot Congo set material. We had a huge riot with hundreds of extras, riot cops, tear gas, ammo and machine guns. It was so realistic there were calls put into the police in Durban saying there was a fire fight going on downtown”. 136

location HiGHliGHt

Stellenbosch Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch Stellenbosch is a small town an hour inland from Cape Town. Founded in 1685 the historic town is in the heart of South Africa’s winelands and provides a mix of Victorian, Georgian and Cape Dutch architecture. The town’s second name, Eikestad, or city of oaks, refers to the trees which line the picturesque streets. As a University town home to thousands of students, Stellenbosch is still vibrant and bursting with energy. It is also a popular tourist destination, meaning that accommodation is plentiful. Scottish historical drama Outlander filmed much of its third season in Cape Town, doubling for the Caribbean. One on-location shoot took place in Stellenbosch, where the exterior of the University’s large theology faculty building (pictured above) was used to double for the Jamaican Governor’s Residence.


we got permiSSion to lock down one of the main StreetS in dUrban called dr goonam Street, which iS where a lot of prodUctionS Shoot congo Set material.


Coca-Cola successfully tapped into the cultural dynamics in South Africa with its Share A Coke campaign. The global campaign that saw names printed on Coke cans was remodelled and given a twist for the South African market with the help of ad agency FCB Joburg. For the South African market, the campaign was renamed Coke Phonetic Can and phonetic pronunciations were printed beneath names to address a social barrier that prevents South Africans from finding common ground. Chief creative officer at FCB Joburg, Jonathen Deeb explained “with eleven national languages, people needed to put a lot more effort to understand each other…The can became an invitation to say a name without fear. It became a way to bridge language divides, an education tool and a symbol of cultural pride”. Using data on popular names in each region, the campaign mismatched names and localities so that people could learn new names.

The decision to shoot in Cape Town, and South Africa more generally, came down to quality of the studios, and general infrastructure provided. “They have good studios, good crews and good equipment houses there, so the infrastructure was there. When you want stuff, they know what it is and can normally get it but if they can’t, they know how to source it. They are very used to servicing particularly American and British productions,” explains Blackwood. Other recent dramas that have found their way to South Africa include Mammoth Screens’ adaptation of Mallory Black’s Noughts + Crosses for BBC One. Another reason for such a deluge of productions coming to South Africa is the incentives on offer. South Africa’s Foreign Film and TV Production and Post-Production Incentive provides a 25% grant with a cap of R50 million. Incentives for post-production activities are calculated at 20% - 25% depending on how much is being spent in the country. In addition, a number of countries, including the UK, have co-production agreements meaning that there is access to an even more generous 30% - 40% rebate, capped at R50 million. In early June, Africa’s biggest co-production to date began shooting in and around Johannesburg with a combined budget of US27 million. Set against the backdrop of the 21st century’s privately funded space race, The Professionals is a ten-episode co-production between Ireland’s Subotica Entertainment and South Africa’s Spier Films starring Brendan Fraser and Tom Welling. South Africa has long been popular for international TVCs. Not only do the crews know how to service productions, but you can count on long sunlit days during the northern hemisphere’s winter. European production shoots are also lured by the two-hour time difference in the winter. Bang Bang Films recently serviced productions for Hugo Boss, Coca Cola and Aperol, while Orange Films have worked with Volvo, Mercedes and Samsung. In further positive news, the potentially severe drought that affected Cape Town during 2018 was successfully avoided this year and water restrictions have been relaxed. Productions such as Doctor Who (pictured above), The Widow and Good Omens were still able to film during the most severe period, but filming should be more straightforward now that the dam levels are replenished.

ESSEntial FactS

co-production trEatiES

Canada, Germany, Italy, UK, France, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland & The Netherlands. IncEntiVES

25 - 30% For productions shooting on location in South Africa, the country’s incentive is calculated at 25% of Qualifying South African Production Expenditure (QSAPE), with a cap of R50 million. An additional incentive of 5% of QSAPE is provided for productions shooting and conducting post-production in South Africa, and utilising the services of a black-owned service company. A post-production incentive is calculated at 20% Qualifying South African Post-Production Expenditure (QSAPPE). QSAPPE must be at least R1.5 million for all post-production activities. An additional 2.5% of QSAPPE is added for spending at least R10 million of post-production budget in South Africa. Foreign post-production with QSAPPE of R15 million and above is calculated at 25% of QSAPPE. Post-production activities must be carried out for at least 14 days, unless 100% of post-production is conducted in South Africa 20% of qualifying goods and services must be procured from 51% black-owned South African citizens operating for at least one year. ata carnEt

YES StudioS

Cape Town Film Studios, Atlas Studios, Atlantic Studios, Sasani Studios & Urban Brew Studios. Images: e Widow © KUDOS / ITV, Doctor Who © BBC.



Give commercials crew a chance


f you are part of the UK film and TV industry at the moment you should be feeling pretty buoyant. The falling pound means even more international producers are looking to bring their projecsts here to take advantage of our studios and highly-skilled technicians and crew. It is all very positive.

So why is a huge section of our industry – from production designers, production managers, costume and make up artists to producers and directors – struggling to find work? It is because these fine folk work in the TV commercials production side of the business. Today this part of our industry, which was held in such high esteem only a few years back, is dying. Crew that chose, for whatever reason, to be in this sector are now looking for ‘other’ work. Once it was more acceptable, at least for a few good directors and top line crew, to move between TV, film and advertising, but it’s not so easy today, especially for those in production. I believe there lies in the TV sector a belief that if you work in commercials you don’t know how to work to a budget or a schedule. However, this is completely wrong. If you’ve had a successful career in this sector you will know how to turn on a sixpence, respond to numerous bosses often ridiculous requests with a smile, make do with tiny

budgets (TV advertising budgets have dropped massively over the last 15 years) and work to the highest possible levels of quality and ability. Why then do other sectors ignore these good people when interviewing? I’ve heard TV execs and commissioners ruling out anyone with ‘worked in TV advertising’ on their CV before meeting them. The advertising industry is going through a seismic change and agencies don’t recognise or are not prepared to pay for the craft of these talented crew. Just as the rest of the film industry starts paying more for crew, the advertising agencies, who control the budgets in this sector, drop them. This shows a complete disregard for the craft. Agency bosses’ interest is in the bottom line of how much money they make – just look at the quality of advertising today to see where this has taken them. Who wants to watch adverts today? Once people were happy to have their programme interrupted by something that made them smile or was so beautiful it held their attention, even if it was selling you something. It spells the end for what was a great industry, but should not be the end for the many talented and hard-working crew who worked in this area. So, if you’re a TV exec looking to hire crew for your next TV series, be it drama or doc, take a second look at these hard working and flexible crew and don’t dismiss them. Meet them and employ them. You won’t be sorry.

Helen Langridge founded HLA over thirty years ago as a music video company. Developing award winning talent, it moved into commercials production where recent credits include Never Stop Discovering for Land Rover, directed by Simon Ratigan through Spark 44. Now expanding into factual, HLA looks to combine its knowledge of brands with documentary film making. 138



hit formats Asia without a schedule or itinerary and ran for two seasons from 2016. Korea has successfully moved to the forefront of the global formats market because the country has actively invested in its cultural content. Hallyu, or ‘the Korean Wave’, ranges from Gangnam-style pop music to Korean dramas and has turned South Korea into a hot bed of content production. There is an emphasis on audience-friendly creative content whose style and tone is malleable to regional taste.

With one of the largest entertainment sectors in asia, global markets are increasingly looking to Korean ip to deliver the next big hit. Both scripted and unscripted formats have been sold globally and the country’s creative industry continues to widen its reach.

For the past 10 years, the South Korean government has also worked on promoting their content globally through The Korean Creative Content Agency. The agency’s brief ranges from broadcasting to gaming but provides support for establishing partnerships for co-productions and new ties with companies and institutions. The agency has offices in the US, Europe, China, Japan, Indonesia and the UAE. n May 2019, ITV commissioned Scotland’s Bandicoot to produce a UK version of hit Korean format The Masked Singer. The “surreal and surprising” game show sees 12 famous faces compete to pull off the best singing performance while wearing elaborate costumes that disguise their identity. The original programme, King of Mask Singer from Korea’s MBC Entertainment, is one of the most successful examples of the country’s formats being remade for global audiences.

The US version of the series (pictured above) aired on FOX, not only became the network’s most watched unscripted debut in 11 years, but the most-watched unscripted debut “nbc waS one on any US network in seven years. of the US Including the UK, the series has or is set to air in 15 more countries.

networkS to reformat SoUth korean UnScripted programming, chooSing a SerieS from SoUth korea’S largeSt prodUcer cJ & enm.

South Korean IP has been increasingly exported throughout Asia but in recent years western networks too have begun to recognise its potential. NBC Universal reformatted Grandpas Over Flowers, a series from South Korea’s largest producer CJ & ENM. Titled Better Late Than Never! for the US market, it saw William Shatner and Henry Winkler among other icons sent across

location HiGHliGHt

White Block Gallery, Paju

Opened in 2011, the White Block is a modern art gallery set in the Heyri Art Village, a complex populated by hundreds of artists and designers which is also a popular tourist destination. Only an hour from Seoul it hosts a lot of filming for K-dramas. In 2011, the museum won the American Institute of Architects’ Architectural Design Award. It’s completely white inside and out and the large floor to ceiling windows let light flood through. Dramas including Introverted Boss, and Suspicious Partner have shot here.



TAIWAN island impact the Life of Pi at a makeshift site and repurposed it in a new facility with soundstages, production offices and workshops. Taiwan is also well positioned to step in as an alternative to shooting in mainland China. Traditional Chinese architecture sits alongside Japanese and Western styles. Mandarin is an official language, so talent is widely available, and Taiwan can provide a less bureaucratic environment to work in.

taiwan has exotic locations that can easily double for Japan and china plus a strong crew and studio infrastructure at a competitive price... and more types of productions can now access its incentive scheme.

Netflix, which is continuing to grow its Chinese language offering, has begun to commission originals to supplement acquired content. Two of the first three shows commissioned were produced in Taiwan, with the third made in Malaysia. Prison escape thriller Nowhere Man (pictured left) was Netflix’s first Mandarin-language original and shot in a Taiwanese Prison. The commissioning of Triad Princess, a romantic crime-comedy soon followed. n recent years Taiwan has welcomed renowned filmmakers including Martin Scorsese with Silence, Luc Besson with Lucy and Ang Lee with Life of Pi. Since relaxing restrictions that required award-winning creatives to be attached to projects in order to access its 30% rebate, a wider range of features and TV projects have been attracted to the country. Expenses must exceed USD1 million in the country, but high-end projects that do have internationally acclaimed directors attached can access the scheme if production expenses exceed USD100,000. Funding is capped at TWD30 million.

“taipei remainS the foremoSt prodUction hUb in the coUntry, offering two StUdioS and a good level of crew.”

For projects that are unable to meet these requirements, and are shooting in the capital, the Taipei Film Commission runs its own film fund. To qualify, productions should be in co-production with a Taiwanese company and the story should feature people, events, history or the city with 25% of the scenes filmed in the city.

Taipei remains the foremost production hub in the country, offering two studios and a good level of crew. English is also widely spoken here. Elsewhere, the city of Taichung has used infrastructure built for

location HiGHliGHt

Beitou Hot Springs, Taipei

Hot Springs are found all over Taiwan, but the historic Beitou District to the north of Taipei is one of the most conveniently located. The country’s first hot spring hotel opened in 1896 and has since developed as a resort destination for Taipei’s inhabitants. At the foot of the Yangmingshan mountains the district of Beitou has heritage buildings and narrow alleys. Its Hot Spring Park has a museum, temple and public library in the grounds as well as a thermal valley. Sulphuric steam rises to blanket the lush green valley in fog. Martin Scorsese’s Silence filmed here. The historical drama is set in Nagasaki, Japan but filmed mainly in Taiwan. Image: Nowhere Man © Mark Wu / Netflix.



UAE action packed

the united arab Emirates’ towering and easily reachable cities make the region one of a kind. Film friendly authorities and sizeable studios have made the region a top choice for the biggest action flicks of recent years.

he main centres of production in the UAE are Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Each have large studio facilities available that cover everything from sound stages and backlots to post-production facilities and sound suites. The largest studio complex in the Middle East can be found in Dubai at Studio City. The complex has 14 sound stages, back lot sets and water tanks on the 65,000 square feet site. Two of the soundstages can be used together as one 50,000 square feet stage.

In Abu Dhabi, the twofour54 media zone has a 3.2 million square feet backlot and seven hi-tech studios. The post-production facilities were recently upgraded to become one of the few Dolby Vision-certified facilities in the region. “modern architectUre aboUndS and many bUildingS are inStantly recogniSable to international aUdienceS.”

The UAE has become a global business hub not only for the production industry but across the board. As such, modern architecture abounds and many buildings are instantly recognisable to international audiences. Its towering structures are now a key reason why productions come to shoot in the country. Over two hundred nationalities reside in the UAE so there is a diverse pool of talent making local casting possible for most projects. Steve Norris, director of film & TV at twofour54 says, “Producers choose Abu Dhabi as a filming location as we have the reputation of going the extra mile to make sure the production process is as smooth as possible. For example, we work closely with the UAE Military to provide unparalled access for producers to both their extensive expertise and

location HiGHliGHt

The Yas Viceroy Hotel, Abu Dhabi This five-star hotel is not an example of an imposing structure on the Abu Dhabi skyline, but instead provides another type of aesthetic. Set in the Yas Marina, the hotel was part of the USD36 billion development project attached to the Formula One circuit in Abu Dhabi. Designed by Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, the main feature is a sweeping curved shell exterior made of steel and nearly 6,000 pivoting glass panels. This element acts like a veil over the two hotel towers and bridge which links them together. The hotel may be familiar to some as it is part of the backdrop of Abu Dhabi’s Formula One track that hosts a Grand Prix each year. The hotel also hosted filming for Race 3, a Bollywood film starring Salman Khan which featured Abu Dhabi locations and the nearby Liwa Desert.



equipment, something Paramount Pictures witnessed first-hand with the filming of Mission: Impossible – Fallout (main image) last year”. Norris explains: “For the iconic HALO parachute jump, the studio and director Christopher McQuarrie knew there were few places in the world that could meet their very specific requirement of a C17 plane and crew for both rehearsals and the shoot. twofour54 and the UAE Armed Forces were both involved from an early stage to intricately plan

ESSEntial FactS IncEntiVES

30% Abu Dhabi provides a 30% rebate scheme for feature films, TV dramas, commercials & documentaries. It includes post-production visual effects & digital content services in Abu Dhabi for projects shot elsewhere. The minimum rebate payment per project is USD500,000 for commercials, USD1 million for TV programmes/series & USD5 million for feature films. For post-production only, maximum rebates range from USD150,000 for commercials, USD150,000 for TV series & programmes & USD250,000 for features. ata carnEt

YES StudioS

Large studios are available at twofour54 studios in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Media Zone, & Dubai Studio City Images: Mission: Impossible - Fallout © 2018 Paramount Pictures, Star Wars: e Force Awakens © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.


the jump with the film’s crew. Military support was vital as the jump also required intensive training and rehearsals for the star, Tom Cruise. The production team spent over four weeks in Abu Dhabi rehearsing for the stunt, which was eventually shot over 12 days. Cruise jumped a total of 94 times to get the required footage. It was a remarkable achievement for both the crew and Abu Dhabi”. Abu Dhabi also provides a 30% incentive to productions for both production and post-production spend from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, which covers travel to and from the Emirate as well as accommodation for local and international crew. Introduced in 2013, around 80 major productions have shot in Abu Dhabi since averaging at around 13 a year, including some of the highest grossing films of all time including Star Wars: the Force Awakens (pictured above), Furious 7 and Hindi hits such as Tiger Zinda Hai. But Norris notes that “one of the key things for producers to understand is the sheer diversity of locations and architecture that Abu Dhabi offers. We have futuristic cityscapes as well as sweeping dunes, stunning heritage locations such as forts and souqs, as well as modern industrial sites. We have pristine beaches, towering mountains and small-scale communities.” Norris adds: “What makes this even more attractive for producers is the incredible transport and leisure infrastructure in place that offers easy access to these locations”. The same is true of Dubai, whose tallest skyscraper and high end hotels are in reach of rugged mountains and large swathes of desert. To get permits approved, producers will need to submit scripts, treatments and series synopsis to the National Media Council in advance of shooting. This takes an average of two to three weeks to be processed, but this depends on the size of the production.

we have fUtUriStic cityScapeS aS well aS Sweeping dUneS, StUnning heritage locationS SUch aS fortS and SoUqS, aS well aS modern indUStrial SiteS.


The UAE hosted its first ever papal visit in late 2019. Ahead of the visit, the pope described the UAE as “a country that strives to be a model for coexistence and human fraternity, a meeting point of different civilisations and cultures. A place where people find a safe place to work, live freely and where differences are respected”. The country counts a large population of expats, nearly 90% of its population according to the World Bank. The country has a population of around one million Catholics. Due to its sizeable Indian population, two Hindu and Sikh temples also exist in the country alongside numerous churches. The pope’s visit is part of the state’s push to promote tolerance, and the UAE even has a Minister for Tolerance who has said “our holy book the Quran, believes in living together. It believes in the dignity of a human being”.


Tools for the Trade

The TV, film and commercials industry has relied on old fashioned tech – paper, the phone and email – for years to help organise production. But as programme making gets ever more complex, which production management technology tools can help streamline the process? makers investigates.



ast year, Netflix’s director of studio technology Chris Goss published a blog where he argued that, while the streamer had evolved from a DVD-by-mail service to a global producer over the past 20 years, the production business itself had not changed that much. The production industry, he said, had not embraced technology as much as other industries to enable innovation, collaboration and communication.

within the business of content creation,” wrote Goss. “Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the production environment, these needs have been underserved by modern technology,” wrote Goss.

“Many of the rudimentary processes of any business are prevalent in the production space. People management, facility/vendor relations, planning and logistics, global communication, safety and security are all core fundamental business needs included

His blog got makers thinking about the technology tools that are available to help organise production across the wider TV, film and commercials industries – beyond email, the phone, Excel and old-fashioned paper.

Goss used the blog to unveil the streamer’s new production management tool Prodicle, which is now used by producers to log details about their show and share it in one place with Netflix.


What’s clear from the outset is that there is no single giant software solution that can magically help organise all productions; the industry is just too complex and varied, taking in live action films, multi-camera comedies, weekly talk shows, global competitions, international crime dramas, documentaries, sports events, commercials and corporate films.


Most third-party production software offerings also service singular needs. Movie Magic Scheduling and Budgeting, for example, is a recognised industry standard software for scheduling and budgeting films and TV drama, as is Final Draft for screenwriting. Indeed, many of the commonly used apps in TV and film are those that are familiar to anyone who has had to adapt to an increasingly global and remote way of working, from WhatsApp Audio for saving money on international phone calls through to Google Meet for video conferencing to cut the cost of traveling to meetings. After all, for many producers, it’s no longer a case of popping into a local broadcaster for a meeting about a show; often the commissioning broadcaster is on another continent entirely. Take Los Angeles-based Netflix, for example, which is a big user of video conferencing, and will always host a big kick off call at the beginning of a project. Pulse Films head of production Isabel Davis cites a project that her company is currently producing for broadcaster Oxygen in the US. “The directors are in New York, the producers in LA, I’m in London and the locations are in Missouri – so those video conference calls are really key.” Asked what production technology software Pulse uses, Davis cites the budgeting system Octopus PMI. “It’s a huge part of our day to day business. We do multiple budgets, and it is a very good system.” Others cite TPH Global for its budgeting technology. “We use this on all our shows,” says Susy Liddell, head of production at Drama Republic, the producers of Doctor Foster and Black Earth Rising. Sargent-Disc’s cloud-based procurement system Digital Purchase Order, meanwhile, is flagged up by Sarah Bradshaw, the executive producer of upcoming features Last Christmas and The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.

Beyond budgeting, there are several companies that can help with the distribution of documents, allowing crew to receive call sheets, editorial notes and sensitive production information through a single online platform. They also reduce the need for paper materials used during the production process, helping the environment and cutting costs at the same time. Three such applications are SetKeeper, Scenechronize, Sync on Set. SetKeeper and Scenechronize are both cited and used by Magali Gilbert, head of production at Chernobyl producer Sister Pictures. Sync on Set and Scenechronize, meanwhile, are both used by executive producer Sarah Bradshaw. Susy Liddell adds that Drama Republic uses SetKeeper for its productions. For managing the process of hiring crew and cast, a number of automated platforms are also picked out, including Pop and Team Engine. “We’re using a system called Pop,” says Alex Jones, joint managing director Sanditon and Death in Paradise producer Red Planet. “Quite a few companies are using this as it helps with GDPR compliance too, and it is developing quite rapidly.” Team Engine, meanwhile, is used by Sister Pictures for onboarding. Other production management software on the market includes Yamdu, Farmers Wife, Dramatify, StudioBinder and Celtx. Clearly, there are plenty of platforms to chose from, each vying to become the industry standard at a timing of ever increasing levels of production. Their offer to help streamline production processes comes, of course, at a cost – and not all companies might be able to afford the licence fees. They also require plenty of investment in terms of time and training to get staff and contractors up to speed with the systems. “I think a lot of companies struggle to make the transition to them,” says Pulse Films’ Isabel Davis. They also have to overcome an inbuilt aversion to changing tried and tested, traditional ways of managing production – in particular the use of paper. But as production becomes more complex, and producers look for ways to reduce their environmental footprint, and to cut costs, it’s likely that such production management software will only continue to grow in acceptance by the industry.

Images: Sanditon © Red Planet Pictures, Chernobyl © Sky UK Ltd/HBO, Black Earth Rising ©BBC/Forgiving Earth Ltd.




home run

america’s West coast has an abundance of creative talent and expert crews, jaw-dropping locations and enticing incentives. despite international hubs looking ever more favourable to international producers, the West coast remains an all-round prime destination whatever the budget.

CALIFORNIA The state is still the premier filming destination in the world, with a multitude of studios, talent and crews. Its film and TV tax credit provides a 20-25% credit with separate streams. Each stream has different access requirements that distinguish between independent or feature films, TV series and pilots and relocating series. It has seen much success in retaining projects. The third season of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is a recent series to make use of the relocation credit after shooting in Ireland for two series.

There is also a 5% uplift for out-of-zone LA filming, which film commissioner Colleen Bell explains is “so that the economic opportunities are shared by more Californians in different regions, in districts up and down the state”. Filming out-of-zone is possible even for large scale productions as the increasing numbers show. In the latest tax “in the lateSt tax credit allocation, eight of the ten credit allocation, big-budget projects will shoot eight of the ten out-of-zone, such as Purge 5 which big-bUdget has twenty-five days planned proJectS filming in San Diego County. will Shoot oUt-of-zone.”

However, Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (pictured above) proves that LA still facilitates big on-location shoots that require road closures. According to location manager Rick Schuler, Hollywood Boulevard was one of the “largest sets” where production took over the strip for three different scenes, including a night shoot, at the height of the tourist season.


location HiGHliGHt

Gasworks Park, Seattle, Washington On the north shore of Lake Union, an unused gas plant that closed in 1956 has been preserved as a public park. The plant which once provided the city with gas for 25 years was converted into a public park in 1975. The park, designed by architect Richard Haag, has won awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects. However, much of the actual works remains fenced off to the public due to safety concerns and entering the lake from the park is prohibited as sediment may contain hazardous material. The park hosts many concerts and athletic competitions as well as occasional filming. Scenes from 10 Things I Hate About You were filmed in the park. The production was allowed to construct a paintball park for the two main characters to joke around in.



NEW MEXICO New Mexico is emerging as a second production hub on the West Coast. NBCUniversal and Netflix have both taken over studio space in the state with large spending commitments over the next 10 years. But this shouldn’t encroach too much on projects attracted to New Mexico. Not only does Albuquerque film office Film Liaison Amber Dodson note that the state has the “largest crew depth between the coasts”, but Netflix and NBCUniversal productions do not eat away at the filming incentive’s USD50 million annual budget, meaning that independent and other studios will still be able to access a tax credit between 25 – 35% on qualifying expenditure. As in California, a 5% additional rebate is applicable for rural work as well as for standalone pilots. Dodson says “we have had a lot of productions already take advantage of that 5% additional rebate and it really gets some of these projects a really different, unique, fresh look that hasn’t been on screen that much”. Dodson points to areas of New Mexico such as the “white sands that look like something on a different planet, against our famous cobalt blue sky” or regions with interesting rock formations that are classed as rural areas.

ARIZONA Independent films are attracted to Arizona because it’s not only in very close proximity to Los Angeles, but provides a similarly varied topography to California at a cheaper price which is backed up by supportive film offices. Contemporary projects like Fronteras, a feature about a Hispanic border patrol agent, and period work such as western The Legend of 5 Mile Cave, can be accommodated in Arizona. Both shot in the South; The Legend of 5 Mile Cave filmed at Old Tucson, a ranch location that has hosted over four hundred films with stars including Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. Instead of a state-wide incentive, Arizona’s ‘Reel Savings’ programme supports the film and digital media industry by providing special discounts from vendors, hoteliers, rental car operators and restaurants. Due to the nature of the programme, with less paperwork and processing time, it works well for a range of productions.

MONTANA Paramount’s Yellowstone has now filmed three series in Montana whose wide-open landscapes evidently struck a chord with viewers as it became Paramount Network’s most watched new cable series of 2018. The ‘big sky state’ has expansive settings from lakes and reservoirs to abandoned railroads and ‘performance roads’ that provide anything from rising mountains to open country as a backdrop.


Q&A Joy HurWitZ producEr

The Comeback Trail

Q: Why did you shoot in New Mexico? A: My late husband Harry Hurwitz made the original Comeback Trail in 1982. George Gallo, the director, and I decided to rewrite the script. It’s a quirky film (pictured above), and not something that would be easily acceptable to the big studios so we got it independently financed. We shot in Albuquerque because of the rebate and a part of the movie is about making a Western, which they certainly have the locations for. My husband shot the original film there the first time, so we went back to Albuquerque which was a brilliant idea. I have been in the business a very long time and it is one of the best crews I have ever worked with. Q: What were the principal locations? A: None of the film was done on a stage. We shot at a western set called Bonanza Creek and it has everything you could possibly need to make a period piece cowboy movie. The rest was shot in and around downtown Albuquerque, where we made one of the streets into Hollywood boulevard in the 1970s. Q: Is the rebate accessible to independents? A: Yes, it’s an unbelievable set up. It was my

feeling while I was there that this is going to be the new place that everybody shoots. A lot of our crew members were born in Albuquerque but had gone to Hollywood to follow their film careers. Now they can go back to Albuquerque and reap the benefits . The crew was amazing. I’ve got 40 years’ experience in this business and it was just a delight.



In July, Montana unveiled the Media Act. The base 20% production expenditure tax credit has add-on incentives such as 25% compensation for Montana resident crew, 20% of above the line compensation per production or series with a ceiling, 10% of all in-studio facility and equipment expenditures and 5% of expenditures in a high poverty country. The film office notes that this can effectively increase the transferable credit to a maximum of 35% of total base film production investment.

COLORADO Colorado has 12 regional film commissions to facilitate filming across the state. Many of these are situated with access to the open space and mountain parks that dominate the state. This has made the state a favourite for car brands including Toyota and Kia.

ESSEntial FactS IncEntiVES

15 - 35% California, New Mexico, Montana & Colorado all have their own rebates available that range between 15 & 35%. Arizona’s state-wide Reel Savings scheme provides discounts to productions from companies providing goods & services. Colorado’s rebate includes commercials. California has a range of rebates available, catering to different types of projects including independent or feature films, pilot TV series & relocating series. Additional uplifts are available in some states for shooting in rural or underdeveloped counties. ata carnEt

YES StudioS

California has hundreds of soundstages, with over 500 in the LA area alone. Most states have smaller soundstages, Santa Fe Studios, Albuquerque Studios, Mission Control Studio, Nevada, MG Studio, Nevada, 35 Left Studios & Denver. intErnational talEnt

Directors – David Fincher, Steven Spielberg & David Lynch. Animator & visual effects director Michael Hemschoot. Animator & Art director Barry Kooser. Mian image: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood © Andrew Cooper / Sony Pictures.


Feature films often descend too, such as action film Furious Seven which shot in 2015 near Pikes Peak. The same year, Tarantino’s Hateful Eight shot exterior scenes at a secluded ranch in Telluride. Colorado provides a 20% cash rebate for eligible productions, but this includes feature films, TV shows, commercials, music videos and video game development. Local production costs must exceed USD1 million, but for commercials and video games this drops to USD250,000.

NEVADA Nevada is a state of contrast that offers much to incoming productions. The bright lights of Las Vegas have provided much fodder for film, TV and commercial shoots of all genres, but its expansive natural settings are equally as mesmerising. From the booming metropolis of Las Vegas it is only an hour to remote Valley of Fires State Park, whose red rock formations live up to its name. Nevada’s transferable tax incentives starts at 15% for qualified production costs. Above and below the line labour by Nevada residents has a 15% tax credit, while above the line non-resident labour gets 12%. There are also 5% additional bonuses for rural county locations and employing 50% of below the line crew from Nevada.


Facebook’s Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us caused concern for the US Air Force this year. The event wanted members of the public to raid the site to search for extraterrestrial life. It soon went viral and had over two million people clicking to say they would attend the event in September. Area 51 is a highly classified US Air Force Base in South Nevada, opened in the twentieth century but only acknowledged by the CIA in 2013. Conspiracy theorists and alien enthusiasts believe that it is for aliens and UFOs. Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us caused the Air Force to issue warnings to possible attendees, telling them to not approach the gates of the base. The event founder, 20 year old Matty Roberts, switched tactic and promoted a music festival Alienstock in a town close to the site. Other events also sprang up in nearby towns and the local administration allocated funds to handle anticipated crowds. Some alien-hunters did show up to the site on the scheduled date but didn’t storm the base and it largely passed without incident.

WALES building bridges

once known as the home of Doctor Who, Wales has transformed into a production hub with strong a relationship with the uS market. a new screen agency, creative Wales, is set to launch in 2020 as an umbrella body for the Welsh creative sector.

ales is increasingly being used as a base for US and international projects. Bad Wolf, a production company making drama for the UK, US and global TV markets has three bases; London, LA and South Wales. Most recently Bad Wolf shot much of His Dark Materials (pictured above) for the BBC and HBO, and A Discovery of Witches for Sky in Wales. Since setting up Wolf Studios Wales in Cardiff in 2015, the wider Welsh industry has only gathered in momentum.

For example, NBCUniversal and Amblin Television’s ten-episode adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s futuristic Brave New World shot this summer between Wales, where it was based at Dragon Studios, and London after receiving investment from the Welsh Government. “the nation’S good Lord Elis-Thomas, the Welsh infraStrUctUre, Government’s deputy minister proximity to for culture, sport and tourism told london and us that these strong relationships StUnning Scenery with the US have been forged through a combination of factors: have all played “financial incentives from the their part in Welsh Government have helped developing frUitfUl encourage US shows to base relationShipS with themselves in Wales, along with US prodUcerS.” the development of strong business relationships with key executives and studios established via familiarisation trips organised and hosted by the British Film Commission”. The nation’s good infrastructure, proximity to London and stunning scenery have also played their part in developing a fruitful relationship.


location HiGHliGHt

Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire Low tide at Marloes Sands reveals a landscape of jagged rock formations dramatically protruding from the golden sandy beach. At high tide, the beach can disappear altogether. Located at the western edge of Wales’ Pembrokeshire coast, the location is a good example of the varied, and often dramatic coastline available. In 2011, Snow White and the Huntsman filmed a large action sequence at the beach involving eighty actors on horseback racing across the bay (pictured above). Trained horses were used to cope with the explosives that were going off during the scene and the tracking vehicles and helicopter. Special care was also taken to minimise any environmental impact of filming – in addition to making a spectacular film set, the beach is home to seabird colonies, other wildlife and areas of geological interest.


Elis-Thomas notes that the landscapes from ‘Jurassic coastlines and beaches, to terrace-lined valley streets, fairy tale castles, rugged wilderness and islands provide a huge canvas for production work” and emphasises the fact that “from the capital city and international airport in Cardiff you can easily access mountains, coastline, industrial and historical heritage buildings as well as modern cities, all within 45 minutes’ drive”. Large scale feature films to have taken advantage of Snowdonia’s epic mountain landscapes include Clash of the Titans and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Netflix has returned to film their reinvention of the classic Arthurian legend Cursed, which spent several weeks in Wales as part of a longer UK shoot. netflix haS retUrned to film their reinvention of the claSSic arthUrian legend CURSED, which Spent Several weekS in waleS aS part of a longer Uk Shoot.


A biopic of Richey Edwards (pictured below), the guitarist of Welsh band The Manic Street Preachers, is currently in development. It’s titled 4REAL after a notorious incident in which Edwards carved the phrase into his arm during an interview in 1991. Edwards went missing on the eve of a promotional tour of the US in 1995. A new book Without Traces, published by Penguin this year, presented new evidence to suggest that Edwards may have staged his own disappearance. The band, which formed in Caerphilly, Wales in 1986, are not involved with the film, but the project has received a grant from Creative England. The film is being directed by Lindy Heymann (Showboy, The Laughing King), written by Tomas Martin and produced by Alexandra Stone & Stephen Mallit in collaboration with Headgear, Creative England and BFI.

But the streaming platform is taking more than a passing interest in Wales. Sex Education (pictured above), produced by Eleven Films for Netflix was praised for its writing but Wales’ valley landscapes were also a talking point. The second series has returned to Wales, for filming in the Wye Valley, as well as a former campus of the University of South Wales in Newport which plays the Moordale Secondary School. Wales is often called upon by the advertising sector too. Ford’s dark and moody spot Backbone of Britain recently ventured to the Flintshire Bridge which spans the Dee Estuary in North Wales. Produced by Smuggler for creative agency GTB, VFX was used to expand the fleet of Ford vehicles as they cross the bridge in a celebration of the people that rely upon Ford vehicles who they dubbed ‘the backbone’ of Britain. In 2020, Creative Wales is set to launch, bridging the country’s growing creative sector and building on the skills development that existing organisations such as Sgil Cymru, ScreenSkills and Screen Alliance Wales have been doing to maintain talent for the growing pipeline of productions. “It will offer a streamlined, dynamic and innovative service to the Creative Industries sector, and whilst Screen will remain a priority area, the focus will also be on providing support to other areas of the Creative Industries such as music and gaming” explains Elis-Thomas. With the same focus applied to the gaming that has transformed the nation’s film and television sectors, Wales could see a growth in the sector. According to the BBC, Cardiff has only 30 gaming companies, compared to 50 based in Bristol, but a pool of talent from Welsh universities is available in the country. Across Wales’ 65 studios, there are award-winning companies like Wales Interactive, who develop and publish for PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo that have used the local talent pool of graduates to make high-quality games for all formats.

ESSEntial FactS

co-production trEatiES

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (TV+ Film), France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand, Occupied Palestine Territories, South Africa (TV+ Film), EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. taX incEntiVES

25% UK tax relief for high-end TV, features, animations, children’s TV and video games. Productions must qualify as British or as an official co-production. There is no cap on the amount that can be claimed but the tax relief is capped at 80% of the UK core expenditure. There is a 10% minimum UK spend for high-end TV, features, animations and children’s TV and a 25% UK/EEA state qualifying production expenditure for video games. StudioS

Dragon Studios, Wolf Studios Wales, Pinewood Studio Wales, BBC Wales at Roath Lock and Bay Studios. ata carnEt


intErnational talEnt

General manager & EVP of Lucasfilm Lynwen Brennan. Screenwriter Andrew Davies. Screenwriter & producer Russell T Davies. Screenwriter, director & actor Craig Roberts. Director & screenwriter Gareth Evans. Directors Marc Evans, Euros Lyn & Philip John. Make-up artist Siân Grigg. Visual effects animator Christopher Jenkins. Actors Sir Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Rhys, Taron Egerton, Iwan Rheon, Michael Sheen & Luke Evans. Images: His Dark Materials © BBC / Bad Wolf / HBO, Sex Education © Sam Taylor / Netflix.



Politics of Location

As global politics becomes even more fraught; Hollywood has increasingly wielded its economic and cultural might to speak out. But burgeoning film hubs are affected when caught in the crossfire. From major studios to local crews, everyone in involved in production is impacted when politics becomes the talk of Tinseltown.

e Handmaid’s Tale © 2019 MGM TV Ent & Relentless Productions.



t a moment when global politics is undergoing seismic shifts, it is no surprise that the soft power machine that is Hollywood, and the creative screen industries more widely, are increasingly caught up in the narrative. Meryl Streep’s rousing Golden Globes acceptance speech in 2017 is just one example of morning headlines being dominated as much by political statements as the work that earned them their spot on the red carpet as stars use award ceremonies as a forum for political commentary. The actress used her acceptance speech of for the Cecil B. DeMille Award to call out the newly enshrined President for

mocking a disabled reporter, and called on the audience to support the Committee to Protect Journalists as the only way to hold power to account. But politics has major implications for physical production too, especially regarding filming locations. A region’s political situation can impact the success of a shoot be it for safety of crew, access to locations and infrastructure, or wider support necessary to a smooth experience. Of course, studios have global security teams who are continually researching political unrest or terrorist activity that may impact a production and



© Handout / Getty.


the safety of crew. Amongst the considerations taken ahead of Amazon’s decision to base its Lord of The Rings series in New Zealand such as studio space and tax breaks, local broadcaster RNZ stated that reassurances were sought about safety and security after the December 2018 terrorist incident in Christchurch. Popular filming locations in the Middle East were likewise impacted by the Arab Spring, and their proximity to war zones including Iraq and Syria. Equally, countries such as Jordan and Morocco have welcomed productions that draw on the subject matter by creating film friendly environments, providing filming support such as access to military equipment for war films and not subjecting scripts to strict censorship. However, clashes between central narratives and the politics of filming locations emerge time and time again where practicality trumps authenticity. Location Manger Lori Balton, founder of the Location Managers Guild International and member of the Academy recalls how she was recently looking for locations for a film about homosexuality set in Tehran. “It became an issue to find locations because homosexuality is not accepted in Muslim countries”. As the department tasked with negotiating production in the real world, the Location Department must deal with everything from law and safety to communicating effectively between members of the public, local government and production colleagues. However, Balton concedes “regarding political issues, I can and do express my opinion but the decisions are ultimately made so far above my pay grade that it's irrelevant”. The top down decision, from individual producers or large studios, is based on a whole range of factors, including political ones. But Hollywood also knows the cultural and economic power that shooting on location holds, and continues to use it to political ends – particularly in the US. Perhaps one of the most pertinent examples of this is the reaction to the wave of ‘heartbeat’ bills that passed in five US states, including Georgia, Ohio and Alabama earlier this year, limiting access to abortion to very early stages of pregnancy or not at all.

© Elijah Nouvelage / Bloomberg via Getty Images file.




Individual directors, writers and producers were the first to publicly condemn the bills, with many calling for an outright boycott of production in States which implemented the bill. With Georgia now established as “Hollywood East”, welcoming productions flocking to access the generous incentive and studios including Pinewood, the news put filmmakers in the midst of shooting – or planning to – in a tough position. Many of these bills have, however, been blocked from taking effect. For instance, Georgia’s was temporarily blocked in January 2020 by a US District Judge who said the law was likely unconstitutional, but the news cycle is likely to “StUdioS have have affected production global SecUrity levels. California Film Commissioner Colleen teamS who are Bell says, “if these continUally restrictive abortion laws reSearching are implemented in political UnreSt Georgia, I do think that or terroriSt they will have an impact on production taking activity that place in the state. I may impact a know that they will, I’ve prodUction actually spoken to some and the Safety of the top decision of crewS.” makers who have projects there, or who would consider Georgia as a destination, for their projects and for some that is a deal breaker”. This is not the first time that Hollywood has wielded its soft power and economic might. Take the instance of a spate of bills in various States in 2015 which many saw as discriminatory to LGBT+ people. Georgia’s governor vetoed a bill after Disney, Netflix and the Weinstein Company publicly said they would cease to film in the state if passed. Meanwhile North Carolina’s Bathroom Bill was rolled back a year after introduction, as the state lost out on NCAA Basketball Championships, conferences as well as productions including Netflix series OBX.



Politically controversial projects are also subject to critical reception. In summer 2019, Universal Pictures pulled the release of satire The Hunt, set in a world where “liberal elites” who hunt “normal people” after the feature was criticised from both the left and the right. The studio stated that in the wake of mass shootings “now is not the right time to release this film”. More recently, the Joker film faced criticism, and heightened security measures due to suggestions that the Batman origin story would inspire further gun violence – although this did not show signs of harm at the box office. Location decisions can also invite critique upon release, especially for projects with progressive themes. For instance, one of the most vocal detractors of the Heartbeat Bill, director Reed Morano cancelled a planned scout in Georgia for upcoming Amazon series The Power shortly after the Governor signed the bill. Morano, who rose to fame as the director of The Handmaid’s Tale – a narrative so tied up with the issue of reproductive rights that protestors dressed up as characters outside the White House – noted that “it felt wrong to us to go ahead and make our show and take money/tax credit from a state that is taking this stance on the abortive issue”. The series in question, The Power, has a similarly feminist overtone as it explores what happens when teen girls across the world develop the power to electrocute people at will which leads to a complete reversal of gender power dynamics. While individuals in Hollywood spoke out in favour of boycotts, studios and streamers were less radical in their responses, looking to the MPAA for guidance and advocating working with local charities to fight the legislation. Netflix, which produces many of its series including Ozark and Stranger Things out of Atlanta, Georgia was the first to comment on the situation, saying to Variety, “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others will be severely restricted by this law. It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia”. Disney CEO Bob Iger also commented saying that if the bill was passed into law, “I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there”.

Game of rones © 2019 Home Box Office, Inc.




Joker © Warner Bros Pictures.

However, if pressure does not halt incoming laws, it is the local base of filming professionals that are directly impacted. Balton says, “While I am a firm believer in a woman's right to choose, I don't know that punishing Georgia film workers with boycotts is the correct decision. I like the companies that continue to work there but make sizeable contributions to Planned Parenthood in an effort to balance injustice. As location managers, we spend our careers forging win/win “if preSSUre doeS situations so that the not halt incoming show can go on.... and I lawS, it iS the local don't mean this in a wimpy placating way, baSe of filming but rather, in an effort to profeSSionalS really make a difference that are directly way”. Companies to impacted.” take this route include Chernin Entertainment, Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and JJ Abrams Bad Robot Productions which continued a planned shoot in Georgia but donated 100% of their episodic fees of Lovecraft Country to charities fighting the law. Meanwhile, on a global scale, productions have continued to shoot in countries with similarly restrictive laws. Until autumn 2019, for instance, women in Northern Ireland were unable to access abortions unless in medical danger, but that has not stopped the nation growing into a production hotspot welcoming the likes of Games of Thrones and many more productions. However, in the US the introduction of controversial laws may well impact once favoured production hotspots. LA based independent producer Joy Hurwitz says “to be candid there are problems and hard feeling with shooting in several States due to the politics at this time”. She points to the many states that “offer generous rebates, have top drawer professional crews and have fair political agendas that are attracting many production companies”.

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