REAL INSIGHT INTO GLOBAL PRODUCTION
EYEING THE FUTURE Will Black Lives Matter spark worldwide industry change?
GREEN DREAMS Sustainable production set for post pandemic boost
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Welcome to the sixth edition of makers, the biannual magazine for the global production industry. After the unprecedented challenges and disruptions of 2020, everyone is rightfully hopeful that the industry can recover in 2021 on the back of vaccination programmes. Production looks set to pick up dramatically; in the words of one of our contributors, there is likely to be ‘traﬃc jam’ as new and delayed productions vie to get made.
After the unprecedented chAllenges And disruptions of 2020, everyone is rightfully hopeful thAt the industry cAn recover in 2021 on the bAck of vAccinAtion progrAmmes.
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
Of course, the industry is never going to be quite the same again because of the changes wrought by the pandemic on viewing habits and production processes. Throughout makers, we’ve sought to explore these changes in-depth and to sketch a picture of the post-pandemic world that we are moving into. For example, we explore the rise of the streamers and the woes of the theatrical sector in our feature about the collapse of cinema windows. Elsewhere, we report how the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote and virtual production techniques. data & Marketing executive Daniele Antonini Finance Desmond Kroats, Farhana Anjum
contributors Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE, Sami Arpa, Veronica Beach Managing director Jean-Frédéric Garcia consultant Ben Greenish Founder Murray Ashton
Printers Barley Print, UK
The pandemic has also reset our thinking about the natural world, making production more conscious of its environmental impact. This issue is explored in our feature on sustainable ﬁlming, and also in our in-depth interview with the boss of natural history producer Silverback, Keith Scholey. Another major theme running through makers is around diversity. We investigate how creative industries around the world are responding to the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements, while our interview with casting agent Julie Harkin focuses on diversity in front of and behind the camera. 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. We hope you enjoy this issue. makers will be back again in the summer. If you have any feedback, or would like to get in touch, do drop us a line at email@example.com Tim Dams, Editor
Please address all enquiries to the Publishers The Location Guide, Unit 6A, Oakwood House, 414-422 Hackney Road, London E2 7SY, UK T (44 20) 7036 0020 E firstname.lastname@example.org E email@example.com W www.thelocationguide.com 2020 © 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.
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
030 Around the World MY BRILLIANT CAREER Six locations chosen by location manager Markus Bensch 038 Making of THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF JERUSALEM 040 Interview with JULIE HARKIN
053 Brieﬁng THE BREXIT IMPACT 060 Preview FOCUS 2020
070 Interview with KEITH SCHOLEY
079 Contributor SAMI ARPA How AI can help ﬁlmmaking
086 Contributor DAWN MCCARTHY-SIMPSON The exciting Latin American TV market 091 Proﬁle ARTS & SCIENCES 092 Making of MANGROVE
111 Contributor VERONICA BEACH How do you produce in a pandemic? 112 Preview MAKERS & SHAKERS AWARDS
125 Contributor GRAHAM SHERRINGTON
017 Production Insurance: a Lifeline for the Industry
020 Commercial Break Brands are ﬁnally starting to invest in new campaigns following the pandemic 025 Filming on the Adriatic Coast
043 Freelancer Flight The pandemic has hit freelancers in the industry hard
048 Preparing for the Post Pandemic Green Boom
055 The Future of Remote Production As the world slowly returns to normalcy, what will remote ﬁlming look like?
066 Broken Windows What are the implications of the collapse in cinema windows for the ﬁlm industry? 073 City Bounce Back How have the European city hubs coped with the pandemic? 084 Reality Check Things are looking positive for the virtual reality sector 097 Filming in the Middle East
108 Targeted TV Ads Could addressable advertising be the saviour of commercial TV?
116 AVODs Eye Europe The US & China have quickly adopted AVOD platforms but can they succeed in Europe?
126 Is the industry confronting the diversity issue? How are the creative industries around the world responding to BLM & #MeToo? 131 The State of UK Studios What has changed for the studios in 2020? 136 Redeﬁning the Deﬁnition of Shooting Safe Covid-19 has meant producers having to rethink on-set safety procedures
>AROUND THE WORLD From incentives to location highlights, makers presents a series of in-depth guides to some of the world's most ﬁlm friendly countries 015 Georgia New horizons 023 Gibraltar Rock solid 033 Greater London Treasure trove
047 Kazakhstan Vast vistas 065 Malta Safe hands 081 Marseille All the drama 095 Mexico Colour & calibre
105 Romania No limits 114 Russia Wide angles 120 South Africa Hot stuﬀ
NEWS in brief PRODUCTION
021 is gearing up to be a busy but challenging year for drama producers. Many delayed 2020 shoots have been pushed into 2021 due to the coronavirus hiatus; these will vie to shoot on top of a wave of recent greenlight from broadcasters and streamers. A second spike of coronavirus cases and new national lockdowns haven’t stopped productions ﬁlming. In the UK, for example, Covid-19 safe shooting protocols, have been largely successful while a government backed GBP500m Film & TV Production Restart Scheme has gone live, allowing dramas to proceed with Covid-19 insurance. Us and Life producer Drama Republic, for example, has four new dramas in the pipeline, with three set to shoot in 2021, including The Confessions of Frannie Langton based on the debut novel by Sara Collins, and Emily Blunt-fronted The English for the BBC and Amazon. Roanna Benn, co-CEO of Drama Republic, said there will be a high demand for crew, talent and
Netflix has surprised the industry with news that it is testing a 'linear' TV channel online in France. The channel, named Netflix Direct, will have scheduled programming, and is designed to appeal to older demographics who are less inclined to stream. Netflix Direct could be exported to other markets if a success.
studio space in 2021. “It’s going to be so busy. So we are trying to crew up early, and get people on board.” World Productions, meanwhile, restarted its dramas Line of Duty 6 and Vigil in the autumn 2020, but had to postpone new BBC One legal thriller Showtrial and Alibi crime thriller The Diplomat until 2021. These will start prep in January, alongside another commission, thriller Karen Pirie for ITV. “It’s going to be tough,” acknowledged World Productions CEO Simon Heath. “There is going to be an absolute traﬃc jam in the ﬁrst half of 2021 as these shows that have been delayed start up, and new shows start up.” This busy period will no doubt come as a relief for freelance crew and suppliers, who have seen their income drop signiﬁcantly this year due to production delays. “From a crew perspective, it could well be a very good time – there is going to be no shortage of work,” said Heath.
Filmmakers lobby For streamers to invest in european production Pedro Almodovar, Agnieszka Holland and Paweł Pawlikowski are among nearly 600 signatories to a European Producers Club letter calling for the introduction of a levy that would force streaming services such as Netﬂix and Amazon to re-invest at least 25% of their turnover in European countries
back into local production. Europe’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) obliges foreign streaming services to invest a portion of their revenue into local productions, but it is up to individual nations to interpret and introduce those laws.
indie Filmmakers spy opportunity Physical production remains a challenge for independent ﬁlmmakers, amid continuing diﬃculties in securing Covid-19 production insurance as well as international travel restrictions. However, many independents realise that there is now a unique window of opportunity for those who are able to make and deliver ﬁlms. Some have risked shooting ﬁlms without speciﬁc Covid-19 related insurance, while others are working on getting ﬁlms into production as soon as they can. Indies point out that there is a lack of supply of new movies in the marketplace – one that is only growing month by month. Voltage Pictures, for example, has shot two movies in Los Angeles during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: Palm Springs © HULU.
Voltage president and COO Jonathan Deckter said neither of them were covered by Covid-19 related insurance – adding that Voltage put in place stringent Covid-19 production protocols on set. “We’ve got smart, responsible, intelligent folks who are working on these movies. We are taking a bit of a risk – but every movie is a risk.” “If there’s one thing that 20-odd years in this business has taught me, it’s that us independents don’t stop. We ﬁgure it out and we keep pushing through,” said Deckter.
Elsewhere, Limelight – which produced, ﬁnanced and developed Sundance hit Palm Springs (pictured above) – is shooting two as yet unannounced movies, both in Canada. Limelight is self-insuring one of these ﬁlms, while the other is being made for HBO Max. Limelight president Dylan Sellers said: “We look at the risk versus beneﬁt. There’s a lot of upside right now because there are so few ﬁlms being made. If you can make a few ﬁlms during this time, I think there’ll be a real premium in the new year.”
BACK TO CONTENTS the chAnges, often
AccompAnied by significAnt job losses, come As the
coronAvirus pAndemic hAs crippled the studios’
theAtricAl business And
ushered more customers towArd their streAming options.
Hollywood studios restructure For tHe streaminG aGe Hollywood’s leading studios have unveiled major restructures as part of an industry wide pivot towards producing content for streaming services.
saudi arabia emerGes as top middle east cinema market Saudi Arabia has become the Middle East’s top grossing territory this year. Figures released during the META Cinema Forum exhibitors’ conference reveal that Saudi Arabia has overtaken the United Arab Emirates with more than USD73 million in theatrical ticket sales over the ﬁrst 40 weeks of 2020. The ﬁgures are remarkable given that Saudi Arabia only ended a 35-year-old ban on movie theatres two years ago.
“We are tilting the scale pretty dramatically [toward streaming],” said Disney CEO Bob Chapek. “I would not characterise it as a response to Covid,” added Chapek. “I would say Covid accelerated the rate at which we made this transition, but this transition was going to happen anyway. Chapek said the reorganisation could result in some reduction of staﬀ. WarnerMedia has also begun laying oﬀ employees as part of an ongoing reorganisation to cut costs amid the pandemic and reorient its business around its HBO Max streaming business. Elsewhere, Sony Pictures is merging its theatrical, home entertainment and TV distribution marketing operations, resulting in job losses. NBC Universal has also initiated several rounds of job cuts as part of a reorganisation to focus on streaming and to slash costs. "We have done away with the concept of creating a piece of work for a speciﬁc network,” said Brian Roberts, boss of NBCU parent company Comcast. Meanwhile, in the UK, ITV has unveiled plans for a major restructure, which will increase the broadcaster’s focus on streaming and result in “leaner” operations and job cuts.
Joe Biden’s election to the US Presidency was widely welcomed by the entertainment industry, which anticipates a much warmer relationship with the White House than during the Trump years. Biden knows the entertainment industry well. During his time as vice-president in the Barack Obama administration he worked on issues such as piracy and trade that are top of the agenda for Hollywood studios. Even before taking oﬃce, Biden is likely to press hard for a Covid-19 relief package, with theatre owners particularly vocal about the need for help.
The changes, often accompanied by signiﬁcant job losses, come as the coronavirus pandemic has crippled the studios’ theatrical business and ushered more customers toward their streaming options. In October Disney unveiled a new structure designed to further accelerate the company’s direct-to-consumer strategy following the success of Disney+. Disney is separating the development and production of programming from distribution to be more responsive to consumer demands.
Entertainment industry weighs Biden presidency
The industry is also concerned that aid is extended to state and local governments, as ﬁlm and TV tax credits often are threatened amid a budget crisis.
cinemark, universal strike windows deal Cinema operator Cinemark has struck a deal that will allow Universal Pictures to oﬀer its movies in US homes as soon as 17 days after they debut in theatres. The deal is similar to one that Universal made in July with AMC Entertainment, the world's largest cinema chain, embracing a major shift from traditional movie release patterns. Under the arrangement, Universal could oﬀer movies for sale via premium video-on-demand (PVOD) after they have played for at least three weekends in theatres. See our Broken Windows feature on page 66. Global box oFFice to recover in 2024 The global cinema box oﬃce will remain behind 2019 levels in both 2021 and 2022, and only reach near parity in 2023 before moving ahead in 2024. Global box oﬃce in 2019 reached USD42.5 billion, but research ﬁrm Omdia projects 2020 to end with just USD12.4 billion. Omdia forecasts USD24.5 billion for 2021 and USD38.2 billion for 2022, rising to USD41.4 billion in 2023 and overtaking 2019 in 2024 with USD44.1 billion.
However, Biden is likely to be less tech industryfriendly than the Obama administration. His campaign was highly critical of Facebook and “during his time As what it saw as the vice-president in the platform’s inability to bArAck obAmA curb disinformation. AdministrAtion he
Relations with China worked on issues may change, even if the such As pirAcy And trade tensions don’t trAde thAt Are top immediately dissipate. of the AgendA for Hollywood is keen to hollywood studios.” see piracy in China tackled, and also an expansion in the number of US ﬁlms allowed into the Chinese market.
Areas in which Biden’s policies might not favour Hollywood studios include antitrust and media consolidation. Mega mergers such as the Disney-Fox and AT&T-Warner deals could face more scrutiny from now on, as could corporate taxation. Increasing diversity in the ﬁlm and TV industry is an area that could be a focus for Biden’s vice president-elect Kamala Harris, who will become the ﬁrst female and the ﬁrst African American and South Asian to hold the oﬃce.
at a glance scAndinAviA 2 uk 1/9
5 cAnAdA 7
sAudi ArAbiA 3
4 brAZil south AfricA 12
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AustrAliA 6 6
10 new ZeAlAnd
uk Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion wrapped up its Covid-19 delayed shoot in November at Pinewood Studios. The USD165 million movie required 40,000 Covid-19 tests, and USD6-8 million spent on safety protocols.
united states Consumer spending on video gaming in the US continued to break records during the coronavirus pandemic, reaching USD11.2 billion in the third quarter of 2020, a 24% year on year increase according to NPD Group research.
scandinavia Scandi streaming service Viaplay is to boost its international footprint with a launch in ten new markets. The NENT-owned streamer has made signiﬁcant investments in original drama.
Greece Gang Films recently completed a large scale four day shoot for Perrier. Heat was serviced by Green Olive Films in central Athens. Greece's accessibility for international crew was one of the reasons it shot in the country.
saudi arabia Netﬂix has partnered with Saudi Arabian studio Telfaz11 to produce eight new feature ﬁlms, part of a plan to increase production in the Middle East. The two companies previously collaborated on a short ﬁlm collection. braZil Disney is continuing to leverage deals with pay TV operators to grow Disney+, inking a deal with Brazil's Globo to sell the family-friendly streaming service in a combined bundle with Globoplay. canada Netﬂix has opened a production hub just outside of Vancouver in Canada, part of move to produce more content in the nation. The streamer has taken a long-term lease on seven soundstages at the Canadian Motion Picture Park studio complex. australia Australian streaming service Stan has pledged to produce more original content. The Nine Entertainment backed streamer said it would reach 30 originals per annum within ﬁve years.
uk 50% of all production budgets spent in the UK were in the nations and regions in 2019, according to Pact’s UK Production Census. Wales, the South-West and North-West of England saw the most signiﬁcant spend. new Zealand James Cameron has wrapped ﬁlming on Avatar 2 in New Zealand, and has almost completed Avatar 3 too as part of back to back shooting on the sequels. Avatar 2 is currently scheduled for release in 2022. cHina China is likely to surpass the US as the world’s largest ﬁlm market in 2020. Cinema-going has been on the rise in China as the pandemic remains under control, with strong local ﬁlms boosting audiences. US theatres have suﬀered amid pandemic closures and a lack of Hollywood tentpoles being released. soutH aFrica Netﬂix is partnering with African ﬁlmmaking organisation Realness Institute to create a content development lab for writers on the continent. The initiative is for writers in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
NEWS tech & facilities
FROM CAMERAS TO
STUDIOS, THE LATEST IN PRODUCTION
irtual production has cemented its place in ﬁlm and drama production during 2020, with the technology deployed on projects such as The Mandalorian and The Batman.
Virtual production workﬂows allow ﬁlmmakers to capture complex visual eﬀects shots in-camera using real-time game engine technology and LED screens that provide photo-real digital locations within a studio setting. Over 50% of The Mandalorian’s ﬁrst season was ﬁlmed using this ground-breaking technology eliminating the need for location shoots entirely. Industrial Light & Magic, which provided virtual production services for The Mandalorian at its StageCraft volume set at Los Angeles’ Manhattan Beach Studios (MBS) is now building a second set at the studio. ILM is also building a third permanent StageCraft volume set at Pinewood Studios in London, and a fourth at Fox Studios Australia. The latter is being used for Marvel’s upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder directed by Taika Waititi.
Canon has launched the EOS C70 camera (above) – a hybrid stills and video camera that will take place of the C100. The company says it combines the image quality of its Cinema EOS System range with the portability of its EOS R line-up. The C70 shoots in 4K, including slow motion capture in 4K 120p. The camera is small and lightweight, and Canon is pitching it at documentaries, news gathering and social media.
Elsewhere, Netﬂix has quietly established a virtual production initiative dubbed NLAB. In July, VFX powerhouse Weta Digital launched a new virtual production oﬀering in New Zealand. Top VFX ﬁrm Pixomondo is constructing a new virtual production studio in Toronto. Actors in The Mandalorian performed in an immersive and cavernous semi-circular LED video wall where the practical set pieces were combined with digital extensions on the screens. Digital 3D environments created by ILM played on the LED walls, edited in real-time during the shoot. The environments were lit and rendered from the perspective of the camera, making it look as if the camera was capturing the physical environment with accurate interactive light on the actors and practical sets. Rob Bredow, CCO at ILM said: “Over the past ﬁve years, we have made substantial investments in both our rendering technology and our virtual production toolset.”
netFlix Hires itn’s anna mallett Netﬂix has recruited ITN chief executive Anna Mallett (pictured right) as vice-president of physical production. Mallett will lead Netﬂix’s production management team responsible for live-action series, non-ﬁction and ﬁlm across EMEA, LatAm and APAC. Based in London, Mallett will report to vice-president of worldwide physical production Ty Warren. In 2019, Netﬂix unveiled plans to establish a production hub in Pinewood’s Shepperton Studios, featuring 14 sound stages, workshops and oﬃce space.
ompetition has stepped up in the London VFX market with a number of international ﬁrms opening facilities in the city.
we wanted to be able to service ﬁlms in a big physical space that allows directors freedom to choose their post-production talent.”
Bulgaria’s Nu Boyana Film Studios has opened an oﬃce in London, with facilities including two DaVinci Resolve Studio grading suites.
Germany’s Rise has oﬃces in Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart, and has worked on Captain America, Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man, HBO’s Westworld and Lovecraft Country (pictured left) as well as Netﬂix’s Stranger Things.
Meanwhile, German VFX house Rise has launched an oﬃce in Holborn, London. Nu Boyana Film Studios, owned by Hollywood independent Nu Image, has worked on high-proﬁle productions including Hellboy, 300: The Rise of an Empire and The Black Dahlia.
The ﬁrst production to be realised through its new London facility is upcoming feature The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. Nu Boyana head of post production Paula Crickard said: “We made the decision to expand into London as many of our projects are ﬁlmed here in the UK, and
Rise’s London operations are headed by managing director Lara Lom. She said: “Obviously, the market has taken a hit from ﬁlm shoots being put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But, at the same time, the entire ﬁlm industry is looking to the visual eﬀects companies to help them re-boot the business as we know it, whilst maintaining the highest safety standards for the crews.”
BACK TO CONTENTS our vision for the future of our industry is
storytelling Across All the mediA of content delivery.
investors bet on uk studios Investors are continuing to pour millions of pounds into developing new UK studio space, betting that the country’s ﬁlm and TV production boom will continue despite the Covid-19 pandemic. In November, Hackman Capital Partners, one of Hollywood’s biggest property developers, agreed a GBP300 million deal to build the Eastbrook Studios complex in Dagenham in east London (pictured below). The site will include 12 sound stages and is expected to be completed by 2023. UK production levels are expected to be buoyant next year and beyond, fuelled by commissioning from streamers which have thrived during the pandemic. Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission, described the Dagenham deal as “a real vote of conﬁdence in our industry’s ability to return to the growth we saw prior to the pandemic and exceed it in coming years.” Leading producers have complained for years about the challenge of locating studio space in the UK, amid record levels of ﬁlm and TV production which hit GBP3.62 billion last year.
blackmaGic desiGn launcHes new davinci resolve Blackmagic has unveiled a new version of its editing platform DaVinci Resolve. Version 17 boasts more than 300 new features and improvements including HDR grading tools, redesigned primary colour controls, next-gen Fairlight audio core and support for 2,000 real-time audio tracks. Blackmagic has also given the platform a redesigned inspector, new bin sorting, metadata clip views and other features designed to help customers ﬁnish projects faster. workinG From Home Here to stay in vFx Working from home is trend that’s here to stay according to the IT boss at one of Scandinavia’s largest VFX and animation studios. Stockholm-based Important Looking Pirates – whose credits include Netﬂix’s Lost in Space and HBO series Watchmen and Westworld – has long prided itself on recruiting top VFX talent from around the world. In future, however, the ﬁrm’s head of IT Simon Cox predicted the remote working models set up during the pandemic would be used to allow it expand its pool of top artists.
Demand for studio space became even more acute last year after Disney and Netﬂix signed long term leases with Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios respectively. A raft of other studio builds are underway throughout the UK. US ﬁrm Blackhall Studios is to plough GBP150 million into building a facility near Reading. Ashford International Film Studios in Kent was granted consent in April for a GBP250 million development. London’s Elstree Studios has won planning permission to build two new large stages. Broadcaster Sky has also secured permission to build a major new ﬁlm and TV studio in Elstree. Developer Capital & Centric hopes to start work this year on the Littlewoods Film and TV Studios in Liverpool. In September, Pinewood submitted a planning application for a 350,000 sqft expansion.
Speaking during IBC Showcase, Cox said: “The working from home situation is not going anywhere – even post Covid. We rely hugely on multinational talent but we could spread our net much wider if we didn’t require somebody to uproot and come to Sweden.”
Framestore doubles in size with C3M deal
isual eﬀects giant Framestore has doubled in size following its acquisition of post production and VFX ﬁrm Company 3/Method (C3M). Framestore, whose credits include franchises such as Avengers, Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, (pictured below), has studios in London, LA, New York, Chicago, Montréal and Mumbai. C3M’s brands include Encore and Stereo D, which are based in 11 cities in the US, as well as Canada, UK, Australia and India. Its credits include colour grading on Wonder Woman 1984 and VFX on Top Gun: Maverick. The sale was ﬁnanced by Aleph Capital and Crestview Partners which will become the majority shareholders of the enlarged company. Combined, the two ﬁrms aim to form what the companies described as a "global creative services studio working across every part of the creative and production process." "Our vision for the future of our industry is storytelling across all the media of content delivery – from mobile to Imax; and headset to theme parks,” said Sir William Sargent, co-founder and CEO of Framestore. “Stories originated in one medium need to be able to travel across all of these and be adapted creatively and technically for each.
spotiFy bolsters podcast business Spotify is continuing its aggressive podcast strategy, acquiring podcast publishing and advertising company Megaphone for USD235 million. Megaphone provides podcast hosting and ad-insertion capabilities for publishers and targeted ad sales for marketers. Spotify has now spent more than USD800 million over the last two years on podcast content and technology deals, as podcast audiences continue to swell. In 2019, the company acquired podcast studios Gimlet Media and Parcast, along with podcast self-publishing platform Anchor. This year, Spotify bought Bill Simmons’ The Ringer podcast and media startup.
The acquisition comes during a tough year for the post-production sector, which has been hard hit because of Covid-19 delays to major ﬁlms, dramas and commercials. In June, French digital media company Technicolor SA ﬁled for Chapter 15 in a US bankruptcy court, saying that the Covid-19 pandemic had hurt revenue.
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GEORGIA new horizons The boom in incoming productions is thanks to an active state agency Film in Georgia which engages with the industry during international events and organises FAM trips for producers and location managers. The location potential in Georgia is vast: the southern Caucasus mountains dominate the landscape. Throughout the country are historic monasteries and mountain villages tucked between lakes, canyons, rushing rivers, forests and imposing mountains and the west coast borders the Black Sea. Even the capital Tbilisi, set in a valley, provides drama with the colourful Old Town sprawling up the river banks. Georgia is the most accessible destination in Eurasia, but most US travellers will have to catch a connecting ﬂight.
Georgia’s introduction of a 20% cash rebate in 2016 has led to an increased appeal, with Fast and Furious 9 taking to the capital last year for stunt sequences. Georgia’s incentive is also one of the few that applies to advertising productions.
eorgia’s 20% cash rebate was launched in 2016 and has since attracted over 20 international productions. Many of the productions so far have been European co-productions although Indian projects are equally common.
The Film in Georgia programme provides a 20-25% rebate for feature ﬁlms, TV series, documentary ﬁlms and animation. It is also one of the few programmes to include advertising and reality shows in a rebate scheme. The 2-5% uplift on top of the base 20% “the locAtion depends upon a cultural test. potentiAl in To qualify, local production georgiA is vAst: the costs must exceed GEL500,000 southern cAucAsus which translates to EUR125,000. Documentary, animation, reality mountAins TV and advertising spending dominAte the must exceed GEL300,000 which lAndscApe And translates to EUR75,000. even the cApitAl tbilisi, set in A vAlley, provides drAmA.”
Fast and Furious 9 was the largest international feature ﬁlm to ever shoot in Georgia. The popularity of the franchise lies in its epic car chase and stunt sequences, some of which were facilitated in the capital’s large boulevards and squares. The shoot was a chance for the local industry and authorities to prove itself as ﬂexible and accommodating, and that local crew members had the necessary skills for such a demanding project. The shoot took place between mid-August and mid-September 2019 in the capital city and the project was supported under the Film in Georgia rebate.
Batumi is the second largest city in Georgia and is located on the coast of the Black Sea. Due to its subtropical climate as well as proximity to the Caucasus mountains the city provides a range of locations. It is Georgia’s bustling holiday destination with a reputation for nightlife that attracts both Georgian and Russian tourists As a result, there is modern architecture and belle-époque hotels, a beachfront promenade and a large botanical garden. Even in winter Batumi has mild and sunny days and as such attracts production. Batumi’s pebble beaches are lined with palm trees and have been doubled for exotic destinations for commercial shoots including a spot for Kyivstar serviced by The Martini Shot.
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Production Insurance: a Lifeline for the Industry
early on during the uk’s nationwide pandemic lockdown, a lack of production insurance emerged as the main roadblock for productions getting back to work. makers explores how the industry persuaded the government to launch a Gbp500 million production insurance scheme – and what it means for producers shooting in the uk.
ack in June, the UK production industry was at a standstill. Even though coronavirus lockdowns were starting to ease, ﬁlm and drama productions were not shooting. The issue: producers could not persuade insurers to cover their productions in case they were disrupted by an outbreak of Covid-19. John Mcvay, chief executive of UK producers’ alliance Pact, had been in communication with members since the pandemic hit and explains that a lack of Covid-19 related production cover quickly became a “priority issue” for the industry. “I set up our task force on our side and we also worked closely with all the major broadcasters. We laid on a campaign to inform the government of what the issues were but we also had to show why there was an absence of commercial insurers being able to give us any cover, and that this was a barrier to us to restoring our industry.”
“this scheme will meAn the difference between working or wAlking AwAy for mAny uk film And tv productions.”
Government intervention was necessary due to the singular nature of the insurance needed, and the already risky nature of the business. Simon Miller, a director at Yutree Insurance which specialises in the media and entertainment sector, explains “traditional insurance tends to be bricks and mortar. If a factory burns down that's quite straightforward – we'll just rebuild it. With production, it is about trying to anticipate what additional costs are”. Since March, the potential for delay, disruption or cancellation has been higher
than previously and the future circumstances are even more unpredictable. “Covering injury and illness to all the cast and crew during Covid-19 brings challenges. There can also be additional challenges such as cast and crew going oﬀ into other jobs that they've got on the timetable. Insurance cover is thinking in terms of those extra covers that a production couldn’t plan for,” says Miller. After lobbying from the industry the UK government stepped in, announcing a GBP500 million Film and TV Production Restart Scheme in July which oﬃcially opened in October. The industry welcomed the news, stating it was “the crucial greenlight”, an “enormous relief ” and provided conﬁdence that independent producers needed to go ahead. Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission, was one member of the cross industry group which brought the scheme to fruition and notes “this scheme will mean the diﬀerence between working or walking away for many UK ﬁlm and TV productions. We’re thrilled the Government and industry were able to work together to introduce it at such a critical time”. The department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport estimate that over 40,000 jobs across the country will be supported by these productions. By the time the scheme was oﬃcially greenlit by the EU in October a raft of productions, including Sixteen Films’ My Son had pre-registered and familiarised themselves with the system ahead of a planned shoot in October.
TRADITIONAL INSURANCE TENDS TO BE BRICKS AND MORTAR. IF A FACTORY BURNS DOWN THAT'S QUITE STRAIGHTFORWARD – WE'LL JUST REBUILD IT. WITH PRODUCTION, IT IS ABOUT TRYING TO ANTICIPATE WHAT ADDITIONAL COSTS ARE.
The British system was not the ﬁrst to be announced: France’s temporary indemnity fund was one of the ﬁrst announced in May, and Canada’s federal government has announced a CAD50 million Short Term Compensation Fund Scheme for local productions. In June, the Austrian government created a EUR25 million fund to compensate both local and international productions, the ﬁrst government backed compensation scheme to do so. However the UK scheme is unique in scope, says McVay. “The French introduced a scheme very quickly earlier in the year but it's tiny by comparison and is limited to drama and feature ﬁlm. The British scheme is for all production, apart from pornography, live events and sports, so it covers factual, comedy, feature ﬁlm and it is far more ambitious”. The support has provided a much-needed lifeline for a globally revered industry that is worth GBP12 billion to the UK economy. The case was made to the treasury by an industry task force including PACT, the BFI and other industry ﬁgures including Sarah Geater who were able to provide research to the treasury so that a robust scheme that catered to the speciﬁcs of the UK sector could be constructed. Prior to Covid-19, the sector was in rude health. BFI statistics for 2019 show ﬁlm and high-end TV were at the highest year on record and inward investment topped GBP3 billion for the ﬁrst time. “Restarting production is absolutely critical to the long term health of the UK audio visual economy,” says McVay. “If the pipeline dries up you’re not earning any money. After six months people have pretty much burned through the reserves, and they need to get back to work, they need to get back to production”. The indie TV industry in particular is one of the fastest growing areas, with record breaking revenues of GBP3.3 billion. “We were growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy pre-Covid. The chancellor understood that we are a major part of
INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION 18
the economic recovery of the UK as we move through this terrible pandemic” says McVay. “We're delighted that the Chancellor understood that we're the world's second largest audio visual economy.” The insurance fund is available to all productions made by a UK producer or co-producer. At least half the production budget must be spent in the UK, meaning that shoots involving on location “the british production outside the scheme is for All UK are covered and production, ApArt production must meet the Cultural Test and from pornogrAphy, Commercial Viability live events And Criteria. The deadline sports, so it covers for productions to fActuAl, comedy, register for the scheme feAture film And and restart shooting has been extended from it is fAr more December 2020 to Ambitious.” February 2021 and covers Coronavirus-related losses through until the end of June 2021. The extension should help more productions and reﬂects the ongoing uncertainty and inability of productions to secure private insurance. Future claims can also be backdated for eligible tosses to 28 July 2020 when the scheme was announced. There are limits to what can be claimed under the scheme, with a cap on claims per production of GBP5 million so producers are also examining how to keep the potential claims down. Productions are looking at how to control overall costs, such as having standbys for key roles in case of illness, and extending other production costs to ensure that health and safety is enforced on set. “Companies are thinking, we can manage through. I have recently done a deal with six cast members that are shooting in pairs so you are only ever exposed to one of those pairs at any one time. There is a lot of that particular budgeting where companies are managing extremely well, but this does become harder to do at a much larger scale,” says Miller.
Since Coronavirus brought the commercials production industry to a sudden halt in March, brands have slowly but surely started investing in new campaigns. makers explores the impact of the pandemic on commercials producers around the world – and how ad spend is faring in key countries.
ith oﬃces in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles and Milan, and a track record of shooting ads all over the world for brands such as Apple, Ikea, McDonalds and Nike, Pulse Films is one of the premier names in global commercials production. Like many of its fellow commercials producers, Pulse has had to navigate one of the most extraordinary years that the advertising industry has ever faced. Pulse’s global president of commercials and branded entertainment Davud Karbassioun recalls the exact day that “the business just shut down” due to Covid-19: March 11. On that day, President Trump announced a travel ban into the United States from Europe, the NBA was postponed, and news emerged that actor Tom Hanks had Covid-19.
“In America, that was when it became serious. We had a whole bunch of projects in production – and one by one they started cancelling.” Advertisers around the world started to reign in spend. In the UK, ITV's advertising revenue was down 42% in April, while Fox in the US saw revenues halve. Spend by sectors such as transport and tourism media fell fastest. “We anticipated three months of nothing, and then hoped for some sort of pick up in the summer,” says Karbassioun, who is based in Los Angeles. Quite quickly, though, Pulse started making commercials again – but in a more contained way during lockdown, shooting at home and with ads featuring friends. The recovery was slow though. And by July, it dawned on Pulse that the eﬀects of the pandemic would last longer than anticipated, for 12-18 months. “It was most precarious at the beginning of the summer – that’s when we realised that it was going
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to hit us much harder than we thought.” Pulse has some 50 people working in its commercials division, with another 50 working across TV, ﬁlm and music videos. The company decided not to make “rash decisions,” keeping on its staﬀ and management taking pay cuts. IT WAS MOST PRECARIOUS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SUMMER – THAT’S WHEN WE REALISED THAT IT WAS GOING TO HIT US MUCH HARDER THAN WE THOUGHT.
In the summer, however, work started to pick up. Europe began opening for ﬁlmmaking ﬁrst, then the US. “You could see brands itching to spend money,” recalls Karbassioun, with the tech ﬁrms in particular coming back to the table. By September and October, “the type of work, the budgets, even the volume of what we’re seeing is pretty much what we could hope for in a normal world,” says Karbassioun. Competition is ﬁerce though, and top ﬁlm directors are now keen to make ads because of delays to feature production. “Everyone is available to make commercials… we’re pitching our commercials against people who wouldn’t normally do commercials.” On the plus side for commercials producers, event money that might have been earmarked for launches and presentations is now going into video. On set, Pulse uses rapid 15 minute Covid-19 testing kit to test everyone before a day’s shoot. “You can’t really shoot crowds. We’re still casting families and people who know each other. We’re testing every day. And we’re shooting every week right now.” The biggest headache is the inability for talent to travel. But even this can be turned to an advantage by localising ﬁlmmaking, says Karbassioun. He cites an ad that Pulse is shooting around the world for Google, lead directed by James Marsh. Before coronavirus, Marsh would get on plane to shoot in each country. Now, Pulse is employing local directors in the Philippines, Italy, Pakistan and elsewhere to shoot. “It’s great, because you get a much more local and authentic perspective,” says Karbassioun. The commercials picture is not the same in every country. The UK, says Karbassioun, feels “very uncertain” amid signs that Covid-19 is increasing as winter arrives. Meanwhile, the US election, set to take place as makers goes to press, is also a major factor with many brands waiting to see the outcome.
Images: John Lewis & Waitrose’s Give A Little Love © Oscar Hudson & Pulse Films. Nokia © Amma Asante & Pulse Films.
Pulse’s experience of the Covid-19 pandemic on its business reﬂects the research ﬁndings of major ad groups. Group M, for example, estimates that the global advertising economy will fall by 11.8% in 2020, excluding the eﬀects of increased political advertising in the US. This is a sharp decline from the growth rate from 2019 of 6.2%. While severe to be sure, Group M says 2020’s decline can still be considered “modest” given the scale of the impact of the pandemic on global GDP, which will fall by much more than it did in the 2009 global ﬁnancial crisis. During that year, when GDP declined by 1%, Group M estimates that global advertising fell by 11.2%. Notably, Group M says that this year declines are less pronounced in the world’s top two advertising markets, the US (expected to fall 7.5% including political advertising) and China (expected to fall 2.8%). These two markets combine to account for more than half of the world’s total advertising activity. Among other markets from 2019, Group M expect to see the following rates of decline: Japan: 20%; UK: 12.5%; Germany: 9.9%; France: 15%; Canada: 5.1%; Brazil: 29.1%; South Korea: 1.8%; and Australia: 19%. The only multi-billion-dollar market where it expects to see real growth this year is in Indonesia, where expectations are for 5.8% growth. Argentina is the only other market expected to grow in nominal terms, although it should decline on an inﬂation-adjusted basis. Looking ahead, Group M expects global advertising to grow by 8.2% next year on an ex-US political basis, or by 5.9% including it. It predicts a 0.9% decline in the US, including political advertising, and growth of 9.2% for China next year. Among the top 10 markets, most expect to see double-digit growth including Japan (15%), the UK(12.6%), Germany (10.6%), Brazil (15.0%) and Australia (25.2%). Meanwhile, Canada and South Korea anticipate low single digit gains while France anticipates high single digit growth during 2021.
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GIBRALTAR rock solid Small crews mainly from the UK and Spain regularly come to Gibraltar to ﬁlm but the authorities have facilitated larger scale shoots. Authorities are familiar with requirements of largescale productions. Road closures, facilitating parking permissions across several government departments and the police were made for several large-scale ﬁlms including 2013’s El Nino about a young boy who lives close to the rock and becomes entangled with a local drug dealer. Gibraltar was one of the locations used in 2019 Spanish action comedy ﬁlm Taxi to Treasure Rock, about two desperate men who become business partners in search of secret gold.
Gibraltar is small, but its rich history has left some unique locations that productions are yet to fully explore. located at the tip of spain, Gibraltar’s sunny climate and english speaking authorities make for a singular ﬁlming destination.
As an overseas British territory crews need a list of equipment (carnet) in order to enter Gibraltar. From the UK it takes just under three hours to reach Gibraltar’s international airport. There is also a wealth of hotels in the city. ibraltar is compact at just seven sq km and is famous for its limestone rock that stands over 400 metres tall. The peninsula on the southern Iberian coast has views of the African continent and has been under siege for much of its history resulting in British, Moorish and Mediterranean architecture alongside a mix of wildlife.
Gibraltar has some unique locations that have been underused by productions. They include caves and siege tunnels dating from the 18th century and the Second World War. There are the “the gibrAltAr remains of a large medieval Moorish castle as well as a tourist boArd Moorish bath house and botanical hAndles gardens. The city of Gibraltar has production a buzzing café life and there are enquiries And cAn a number of marinas. These give permission locations, as well as the airport, have featured in the BBC’s New to film in Tricks and Channel 5 docuseries government Gibraltar – Britain in the Sun owned AreAs which ran for two years. including upper rock .”
The Gibraltar Tourist Board handles production enquiries. There are no fees on ﬁlming permissions and the board can give permission to ﬁlm in Government owned areas including Upper Rock, tourist sites and other government buildings.
The Rock of Gibraltar
The rock is the most deﬁning feature of the territory and rises over 400 metres above sea level. The rock is also known as the Jabel-al-Tariq after the Berber commander who conquered Spain. The upper area of the rock is a nature reserve and it is home to around three hundred Barbary Macaques monkeys. The rock featured in the opening sequence for 1987 James Bond ﬁlm The Living Daylights as a set of parachute divers jump out over the rock. Timothy Dalton and other agents are tasked with penetrating the radar installations at the top of the rock, which has been a military stronghold for centuries.
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Filming on the Adriatic Coast
THE REGION IS KNOWN FOR ITS CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS. BUT THERE IS MORE TO IT THAN JUST PICTURE PERFECT SHOTS OF THE SEA.
Image: 6 Underground © Christian Black & Netflix.
Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia are all emerging or established filming destinations equipped with incentives ranging from 20% to 35%.
mong the countries bordering the Adriatic Coast, Italy and Croatia have the most extensive experience with international production. They have welcomed everything from tentpole features and artisan fare to globally watched TV and a large number of ad campaigns. Although smaller in size and scale, Montenegro and Slovenia have also hosted major international projects and provide incentives and support that make sure that working there is competitive and convenient. Slovenia occupies a unique blend of Alpine terrain that descends to the Mediterranean coastline as well
as a Karst region with subterranean caves and ﬂat plains – all within a ninety-minute drive. One of the most notable projects to shoot in Slovenia was The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian which ﬁlmed in the Soca Valley. The fantasy feature found comparable mountainous terrain to New Zealand in Eastern Europe within close reach of soundstages in Prague. Italy can also provide Alpine and Mediterranean settings. On the Adriatic, these range from historic Venice down to the Apulia’s enchanting coastline.
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THE COST-EFFECTIVENESS OF THE COUNTRIES ON THE BALKAN PENINSULA HAS ALLOWED THE REGION TO COMPETE WITH ITALY AS A FILMING DESTINATION AND THE CURRENT INFRASTRUCTURE ALLOWS FOR REAL CHOICE.
Image: Succession © HBO.
“Italy is a natural movie set. Rebates and ﬁnancial support throughout the country are a valid reason to experience it, considering the high skilled professionals available here,” says Raﬀaellla Delvecchio, international production manager at Apulia Film Commission. Most recently Bari was used for a subplot of Michaela Coel’s celebrated series I May Destroy You but the country is equally as familiar with high-end tentpoles. Mission Impossible 7 and upcoming James Bond No Time to Die both carried out ﬁlming in the country. The hilltop town of Matera (pictured above) hosted the Bond shoot where, according to stunt director Lee Morrison, 8,400 gallons of Coca-Cola were poured on the cobbled streets to make them less slippery for a motorbike stunt. Mission Impossible 7 returned to Italy in October after being one of the ﬁrst international productions halted by Covid-19 in March, just before a high octane sequence was due to shoot in Venice. Across the Adriatic, shoots that come to Croatia are often after its cost-eﬀective locations. Many, such as HBO’s Succession (pictured below), are looking for the beautiful coast and islands but others are after ﬂexible settings, some of which act as surprising doubles. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard shot in multiple locations across the country with nearly 50 planned ﬁlming days in Croatia. Filming took place in the cities of Rovinj, Zagreb, Rijeka and Karlovac to double for both Italy and Croatia. Meanwhile Mamma Mia 2 doubled the island of Vis for a Greek island. AMC’s The Terror (pictured on next page) even employed VFX to turn the dry and barren landscape of the island of Pag into the Arctic’s northwest passage. The capital Zagreb has stood in for Riga, Berlin, Florence as well as Zagreb in recent Netﬂix comedy series Medical Police. Croatia has three distinct areas: the coastal region, which includes various islands from Istria in the north through Kvarner and down to Dalmatia in the south, a mountain region and the ﬂat plains found in the continental region. Filming has always taken place throughout the country, but the most recent
PRODUCTION ON LOCATION 26
iteration of Croatia’s tax incentive adds a 5% uplift to productions that ﬁlm in underdeveloped areas, which is set to encourage producers to explore even more of Croatia’s extensive locations. One of the productions to have recently qualiﬁed is “Any shoot tAking Netﬂix series Tribes of plAce in croAtiA, Europa. Set in 2070, montenegro And the post-apocalyptic sloveniA is within series is about three close reAch of young friends who set out to change the fate of lArge studios Europe after a global And equipment catastrophe fractures it in romAniA, into warring microstates. hungAry, serbiA There are a growing And bulgAriA.” number of regional ﬁlm commissions that work in partnership with the national Film Oﬃce to facilitate productions. The Zadar Film Commission was the ﬁrst to open in 2014, located to the South of Croatia followed by The Istria Film Commission on the north coast in 2015. The national capital Zagreb is the most recently established ﬁlm oﬃce opening in 2019. To the south, Montenegro has also marketed itself as an open studio ready for productions to discover. “Being beautiful is a fact. Being small is our advantage,” says Sanja Jovanovic, programme policy manager at the Film Centre of Montenegro. This slogan captures “the easiness of transferring from the winter’s snowy peaks of the mountain Durmitor to the summer’s sandy beaches of Ulcinj, in only three hours’ drive. That is a Montenegrin thing. The ﬁne Mediterranean climate, with a high amount of sunny days per year, makes Montenegrin natural locations an “open studio” that are easily accessible, and, in production terms, extremely practical,” she adds. In terms of locations, the remains of Roman, Medieval, Oriental, Venetian, Austro-Hungarian and Socialist eras are scattered everywhere in only 14,000 km2, which is why it is so easy for Montenegro to double for almost any other location,
BACK TO CONTENTS The cost-eﬀectiveness of the countries on the Balkan peninsula has allowed the region to compete with Italy as a ﬁlming destination and the current infrastructure allows for real choice to productions interested in shooting in the Adriatic a choice of possible destinations. There are also incentives to consider which vary from 25% to 35%.
Image: Game of rones © 2019 Home Box Oﬃce, Inc.
ITALY IS A NATURAL MOVIE SET. REBATES AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY ARE A VALID REASON TO EXPERIENCE IT, CONSIDERING THE HIGH SKILLED PROFESSIONALS AVAILABLE HERE.
Image: e Terror © Aidan Monaghan & AMC.
at any point in time: the Swiss lakes, the Alpine mountains, the Scandinavian fjords, the pines of the North America, the Mediterranean towns, or the Atlantic shores, South American beaches, and many more. Since the Film Centre of Montenegro was established following its independence in 2006, many international productions have ﬁlmed in Montenegro including The Brothers Bloom by Rian Johnson in 2008, Coriolanus by Ralph Fiennes in 2011, The November Man by Roger Donaldson in 2014 and Papillon by Michael Noer in 2017. Most recently Kar Lok Chin’s Golden Job and Andrew Levitas’ Minamata shot in the country. “What most of these ﬁlm crews took away from their time spent ﬁlming in Montenegro can be summarized in two key aspects: the incredible variety of scenery concentrated in such a small space and, obviously, the production value. Rian Johnson, who shot parts of The Brothers Bloom on Montenegrin coast, said that if they were shooting elsewhere, they could not get such visual and production quality for the same budget,” says Jovanovic. Italy has the most extensive studio facilities available in the Adriatic. Rome’s Cinecitta is one of the longest running and most globally esteemed complexes and recent productions to have shot here include George Clooney’s Catch 22 and Michael Bay’s 6 Underground (main image). The studio has announced development plans for a green screen studio and an underwater ﬁlming facility. Studio infrastructure is sparser elsewhere in the Adriatic; Croatia’s Jadran studio is the only established production space on the Balkan side. However, any shoot taking place in Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia is within close reach of any number of large studios in Romania, Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria and the same applies to any specialist equipment that may be required.
STUDIOS INCENTIVES 28
Since 2012 Croatia has operated a ﬁnancial incentive for ﬁlm and TV production. Since its introduction there has been a steady increase in the number of international ﬁlms being shot here with standout names including Game of Thrones (pictured left) and Mamma Mia 2. Qualifying formats include feature ﬁlms, documentaries, TV dramas and animation. The production incentive is administered on a ﬁrst-come ﬁrst served basis. However, there are other options for international projects from a selective minority co-production fund. In 2019 Montenegro launched a 25% cash rebate scheme that is already bringing foreign productions to the region. “The ones who went through the process were satisﬁed with the easiness of the system and how the refund was being processed smoothly,” says Jovanovic.
“Amc’s the terror mAnAged to employ vfX to turn the dry And bArren lAndscApe of the croAtiAn islAnd of pAg into the Arctic’s northwest pAssAge.”
Italy has the longest established incentives in the region, providing up to 30%. Companies have an upper limit of EUR20 million that they can claim each year and eligible production costs cannot exceed 75% of a projects total budget. Recent large international shoots in Italy include the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home and Aquaman. There are also a plethora of regional funds available from the network of over 10 smaller ﬁlm oﬃces. Apulia for instance has a ﬁlm fund with a EUR5 million budget, aimed at Italian and European productions. Slovenia also has a ﬁlming incentive ﬁrst opened in 2017. The 25% cash rebate has no minimum expenditure needed for qualiﬁcation and is administered on a ﬁrst come ﬁrst served basis. Production types that can claim the rebate include feature ﬁlms, animation features and series as well as TV series and individual episodes.
Around the world My brilliant career SIX LOCATIONS CHOSEN BY LOCATION MANAgER MARKUS BENSCH
1 A Hidden Life - castelrotto, south tyrol, italy The production designer Sebastian Krawinkel asked me to scout for this biopic, directed by Terrence Malick, in 2015. It was an amazing experience and, as Sebastian put it, everybody who has ever done a Malick ﬁlm comes out a better person. Last year I worked with Malick again on The Last Planet.
2 enemy At tHe GAtes - kraMPnitz, near PotsdaM, gerMany The late John D Schoﬁeld came to Germany to scout for JJ Annaud’s epic in 1999. It was the ﬁrst big budget Hollywood ﬁlm to shoot in Germany for decades. John and I became friends and I would not be where I am today without him. 3 tHe ReAdeR - gorlitz, gerMany I was asked to scout for Stephen Daldry’s ﬁlm in 2006. Stephen is one of the most amiable people I have ever met. It was mostly shot in Görlitz which later featured in Inglorious Basterds and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
4 BRidGe of spies - WroclaW, Poland In 2014 Steven Spielberg wanted to shoot Bridge of Spies in Berlin. But modern Berlin is nothing like
BACK TO CONTENTS arkus Bensch AMPAS, LMGI, has worked in the ﬁlm business for over 30 years. He is a location professional based at Studio Babelsberg.
For him, it’s never the budget or the names that make it memorable project. “It’s the very few people you come across who make a lasting impression”. In this tribute he identiﬁes some of the projects where he encountered talented people who advanced him personally and professionally. Each on a diﬀerent level.
the cold war city the script required. Production designer Adam Stockhausen and I travelled to Wroclaw and found the perfect double. Adam got an Oscar nomination for his work... deservedly so!
5 scouting eLBpHiLHARmonie - HAmBURG, GeRmAny I have scouted several times with the producer Clayton Townsend for various projects in Germany. He describes himself as an ‘enabler ‘ who makes sure that the director gets the look he wants, not what’s easiest. There should be more people like him in the business. 6 HARz ReGion - GeRmAny In 1999, Notting Hill was released featuring a sequence with a unit base – I had never seen one before! 20 years later I ﬁnally met and worked with the location manager, Sue Quinn and thanked her for jump starting my Hollywood career. This picture is from a scout I did with Sue last winter.
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london is a booming hub for global production, and works hard to retain its competitive edge with a constant eye on the future. Greater london is a treasure trove of locations with ﬁlm oﬃces in every borough.
ondon is still the beating heart of the UK creative industries: home to over 4,000 production companies, 60 animation studios and a VFX and post-production sector that employs 18,000 people. Moreover the city is an increasingly attractive destination for incoming productions – with 2019 seeing GBP1.3 billion worth of inward investment spent in London and an all-time high 2,164 number of ﬁlming days recorded.
The future of inward production looks good too with both Netﬂix and Disney taking long-term leases at Shepperton Studios and Pinewood Studios as well as Sky and Universal Studio’s ﬁlm studio project in Elstree. So what makes London such an attractive place to base a production? “I think it's our experience, but also the diversity of the city,” says Michelle Jenkins, head of production services at “the future of Film London, the agency tasked with sustaining, promoting and inwArd production developing London as a global looks good too content production hub. “London with both netfliX a is complex city and it's a very, And disney tAking very busy city but on the other long-term leAses hand we have some really experienced people working on At shepperton the ground to help deliver. One studios And way or another, they end up pinewood studios.” making it work. We have a dedicated police unit, for example, and we have dedicated ﬁlm oﬃcers in every borough who are highly experienced, a lot of them have been around for a long time, they have seen a lot and know that a lot can be achieved”.
Canary Wharf Tube Station At the heart of the business district in East London, Canary Wharf is one of the two main ﬁnancial centres in the capital. Currently operating on the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line, Canary Wharf will also be a future stop on the Crossrail development which is currently on track to open in 2022. The 1999 extension, designed by architects Foster & Partners with its gracefully curved glass canopy, has been described as a cross between Canterbury cathedral and the set of Aliens. Indeed, Canary Wharf has featured in the biggest of sci-ﬁ productions when it had an intergalactic makeover for 2016’s Star Wars Rogue One. Main Image: Industry © BBC & Bad Wolf Productions.
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Some of the big shoots to have been facilitated in London include big budget blockbusters The Crown, Batman, Jurassic World: Dominion and The Little Mermaid. The city is also home to the UK’s advertising production sector, where collaboration between global agencies and creatively charged production companies results in cutting edge campaigns, many of which shoot in London. Pulse Films’ recent spot for Nokia, the oﬃcial phone partner for James Bond No Time To Die, is an example of how the city’s ﬁlm heritage seamlessly intersects with the booming creative industries, local talent and globally renowned locations. Directed by the Bafta-winning Amma Asante, the spot shows Lashana Lynch in her 007 role of Agent Nomi in the upcoming feature against a gritty portrayal of the iconic London skyline for Nokia’s worldwide campaign. The 32 boroughs that encompass Greater London are a treasure trove of ﬁlming locations constantly uncovered by the city’s hardworking location professionals. The city has doubled as New York, Tokyo as well as frequent period shoots. “Across the city are hidden gems,” says Jenkins “We've got fantastic location managers in the city who can really dig out some sites that you just wouldn't believe are still there in terms of old Victorian warehouses and old industrial sites. The city is ever evolving, and Film London helps support that in terms of trying to help people jump on to sites that are changing. When sites such as an oﬃce block or old factories are closing down we work with agencies to try and make sure that we get some use out of that for ﬁlming purposes. It just means we must work pretty quickly and closely with the local boroughs.” This collaboration in action happened when the ExCeL exhibition centre oﬀered its one million square feet of space to production activity until the live events industry is able to resume. A US studio was one of the ﬁrst to book space with The Location Collective who are managing the site. The London location agency also recently moved into a new ﬂagship site that is set to become a hive of ﬁlming activity. 55 Broadway was London’s ﬁrst skyscraper and the home of Transport for London for 90 years. Situated in the West End, the art deco building is available for production oﬃces and location ﬁlming in the heart of London.
ben roberts Freelance producer
Q: When weighing up potential ﬁlming
destinations, what are the main advantages that London has to oﬀer? A: Great crew, ﬁrst class on-screen talent, a wide variety of locations coupled with ﬂexibility and reliability. Q: What are some of the recent shoots you
have worked on that shot in the capital? A: Commercials for British Telecom, Rightmove and the BBC. Q: Do you have any location highlights
from past shoots? A: In London, the roof of the National Portrait Gallery, the London Eye, Battersea Power Station Control Room, the Houses of Parliament, the abandoned theatre at Alexandra Palace and Rainham Landﬁll (!). Q: What has been your experience of
working remotely? Is London well set up for this kind of work? A: Practically every shoot I’ve done in 2020 has
had a remote component with either remote scouting or the director, the agency and client or even myself being remote. It’s the way things are now and even oﬀers up advantages. London’s well set up for it – it’s got the bandwidth, the gear, the experience and people you can trust to deliver.
BACK TO CONTENTS essential Facts tax incentive
25% Creative Industries tax relief is available for ﬁlm, high-end TV, animation, children’s TV & video games. It enables a production company with an eligible project to claim 25% of qualifying expenditure back. There is no cap on the amount of tax relief that can be claimed but it is capped at 80% of the total production budget. co-production treaties
European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production as well as 12 bilateral treaties with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Africa, France, India, Israel, Morocco & New Zealand. ata carnet
Some of the world's ﬁnest & most historic ﬁlm studios are based in and around the capital. With a diverse range of spaces and facilities, London can oﬀer an unparalleled base for your production. These include 3 Mills Studios, Ealing Studios, Elstree Studios, London Wimbledon Studios, Longcross Studios, Pinewood Studios, Shepperton Studios, Twickenhan Studios, West London Film Studios & Warner Bros. Leavesden. time Zone
Jurassic World: Dominion, Brave New World, The Aeronauts, Temple, Tenet, Harlots, Enola Holmes, Pennyworth & Last Night in Soho.
Image: e Crown © Netflix & Ollie Upton.
The rush to create content after the pandemic has only intensiﬁed the challenges that come with being so busy. A squeeze on studio space and the challenge of maintaining a talent pool large and skilled enough to accommodate both the inﬂux of international projects, and the homegrown industry is a consistent focus. New studios in Dagenham in East London and Elstree in North London are among the new spaces being built to increase the studio infrastructure. The proximity of studios on the fringes of Greater London allow production to cross in and out of the city for location shoots, as well as exploring another varied lot of locations to be found in the surrounding counties. “Our regional borders don't mean anything to LA, so we work very closely with our counterparts Creative England,” says Jenkins. But London remains in high demand because of the unique energy and spirit alive in every corner of the city. “It's a key target to try and make sure that London ﬁlm is representative of Londoners. In terms of diversity and ethnicity and gender orientation we want what London really looks like to be both on and behind screen.”
Film London runs a number of schemes to help achieve this ambition. The Equal Access Network acts as a conduit between new entrants in the industry and training providers to feed the talent to the right people and production. There are also schemes focused on breaking the glass ceiling. A mid-level professionals scheme looks at what it takes to get into leadership roles, and a returners scheme focuses on professionals who have had to leave the industry and helps them get back into the industry. “We are desperate to not lose any talent,” explains Jenkins.
The London tavern where Ebenezer Scrooge, the protagonist of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol, has his Christmas Eve meal still operates. Described as ‘melancholy tavern’ in the novella, the pub is thought to be George & Vulture at Castle Court near Leadenhall Market in the City of London. The tavern has stood since 1142, and has taken on various guises including a meeting place for the notorious Hell-Fire Club. In Dickens’ tale, Scrooge is a cold-hearted Christmas cynic but becomes the protagonist of the story after the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come take him on a journey of redemption. Incidentally, many British Christmas traditions we recognise today, including turkey and mistletoe were reinvigorated by the popular novel.
Making of The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem WITH ISRAELI DRAMA ON A ROLL
yesTV makes iTs biggesT eVer series
BACK TO CONTENTS ith credits including Fauda and Shtisel, Israeli broadcaster YesTV’s dramas have won fans worldwide.
Three US shows based on Yes originals are now in production: Your Honor, starring Bryan Cranston, for Showtime; 68 Whiskey which Imagine is producing for Paramount Network; and On the Spectrum, in pre-production for Amazon.
New on the broadcaster’s slate is The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, its “biggest series to date in terms of scope, budget and episode order,” says Danna Stern, managing director of Yes Studios. Based on the international best-selling novel by Sarit Yishai-Levi, it’s a colourful, passionate and tragic story of the three Armoza sisters – Luna, Rachelika, and Becky – their parents, grandparents and children, set during the early-mid 20th century in Jerusalem. It’s a
period that spans the Ottoman Empire, The British Mandate and Israel’s War of Independence. Produced by YesTV and Artza Productions, the melodrama is ﬁlmed in Jerusalem, Safed, Acre. YesTV has ordered two 10-part series of the drama, which is currently in production, directed by Oded Davidoﬀ. The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is created and written by Shlomo Mashiach, whose credits include Your Honor.
Images: e Beauty Queen of Jerusalem © Nati Levi.
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interview julie withderspici harkin ulie Harkin Casting has emerged as a leading casting agency since launching in 2005. Credits this year include I May Destroy You, The Salisbury Poisonings, Industry, The Luminaries and War of the Worlds. The company, which is known for its commitment to diversity, has also worked on hits such as Misﬁts, The Fades, Utopia, War & Peace, and The Feed.
Tell us about Julie Harkin Casting. JULIE HARKIN
I went to drama school – I love actors, I think they're fantastic people, and I love being a part of storytelling. I think ﬁnding the right actor to tell a story is the most important piece of the puzzle. Here, we're all really hard working. You can’t do it properly unless you go into major detail. There was an episode of I May Destroy You where we had to cast the teenage versions of Michaela Cole, Paapa Essiedu and Weruche Opia. The guys in the oﬃce were in a room for days on end, meeting teenager after teenager after teenager. You’ve just got to keep going until you ﬁnd a gem. There's a real willingness, a great work ethic here. We all get on really well. For example Rae, who works with me, has been my friend since we went to drama school together.
Drama sCHOOL CLass
How do you go about ﬁnding the right people for projects? JULIE HARKIN
It's very, very simple. You have to go to the theatre constantly, and you have to watch as much TV and ﬁlm as you can possibly ﬁt into your week. You have got to do it for a very, very long time. I must have been an assistant for ﬁve years before I ever did anything by myself. You can't be a good casting director unless you know the actors. Ultimately what you're doing is searching, ﬁnding your taste because we've all got diﬀerent tastes in actors, and then making a stamp with it and becoming known for that. MAKERS
How has casting been during the pandemic – is it all virtual now? JULIE HARKIN
The industry has been changing so much over the years that self tapes are becoming more of the norm. But you just get a really diﬀerent, more rounded understanding of a human being by meeting them. You get a real sense of someone's energy, how they move, what they're like physically. All these things are really important. It's all about chemistry. We all love meeting actors here. It's our preferred way to work. We’re thankful to still be working and be back at work and production has started. But it's taken all the personable side of the job away. I'm a real people person, and I get my energy from people, like when there's lots of actors arriving at the oﬃce, and there's
a director and a producer, and coﬀees are going and everybody's chatting about what they are up to or their theatre show. That has just been taken away from us all. MAKERS
How has the pandemic aﬀected your business? JULIE HARKIN
When lockdown hit, the producers of all of the shows that we were on wanted us to keep going. So we did lots of prep work for about two or three months. But most things have pushed to 2021. So it's been a slower year than usual. We've hung in there. I think a lot of people have. MAKERS
Do you sense 2021 is going to be a bounce back year for the industry? JULIE HARKIN
It's hard to know. Casting directors are in quite a privileged position that we can work on multiple things at one time, but other heads of department can't. There’s only so many crew, so many heads of departments, so many producers. So everything can’t go at the same time. I think 2021 will be getting back to it. Then I predict that 2022 will be quite intense because nothing's been made and everyone going to be crying out for new content to watch. It’s just survival for everybody in our industry at the minute. MAKERS
It sounds like one of the big problems is scheduling actors now because of Coronavirus production delays?
Most things have pushed to 2021. We’re now entering into this whole scheduling hell. Everything is moving all the time. We had a show we wanted to start shooting in the summer, that has now been pushed to start in January. Damian Lewis plays one of the lead roles and he's got to ﬁnish Billions. I keep saying to the guys in the oﬃce all the time, “Just don't assume that they're not free because somebody tells you they're doing a job. Nobody can be sure that these jobs are going to go next year, so just let's just approach the actors anyway.” MAKERS
You’re also known for being trailblazers for diversity? JULIE HARKIN
We try to break new talent and not cast the same people in the same shows over and over. I was instrumental to get Daniel Kaluuya in The Fades (2011). The character wasn’t written as a black character. We did Misﬁts (2009) too. We were pushing diversity before people were being pulled up for a lack of it in the industry. I am always sitting directors and producers down and saying, ‘We have got to represent society correctly. We've got to be fair.’ MAKERS
Following the Black Lives Matter campaign, do you think the industry is taking more action? JULIE HARKIN
Yes. I think it has been for a while, but there's much deeper work to be done. It’s not just about
Image: I May Destroy You, courtesy of BBC, Various Artists Ltd, Falkna & Natalie Seery.
shoehorning a black actor into a story where no one's thought about the character. My friends who are black and actors tell me they often get sent a script to read for a character but it just doesn't sound like a black person to them. They know that someone is just saying, ‘Let's make that character our diverse character.’ But the industry is getting better at understanding how to write black characters, black stories and promoting black writers. It's the behind the scenes where I think there's major problems. You don't see diversity behind the scenes as you see it on screen. That's where more work needs to be done. MAKERS
What about the casting couch? In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein conviction, there’s been more focus on predatory behaviour like this. JULIE HARKIN
The casting couch would make you think it was something to do with casting directors but it's not our story. It’s men in power abusing their position – more like a producer / director types. I have never met any men in our industry here where I've ever felt that was going on. The thing about the community in the UK is that everybody knows everybody. It's a really close knit, very friendly industry to be in. Most people you work with are pretty damn decent.
What are the prospects like for the next generation of talent coming through? JULIE HARKIN
Talent in the UK is so brilliantly nurtured if you’ve got money. There must be a huge amount of talented working class actors in the UK that we can tap into, and we need to ﬁnd better ways to do so. Drama school is just quite an elitist and privileged place because of the extortionate fees. That said, you go to their showcases and meet the young actors coming out, and some of them are just oﬀ the scale incredible. There’s such deep, brilliant training here. It gives young actors a lot of conﬁdence in how they articulate themselves, how they express themselves. We need to ﬁnd a better way to discover the kids that we’re currently not reaching. We go around the country on occasion and do lots of workshops, and we've done open auditions in the past. I think of the kids whose mums and dads can't aﬀord to pay for drama schools or theatre classes. So many of our actors are all very middle class and well to do – there's a real lack of diversity in class in our industry as a whole. MAKERS
Is there any advice you would give to people who want to get in?
It's very hard. It's so competitive. There's so many people. You just have to ﬁnd ways. The Edinburgh Festival is very good because people can put on their own shows and try to get noticed. Lots of actors are creating their own work; Michaela Coel is a brilliant example of somebody who wasn’t ﬁnding the roles she wanted to play, so created her own. MAKERS
With the boom in TV drama, has there been a noticeable shift in the kind of work you do? JULIE HARKIN
Film has been tough for quite some time. Obviously, there’s Marvel movies getting made. But it's so hard to get an indie ﬁlm ﬁnanced and oﬀ the ground here. We are probably at any one time attached to maybe 10 indie movies and none of them got made last year. None of them will get made this year. We're hoping some of them are going to get made next year. But in TV, they get their budget, you get asked to meet for the job, and you start the job. MAKERS
How was it working on I May Destroy You? JULIE HARKIN
When I read the script for I May Destroy You, I went to see Michaela and just said, ‘You're
going to provide therapy for a lot of people.’ I could feel the power of the project, even two pages in, and I could I could feel the enormity of what she was doing. Her bravery was astonishing to me. And her class too – how she worked through that whole process of being the writer, co-director and lead star and communicating with me on the day to day workings of the cast, because there must have been about 120 people in that cast. She wanted to ﬁnd lots of new talent and wanted to ﬂip things on its head. It was like a dream job for me – ﬁnding diverse young new talent. MAKERS
What are you working on now? JULIE HARKIN
We’re working on a great ﬁlm called Tuesday. I’m also going to be doing a big ten-part TV series about the troubles in Northern Ireland, where I'm from. It is being written by Enda Walsh, and produced by Blueprint Pictures. It’s a remake of Fauda, set in Armagh in Belfast in the 1980s from the perspective of the RUC – they are trying to manage the IRA, if that was ever possible. I'm from Derry and I left when I was 18. I'm 41 now, and this feels like a big full circle back. I was old enough to have grown up during The Troubles.
iNDePeNDeNT FiLm 42
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The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the industry’s freelance community hard, with many falling through the cracks and ineligible for government support. Will their experience spark an exodus of freelance talent that productions so rely on?
he ﬁlm, TV and commercials industry depends on freelance talent. At the height of the ﬁrst Coronavirus lockdowns this year, there were dire warnings about the future of the entertainment industry amid predictions that there would be an exodus of its freelance talent. Overnight, production cancellations and delays caused by Coronavirus lockdowns upended the lives of the thousands of freelancers – leaving many worried about where their next job would come from, and how they would pay the next month’s bills.
In March, around 120,000 people were plunged out of work in Hollywood alone, according to the US entertainment industry union IATSE. In the UK, BECTU estimated that 50,000 people had lost their jobs. In April, a survey revealed that just 17% of TV freelancers in the UK were working, while only one in ﬁve were eligible for government ﬁnancial help. Over half said they would have to look for a job in another industry if the lockdown continued for more than two months.
BACK TO CONTENTS Subsequent months have been tough for creative industry freelancers, particularly those in the live events, theatre and cinema sector where venues remain closed. Slowly but surely, however, production has re-started across commercials, TV and ﬁlm, providing opportunities again for the industry’s freelance talent. Commercials was the ﬁrst sector to get going on a small scale in early summer, with TV and ﬁlm following when Covid-19 safe-shooting guidelines were agreed.
From a crew perspective, 2021 could well be a very, very good time. there’s going to be no shortage oF work.
Netﬂix, for example, still expects to launch more originals in each quarter of 2021 than this year, even with Covid production suspensions. Since mid-March, according to the company, it has already completed principal photography on more than 50 productions and it’s aiming to wrap shooting on over 150 other productions by year-end. Nobody could pretend that production is back to its usual levels, though. In many places, productions are only tentatively restarting – hence the decision in September by the UK’s Film and TV Charity to roll out a new Covid-19 Recovery Fund that will distribute up to GBP2 million (USD2.5 million) to ﬁlm, TV and cinema workers who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Despite the hardships of recent months, one producer that makers spoke to said he didn’t think the industry was facing an exodus of talent. Demand for content, he says, remains high. “I think people are gritting their teeth and riding this out. Productions are starting back up, and it now looks like there is going to be an absolute traﬃc jam in the ﬁrst half of 2021. There are so many shows that have been delayed that are going to start up.” “From a crew perspective, it could well be a very, very good time. There’s going to be no shortage of work.” Change could be coming for freelancers as a result of the pandemic, though. Covid-19 revealed how diﬃcult it is for policymakers around the world to provide relief for a creative economy based on non-standard forms of employment.
Support schemes speciﬁcally tailored to workers in creative industries have been rare. Governments have found it easier and faster to funnel subsidies and grants to organisations, rather than directly to workers. Many people have missed out on support, and have struggled badly as a result. The private sector was behind many of the ﬁrst responses, with industry players establishing emergency support schemes for artists and crews. Amazon, Netﬂix, Sony, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and others have contributed funds worth millions of dollars. Fundamentally, however, many recognise that more must be done to recognise the role and status of freelancers. Back in August, major broadcasters including the BBC, Sky and ITV and TV industry bodies in the UK signed up to take part in historic discussions about how to improve freelance working practices. Organised by TV Mindset, an organisation which aims to support the mental health of TV freelancers, the Coalition for Change has met to discuss items such as employment and recruitment practices, “FUNDAMENTALLY, health and safety, MANY INDUSTRY workplace culture, race FIGURES ADMIT THAT and diversity, bullying MORE MUST BE DONE and harassment, training TO RECOGNISE THE and talent progression, ROLE AND STATUS new talent and mental OF FREELANCERS.” health and wellbeing. Founder of the TV Mindset Adeel Amini says: “The Covid crisis has brought freelancer issues into sharp focus, as well as the precarious nature of our industry as a whole. It is critical that we don’t emerge from this the same way we went in.” Head of BECTU Philippa Childs adds: “The pandemic has shown no mercy and its eﬀect has laid bare the challenges that freelancers have been dealing with for too long. These conversations are an historic opportunity to reset and create a new deal for a part of the industry whose experience and wellbeing have been overlooked in the past.” Time will tell whether the Coalition for Change’s discussions will lead to lasting change for freelancers. At the very least, however, the challenges facing the freelance community have been recognised – and are being talked about – at the very highest levels within the industry.
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vast vistas Initial travel to Kazakhstan is more of a task than getting to some advertising hubs, but its prices are generally lower than European counterparts. Its mix of locations are also in close proximity of the capital meaning that further travel can be limited. Diverse casting options to ﬁt both Asian and European markets can be easily found from the multi-ethnic makeup of Kazakhstan. The local industry is modest but there is a base of professionals and equipment. Close neighbours Ukraine and Russia can also supply any additional specialist equipment or English-speaking technicians. Kazakhstan is an ATA Carnet country, and there are open borders between Kazakhstan and Russia.
oﬀering an array of breath-taking natural landscapes and a 30% rebate on productions, Kazakhstan is a country asking to be explored. the central Asian country is a ready set waiting for productions willing to venture oﬀ the beaten path.
azakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world so the expansive locations that can be found here shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
The Kazakh Cinema Centre is the ﬁrst point of call for incoming projects and provides information and contacts for the local service production companies, ﬁlm cast, and crew and rental companies with extensive track records. It also helps with obtaining shooting permits, and provides information about the legal framework in Kazakhstan.
The country’s size is matched by diversity of landscapes and is “made for shooting” according to Kirill Roschin, producer at service company Anykey Studio. “The industry is stationed in Almaty and within 200km you can ﬁnd everything starting from canyons, sand dunes, mountains and lakes and so on”.
The country has hosted ﬁlming for everything from music videos for Rag’n’Bone Man and Pink Floyd, to Netﬂix’s Marco Polo “THE INDUSTRY IS (pictured above) which doubled the country for Mongolia and STATIONED IN drew on the strong Kazakh ALMATY AND WITHIN tradition of horse-riding for 200KM YOU CAN FIND stunt work. EVERYTHING FROM CANYONS, SAND DUNES, MOUNTAINS AND LAKES.”
In 2019 a 30% tax rebate for incoming projects launched. Feature ﬁlms, documentaries, TV series and programmes, animated ﬁlms and series with a minimum spend of USD850,000 are eligible.
Recently Anykey Studio has worked on Land Rover Defender’s Unstoppable campaign which ﬁlmed in the lunar-like canyon landscape while a futuristic spot for Mercedes-Benz Urbanetic showcases the capital’s modern glass buildings. On the other end of the architectural spectrum are large monumental buildings and historic set-like hamlets.
Tengiz Oil Field
The oil ﬁeld is in northwest Kazakhstan near the Caspian Sea. It covers 2,500sqkm and was discovered in 1979. The large industrial complex has over 50 oil wells and produces over 20 million tonnes of oil every year. The oil ﬁeld is on the ﬂat low-lying wetlands. The location was used in Syriana, the 2005 geopolitical drama written and directed by Stephen Gaghan that concentrated on the oil industry and espionage. The story of greed and corruption in the global oil industry saw George Clooney (above) win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Golden Globe for his role in the ﬁlm. Images: Marco Polo © Phil Bray & Netflix, Syriana © Warner Bros Intl TV.
Prepare for the post-pandemic green boom
World Productions went to great lengths to make its Sky thriller Save Me (pictured) as sustainable as possible.
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coronavirus saFety guidelines have made it harder For productions to implement key sustainability plans. yet, Far From being a casualty oF the coronavirus pandemic, sustainable production is only going to become more important as the industry emerges into the post-pandemic era. makers reports.
he Covid-19 virus is widely reported to have been caused by human disruption of the natural world, speciﬁcally people coming into close contact with bats through the illegal wildlife trade. It’s perhaps no surprise, therefore, that the pandemic seems to have reset thinking about the natural world. As humans paused during coronavirus lockdowns, nature ﬂourished. Pollution levels plummeted, and the world experienced a colossal fall in the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change. Fish returned to the canals of Venice, no longer churned up by tourist boats. In parts of northern India, the Himalayas became visible for the ﬁrst time in 30 years as air pollution fell. Wild boar and deer came back into car-free European cities. Lockdowns also provided people with the time and space to appreciate this natural world more, as their lives slowed down and they travelled less. There seemed to grow a greater respect and awareness for nature, and a demand for a healthier and more sustainable post-pandemic way of living. This has ﬁltered through to businesses as well. New research by the Carbon Trust shows that over 70% of companies expect environmental management and sustainability initiatives to become more important as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. That’s also true of businesses operating in the ﬁlm, TV, commercials and games industries. The coronavirus pandemic, said Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch at a Mipcom keynote in October, has “reminded us how important” ﬁghting climate change is. Darroch also called on fellow industry chiefs to “start right now” to help curb the eﬀects of climate change. On the ground, however, the Coronavirus pandemic has made it tougher for productions to be made in a more environmentally friendly way.
Much of the new guidance for restarting production safely is at odds with the sustainability measures that productions have been trying to implement for years. The safe production guidelines, for example, call for the use of private cars over and above public transport in the coming months, and also discourage car sharing.
The guidelines also encourage the use of single use cutlery and single-serving drinks in catering. The use of PPE kit, such as masks and gloves, has also driven up the waste produced by each production. Hair and make-up departments, for example, are encouraged to use disposable brushes and applicators. Simon Heath, the CEO and creative director of Line of Duty and Bodyguard producer World Productions says Covid-19 has made it harder to reduce the environmental impact of production. “Sustainability was probably number one on our agenda around production last year,” says Heath, noting that World Productions went to great lengths to make its Sky thriller “MUCH OF THE NEW Save Me “as sustainable a production as we GUIDANCE FOR possibly could.” RESTARTING “But it's taken a massive hit. A lot of the Covid Pro safety protocols do actually completely impact on or contradict the things you would want to be doing to make a production as sustainable as possible.”
PRODUCTION SAFELY IS AT ODDS WITH THE SUSTAINABILITY MEASURES THAT PRODUCTIONS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO IMPLEMENT FOR YEARS.”
World Productions has restarted ﬁlming Line of Duty 6 as well as submarine thriller Vigil. “Now we're back shooting safely, we’re looking at the protocols, seeing how we can marry some of those competing or conﬂicting interests,” says Heath. “You hope that as things start to become safer again, we can go back to some of the some of the things we were doing previously to make production more sustainable.” For those looking to produce safe but sustainable productions during the pandemic, The Green Production Guide, a project of the Producers Guild of America has published Covid-19 return to work resources. “Now is a critical time to put both safety and sustainability protocols at the forefront,” says The Green Production Guide. “As we return to work, it’s important to acknowledge the connection between human health and the health of our planet. For example, it calls for productions to develop guidelines for allowing personal reusable water bottles, tumblers/mugs, and cutlery. If cups are provided, it recommends choosing compostable
Image: Save Me © Sky UK Ltd.
BACK TO CONTENTS In the UK, sustainable production authority Albert has also acknowledged the challenges facing the industry as it makes its way out of lockdown – and provides suggestions to cut emissions. “Working abroad or even further aﬁeld in the UK will be much trickier in the coming months so now is the time to consider hiring local crews and building up a relationship with competent crews around the world,” recommends Albert. For those considering isolating a team so they can work closely together, Albert recommends renting a house rather than booking a hotel. “Hiring a house carries a lower carbon footprint than individual hotel rooms and can provide knock on beneﬁts in terms of costs and rapport amongst the team.”
ﬁbre-based paper, not plastic. Productions should provide water in aluminium cans over single-use plastic; canned water is preferred as aluminium is inﬁnitely recyclable and accepted in all recycling markets.
now is a critical time to put both saFety and sustainability protocols at the ForeFront.
Elsewhere, the Guide says that productions should opt for reusable cloth masks, face coverings, and face shields. Soaps and cleaning material should be chosen with lower environmental impacts. Location scouts, meanwhile, are encouraged to use photo libraries and virtual-tour scouting. They should also provide a live-virtual tour, done remotely via video conference or ﬁlmed and shared. The number of people on pre-production scouts should also be minimised, reducing the amount of transportation needed. In particular, the guide calls on productions to reduce carbon emissions to improve air quality. It quotes a Harvard study which shows that a small increase in particulate matter, often associated with diesel exhaust, led to a large increase in Covid-19 death rates. As a result, the Guide advises productions to enforce a strict no idling policy for all equipment and vehicles to limit exhaust fumes. It also says productions should ‘re-evaluate’ the footprint of their trucks and trailers so that they are the right size for shooting needs, and should also support grid connected charging infrastructure to avoid charging with diesel generators. On the plus side, Covid-19 has helped to cut productions’ environmental footprint to some extent. Notably, talent and crew are ﬂying less and making use of locations closer to home. The use of paper has also been discouraged in favour of digital versions, particularly for call sheets. Elsewhere, the Reel Green initiative in the production heartland of British Columbia, Canada, has also published useful environmental guidelines, A Greener Return During Covid-19.
CLimaTe CHaNge sUsTaiNabiLiTy 50
In July, in the midst of the pandemic, Albert published a route map to sustainable ﬁlm production, A Screen New Deal, to help ﬁlm production transition to net zero emissions by 2050 in line with Government legislation. Albert noted that one average tentpole ﬁlm production – a ﬁlm with a budget of over USD70 million – generates 2,840 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent amount absorbed by 3,709 acres of forest in a year. Within this, transport accounts for approximately 51% of carbon emissions, mains electricity and gas use accounts for around 34%, and diesel generators for the remaining 15%. Unnecessary material waste is also “WORKING ABROAD produced at every scale WILL BE MUCH of production, from TRICKIER IN THE studio buildings to props. It focused on ﬁve key areas where productions could realistically look to reduce their carbon footprint: production materials, energy and water use, studio buildings and facilities, studio sites and locations, and production planning.
COMING MONTHS SO NOW IS THE TIME TO CONSIDER HIRING LOCAL CREWS AND BUILDING UP A RELATIONSHIP WITH COMPETENT CREWS AROUND THE WORLD.”
Pippa Harris, chair of the albert Film Forum and producer at Neal Street Productions, notes that the report has been published at an important moment for the industry. “We have all felt the devastating economic and cultural eﬀects of the pandemic, so now is the time to regroup and come back stronger. We cannot continue to create ﬁlms in the same manner we did before with no long-term plan for the environment around us. It's time for our industry to lead the way both on and oﬀ screen and rebuild for a cleaner, greener future." Far from being a casualty of the Coronavirus pandemic, it seems that sustainable production is only going to become more important as the industry emerges into the post-pandemic era.
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The Brexit impact hen Britain formally left the EU on January 31 2020, a transition period running until the end of the year took eﬀect to allow time to ﬁnalise trade negotiations.
between Britain and Europe is still subject to negotiation. Without an agreement, it may mean productions require a carnet to temporarily move kit between countries for shoots.
As makers went to press in December, the UK and EU were still talking.
The need for work permits and carnets would not be beyond the capacity of the UK industry to sort out, but it will add up to more bureaucracy and expense.
A weary sense of frustration has set in within the UK ﬁlm and TV industry, which acknowledges that – deal or no deal – Brexit will lead to greater red tape and costs. Despite this, industry leaders agree that the UK’s booming content industries will be able to overcome the challenges posed by Brexit. Here makers looks at what a postBrexit landscape will look like. MAKERS
What about the movement of people and kit? For ﬁlm and TV production, the biggest question marks remain around the movement of people and kit between Britain and Europe. New rules for providing services and travelling for business to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein apply from 1 January 2021. As part of the trade negotiations with the EU, the UK government is seeking a reciprocal agreement that could allow UK citizens to undertake some business activities in the EU without a work permit, on a short-term basis. Without an agreement, it may mean British crew will have to get a work permit to shoot in Europe. Similarly, the movement of goods – including ﬁlming equipment – eUrOPeaN UNiON
Productions also may need to arrange health insurance for crew in place of the current European Health Insurance cards. New tariﬀs may also apply to using phones and data in the EU. “The key takeaway is that producers planning to shoot in the EU will need to be much more organised and prepared so they don’t get caught out by the wide range of new rules which aﬀect taking people and equipment to the EU,” says Clare McGarry, an associate at legal ﬁrm Harbottle & Lewis. MAKERS
What about permanent staﬀ? For UK companies looking to hire European talent on a permanent basis, there will be new rules, according to the BFI’s Brexit brieﬁng document. The government is introducing an Australian style points-based immigration system, which will treat European and nonEuropean nationals equally. Those moving to the UK for permanent employment, such as many VFX roles, must have a job oﬀer in a high-skilled profession and must be able to speak English. They must then reach a ‘points’ threshold via a combination of salary level
(which must always be above £20,480), level of qualiﬁcation and whether they are working in an occupation with recognised skills shortages. Employers in the screen sectors will be required to pay an immigration skills charge as well as an NHS surcharge to bring these workers in. Those moving to the UK for temporary work – such as to join a ﬁlm or high-end TV production – must adhere to the government’s tier ﬁve (creative and sporting) visa system currently in place for non-EU nationals. This requires a job oﬀer from a recognised sponsor. MAKERS
Will UK and European tax incentives be aﬀected? Tax reliefs, which have underpinned the growth of production in the UK, will not be aﬀected by Brexit – this includes those available for ﬁlm, high-end TV, animation programmes, children’s TV and video games, according to the BFI’s Brexit brieﬁng document. Content will still qualify for the applicable Creative Sector Tax Relief if it passes the UK’s relevant cultural test. British productions, however, may ﬁnd it harder to access European tax credits. Currently, UK personnel can qualify for other European member states’ cultural tests and can access tax credits there, but will lose this status after Brexit. MAKERS
How about co-production deals? Brexit will have no impact on companies’ ability to co-produce.
Co-production treaties between the UK and another country are not governed by EU law, as co-production agreements form part of UK legislation. All co-production agreements, including bi-lateral co-production treaties and the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production signed by the UK, will remain in place after Brexit. “The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production is governed by the Council of Europe (an entirely separate body from the EU), not the European Union, and the UK will continue to be a party to the Convention, “ highlights the BFI. The UK’s bi-lateral treaties with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand, Occupied Palestinian Territories and South Africa form part of UK legislation, and are not aﬀected by Brexit. MAKERS
And what about on-screen quotas for programmes? Crucially, UK ﬁlms and TV programmes will still count towards European quotas – which dictate that 30% of content on broadcasters and VOD platforms such as Netﬂix must be European – even after the end of the transition period. This means that the sale of British-made content by producers and distributors will be able to continue unaﬀected by Brexit. This is because the UK is party to the Council of Europe’s Convention on Transfrontier TV, meaning it is included within the ‘European Works’ content quota.
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The Future of Remote Production
clients, agencies, and production houses are now so familiar with connecting to live shoots remotely it is likely that the system will become a persistent feature of production. But as the world slowly returns to normalcy, what will this look like?
emote production was the only way forward for many projects in 2020. With much of the world’s population under lockdown, service companies in countries where ﬁlming was permitted quickly pivoted to streaming live shoots directly to the homes of international clients. The advertising industry was the ﬁrst to embrace the system: directors’ chairs were swapped for the sofa as creative teams, directors and DoP’s managed with live shoots from isolation. Innovative ways of keeping communication ﬂowing were created, like broadcasting directors comments over studio speakers during a shoot facilitated in Prague by Bohemian Pictures, and the oﬀer of on-set eyes and ears from local directing talent from Warsaw’s The Film Place.
The world has since moved on, but when normality resumes remote solutions are unlikely to be abandoned: access to information, “YOU CAN GET ﬂexibility and connectedness is the INTO VIRTUAL cornerstone of modern life and remote ﬁlming services were PRODUCTION already working their way into the WITHOUT HAVING TO landscape pre-Covid. INVEST MILLIONS INTO AN LED STAGE. IT'S A DEMOCRATISATION WHEN TECHNOLOGY MOVES LIKE THIS.”
Remote Filming, a service in ﬁnal stages of development as the crisis hit, was “initially designed as a tool to reduce the number of people travelling to shoots, which can result in huge savings, especially on international travel,” says
Remote Filming co-founder Yanina Barry who is also founder and executive producer of UK service company Good Films. “One of our advantages has been that our Remote Filming system has been developed by ﬁlm producers for ﬁlm production so we have brought our experience of what works on set and location and you don’t need to be a techie to use or view our system.” A number of other options are on the market. Some of the most popular include QTake Cloud, which allows up to nine streams with real-time green-screen composites and VFX previews as well as synchronised playbacks from up to four cameras. Sohonet has a system called Clearview Flex which allows real-time streaming to up to twenty viewers on any device. Barry notes that what producers are looking for in a system is “image quality, low latency, and absolute reliability,” and adds that Remote Filming has “proved itself able to function in areas where other systems could not – for example on exterior tracking shots and in very restricted access locations, such as celebrity homes” because the only requirements for Remote Filming is a MacBook, a capture card and internet connection. “The most unusual use case has been an exterior three-camera tracking shoot around a city in Asia – four hours driving around the city late at night with no problem at all.” Other service companies have developed inhouse solutions. South Africa’s Moonlighting drew on the experience of broadcast studio sister company Moonsport to develop their system. “A lot of people
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working remotely is here to stay and this period has given us the idea oF creating something truly progressive For production teams and editors by enhancing the collaborative process.
come to South Africa to shoot in our really remote locations, beautiful beaches and mountains and roads so we were testing connectivity and bandwidth. The units that we're using have eight diﬀerent SIM cards so they pick up the strongest signal from diﬀerent providers,” says executive producer Shayne Brookstein. “When testing bandwidth and connectivity in remote locations, we had a latency rate of only 460 milliseconds.” Covid also created a boom in virtual production technologies. LED walls in studios that allow for real-time visual eﬀects during ﬁlming are a new technology famously used in Disney’s The Mandalorian, and will be used in parts of Batman and Thor’s Love & Thunder. “When Covid hit the things that we were doing became the answer to a lot of problems. There's a lot of demand at the moment for virtual production solutions and we've had a very large uplift in equipment sales and in servicing contracts,” says Asa Bailey, a DoP and founder of On-Set Facilities, a technology company that develops, installs and maintains computer systems for production companies and studios which want to get into virtual production. “We've been connecting studios remotely with lower crew numbers because our systems generally allow for this. We were already doing this but we didn't know we were doing it for the purposes of Covid”. Bailey adds: “You can get into virtual production without having to invest millions into an LED stage. It's a democratisation when technology moves like this. It's about big jobs, yes, But it's also about everybody else being able to have the access to be able to set a motion capture in your front room.” In the post-production sector too, a move towards more ﬂexible working has been created by the crisis. David Conley, executive VFX producer at Weta Digital noted that going forward “the most substantial change will be how the VFX industry works alongside studios to develop content security protocols that allow for greater ﬂexibility of having artists work from home… We will look to develop solutions that continue to protect digital content, but also giving Weta as a business the ability to manage our artistic resources to greater advantage.”
For clients too, the promise of remote post-production is attractive. Envy, a full service end-to-end post-production facility in London launched this option in November via Envy Remote, a web and mobile app. “Working remotely is here to stay and this period has given us the idea of creating something truly progressive for production teams and editors by enhancing the collaborative process,” says CEO Dave Cadle. “Flexibility and adaptability is the key and this platform will do just that.” Envy technical operations director Jai Cave explains “through Envy Remote we are oﬀering our clients edits on site, edits remotely, and crucially a mixture of the two. Up to this point the industry focus has been, either have your project completely local, or completely remote through a data centre. The reality is that our clients need a hybrid solution that allows them to have some edits locally, some remote and others splitting their week between the facility and home.” Across the industry, “WITH SET people are now familiar ATTENDANCE and comfortable with NUMBERS BEING KEPT working remotely. The TO THE MINIMUM, knock-on eﬀects for productions could be a ALL ELEMENTS ARE net-positive. There are ABLE TO WATCH THE appealing environmental SHOOT WITHOUT and budget beneﬁts of ANY RISK.” ﬂying fewer people to shoots across the globe. It may also be worth considering how the ﬂexibility and accessibility that remote systems allow for can address industry concerns around talent retention in the long term. Instead of ﬂying across the globe for multiple shoots a year or spending late nights in an edit suite, production members can be involved from home if needed. The move towards ﬂexibility in a demanding industry may also address issues of women leaving the industry, or the toll on mental health to all. While remote working will never fully replace a face-to-face interaction, 2020 has allowed remote production technology to demonstrate its beneﬁts.
GREECE: The Safe Studio sTUNNiNg LOCaTiONs asiDe, greeCe aLsO OFFers a raNge OF FLeXibLe iNCeNTiVes FOr THe aUDiOVisUaL iNDUsTry as WeLL as eXCeLLeNT saFeTy PrOTOCOLs aND seCUre aCCess.
reece is without doubt an attractive combination of sunshine, blue skies, ancient sites and monuments. On top of this, two strong ﬁnancial incentives have been created to support the local industry and attract international producers. The Greek cash rebate programme has been running since 2018. Due to its success, it was increased to 40% in July 2020. Another incentive related to tax relief, which complements the cash rebate, provides a 30% tax return. Between April 2018 and September 2020, 99 projects (54 Greek and 45 international) have been approved for ﬁnancing. The amount invested in Greece totaled EUR96 million with a return of EUR33.5 million to the production companies involved. Supporting Greece’s domestic industry is vital to the national goal of making Greece one of the most attractive and safe destinations for ﬁlmmakers. The creation of the National Film Oﬃces Network in Greece’s 13 regions and two main cities (Athens and Thessaloniki) will help promote the beneﬁts of each region and hopefully attract new investment. Greece, like only a few other countries, is a natural studio. It oﬀers great light for ﬁlming and has an incredible variety of locations covering ancient Greek, Roman, Medieval, Byzantine and later elements for every occasion. From snowcapped mountain ranges to forests and beaches, we can oﬀer every type of scenery. The variety and versatility of locations is ideal for ﬁlming any kind of genre be it a romantic comedy, a drama, an action ﬁlm, a thriller, or, even a period drama. Plus, Greece can provide production companies who oﬀer the full package. Starting with the location,
the natural sunlight, the crew, the production set, the equipment, all the incentives and the right infrastructure as well as the backing of the Greek state. Greece has every potential to be a one-stop shop for productions. Major US studios including Netﬂix, Amazon, Disney, “THE SUPPORT OF Paramount and Universal THE AUDIOVISUAL have already expressed INDUSTRY IS interest in ﬁlming in INEXTRICABLY LINKED Greece and some have TO THE NATIONAL begun production on Greek soil. Last year, GOAL: MAKE GREECE Warner and Universal ONE OF THE MOST each ﬁlmed a TV ATTRACTIVE AND series in the country, SAFE DESTINATIONS while Sony Pictures FOR PRODUCTION shot another ﬁlm in IN THE WORLD.” September. Aside from on-location production, Greece has a growing post-production industry, mostly based in the capital of Athens, who work with European and other international producers. Keen to capture post-Coronavirus work, several measures have been introduced including the release of safety guidelines for ﬁlming in Greece. EKOME, the Greek National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication, is always available and willing to provide any creator, artist, and producer with the right kind of tools so that they can bring their idea to fruition. There is also the seal of approval of major investors coming to Greece to carry out multiple infrastructure projects. In other words, it is not a matter of incentive but a matter of perspective.
BRoUGHt to YoU BY
Preview: FOCUS 2020
Image: e Last Days on Mars © Nick Wall.
FOCUS 2020 has pivoted to a digital event, allowing delegates to meet virtually with content makers, film commissions, production service companies and locations providers from all over the world, as well as attending a conference programme featuring a raft of industry leaders. makers previews a free-to-attend digital show that is truly global in nature – and that’s aimed at all the creative screen industries.
ow in its sixth year, FOCUS – The Meeting Place for International Production – returns in a digital format on 15-17 December.
The usual two-day live event is being expanded to three days for the virtual edition. As always, FOCUS remains completely free to attend for industry professionals. FOCUS is aimed at all the creative screen industries – including ﬁlm, TV, advertising, animation and games – and has established itself as a meeting place for content makers, ﬁlm commissions, production service companies and locations providers from all over the world. In these fast-changing and challenging times for the creative screen industries, the launch of this FOCUS virtual edition is a sign that the event remains committed to oﬀering a distinctive platform to connect, reconnect and share global production expertise. This year’s FOCUS will continue to oﬀer a plethora of ﬁlming solutions, potential partners and production intelligence for all types of project and all levels of budget, from pre through to post-production.
At FOCUS 2020 delegates will be able to attend an array of online programme sessions, featuring leading industry experts and get up to speed on all the rapid developments in the screen industries. Delegates can also discover millions of dollars of ﬁlming incentives and ﬁnd the most up to date advice on the current ﬁlming situation around the world. It is also possible to pre-schedule 1-2-1 online meetings with potential partners from every continent, including ﬁlm commissions, agencies, locations providers and production service companies. A record number of exhibitors – over 250 – attended FOCUS last year. New territories for 2020 include Canada, Costa Rica, Gibraltar, Croatia, Malaysia, South Korea and Cuba. Exhibitor presentations will showcase a wealth of ﬁlming incentives and ﬁlm-friendly locations, including France, Poland, Portugal, the Philippines and Greece. One of the centrepieces of FOCUS is its conference programme. The digital conference is developed in consultation with a Content Advisory Board featuring representatives from leading industry bodies. Members include the British Film Institute, British Film Commission, Pact, Directors UK,
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Now iN its sixth year, FoCUs is aimed at all the Creative sCreeN iNdUstries – iNClUdiNg Film, tv, advertisiNg, aNimatioN aNd games.
Advertising Producers Association, The Production Guild GB, ScreenSkills, UK Screen Alliance, Creative Europe Media Desk UK and Women in Film and TV. The content programme is presented in association with media partner Variety and sponsored by Production Service Network. FOCUS will also host the inaugural makers & shakers Awards, celebrating excellence in global production. All FOCUS delegates will be able to watch the virtual awards ceremony on December 14. FOCUS managing director Jean-Frederic Garcia said: “Of course we would have loved to bring people together face to face, and we know we can’t completely replicate the unique atmosphere of our London event, but we are excited to bring the industry a virtual edition that will oﬀer a lively forum to meet, network and share production expertise. We look forward to welcoming even more delegates from around the world to experience the ﬂavour of our live event via our digital platform.” “We are excited to bring the industry a virtual edition that will oﬀer a lively forum to meet, network and share production expertise.” In a tumultuous and challenging year, the theme for the 2020 digital conference of FOCUS will be ‘Future Prooﬁng the Screen Industries.’ The impact of the pandemic on the creative screen industries has been seismic, and the conversations at FOCUS will reﬂect key industry talking points. In particular, the Covid-19 production hiatus has highlighted the inequalities within the industry, with lockdowns and shutdowns creating real hardship. Freelancers, the backbone of the industries, found themselves without work and ﬁnancially unsupported by the State, resulting in unprecedented demand for support – both psychological and ﬁnancial – from charities, agencies and organisations. Are there more eﬃcient and fairer ways of working in the future?
features freelancing expert and author of The Freelance Bible, Alison Grade, as well as freelancers Lou Patel, Clemence de Cambourg, Sarah McCaﬀrey, Seamus Murphy Mitchell and Hakam Poseley. A keynote interview with Sara Putt – who runs the leading independent UK agency for ﬁlm and television heads of department – will also reﬂect on industry working practices, and what changes she would like to happen as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Another keynote with top ﬁlm producer and ﬁnancier Phil Hunt, the co-managing director of Head Gear Films, Bankside Films and also Bohemia Media will reﬂect on the future of the independent sector in light of lockdowns. For indies, Covid-19 has raised many questions: How can they raise ﬁnance in this climate and ultimately where do they expect their work to be screened? Despite “At FOCUS delegAteS the challenges facing CAn diSCOver indie ﬁlmmakers, Hunt Filming inCentiveS, is optimistic about lOCAtiOnS And the future of the sector ServiCeS tO and will outline how mAximiSe SCreen producers can turn vAlUe – FOr All the changes wrought prOdUCtiOn typeS by Covid-19 to their advantage. And bUdgetS.” FOCUS will also shine a light on the challenges and opportunities for the advertising production sector as we move into 2021. Steve Davies, the chief executive of the Advertising Producers Association, will interview two leading creatives – Davud Karbassioun, the Los Angeles-based global president of commercials and branded entertainment at Pulse Films, and James Sorton London-based executive producer at Pulse Films – to ask how they have faced up to the events of the past year, and for their outlook on the year ahead. The advertising industry was able to get back to production fairly quickly and by all accounts business is booming. But can it be sustained in the year ahead?
This and more will be discussed in sessions such as ‘Surviving & Thriving As A Freelancer,’ which
FOCUS 2020 61
BACK TO CONTENTS Meanwhile, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has thrown a spotlight on diversity and inclusion, forcing the creative industries to look hard at their working practices. Here FOCUS asks whether public pledges to boost diversity by leading companies will really lead to meaningful change. This will be explored in a keynote interview with Pat Younge – the former head of BBC inhouse production and now running his own indie – titled: ‘Do Black Lives Really Matter?’
oNe oF the CeNtrepieCes oF FoCUs is its CoNFereNCe programme, whiCh this year is rUNNiNg with the theme oF ‘FUtUre prooFiNg the sCreeN iNdUstries’.
Time and time again, the creative industries refer to the need for more training that reﬂects the demands of the producing content, and that helps the sector to become more inclusive and diverse. In the session ‘Delivering a Skilled Workforce for a Booming High End TV Industry’, Screen Skills’ HETV Council chair Christine Healy and Screen Skills director of HETV Kaye Elliot will outline how the organization has designed training programmes to meet the needs of the industry, and also to ﬁt skills shortages. The experience of the past few months has also forced the industry to think about sustainable practices. Covid-19 has made people recognise that Zoom calls mean fewer ﬂights are needed. Will it spur the industry to develop stronger local relationships with production service companies rather than ﬂy crew to shoots? All this and more will be covered in the session ‘Reconciling Covid Production Safety with Sustainability. The panel will include AdGreen founder Jo Coombes, Albert operations project manager Katy Murdoch, Hyphae Studio co-founder Anastasia King, ITV Studios (Emmerdale) senior production manager Nader Mabadi, and Invincible Unicorn and Green the Bid co-founder Gabi Kay. FOCUS will also dig deep into the experience that productions around the world have had working under Covid safety protocols. In the European Film Commission Network hosted session ‘Filming Across Europe’, speakers from several European countries will discuss their experience, and outline how they managed to keep ﬁlms such as Mission Impossible 7 and other HETV series in production, providing opportunities to learn from one and another. Meanwhile, ‘The New Era of Remote Production’ will explore how producers have used local crews and new technology to shoot on the ground at a time when international travel is diﬃcult. In a session moderated by Pact managing director of global strategy Dawn McCarthy Simpson MBE, producers will explain how the practice has worked for them on the ground, and what lessons they have learned for the future. Speakers include Good Films London founder and exec producer Yanina Barry, True North exec producer Julie Beanland and production manager Jamie Stratton, and Arrow International Media creative director Tom Brisley. A major theme for FOCUS will also be co-production. The global media industry is changing; ﬁnance remains uncertain and risk averse, leading more producers to search out co-production opportunities. Ilann Girard, producer and founder
of Olﬃ.com, the world’s largest database of public funding and incentives around the world, will talk through the opportunities in the session ‘Optimise Your Film Financing through Co-Production.’ FOCUS will also look at co-production in more detail from France’s perspective, via a keynote interview with CNC France’s director of European and international aﬀairs Michel Plazanet. Co-productions lie at the heart of French Film industry: with 116 oﬃcial feature ﬁlm co-productions in 2019, French producers are real experts when it comes at initiating creative and ﬁnancial partnerships with other countries. This session, hosted by Film France CEO Stephan Bender, will shed a light on all the opportunities opened by a collaboration with a French partner. FOCUS will also investigate latest developments in technology. With a new generation of headsets now available, VR looks poised for take-oﬀ after many false dawns – a theme which will be explored in ‘The Reality of Virtual Production.’ The panel includes Tim Keane, MD of Third “FOCUS will lOOk Floor London, and At whAt the brexit writer-director-producer deAl reAlly meAnS Hasraf ‘Haz’ Dulull. FOr prOdUCtiOn, ASking AbOUt key
The games industry has iSSUeS SUCh AS the also boomed this year. mOvement OF tAlent Lockdowns have led to And FinAnCing.” more people playing and buying games than ever before, while PlayStation and Xbox have quickly sold out after launching new consoles. In ‘The Games Industry – Can it Sustain Its Success?’ FOCUS examines how the sector has coped with unprecedented demand this year, and also how games technology is being taken on by the ﬁlm and TV industry to help develop virtual production techniques. The panel includes Sold Out development director Gina Jackson, Creative Assembly head of talent Emma Smith, Global 7 / Toadman Studios director of corporate development Elena Egorova, and Rebellion Studios production manager Annie Shaw. And then of course there is Brexit. By December 31 the UK will have left the EU. In ‘Brexit – What Happens Next?’ FOCUS will look at what the Brexit deal really means for production, asking about key issues such as the movement of talent and ﬁnancing. Above all, this year’s FOCUS is intended to be hopeful, exploring ways of making the industries more adaptable by using the lessons of the past year to not only develop production opportunities but also the people who are part of the whole process. For up to the minute details visit the FOCUS website.
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MALTA safe hands attraction for international projects. 2018’s Mercy, starring Colin Firth, about an amateur sailor who competed in the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, was shot at the studios. The island’s various ports and harbours have also hosted ﬁlming for productions including Captain Phillips, about the 2009 hijacking of a US container ship. There is a competitive 40% cash rebate for feature ﬁlm, TV ﬁlm or series. Recent beneﬁciaries include The Obscure Life of the Grand Duke of Corsica starring Timothy Spall. According to the producers at Camelot Films, the original script was not set in Malta, but after meeting the Malta Film Commission and getting a feel for the island and ﬁnding “nothing was closed oﬀ ”, it was adapted to ﬁt and the producers have planned to return to Malta for a second feature ﬁlm directed by Sam Walker.
Malta’s ﬁlming credentials have attracted so much production in the past that it was once dubbed the Mediterranean’s mini Hollywood. it has managed to maintain its appeal with the help of a competitive incentive and excellent studio facilities.
alta as a ﬁlming destination continues to appeal to the international ﬁlmmaker. The island’s locations, competitive incentive, high-level English speaking crews and studio space designed speciﬁcally for water ﬁlming are all available on the island.
One of Malta’s main attractions has always been its range of unspoilt historic locations, all in close proximity. The island is only just over 300sqkm but its multitude of forts, harbours and set-like cities have featured in historical features including Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Alejandro Amenabar’s Agora and David Benioﬀ ’s Troy.
More contemporary shoots have also found Malta can double for a vast range of locations. Most recently, preparations were underway for a large shoot for “One OF mAltA’S Jurassic World: Dominion in mAin AttrACtiOnS Malta. As one of the ﬁrst studio hAS AlwAyS been ﬁlms back in production after the Covid-19 lockdown, Dominion itS rAnge OF had planned an extensive August UnSpOilt hiStOriC shoot that had to be scaled down lOCAtiOnS.” to a second unit ﬁlming due to concerns about the virus. Malta Film Studios’ water tank facilities are equipped with wave machines, tip tanks, wind machines and rain towers, making it another prime
St Paul’s Cathedral square, Mdina The Roman Catholic cathedral was founded in the 12th century, although the original cathedral was damaged in an earthquake in 1693. It was subsequently dismantled and rebuilt in the Baroque style. The cathedral is located in Malta’s former capital, and its surrounding seminary and residences now accommodate the Cathedral museum. The city itself has been known as the silent city because it is a walled city built in the centre of the island. After the capital moved to Valletta, the city became much quieter. The Cathedral’s striking facade is bold and robust. The square it faces and the side streets around the cathedral have been used for various shoots including The Count of Monte Christo, for a carnival scene set in Rome. Mdina’s Gate was also used in Game of Thrones series one.
Image: Mulan © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on the way films are financed and released. Theatrical windows are under strain, cinemas are closing, while streamers are stepping ever more aggressively into the market. What are the long term implications of the collapse in cinema windows for the film industry? makers reports.
t’s commonly said that the Covid-19 is a great accelerator, speeding up changes that were already taking place within business and society.
fully funding big-name directors such as Martin Scorsese and Alfonso Cuaron to make ﬁlms for its platform.
That’s certainly true in the ﬁlm industry, where Covid-19 lockdowns look to be hastening one particular trend – the collapse of the 90-day window between theatrical release and on-demand availability.
Now, the explosive growth of streaming platforms during the pandemic, as well as the closure of so many cinemas during lockdown, looks to be speeding up the demise of the theatrical window – and with it the pivotal role of cinemas in the funding and release cycle of movies.
For over 70 years, ‘windowing’ has underpinned the way that producers, distributors and investors look to ﬁnance and to proﬁt from their productions, helping create a long-tail of revenue across cinemas, on-demand, pay-TV and then free-to-air TV. The rise of streamers in the past decade has called this strategy into question, with Netﬂix in particular
The ﬁrst cracks in windowing agreements began in the spring. With cinemas closed by the pandemic, Universal became the ﬁrst major studio movie to skip a planned traditional theatrical release, debuting animated ﬁlm Trolls World Tour on streaming platforms.
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Image: Trolls World Tour © 2020 DreamWorks Animation LLC.
FOr OVer SeVenTy yeArS, ‘wInDOwInG’ hAS UnDerpInneD The wAy ThAT prODUCerS, DISTrIbUTOrS AnD InVeSTOrS LOOk TO prOFIT FrOm TheIr prODUCTIOnS.
The PVOD (pay video on demand) strategy was a success, racking up nearly USD100 million in rental fees for Universal in ﬁrst three weeks alone. While this ﬁgure was smaller than the USD153.7 million that the ﬁrst Trolls ﬁlm collected at the domestic box oﬃce, the revenue that Universal secured was said to be about the same for the two ﬁlms, given the roughly 50% share that cinemas receive from box oﬃce takings. In retaliation, AMC Theatres Cinemas – the largest theatre chain in the US – soon after said it would no longer play any Universal movies in any of its cinemas in the United States, Europe or the Middle East. Two months later, AMC Theatres and Universal then stunned the industry by announcing an agreement that sees some Universal movies debut on home entertainment platforms within 17 days of their theatrical debut, rather than the usual 90 days. Not long after, Disney chose to forgo a theatrical release entirely for its big budget action epic Mulan, launching it instead on Disney+ for a premium rental price. Explaining the move, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek said Mulan was a “one-oﬀ ” as opposed to a “new business windowing model that we’re looking at.” Many analysts believed, however, that Chapek’s comments were designed to appease theatre owners, and that Disney was interested in testing the water for straight to streamer releases. Sure enough, with surging cases of Coronavirus in many countries threatening cinema going, Disney soon said Pixar’s highly anticipated animation Soul would be released direct on to Disney+. The news was a hammer blow for cinemas. The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which represents European cinema operators, said the move “shocked and dismayed” them. Cinema operators, of course, were already reeling from the decision to further delay the release of the new James Bond ﬁlm until 2 April 2021. The postponement of No Time to Die came after both two major autumn releases, Wonder Woman: 1984 and Marvel Studios’ Black Widow were both pushed back. With Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile remake also delayed, the news spelt disaster for many struggling and indebted cinema chains, which rely on big-budget releases for much of their income.
The Bond news prompted Cineworld – the world’s second-biggest cinema operator – to announce it was temporarily closing its theatres in the UK and the US. AMC Theatres subsequently warned it could run out of money by the end of the year. With surging cases of coronavirus in many countries threatening cinema going, there are now questions about whether more ﬁlms will simply go straight to streaming. Audiences, it seems, are staying away from cinemas. Christopher Nolan’s big budget Tenet was meant to be the movie that lured ﬁlm fans back to cinemas – but overall it has been judged a commercial failure with a USD251 million worldwide take after its ﬁrst month of release.
“with SUrging CASeS OF COrOnAvirUS in mAny COUntrieS threAtening CinemA gOing, there Are nOw qUeStiOnS AbOUt whether mOre FilmS will Simply gO StrAight tO StreAming .”
Certainly, the releasing of ﬁlms will not go back to the way it was. The major studios, for example, have already restructured themselves to prioritise streaming. The Walt Disney Company announced in October that it is reorganising its ﬁlm and TV teams so it can produce movies and shows and decide at a later date if they would debut on the big screen, cable or streaming arms Hulu and Disney+. The news was a hit with investors, causing Disney’s share price to surge. Amid all the uncertainty caused by Coronavirus, Disney+ has been a runaway success for the Mouse House, hitting 60 million subscribers within its ﬁrst eight months. At launch, Disney original targeted 60-90 million subscribers in ﬁve years. Disney’s eﬀort to reorganise its ﬁlm and TV units around its streaming activity is yet another indication of how quickly Coronavirus is accelerating Hollywood’s shift from supplying movie theatres to ambitious direct-to-consumer ventures. WarnerMedia and Comcast have undertaken similar eﬀorts to reorganise executive teams and reallocate resources around their streaming ventures, HBO Max and Peacock respectively. All this is happening at a time when the streamers themselves are ploughing more investment into
Image: Death on the Nile © Warner Bros. Pictures.
BACK TO CONTENTS ﬁlmmaking. Netﬂix, which earmarked USD17 billion spend for original content in 2020, has debuted a slew of original ﬁlms in recent months – many of which would happily have launched in cinemas in years gone by. They include Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 (acquired from Paramount), Will Ferrell starrer – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga and Sherlock Holmes-spin oﬀ Enola Holmes. Underlining Netﬂix’s determination to take on cinemas as a place to watch movies, the streamer is investing upwards of USD200 million in Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans starrer The Gray Man from Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo. Images: e Trial of the Chicago 7 © Niko Tavernise & Netflix 2020, Image: Enola Holmes © Robert Viglaski & Legendary 2020.
the major stUdios, iNClUdiNg disNey, warNer Bros aNd UNiversal, have already restrUCtUred themselves to prioritise streamiNg.
Apple has also pushed aggressively into the original movies business. It spent upwards of USD70 million to acquire Tom Hanks’ Greyhound, stepping in to acquire the WWII drama from Sony because of the uncertainty about a cinema release due to Covid-19. Greyhound became the largest opening-weekend release ever for Apple TV+, including series that have bowed on the service, reportedly turning in a viewing audience commensurate with a summer theatrical box oﬃce big hit. Notably, 30% of its viewers were new to Apple TV+ service – a ﬁgure which has buoyed the tech ﬁrm’s interest in movies to lure in subscribers. Apple has since acquired the Martin Scorsesedirected Leonardo DiCaprio-Robert De Niro-starrer Killers of the Flower Moon, the Antoine FuquaWill Smith runaway slave thriller Emancipation, and Snow Blind, the graphic novel adaptation to star Jake Gyllenhaal. Amazon Studios, meanwhile, has acquired Coming 2 America, the long-anticipated sequel to the Eddie Murphy classic, for a reported price tag of USD125 million and the Tom Clancy adaptation Without Remorse starring Michael B. Jordan. The studio also picked up Regina King’s One Night in Miami, which is expected to be an Oscar contender. So how is the industry itself reacting to this trend towards a collapse of theatrical windows and the increasing push by streamers into ﬁlm production and distribution? In terms of remuneration, the shift could have major implications. One producer tells makers that a straight to streamer model would have a major impact on contracts, given that platforms pay a premium to acquire all rights up front. “There is very unlikely to be any back end or net position if a platform is taking global rights – it’s all upfront.” If a ﬁlm is suddenly released on a streamer after being originally set for a theatrical release, there are added complications. The producer adds: “If you have got to deal with box oﬃce bonuses, what happens if it moves on to SVOD? Because the streamers are not very upfront with their viewing ﬁgures.” Speaking at this year’s London Film Festival, Ted Hope, the former co-head of movies at Amazon
Studios and now an independent producer, says the streaming wars are only now starting to erupt around ﬁlm – more than ﬁve years after he ﬁrst went to work at Amazon. It’s only this year, for example, that Amazon released its ﬁrst homegrown movie project on a global basis – Troop Zero, which was the closing night ﬁlm at the Sundance Film Festival. On the plus side, he said that more ﬁlms like this – that cater to diﬀerent demographics and audiences – will be able to enjoy a simultaneous global release of the kind previously only enjoyed by tentpole movies and franchise ﬁlms. However, Sundance Film Festival director Tabitha Jackson said she feared that bold, independent and creative ﬁlmmaking could be lost if streaming platforms are the only source of ﬁnancing for ﬁlmmakers after the pandemic, arguing that older models piecing together funds from various partners gave ﬁlmmakers more freedom to create. “We had this little ecosystem where you would scramble together small amounts of money over the course of years to make the piece that you wanted to make that was your voice,” said Jackson. “And you retained a degree of creative control over it. “A StrAight tO That ecosystem seems StreAmer mOdel to have been exploded.” wOUld hAve A
mAjOr impACt On
Hope warned that the COntrACtS, given rise of the streamers and thAt plAtFOrmS the closure of cinema pAy A premiUm tO chains would mean that ACqUire All rightS mid-level distributors of ﬁlms in the US and Up FrOnt.” around the world “would start to collapse – it’s going to be catastrophic” and that international sales ﬁrms would “have their businesses tremendously hurt.” This in turn could mean less backing for “outlier voices”, in favour of the “house style” of streaming platforms which can aﬀord to fully fund projects. French sales agent Bérénice Vincent at Paris-based Totem Films acknowledged that the increasing dominance of the streaming platforms would make it tough for ﬁlm sales agents and distributors. However, she noted: “The global streamers don’t buy everything. And they don’t know how to editorialise really, truly, ﬁlms. Sometimes they can do it but not always. So, you need to have bold visions, distinctive visions, and also bold people and distinctive people to bring those visions to the world,” she said. Vincent added that the ﬁlm industry needed to become “more political” about holding onto its rights and asking for greater transparency about how their work performs on platforms. She cited the example of Michaela Coel who turned down a USD1 million Netﬂix oﬀer for her show I May Destroy You at the development stage after the platform refused to give her any percentage of the copyright. For now, it seems the many and complex ramiﬁcations of the collapse of cinema windows and the rise of streamers are only just starting to be seen. The full implications will start to be felt in 2021 and beyond.
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interview keith withderspici scholey eith Scholey is the cofounder, with Alastair Fothergill, of Bristol based natural history producer Silverback Films, which has some 100 staﬀ. Both Scholey and Fothergill are former heads of the BBC’s acclaimed Natural History Unit. Silverback Films made a splash last year with Our Planet, which quickly became Netﬂix’s most-watched docuseries soon after launching. This year Silverback returned with feature documentary David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, which is directed by Scholey. Silverback’s new ﬁvepart BBC series Perfect Planet – a fusion of natural history and earth sciences – explains how the living planet operates, and has sold widely around the world. Silverback is also the broadcast partner of Prince William’s new environmental award, The Earthshot Prize.
There seems to be more of a campaigning edge to Silverback’s recent natural history content? KEitH ScHolEY
I think campaigning is probably the wrong word. I hope that we're just doing journalism of our time, to really point out this predicament we're in now. I think it's been a journey that Alistair and I have been on. Five or six years ago, we said the next big landmark piece we were going to make, which turned out to be Our Planet, absolutely had to address the crisis that we could see unfolding. Because you can't be in our business now and ignore it. With a lot of these big landmark natural history shows, everyone thought the audience
nATUrAL hISTOry CLImATe CrISIS
would go if you talk too much about environmental problems. What’s diﬀerent now is that we’re not frightened now of depressing people. It's time for honesty. I think we're just following the science. MaKERS
Tell us about A Life on Our Planet. KEitH ScHolEY
We just thought, we all need to come together and make a ﬁlm about [David Attenborough’s] life. We call it his witness statement, because he's been in this incredibly unique position. He was born into what geologists would call the Holocene. When David ﬁrst started travelling in the 1950s, the natural world was pretty much intact. Apart from when the meteorite hit [approx 66 million years ago], there hasn't been another period when the world has changed so much. And he's been a witness to that. MaKERS
What kind of solutions does the programme propose? KEitH ScHolEY
The solution is really, really clear. We need to rewild the world. That sounds like a big statement. But when you boil it all down, our biggest issue is carbon. The world’s greatest extinction event was the end Permian [252 million years ago], which was completely driven by CO2. It was a huge volcanic event that went on for 500,000 years, and pumped so much CO2 in the atmosphere that you got this spiral of rocketing climate change, acidiﬁcation of the ocean, then the death of the ocean. All the things we're seeing right now. We're mirroring the Permian extinction.
We can’t even cope with the carbon that's in the atmosphere now, so we have to take it out. There's only one easy way you can take it out, and that’s through the natural world. So if you reinvigorate the natural world, it'll just do the job for you. We don’t have to build anything, we just have to industrially leave it alone. That's one of the conclusions. Extinctions occur when the world becomes unstable and unbalanced. There's one creature that needs stability beyond anything: Homo Sapiens. Modern civilization has happened over the past 10,000 years. Humans have been around 200,000 years. For 95% of our time, we were stuck being hunter gatherers. That’s because climate was going all over the shop. Then suddenly, the Holocene started and the climate just levelled for 10,000 years, plus or minus one degree. And civilization happened. We went to the moon within 10,000 years of being hunter gatherers. We are deeply addicted to climate stability. Civilization doesn't work without it. But the level of instability we're going to is terrifying. MaKERS
Why is rewilding the answer? KEitH ScHolEY
It does so many diﬀerent things. It balances the carbon, it balances the water supply, it keeps pollinators going, it keeps the soil enriched – it's a whole set of circumstances. It was life on Earth that originally balanced the planet anyway. MaKERS
It is unprecedented. We've seen similar booms never quite this big. There's something about natural history. New buyers coming to it think it’s like a magic trick, that if you commission natural history it’s going to be as successful as Planet Earth. But it often ends up that actually a relatively few really cut through. But I think high-end natural history is never going to go away, as long as it keeps evolving. The onus is on us to keep inventing. We have to keep it fresh, and we have to tell new stories. And that's either through new techniques showing you creatures or new ways of telling stories. MaKERS
What impact has Coronavirus had on Silverback? KEitH ScHolEY
It's certainly caused lots of problems. But we were surprised how eﬀective working from home can be. We've got a lot of camera people around the world who are really good. They've been oﬀ busily in their own territories doing great things. Helpfully, we're also doing a British series. If you ever want to ﬁlm scenics of the British coastline, April was pretty good time to do it. Coronavirus is going to change the way people view the environmental crisis. It’s actually a spin-oﬀ of the environmental crisis, because people are coming into unnatural contact with the wild world which never should have happened. The amount of these zoonotic diseases is increasing exponentially. It's another good reason to rewild the world.
Demand for natural history TV seems to be booming?
enVIrOnmenT DAVID ATTenbOrOUGh 71
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City Bounce Back
Covid-19 silenCed the booming eURoPeAn CitY hUbs foR PRodUCtion. hOw DID They reACT AnD Are They reCOVerInG?
Image: Money Heist © Netflix.
makers talks to representatives from the European filming hubs of Paris, Berlin, London and Madrid about their responses to the pandemic, what the role of film commissions has been in this period, and how the filming landscapes in major cities have seen a bounce back in the months after lockdowns were lifted.
s soon as we went into lockdown it was all about recovery.” So says Michelle Jenkins, head of production services at Film London, which quickly helped to create safe working guidelines with national bodies. “The British Film Commission’s working safely guidance that came out in June enabled us to start ramping up and get started again, which we did very promptly.” The situation in Paris was similar, says Stephane Martinet, international promotion manager at Film Paris Region. “We noticed productions that had already started pre-Covid were eager to shoot again.
On the ﬁrst day that shoots were possible, one took place. Across the industry everyone really made an eﬀort to make things happen.” Stephan Bender, CEO of Film France, adds this happened across France: “Domestic production resumed very quickly. In some of the regions, the year 2020 was even better than the year 2019. It's incredible.” The creation of a government backed insurance fund for domestic productions, which launched early in the summer, helped this positive trend.
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Image: Jaguar © Netflix & Manuel Fernandez-Valdes.
iN paris, the oNliNe permit appliCatioN proCess was easily adapted to allow For New gUideliNes oN spaCe aNd Crew NUmBers aNd allowed prodUCers to apply these parameters wheN plaNNiNg shoots.
In Madrid, ﬁlming began in May 25 on soundstages, followed by productions with small crews on public roads. When Spain’s ‘State of Alarm’ ended on June 21, larger on-location shoots began ﬁlming around the city and by July permit requests for roads reached 87% of the same month in 2019. During the period from July to October, Madrid Film Oﬃce assisted 28 series and 16 ﬁlms including titles such as La Fortuna, from Alejandro Amenábar, produced for Movistar+; the ﬁnal seasons of Netﬂix’s hits Money Heist and Elite, and the streamer’s new projects Jaguar (pictured above) and The Time I Give You, as well as some Amazon Prime projects. Berlin’s Babelsberg Studios began to welcome large international features in the summer, including Matrix 4 and Uncharted. However, more series and TV programmes have been shot in Germany’s capital. “Because of the lack of insurance, new ﬁlms for the cinemas are still mostly on hold,” explains Christine Raab, head of Berlin Brandenburg Film Commission. “Medienboard is also very engaged with getting the German national Covid insurance scheme on the road. This is vital for the ﬁlm industry to keep ﬁlming,” she adds, highlighting the role that local commissions have played in shaping guidelines and industry support. City ﬁlm agencies and commissions have also been busy informing the sector about how and when production would resume. “The City of Madrid Film Oﬃce was very active during the months of the lockdown. Since the declaration of the State of Alarm in Spain, the entire team continued working from home, oﬀering phone and online assistance to professionals in the audiovisual sector as well as creating an online hub for information regarding Covid-19 updates,” says Ángeles Vacas, Coordinator of City of Madrid Film Oﬃce.
There was also the need to make sure cities were ready and able to handle large shoots, once it was possible again. “Part of our role is very much liaising with key organisations and agencies to make sure that they're ready for ﬁlming,” says Jenkins. “We were liaising with our contacts such as Transport for London and the police to make sure it will work “City Film AgenCieS from everyone's point of And COmmiSSiOnS view. There has been hAve AlSO been such a change in their bUSy inFOrming streetscape, there has the SeCtOr AbOUt been a lot of traﬃc hOw And when changes to allow for prOdUCtiOn more cycling in the city. wOUld reSUme.” It took the centre of town at least a little longer, around a month or so longer to kind of get back to speed and be ready to say okay, now we understand how we can manage ﬁlming in our streetscape”. In Paris, the online permit application process was easily adapted to allow for new guidelines on space and crew numbers and allowed producers to apply these parameters when planning shoots. “What Paris has in place became extremely useful and eﬃcient because you could plan in very ﬁne details what you needed when shooting on location in regard to Covid regulations, such as how much space or trucks you would need” explains Martinet. On the whole, large international productions have seen travel restrictions as the biggest hurdle to overcome during the pandemic. Some countries, including the UK, introduced quarantine exemptions for talent, directors and producers for high-end ﬁlm and TV, as well as exemptions for commercial directors and talent that allows professionals to live and work in bubbled environments on set straight after landing in the country. However, this still meant that incoming crew and talent numbers were reduced. In other cases, quarantining periods were placed into the schedule.
InTernATIOnAL prODUCTIOn 75
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have made adjustments to their ﬁscal incentives since March to attract production. On a local level, Madrid Film Oﬃce has been managing and promoting the “Plan Aplaude,” an oﬀer that allows productions to ﬁlm at some of the most prominent cultural and event spaces of the city without any cost until the end of 2020, as part of the City Council’s programme for the recovery of the cultural sector.
the momeNt oF paUse has also allowed FUrther exploratioN oF issUes sUCh as sUstaiNaBility.
“Of course, all productions are welcome but of course traveling is an issue. But we are expecting several international productions to shoot in Berlin such as Diana biopic Spencer and the Apple TV series Faces and some that are not yet publicly announced,” says Krone-Raab. In Madrid, the series Glow & Darkness managed to shoot with an international cast including Jane Seymour, Adrian Bouchet, Victoria Summer, Denise Richards, Bruce Davison and Joan Collins. Across the board, online sessions and seminars have provided added opportunities to engage with the ﬁlmmaking community. The moment of pause has also allowed further exploration of issues such as sustainability. The network of German Film Commissions launched the “Keen to be Green” digital event series with the aim of providing information about sustainable work processes. “We used the time to oﬀer several online seminars on the topic of green ﬁlming as we had the time to organise this and the industry people had the time to participate as nobody was shooting,” explains Krone-Raab. Film London continued training and development schemes during lockdown, such as the Equal Access Network which puts new entrants into roles in the industry with a focus on diversity or ethnicity, gender orientation and under represented groups on and behind the screen. “When we went into lockdown, it meant that we could continue with lots of training as normal, nothing really changed. It enabled us to grow our pool of talent even more because the accessibility of course of doing stuﬀ online was so much easier for so many people and meant we could reach out to more diverse communities,” says Jenkins. The long-term recovery of the sector has been a focus too. As regions are looking to recover after the impact of a shutdown, the proven power of ﬁnancial incentives has been utilised. Both Spain and France
FILm & TV COVID-19 76
However, as winter approached, cities were anticipating more change. One possibility is the demand for content means that ﬁlming activity will increase throughout the usual winter lull. “I think the New Year could be unusually busy,” says Jenkins. “Typically, with most locations we ﬁnd it's the summer is the busiest time because there are peak daylight hours. This year is going to be unusual in that winter is going to be really busy as productions get going again.” However, the prospect “the lOng-term of a second wave meant reCOvery OF the that preparations were SeCtOr hAS been put in place early to A FOCUS tOO. AS make sure that ﬁlming regiOnS Are lOOking can continue when tO reCOver AFter possible. “During this the impACt OF A second wave, our ShUtdOwn, the main goal is to ensure a safe legal framework able prOven pOwer OF to grant the continuity FinAnCiAl inCentiveS of productions,” says hAS been UtiliSed.” Vacas. “Given the changing context of the Covid-19 pandemic evolution, the regulations are frequently changing at a national, regional and a local level. We constantly inform companies, professionals and associations on changes in the regulatory context in which they must carry out their activity. In coordination with Film Madrid, the ﬁlm commission of the Region of Madrid, we mediate with the regulatory health departments to ensure that these regulations take into account the particularities of audiovisual ﬁlming activities.” As Paris saw more restrictions put in place in the early autumn, Martinet highlights “one thing that shows the importance of making movies and TV programmes in France, is the police commissioner of Paris speciﬁcally said that ﬁlming would go on in Paris.” This is generally true across Europe, as new restrictions allow for practitioners working under guidelines to continue shooting as part of increasingly tight restrictions during the second wave.
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How AI will change the movie business in the post Covid-19 era artiFiCial iNtelligeNCe solUtioNs CaN help improve the qUality aNd diversity oF Films, aNd aid the iNdUstry iN its Battle to reBUild iN the wake oF the Covid-19 paNdemiC, argUes largo.ai FoUNder sami arpa.
I will help the industry to reverse its decline and become stronger than ever before. One positive that will come from the decimation of the global ﬁlm industry following the Covid-19 pandemic is the mass implementation of artiﬁcial intelligence solutions into the ﬁlm making process.
the end of independent movies in cinemas with the sale of companies such as Miramax to the major studios. However, the success of a whole range of diﬀerent types of movies and documentary ﬁlms on streaming platforms such as Netﬂix has highlighted just how much of an appetite for non-blockbuster ﬁlms there still is.
In the past, the industry has largely been resistant to implementing AI solutions due to The Terminator eﬀect, or the irrational fear that the technology will replace humans. These fears show that the industry spends too much time watching its own movies rather than examining the facts.
Understanding how big these markets are and what they want to see will allows the movie industry to invest in more diverse projects rather than increasingly hedging its bets on a handful of blockbusters.
The truth is that AI solutions were already hard at work helping to improve the quality and diversity of the ﬁlms before Covid-19 arrived. In the post-pandemic world, the insights that these solutions provide will become invaluable to an industry which faces a huge battle to rebuild after losing tens of billions of dollars in revenue.
It might even lead to the revival of ‘subgenre’ or niche ﬁlm studios that speciﬁcally cater to certain audiences, much like the B movie horror industry of the 1940s. Since AI will be able to help ensure that all these ﬁlms are proﬁtable and reach their target audience, we may well see this happen within the next decade.
Arguably, the most important AI service that will help the industry to recover is to foresee the ﬁnancial result of a ﬁlm. This service, which oﬀers accurate gross income predictions for both the movie theatre box oﬃce as well as video streaming services, reduces production companies’ exposure to risk by allowing them to understand if, where, and even why a ﬁlm will be proﬁtable.
Since AI moviemaking platforms allow for low-cost access to their powerful AI insights, the democratisation of this data will mean that even the smallest budget movies will have access and so won’t get left behind.
Such insights empower production companies to manage their productions eﬃciently. By foreseeing expected proﬁts, they can accurately greenlight projects, assign suitable budgets, and for the ﬁrst time ever, see how changes that are made to the production such as script alterations, etc. will change the revenue generated by the ﬁlm. Ultimately, AI is set to make the movie ﬂop a thing of the past. AI also helps empower ﬁlmmakers to better understand their audiences. Directors, screenwriters, producers, and other professionals can consult AI to see how the system interprets speciﬁc components of a scene, something which will oﬀer them new and often surprising perspectives. Film producer Andrea Schütte recently highlighted the strength of AI as being “a more objective view, and one that is probably not as biased as anyone else who reads it.” Empowered with this new perspective, ﬁlmmakers will be able to make better ﬁlms that have a greater audience appeal. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Since AI can identify speciﬁc audience sizes for a particular type of movie, something which will also allow for more eﬃcient direct marketing, AI will ﬁnally allow for speciﬁc submarkets of movies to be cultivated and maintained. We have all witnessed the tragic takeover of our cinemas in recent decades by superhero action movies. This followed
All of this will lead to new areas of growth and variety in terms of the range of ﬁlms released every year which, put simply, is a win-win for both the industry as well as all types of ﬁlm fans. The mass adoption of AI ﬁlmmaking services, coupled with AI-driven target marketing, is set to lead to a renaissance in ﬁlmmaking. AI will help the industry to reverse its decline and become stronger than ever before. Indeed, rather than ﬁlms becoming a thing of the past, we predict that only the popular adage that ‘they don’t make movies like they used to’ will ultimately go the way of the Dodo. Sami Arpa is the founder and CEO of Switzerland-based Largo, a data-driven intelligence platform to the audio-visual industry. Largo.AI is able to analyse a film from the script phase, and provide insights also at post-production and distribution stages by analysing first video versions of the movie. The company was awarded the best start-up prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival 2019 and was selected as one of Horizon 2020 Top Start-ups at the Berlin Film Festival.
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MARSEILLE all the drama
Marseille is France’s second most populous metropolis and the port city has a long, interesting history. Filming has been attracted for years to its unique character, and incoming productions will ﬁnd inspiring settings and a solid pool of technicians and studio space.
Image: Marseille © David Koskas & Netflix.
arseille is the second biggest ﬁlming destination outside of Paris in France. “Historically, there are two main spots in France: Paris and you have the South East of France” says Stephan Bender, CEO of Film France. “The South East was so popular because of the quality of the light, and it is such a contrast to Paris”. There has always been a creative aspect to the region too, with a base of screenwriters drawing on tales from the dramatic city.
Studio facilities exist in and around Marseille. Provence Studios is the largest with a number of soundstages; the biggest is 26,000 square feet and there are also production oﬃces, workshops and dressing rooms. In Marseille itself, the dedicated Belle-de-Mai Media Cluster oﬀers oﬃce space, a motion capture and SFX studio, as well as four studios ranging from 3,800sqft to 10,800sft. Since 2004 the space has hosted one of “FOreign France’s most successful soap operas Plus Belle la Vie, in which prOdUCtiOnS the city of Marseille itself plays a thAt ShOOt in large role.
mArSeille CAn beneFit FrOm FrAnCe’S 30-40% tAx rebAte.”
The city also inspired the ﬁrst French Netﬂix original Marseille (pictured above), commissioned from French creators Dan Frank, Florent Siri and Thomas Gilou. The city itself plays a central character in the political drama which stars Gerard Depardieu as a corrupt mayor who, after 20 years, is in the process of handing over to his protegee. The series transports
The Chateau d’If is located on an island oﬀ the coast of Marseille. Built in the mid 1500’s the fortress dominates the island. It was originally intended as a coastal defence station and remains standing because no attack ever took place. By the 1800’s the space was converted into a prison for both wealthy and lower class prisoners. Political prisoners include Revolutionary hero Mirabeau and the Communards of 1871. Due to the setting, proliﬁc French author Alexandre Dumas immortalised the chateau in the book the Count of Monte Christo. The ﬁctional story sees the count imprisoned on the island for over 10 years before he makes his escape. The book is so popular that twenty-three ﬁlms have been made. Some of them, including Henry Fescourt’s 1929 adaptation shot on location in Marseille and at the Chateau d’If.
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the viewer all over the city from the elegance of the town hall to neighbourhoods that are part of the multi-cultural harbour city that has long been a melting pot of Spanish, French, North African and Italians. The city was the natural choice for a drama of political intrigue that wanted to show a gritty side to the glamour of Southern France.
ESSEntial FactS incEntiVE
30-40% The TRIP is a selectively granted by the CNC & amounts to 30% (or 40%, if the French VFX expenses are more than EUR2 million) of the qualifying expenditures incurred in France, & can total a maximum of EUR30 million per project. Projects spending at least EUR250,000 or 50% of their total budgets in French expenditures can apply. Live action must shoot at least ﬁve days in France, & approved works must pass a cultural test. co-PRoDUction tREatiES
Over 58, including Morocco, Argentina, Colombia, Australia, Chile, Tunisia, Israel & China as well as the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. ata caRnEt
Provence Film Studios has large soundstages & backlot. The Pole media de la Belle-de-Mai is a space for audio-visual production in the city with four stages, a motion capture facility & oﬃce space. tiME ZonE
GMT +1 REcEnt PRoDUctionS
Stillwater, Pourris Gates, De nos Frères Blessés, & Bronx.
American director Tom McCarthy, who won the Academy Award for Spotlight in 2015, was similarly inspired by Marseille. The city provides the backdrop for upcoming feature Stillwater, starring Matthew Damon as he travels to Marseille to visit his estranged daughter who is in prison for a murder she denies. The city confronts him with language barriers, cultural and legal diﬀerences as he embarks on a personal journey of discovery when he meets a local woman played by local talent Camille Cottin. The shoot began at the end of summer 2019 and was made almost entirely in the city. On location ﬁlming took place all across the city, and exhibits every side of Marseilles with ﬁlming on location taking place in the Baumettes prison, the Palais de Justice, the football stadium and the working class estates of Kallisté and Félix-Pyat and the charming Panier district. The city’s ﬁlm oﬃce is adept at handling productions, having facilitated over 14 feature ﬁlms in 2019 alongside TV series and commercial projects. The ﬁlm oﬃce provides free services including assistance in location scouting, connecting with the strong pool of local technicians and local service providers. Foreign productions that shoot in Marseille can beneﬁt from the 30-40% tax rebate for international production that supports non-French projects that shoot in France. To be eligible, they must pass the cultural test and live-action shoots must spend at least ﬁve days in France. There is a minimum spend of either EUR250,000 or 50% total budget spent in France, and the rebate caps at EUR30 million per project. In 2020 an uplift was created that allows projects spending over EUR2 million on VFX related spending in the country to access a 10% bonus that applies to all French spend, including live-action elements.
the City prOvideS the bACkdrOp FOr UpCOming tOm mCCArthy FeAtUre StillwAter, StArring mAtt dAmOn. the ShOOt begAn At the end OF SUmmer 2019 And tOOk plACe AlmOSt entirely in the City.
Marseille has a serious reputation for soap. The technique is thousands of years old, but by the 1660s nearly 20,000 tonnes of soap were produced in Marseille. By the end of the century “Savon de Marseille” had a reputation and under the Edict of Colbert set by Louis XIV it had to meet certain standards including being heated in cauldrons and made from pure virgin olive oil and any producer caught using animal fat was banished. After the French Revolution there were over 60 factories and by the outbreak of World War Two Marseille soap factories represented half of all soap production in France. There remains a handful of Salon de Marseille manufacturers producing high quality soap. As the Coronavirus crisis began in Italy to the South, local manufacturers’ sales spiked and online orders quadrupled as France headed into a Covid-19 lockdown.
Despite failing to live up to early growth expectations, there are encouraging signs that the long term outlook for the virtual reality sector remains positive – and the Coronavirus pandemic could be providing a much needed boost.
Micro Monsters is a new ﬁve-part documentary narrated by David Attenborough that’s won widespread acclaim since launching in October.
into immersive ﬁlmmaking with Laika, which tells the story of the ﬁrst Space Dog, in collaboration with animation studio Passion Pictures.
Featuring a scorpion and centipede going to battle – to the death – and a caterpillar’s transformation from inside the cocoon, it stands out because it’s not just an impressive documentary from natural history icon Attenborough – but a virtual reality series that debuted on Oculus TV for Oculus Quest.
David Attenborough and Asif Kapadia embrace of VR comes at a pivotal moment for the technology, which has seen something of a boost during the Coronavirus pandemic. A number of cancelled music festivals and ﬁlm premieres turned to VR to bring themselves to life in 2020.
Micro Monsters was produced by Alchemy Immersive using specially-developed 3D stereoscopic camera rigs, 180 live-action capture and newly-developed VFX compositing techniques. “The use of space and the spatial sound design is outstanding,” says Damian Collier, the founder and CEO of VR and AR freelancer marketplace Blend Market. “I guarantee you will not be able to get closer to these bugs if you try.”
Glastonbury’s Shangri-La area was recreated in a 3D digital form for a free two-day online festival featuring Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox, Peggy Gou and more.
Elsewhere, Academy Award and BAFTA winning Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy) is making his ﬁrst foray 84
Elsewhere, UK ﬁlm producer Mosley Studios and producer-ﬁnancier Goldﬁnch turned to virtual reality for the launch of their latest feature, action thriller The Ascent. Thought to be the ﬁrst ﬁlm premiere inside virtual reality, The Ascent bowed in June via AltspaceVR, and was available to those with an Oculus headset.
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FOUr Or FIVe yeArS AGO, eVerybODy ThOUGhT IT wOULDn’T TAke LOnG FOr heADSeTS TO be In peOpLe’S hOmeS, bUT IT neVer hAppeneD.
VR showcases have also featured prominently at ﬁlm festivals this year, notably at Venice and the London Film Festival. Meanwhile, there’s talk that the Coronavirus crisis has boosted demand for VR headsets too as people stuck at home have sought new ways to entertain themselves. Some think that the pandemic might prove a turning point for VR, which has failed to live up to early growth expectations.
Jimmy Cheng, director of content and business operations at XR (virtual and augmented reality) content and technology specialist Iconic Engine says the global XR market has seen “a lot of improvement” since better headsets came out last year, citing the Quest as well as the HTC Vive Cosmos. He says the launch of 5G is also signiﬁcant, with the technology’s improved bandwidth helping to improve the streaming and downloading of large XR ﬁles.
“Four or ﬁve years ago, everybody thought it wouldn’t take long for headsets to be in people’s homes, but it never happened. This might be the moment the industry has been waiting for,” says Myriam Archard, chief of new media partnerships at Montreal VR exhibition gallery Phi Centre.
To date, gaming has been the most popular segment of the consumer VR market, with popular titles including Beat Saber and Resident Evil 7. Gaming is also driving much of the innovation in the sector.
To date, VR headset sales have been much more modest than expected, amid issues with the technology, cost and ergonomics of the devices themselves as well as a lack of content. As a result, high proﬁle ﬁrms such as Jaunt and Magic Leap have run into diﬃculties, while others like the BBC have exited after experimenting with the technology. George Jijiashvili, a senior analyst at research ﬁrm Omdia, predicts the number of standalone and tethered VR headsets will grow from 13.1 million in 2019 to 55.5 million by the end of 2024. “It’s a big growth,” he says. “But if you take a step back and compare it to TVs and smartphones, it is a very small addressable market.” That’s why content creators have only dabbled with VR, explains Jijiashvili. “For most companies, it’s not viable to invest a lot of money in this category when only a small number of users could potentially be exposed to that content.” VR, he says, remains a “long term opportunity rather than a massive opportunity today…expectations have to be set for any company which wants to invest in this space right now.” However, a new generation of headsets – notably the Facebook-owned Oculus Quest which launched to rave reviews last year at a relatively aﬀordable starting price of USD399 – could be helping to spur the market. In October this year, Oculus released the Quest 2, its most aﬀordable headset yet. Priced at USD299, the Quest 2 should bring VR within reach for a lot more casual consumers. “Reducing the barrier to entry is crucial for mainstream adoption, for consumers and businesses alike,” says Blend Market’s Collier.
XR is also proving itself in industries like education, training, design and healthcare. Ford uses VR to help design its cars, while BP uses the technology for immersive training exercises. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is also using VR for psychological therapy, tackling problems from psychosis through to fear of heights. In May, AR specialist Magic Leap announced that it would pivot from developing consumer products to focusing on its enterprise business. There are also signs that social VR could be a signiﬁcant market in years to come, despite VR’s reputation as a solitary experience, notes Jijiashvili. Facebook, for example, is currently in beta on Horizon, a type of Second Life meets VR experience, which has a mix of social places where users can mingle and chat, and other areas where they can play games against each other. “It’s going to be slow to build, but it’s very clear that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is very keen on VR and utilising VR for social interactions,” says Jijiashvili. “They will deﬁnitely keep throwing money at it… they are in this for the long run.” In a further encouraging sign for the sector, other leading tech ﬁrms such as Google, Intel, Samsung, Apple and Microsoft are continuing to invest heavily in XR. Apple, for example, is reported to have research unit comprising hundreds of employees working on AR and VR, exploring ways the emerging technologies could be used in future Apple products. Apple's focus on AR and VR has ramped up over the past few years, and an augmented reality product could launch as soon as 2021, according to reports. If VR can count deep pocketed tech ﬁrms like Apple and Facebook as believers, it’s clear that it’s far too early to write oﬀ the technology.
Beyond the Latin American Telenovela
Image: Brazil’s Samantha! © Fabio Braga & Netflix.
Latin America is one of the world’s most exciting TV markets. New streaming services have shaken up local industries, injecting competition and demand for high-end TV. Broadcasters and producers are also much more open to international collaboration than in the past. Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE reflects on the quiet transformation of the Latin American creative industries.
Latin America (Lat-Am) is famed for its stories of Pablo Escobar, troublesome politics, crime, narcos and infamous telenovelas. But rarely do you associate it with high-end TV. However, this Ibero-American region has been quietly transforming its creative industries over the past decade, and attracting attention from the rest of the world. As new streaming services penetrate this heavily populated land mass, which spans 19.2 million sqkm, they are disrupting its mañana attitude with a more aggressive approach towards competition. The ﬁght for eyeballs is only set to intensify, and
the launch of Disney+ into the Lat-Am market in Autumn 2020 will no doubt keep domestic broadcasters and competing VOD services on their toes. With audience demand for bigger, better content comes the battle to win audience share. But who will make the most lucrative gains? Will it be those with the bigger budgets or will the low-cost telenovelas still maintain their huge popularity? The networks with smaller pockets may ﬁnd it hard to compete to fund high-end projects. But this is not just a problem for Lat-Am, this is a global issue.
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Image: Brazil's 3% © Pedro Saad & Netflix.
The rOUTe TO TrADe wITh LATIn AmerICA hASn’T ALwAyS been Very CLeAr. CO-prODUCTIOnS hAVe been SLOw On The UpTAke ACrOSS LAT-Am, bUT COLLAbOrATIOn nOw FeeLS LIke One OF The bIGGeST GrOwTh OppOrTUnITIeS GOInG FOrwArD.
Obtaining 100% funding from a single source for any project is becoming a thing of the past and the need for more creative ﬁnancing is the new norm. We have seen many Lat-Am government agencies adapting quickly to take advantage of these opportunities by launching competitive tax and funding incentives to attract productions from across the world. Screen funding agencies across Lat-Am are also playing an ever more important role in the sector’s success, as they continue to develop new strategies with bigger and more competitive pots of cash and other tempting incentives to attract overseas productions – and it’s working. The Colombian government has been more active than most. Shortly after the introduction of the 1556 rebate law in 2012, which oﬀers 40% cash rebates to lure in foreign investment, an abundance of US studios took their productions South. Then when President Ivan Duque Marquez introduced a series of policies that come together to form the ‘orange economy’, the creative industries beneﬁted yet again with the introduction of more pots of incentive cash. Although Mexico is not an oﬃcial South American landscape, it is a country that straddles both North and South America because of its central position, as well as being Spanish speaking. It can capitalise on its access to North America’s big budget studios and the US’ growing Spanish-speaking community, acting as a creation hub for programme syndication to the rest of the Lat-Am territories. In the past Mexico had very little broadcast competition and was dominated by two companies – Televisa and TV Azteca, which operated the only national networks. The most popular programmes were mainly telenovelas and loud lifestyle, gossip and game shows. This relative stagnation made it an appealing prospect for outside players. Spotting the opportunity, Netﬂix committed a spend of USD200 million on in-country production in Mexico, as part of its growing international expansion strategy. As competition inﬁltrated the borders, domestic broadcasters had to up their game. When Netﬂix invests and commits to a territory its focus is not all about a big push on attracting new subscribers. They know that global productions will only go so far with audiences. Their strategy to work with local storytellers, creating local stories in local
voices, is what has helped them to build the powerful Netﬂix brand. But the domestic networks aren't just sitting back. They are keeping up the ﬁght to retain audiences, investing in more high-end drama and launching new services to try to compete. Televisa Event recently announced plans to launch a Univision-branded ad-supported channel across 17 Lat-Am territories. The route to trade with Lat-Am hasn’t always been very clear. Co-productions have been slow on the uptake across Lat-Am, but collaboration now “lAtin AmriCAn feels like one of the gOvernment biggest opportunities AgenCieS hAve going forward. New lAUnChed partnerships, such as COmpetitive tAx that between Movistar+ and the US Hispanic And FUnding broadcaster Telemundo inCentiveS tO on the scripted series AttrACt prOjeCtS Dime Quién Soy (Tell FrOm ACrOSS the Me Who I Am), are wOrld.” becoming more common. Linear channels, also wanting a piece of the prestige pie, have started to produce more high-end drama by collaborating with other networks. Tu Parte del Trato (Your Part of the Deal) was the seventh series to come from the production agreement between TNT, El Trece, Flow and Polka, after premiering other titles such as El Tigre Veron, Otros Pecados, El Lobista, El Maestro, La Fragilidad de los Cuerpos and Signos. In the past, Western distributors have also found Lat-Am a diﬃcult market to crack outside of the popular entertainment formats. Language aside, the restrictions have mostly been down to programming and series length. Historically the telenovelas have run from six to 12 months, unlike most US and European series which can be anything from three to 13 part series. However, Turkey has managed to capitalise on the fact it shares similarities with the Lat-Am market in terms of the run-length of its shows but also cultural similarities such as strong ‘family’ values. This has resulted in signiﬁcant investment and wide appeal for Turkish content across Lat-Am. Argentinian channel Telefe has blocked six hours per day in their schedule for a Turkish drama, which they dub with Argentinian actors. But Argentina is no stranger to Turkish drama. In 2018 Echo Rights
Image: Mexico's La Casa de las Flores © Netflix.
BACK TO CONTENTS Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la Fea (known to US and UK audiences as Ugly Betty) is one of the most successful shows in the world, with the format selling into 19 territories.
Image: Argentina's Edha © Fabián Trapanese & Netflix.
signed a multi-series deal for Brave and Beautiful and Insider, which are both produced by Turkish production company, Ay Yapim. Meanwhile, Fuerza de Mujer gained a 38% audience share on Telefe and was not just popular in Lat-Am but a big hit globally, selling into 65 countries shortly after its premier.
tUrkey has maNaged to Capitalise oN the FaCt it shares similarities with the lat-am market iN terms oF the rUN-leNgth oF its shows BUt also CUltUral similarities sUCh as stroNg ‘Family’ valUes.
Image: Mexico’s Dark Desire © Netflix.
The inﬂux and popularity of Turkish drama across Lat-Am, known as the ‘Turkish Wave,’ created a resurgence of popularity for the telenovela. During my recent conversations with Televisa they conﬁrmed that they are continuing to produce telenovelas but with shorter running lengths of 25 episodes, in the hope that they will have more opportunity to travel and sell outside of the local market. This trend is spreading across the continent, with Brazil knocking up to 50 episodes oﬀ what were traditionally 150+ episode series. The perception outside of Lat-Am is that telenovelas can easily be played out across all of the Lat-Am countries, providing domestic producers/ broadcasters with an instant export market. But this is not necessarily true. Whilst Spanish is the recognised language there are many variations and dialects which can limit a show’s ability to travel. Mexican and Colombian Spanish are said to be the most understood, so have more opportunities to sell outside their own borders. Whereas Chilean Spanish is said to be the hardest to understand and therefore producers there ﬁnd it more challenging to export their content. Telenovelas do travel to neighbouring countries but often as a format which is remade with local talent and in their own dialect. There’s no doubt that Lat-Am is one of the globe’s most exciting TV markets. The sheer number of people – many of whom spend hours a day in front of the TV – is a dream for most producers. But the aspiration of the local broadcasters and producers is to continue to exploit the global market. Restructuring and the implementation of new global strategies is evident within most broadcasters there, and is reﬂected in their growing focus on high-end scripted content – although scripted has always been dominant in Lat-Am and today makes up around 70% of all content being produced. According to media consultancy K7 Media’s Tracking the Giants report, which monitors scripted sales around the world, telenovelas are the best-selling genre of all time, beating crime, comedy and sitcoms. K7 Media also reported that
So how important is the geographical landscap? Mexico is not South America but it is very much part of the Latin American mix, especially for TV and ﬁlm. But what if we went even further North, to Miami? The Floridian city has been emerging as a Latin American TV hub, with many broadcasters, networks and distribution companies basing themselves there. So much so that it’s gained a reputation as being the ‘Hollywood of Latin America’. Mexico’s media giant Televisa is a major investor in the US, and other Latin American and Spanish language networks have rushed to set up north of the border and capitalise on the beneﬁts that having a base in Miami brings. The importance of “the Sheer nUmber Hispanic and Latino OF peOple in lAt-Am audiences is growing in – mAny OF whOm North America and that Spend hOUrS A dAy trend only looks set to in FrOnt OF the continue, with the US tv – iS A dreAm FOr Census Bureau projecting mOSt prOdUCerS.” that by 2060 Hispanic people will make up 28.6% of the total population, which would equate to 119 million people. Spanish is also a common second language across the US, with an estimated 41 million people (13.5% of the population) able to speak it. Miami is a microcosm of a bigger media trend, evident in the US but also globally, that is seeing the traditional divides between borders, cultures and languages becoming less signiﬁcant. Our globalised, connected world plays into the fact that TV has a similar role in people’s lives regardless of where they are watching it. It is the universal demand for captivating stories, shared by the whole of humanity, that opens up the world to content creators. But globalisation does not have to mean homogenisation. TV and ﬁlm have a unique role to play in maintaining our sense of cultural distinctions whilst allowing international audiences a chance to see in. Netﬂix’s international approach of working with local producers is a good example of that. I hope that connections between UK and Lat-Am content creators and buyers continue to strengthen in the coming years, and that the cross-pollination of ideas and approaches will bloom into new, unmissable TV hits.
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.
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PROFILE Arts & Sciences
US commercials producer arts & Sciences is pushing outwards this year, with the launch of a new london operation as well as the debut of feature ﬁlm french exit starring Michelle Pfeiﬀer.
t’s been quite a year for Los Angeles and New York-based commercials producer Arts & Sciences. Despite Covid-19 disruptions, the company marks its tenth anniversary with the launch of Arts & Sciences London.
“What better time to expand and start an international oﬃce than during a global pandemic and a general feeling of end of all times around,” says partner and managing director Mal Ward, who founded the company with producer Marc Marrie and director Matt Aselton, all former colleagues from Epoch Films. The new oﬃce is being headed up by James Bland, a former partner at UK-based Blink, and launches with nine directors from Arts & Sciences’ roster.
KEY StaFF MANAGING DIRECTOR: MAL WARD MANAGING PARTNER: MARC MARRIE DIRECTOR: MATT ASELTON EXEC PRODUCER/HEAD OF PRODUCTION: CHRISTA SKOTLAND EXEC PRODUCER/SPECIAL PROJECTS: JOHN BENSON EXEC PRODUCER: ZOE ODLUM STAFF PRODUCER: CASEY BYRON
“Up until now we’ve primarily focused on the US market,” says Ward. “But with our expansion into London we hope we can collaborate on some of the truly great projects coming out of there, Amsterdam, and Ireland.” Arts & Sciences, which represents 16 directors, has also pushed outward this year, making more content beyond its core commercials business. Aselton, Marrie and Ward are producers on its director Azazel Jacob’s latest ﬁlm French Exit, starring Michelle Pfeiﬀer and Lucas Hedges, which recently premiered at the New York Film Festival.
oFFicES WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA; NEW YORK CITY; LONDON
DiREctoRS MATT ASELTON, ADAM & DAVE, MICHAEL ILLICK, AZAZEL JACOBS, TODD KROLCZYK, MATT LENSKI, ANTHONY MANDLER, FIONA MCGEE, SEAN MEEHAN, ALEX PRAGER, EMILE RAFAEL, TOM SCHARPLING, SHANIQWA & RAJ, CASEY STORM, MIKE WARZIN, ANDREW ZUCKERMAN
aDVERtiSinG cREDitS P&G’S THE LOOK, UNITED’S WAY I HAPPEN TO LIKE NEW YORK, HULU’S THE ANNOUNCEMENT, NIKE’S CHICAGO STYLE, TOYOTA’S YELLOW PAPER, KFC’S RUDY II, GOOGLE’S HOME ALONE AGAIN, ROLLS ROYCE’S CULLINAN
Arts & Sciences also produced short doc series Essentials (picturd above), directed by Todd Krolczkyk, for Mailchimp, and distributed by Vice. The series proﬁled everyday people who were thrust into the role of “Essential Workers” during the pandemic, and was produced remotely by directing the subjects to ﬁlm and tell their stories on their own. In a similar vein, Arts & Science director Matt Lenski (pictured top) recently created a PSA for United Way that celebrated New Yorkers’ support of front line workers.
New signings, meanwhile, include acclaimed music video director Anthony Mandler, recently nominated for an Emmy for his P&G The Look spot. Ward says Arts & Sciences has striven to work with a diverse roster of directorial talent that have unique and original voices. “We always envisioned our company to be a home for smart ﬁlmmakers from every genre of the craft.” Traditional commercials are becoming less of Arts & Science’s core business. “I deeply love the craft of creating short ﬁlms of persuasion,” explains Ward. “But more and more we are developing projects direct to client, and creating longer form branded content where you ultimately have more time to develop a story and characters. And as of late we’ve continued to build on our portfolio of original content.” How HaS tHE PanDEMic aFFEctED aRtS & SciEncES?
“Like everyone else, we pretty much ground to a halt in March. Fortunately for us we had been quite busy until then, and have always tried to run an eﬃcient machine. So we were lucky to not have laid oﬀ any staﬀ or cut salaries. “We started working on remote shoots in April, which given our typical production crew footprint was a new and challenging task. But we kind of leaned into it. We ended up producing a range of remote work that went from super-simple iPhone drop kits, all the way to multi-city, multi-day productions shooting some of the biggest athletes in the word. “Our ﬁrst back to full-crew jobs began in May with projects shooting in Australia and Canada where some of our directors live and were the ﬁrst countries to open back up for production. And then we were one of the ﬁrst companies to be issued ﬁlm permits in Los Angeles in June. “While we’re grateful to be working, the process to just get a project up and running has never been harder. Which involves a lot of contingency and complex logistical planning, and then a lot of discussion around liability. Shoots just require more money and time to do everything the right way.”
Making of Mangrove STEVE MCQUEEN THROWS THE SPOTLIGHT
ON LONDONâ€™S WEST INDIAN COMMUNITY
BACK TO CONTENTS angrove is part of the Small Axe anthology series, ﬁve original ﬁlms by Academy Award-winning ﬁlmmaker Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years A Slave).
Mangrove in London’s Notting Hill became the brunt of relentless police raids. After peaceful protests, nine men and women are arrested and put on trial – and eventually acquitted.
Set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, each ﬁlm tells a diﬀerent story involving London's West Indian community, and air on the BBC and Amazon Prime.
For McQueen, it’s a story close to his heart – his dad was friends with one of the Mangrove Nine.
Mangrove, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and opened the London Film Festival, tells the true story of Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes), whose West Indian restaurant,
When Cannes selected both Mangrove and a second Small Axe ﬁlm, Lovers Rock, McQueen dedicated both to George Floyd and “all the other Black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are in the US, UK and elsewhere.” McQueen added:
“As the proverb goes, "If you are the big tree, we are the small axe." Black Lives Matter.” Shot on ﬁlm by cinematographer Shabier Kirchner, Mangrove is set in the Notting Hill of the late 1960s and 70s, which was very diﬀerent from today’s gentriﬁed neighbourhood. Says production designer Helen Scott: “The challenge was in ﬁnding locations that hadn't been developed, crowded with buildings and trees, where there should really be gaps left from the bombings. Ultimately, we had to construct our own version of that era.”
Images: Mangrove © BBC, McQueen Limited, Kieron McCarron & Des Willie.
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MEXICO colour & calibre compound that's securable. It gives productions the ability to house their entire crew in a small hotel that's there on the compound and secure it for production during Covid-19”. Not only do costs dramatically reduce over the border, but the cultural diﬀerence is stark which makes for interesting and easy on-screen dynamics. “I can't think of many other places in the world where a line in the sand means there is so much diﬀerence visually and culturally. Hollywood has always loved that they're able to shoot somewhere “exotic”, so very close to home,” adds Hollander. There are a network of 36 oﬃces and ﬁlm commissions throughout the country and productions can request the return of the 16% VAT in Mexico.
Mexico’s wealth of locations and proﬁcient crews keep the audiovisual industry busy with advertising, Hollywood productions and everything in between.
exican crews are familiar with working on international projects due to the frequency of Hollywood shoots that venture across the border and this means that Mexico’s base infrastructure, including equipment and studios, is well set up. The advertising sector is equally accustomed to working in the country where big, colourful locations are abundant.
There are two large established studios in Mexico. Churubusco Studios in Mexico City has both soundstages and postproduction “Not oNly do costs facilities. Baja Studios has the largest aquatic facilities in the dramatically world and hosted Titanic and reduce over the Pearl Harbour. Most recently, border, but the studio has hosted Ryan the cultural Murphy’s procedural series 911 differeNce is stark and AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead. There are also empty which makes for spaces that can be retroﬁtted for iNterestiNg aNd production purposes. easy oN-screeN dyNamics.”
The country is also well set up for shooting under Covid-19 safety restrictions. Jason Hollander, producer at Cabo Agency says: “The production bubble concept works incredibly well in Mexico. There are very large ranch compounds, mountain compounds, winery compounds, ocean compounds. Sometimes they are on the smaller scale at hundreds of acres, which I know sounds huge, but it can be all the way up to thousands of acres of property with a couple of houses, a resort and a couple of restaurants all within one privately owned
Tulum’s pristine beaches, cenotes, Mayan ruins and luxury accommodation has made it an in demand holiday destination. Currently, those who want to visit Tulum must ﬂy into Cancun followed by an hour and a half drive. But President Obrador has announced plans for a new airport to be built in Tulum, Quintana Roo projected to open by 2023. The 2018 American crime comedy Gringo starring Joel Egerton and Charlize Theron ﬁlmed across Mexico, including Tulum. “You have all these wonderful ﬁlmmakers coming out of Mexico so the infrastructure for ﬁlm here is wonderful. They are one of the best international crews I’ve ever worked with” said executive producer Trish Hoﬀman.
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Filming in the Middle East
THE PRODUCTION INDUSTRY IS FIRMLY AT THE HEART OF THE REGION’S GROWTH. MAKERS LOOKS AT WHY.
Image: Paranormal © Batool Al Daawi & Netflix.
The Middle East’s distinct locations range from isolated deserts to energetic mega-cities. These continue to lure in big international shoots, while the region continues to enhance its offer. Incentives that range from 25–30% can now be found alongside skilled crew and low-cost labour.
he ﬁlm industry has long known the virtues of ﬁlming in the region that spans North Africa through the Arab peninsula. For decades the region has hosted major productions, with international features such as Star Wars, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Transformers drawn to the intriguing mixture of locations and reliably sunny weather. Across the region, there is studio infrastructure, trained crews and incentives to complement the diverse locations.
THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Located in the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula, the glamour of the desert cities in the UAE is a particular draw for both Hollywood and Bollywood.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the main production hubs in the country. The two cities are particularly multicultural with high levels of international business so are well placed to accommodate and deliver the needs of international clients and English is widely spoken by talent and crew. Both cities have established ﬁlm commissions to help incoming productions. Two of the most respected sci-ﬁ franchises have shot in Dubai. In 2016, downtown Dubai doubled for a federation starbase “YorkTown” in Star Trek Beyond. Dubai’s Studio City is one of the largest facilities in the region and has three soundstages ranging from 15,000sqft up to 25,000sqft. The
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Image: Dune © Warner Bros.
THE GLAMOUR OF THE UAE IS A PARTICULAR DRAW FOR BOTH HOLLYWOOD AND BOLLYWOOD. DUBAI AND ABU DHABI ARE THE MAIN PRODUCTION HUBS IN THE COUNTRY.
city’s towering skyscrapers include the Burj Khalifa which starred in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and saw Tom Cruise equipped with a harness as he scaled the outside. In comparison, Abu Dhabi is a growing ﬁlm hub attracting production through a 30% cash rebate and a ﬁlm commission established to attract worldwide production. “Our mission is to make every production as smooth and seamless as possible,” says Hans Fraikin, Abu Dhabi ﬁlm commissioner. “The commission was established to attract worldwide productions to Abu Dhabi. We aim to share Abu Dhabi’s compelling, multicultural stories with the world and support production teams throughout the process. By realising this mission, we are helping to shape Abu Dhabi’s thriving infrastructure through successful, regional and international collaborations and our continued eﬀort to give back to the community.” The 30% cash rebate on production spend is part of this drive and more than 100 major productions, including Paramount Pictures’ Mission Impossible – Fallout and Netﬂix’s 6 Underground, have used Abu Dhabi’s locations.
70,000sqm backlot at Kizad, to house more sets, sound stages and other key facilities to fulﬁl every production need. It is vital that we provide “ParaNormal, these facilities as well as which begaN airiNg work closely alongside iN November 2020 is our partners on talent Part of Netflix’s development, workshops, liNe-uP of arabic training and internships. origiNals aNd is We are investing in the first Netflix mind of the production origiNal to shoot industry’s generations to come”. iN egyPt.”
JORDAN The Royal Film Commission Jordan has established the country as a leading destination in both the Arab market and for international productions. In recent years Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (pictured above), J.J Abrams’ Star Wars IX, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin and Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World (pictured left) have been attracted to the country by its distinct landscapes such as the famous Wadi Rum, as well a reliable infrastructure of crew and services that enable shoots to take place in the isolated landscapes.
In March, Middle Eastern satellite network MBC began ﬁlming the Arab world’s ﬁrst soap opera, Inheritance, which is being produced in partnership with twofour54 and supported by the rebate. A dedicated studio was built for the show in Abu Dhabi to serve as the main location for the production which airs on MBC. The series was able to safely continue ﬁlming through the Covid-19 and “will have a signiﬁcant positive impact on the Emirate’s ﬂourishing media and production industry. The production team estimate the show will generate more than 200 jobs in the ﬁrst year alone,” says Fraikin. Productions have been working under safety protocols created by the government and twofour54 during the pandemic. “We have been able to safely host USD100 million worth of projects working under a strict set of measures that were swiftly implemented to ensure the health and safety of everybody involved in these productions. We were one of only a handful of global destinations who were able to safely continue production during this time,” says Fraikin.
Image: All the Money in the World © 2017 All e Money US, LLC.
There are also further plans for expansion in Abu Dhabi. There are plans in place to build a studio city, with production facilities, studios and backlots. “We also have plans to further develop our backlot oﬀering, which already includes a 99
BACK TO CONTENTS “We established ﬁlm camps to train Jordanians in ﬁlm production with workshops from international ﬁlmmakers. For this reason we do not just have qualiﬁed ﬁlm professionals in the capital city, but across the country,” says Mohammad Bakri, managing director of The Royal Film Commission Jordan. As such local crew is trained to international standards and have ﬁlled positions like the 1st AD on Disney’s Star Wars.
Images: Sergio © Netflix. A Hologram for the King © Icon Film Distribution.
THE NEGOTIATIONS was one of the first international productions to resume filming after the lockdown with top korean actors kwang Jung-min and hyun Bin arriving in Jordan for the shoot in early July.
Jordan borders Syria and Iraq, and is regarded as one of the most stable countries in the region. This is particularly attractive to incoming productions looking for authentic locations with the security of political stability. “We also do not censor the scripts of shoots,” says Bakri, a practise which is common across the Middle East. Therefore, productions of a controversial nature, such as Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Greg Barker’s Sergio (pictured left) and Matthew Heineman’s A Private War have been able to shoot in the country. The commission also worked hard to ensure that incoming productions were able to continue shooting in Jordan after the initial Covid lockdown. Korean ﬁlm The Negotiations was one of the ﬁrst international productions to resume ﬁlming after the lockdown with top Korean actors Kwang Jung-min and Hyun Bin arriving in Jordan for the shoot in early July. The Negotiations is based on the story of a group of Koreans who were kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2007 and the shoot took place in nine diﬀerent locations across the kingdom. “It was proof that the country was ready and safe enough to open up to ﬁlming again,” says Bakri “We had worked hard to create ﬁlming guidelines and we cooperated with government entities to ensure that The Negotiations requirements, such as travelling around Jordan, were possible.” The Jordan Film Fund supports incoming productions with a 10-25% Cash Rebate depending on the amount of eligible expenses. 25% is provided for productions with expenses above USD7 million, and is capped at USD2 million. The Royal Film Commission can also exempt eligible productions from sales tax, customs taxes and duties and taxes on salaries and fees for non-Jordanian cast and crew members.
EGYPT Egypt is a hub for local production but is yet to attract consistent international production. However, its iconic landscapes and historic sites have drawn Michael Bay’s Transformers and Hologram For a King (pictured left), starring Tom Hanks, in the past. Egyptian Media Production City is one of the largest studios, and is situated in the “Media Free Zone” which allows for favourable conditions for
ON LOCATION DESERTS 100
incoming shoots as it exists out of the customs zone. They have an extensive collection of backlots ranging from Ottoman, modern and ancient Alexandria, city alleys and “Garden” residential streets. As part of its mission to invest in more original content from around the world, Netﬂix’s Paranormal (main image), which began airing in November 2020, is part of its line-up of Arabic originals and is the ﬁrst streamer’s ﬁrst original to shoot in Egypt. It is based on a bestselling series Ma Waraa Al Tabiaa by Ahmed Tawﬁk. Set in 1969, it follows the story of haematologist Dr. Ismail who re-evaluates his life-long commitment to science when he begins to experience paranormal activities. The series was shot in Egypt in order to stay true to the original books, although cast and crew was sourced from across the Arab world.
SAUDI ARABIA Saudi Arabia is yet to emerge as a ﬁlming destination, however in 2018 it lifted its long ban on cinema. In the same year, a 35% cash rebate was announced at Cannes Film Festival, although no guidelines or information has followed. However, the country “abu dhabi has seems to be gearing up safely hosted its oﬀer to production. usd100 millioN The future city of worth of Projects Neom, being built from workiNg uNder scratch on the Red Sea, a strict set of is a bold part of Saudi measures that Arabia’s 2030 vision. The future city is were swiftly positioned as “a living imPlemeNted to laboratory and hub eNsure health for innovation, and a aNd safety.” sustainable ecosystem for living and working.” The production and creative sectors are core to the strategy, with plans for an infrastructure for content creation built around education, supportive regulation and funding and facilities.
MOROCCO Although Morocco is not part of the Middle East, like Egypt it is in MENA on the fringe of the region. Due to its close proximity to Europe and long established studios, a range of shoots are attracted to the country, such as Amazon Prime’s Hanna and Game of Thrones, which shot in Ait Ben Haddo, a mountain village in the Atlas mountains. John Wick: Chapter 3 was one of the biggest shoots to take place here in recent years, with ﬁlming in Casablanca, Tangier and the Sahara desert. The 20% rebate and 20% VAT reduction is another reason that production continue to enjoy ﬁlming in Morocco.
AT THE VERY WESTERN SIDE OF EUROPE THERE IS A COUNTRY WITH THE MOST PERFECT NATURAL LIGHT FOR FILMING. THAT COUNTRY IS PORTUGAL!
bRoUGHt to YoU bY
hen you arrive in Portugal you will ﬁnd every imaginable ﬁlming scenario: beaches, monuments, old and modern buildings, churches, parks, historical villages, walled cities and all kinds of amazing landscapes. And, this diversity for ﬁlming is available over a very short distance. You can travel the length of Portugal, from North to South, in less than ﬁve hours by car. But don’t forget Madeira and the Azores, two archipelagos with unique and memorable settings. You will also never forget the long hours of sunlight in Portugal. There are almost 300 days of sunshine a year, allowing for year-round production. And you will feel safe – Portugal is the third safest country in the world. Portugal is not only a country of great scenery and weather, with aﬀordable prices and good food. It also has skilled talent and crews that are used to working with international productions. In 2019, the Portuguese Government created the Portugal Film Commission to promote the country as a ﬁlming destination. You will have all the expert support they can give as well as the world-famous Portuguese hospitality. We have also created one of the most competitive incentives, the Portuguese Cash Rebate System, in Europe. The 30% cash rebate applies to cinema, TV and VOD, with the minimum qualiﬁed Portuguese production spend of EUR500,000 for ﬁction and animation and EUR 250,000 for documentaries and post-production. It oﬀers upfront payments in installments and a decision within 20 working days. Portugal also has co-production treaties with more than 60 countries and a scouting programme, tailor-made scouting visits for foreign production companies potentially interested in shooting in Portugal, as well as other ﬁnancing programmes. Although the Covid-19 pandemic aﬀected all areas of the economy, Portugal is increasing international
ﬁlming with great productions and studios. It is constantly improving conditions to meet today’s challenges. Even during these months of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are small, medium, and large productions taking place in the country, with the Netﬂix’s Money Heist series being one of the highlights. With regards to Covid-19, Manuel Claro, the Portuguese Film Commissioner, says “I’m really proud of our Audiovisual industry, because despite of some positive cases on crews during these months, none of those cases resulted in an “the Portugal overall dissemination. film commissioN This means that all waNts to be seeN measures and all as a helPful contingencies plans collaborator aNd implemented by our to show that producers were eﬀective, Portugal, iN all eﬃcient, and well succeeded. This shows its diversity, is the quality and oPeN to the world.” professionalism of our teams and allow us to aﬃrm that it is safe to ﬁlm in Portugal! Last May, we launched the Covid-19 Guidelines for Filming in Portugal, in close collaboration with the Portuguese Producers associations and with the validation of the National Health DG, and we hope that this guide has helped producers to organise themselves in a way that maintains the safety of all involved”. Portugal is working to be an increasingly competitive destination, with more facilities to adjust even the most complex and demanding productions. The Portugal Film Commission wants everyone to see them as a helpful collaborator and to show that Portugal, in all its diversity, is open to the world. So, what’s not to love about ﬁlming in Portugal?
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ROMANIA no limits
the 35-45% cash rebate that producers can access in Romania has refocused international attention on the country. alongside spectacular locations, large studios and a pool of equipment and technicians, Romania is a popular ﬁlming destination for good reason.
n late 2020, an eight-part adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days (pictured above), a Federation co-production for the European Alliance produced by Slim Film + TV, picked up shooting in Romania after Covid-19 cut short the South African portion of the shoot. The series stars David Tennant as Phileas Fogg, the eccentric adventurer who travels around the world in a hot air balloon in 80 days. Romania’s reputation for set building, construction and wide-ranging locations made the country an obvious choice for such a globe-trotting story. The series was based at Castel Film Studios, a full-service studio and production company with nine sound stages.
Other projects realised in Romania emphasise the wide range of genres, and high-end productions that are attracted to the country. One “romaNia’s of the earliest examples of its ﬂexibility was Cold Mountain in rePutatioN for set 2003. The Carpathians stood in buildiNg, for The Appalachian Mountains coNstructioN aNd of North Carolina for the US civil wide-raNgiNg war drama, starring Nicole locatioNs made the Kidman and Jude Law. Since then, numerous international projects couNtry aN have continued to head to obvious choice Romania, drawn by the cost for such a savings and range of locations it globe-trottiNg oﬀers. In recent years this story.” list includes Sony Television’s Alex Rider and Lionsgate sci-ﬁ Voyagers. In addition to soundstages, Romania’s location variety provides an equal share of impressive natural settings, well-preserved period environments and modern
Peleș Castle, Sinia
Peleș Castle, nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, was built between 1873 and 1914. The complex includes two castles: Peleș and Pelișor, and a hunting lodge. Commissioned by King Carol in 1873, no expense was spared. It was the ﬁrst European castle to have electricity, and had its own electricity plant. The rooms are decorated in eclectic styles and there is a 60-seat theatre. On the outside, Peleș’ mix of neo-renaissance and gothic revival architecture is similar to Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle has featured in a number of international ﬁlms, including The Brothers Bloom as the home of an eccentric millionaire, and as a fairy tale castle in A Princess for Christmas. Located in the Southern Carpathians, the castle is around 80 miles from Bucharest and is under a two hour drive from the capital’s ﬁlming infrastructure and studios. Main image: Around the World in 80 Days © BBC, Slim 80 Days, Federation Entertainment, Peu Communications, ZDF & Be-Films.
suburbs. Alongside numerous high-end TV and feature ﬁlms, advertising shoots are equally as attracted to the diverse settings, equipment base and high quality technicians available. The extensive number of palaces, castles and monasteries, many set in Romania’s dramatic mountains and forests, provides endless options for fairy-tale and historical shoots. Netﬂix’s third instalment of A Christmas Prince returned to ﬁlm in Romania. The holiday series sees a young American tutor venture to the European kingdom of Aldovia where she falls in love with the prince. It is shot on location at Peles Castle, as well as locations in Bucharest. The castle is a particular favourite for
seasonal rom-coms that follow a similar theme including A Princess for Christmas, A Prince for Christmas and Hallmark’s Royal Matchmaker. The Nun, a horror ﬁlm set in the Abbey of St Carta, utilised these locations for starkly diﬀerent results. The ﬁlm shot in Corvin Castle in Transylvania. BBC America’s Killing Eve ﬁlmed in Romania for both the ﬁrst and third season. The darkly comic thriller used a myriad of locations to double for international settings and the experience of working in the country has received praise from the production’s producers and cast alike. In the ﬁrst series, the suburbs of Bucharest were doubled for both Moscow and Parisian backstreets, and it was serviced by Alien Films on both occasions. Bucharest’s scale and range of architecture has lent
ESSEntial FactS incEntiVE
35-45% The 35% cash rebate applies to productions spending at least EUR100,000, capped at EUR10 million per production. The 10% addition is for productions set in Romania. co-PRoDUction tREatiES
European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production as well as bilateral treaties with France, Israel, Canada & Italy. ata caRnEt
Large studios are located near Bucharest. Castel Film Studios & Buftea Studios are the biggest. StUDioS
Borat 2, The Christmas Prince: A Royal Baby, Killing Eve series 3, The Asset & Alex Rider.
Bucharest was named the top Gaming City in 2019 due to its low ping and fast internet speeds according to research done by connection testing service Speedtest. 35 cities renowned for esports events, gaming conferences, game companies and others were ranked in the survey that placed Chinese cities of Hangzhou and Chengdu second and third. Notably, Bucharest was the only European city in the top ﬁve. The city won because of the “super-low” ping, which determines the responsiveness of your connection and is important for gaming. Bucharest has a burgeoning gaming sector. The city hosts a Gaming Week as well as other international tournaments throughout the year with prizes exceeding USD1.3 million. The city is also home to a good number number of local game studios as well as several international video producers with studios in Bucharest including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Gameloft.
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JoHn GRootERS WRitER, DiREctoR & PRoDUcER
Sabina: Tortured for Christ, the Nazi Years
it a reputation as the “Paris of the East”, and Killing Eve shot scenes set in Parisian backstreets in suburban areas but the capital was also successfully doubled for Moscow. The production returned for season three, when the production ventured to the mountain village of Viscri, three hours from Bucharest. The village is a UNESCO Heritage site and as such has protected set-like streets. Although Romania was one of the last ﬁlming hubs in Eastern Europe to unveil a rebate, a generous scheme was launched in 2018 and has received great interest. The 35-45% cash rebate has reinvigorated interest in shooting in the country and restated its reputation as a budget friendly destination for large scale projects. The scheme was recently extended until 2023.
Q: Why was Romania chosen as the
location for Sabina? A: 100% of the project was shot in Romania. Richard & Sabina Wurmbrand were Romanian citizens imprisoned by both the Nazi’s and the Communists. Richard was released after more than 14 years in the Communist prison camps whereupon he wrote the book Tortured for Christ. We produced a feature ﬁlm called Tortured for Christ: the Movie in 2017. The success of that ﬁlm compelled us to produce this prequel. For both of these movies it has been a tremendous thing to shoot in the country, and sometimes in the very place, where the incidents originally took place. Q: Were there any location highlights? A: We spent several days at both Buftea and Castel Studios for each of the two ﬁlms. About 25% of the total production was ﬁlmed in studio locations. There were many location highlights in the ﬁlming of Sabina, including ﬁlming in Sighisoara, Feldioara, Predeal, and many other amazing locations.
The scheme functions on a ﬁrst-come ﬁrst served basis. To qualify, 20% of the total budget of a project supported by the rebate must be realised on Romanian territory. The higher 45% is granted to audio-visual productions that highlight Romania, rather than doubling for another destination. In 2019, a total of 48 projects, both international and domestic were approved. These included US independent feature Violence of Action, the second series of Universal TV series Impulse and action thriller The Asset starring Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson. There are two main studios in Romania, both based near the capital Bucharest. Castel Film Studios has 10 soundstages and a backlot covering 65 acres that include a number of standing sets including a Gothic Church, a Western Town, a suburban street and a medieval village. Buftea Studios, formerly known as MediaPro Studios, has 19 soundstages and indoor water tanks. Romania does not have a formal ﬁlm commission, although the Alliance of Film producers is a good place for incoming producers who are new to the country to begin. The alliance is made up of numerous trusted production companies, many of whom have lengthy experience handling incoming production. The APF also contributes to creating a competitive and sustainable industry from the point of the country’s producers.
Q: Do you have any tips for incoming
producers? A: I love working with the crews and talent I’ve
found in Romania. Incoming producers, I hope, will ﬁnd the same level of professionalism and kindness that we have found. Q: The feature wrapped in September, how
did Covid-19 aﬀect the production? A: All of us ﬂying into the country were required to present evidence of negative testing within the previous 72 hours, and we were all tested again once landing in Bucharest. Thankfully we had zero Covid related issues.
Targeted TV Ads
Could addressable advertising be the saviour of commercial TV – and by extension commercials producers? Slowly but surely, broadcasters are rolling out platforms that allow advertisers to target audiences more effectively – and let them take on the digital giants.
ddressable TV advertising is helping broadcasters ﬁnally go head-to-head with digital giants like Facebook and Google.
Rather than blanketing all viewers with the same ad, broadcasters can now use addressable advertising technologies to target speciﬁc audiences so they can deliver more personalised ads. Essentially, it lets them show diﬀerent ads to diﬀerent households while they are watching the same programme. The global addressable TV advertising market is set to leap sixfold to USD85.5 billion by 2025, according to a Rethink TV report, amid predictions that it will be key way for under pressure traditional broadcasters to stem the ﬂight of ad dollars to digital platforms. The rise of connected TV is a key factor in this growth, as ads can be targeted more easily to TVs that are directly connected to the internet. But the technology is also available to deliver addressable advertising via linear and pay TV.
However, addressable advertising technology has been slow to roll out, currently accounting for around just 4% of the total TV ad market, according to WARC Data estimates. A key challenge facing the sector is overcoming the myriad and complex technology standards, TVs, set top boxes and programming requirements required for widespread adoption. First some background. As online platforms grow, linear TV’s audience is continuing to shrink with a predicted 21% fall in overall adult commercial impacts for advertisers by 2025, according to a recent report, titled Mind the Gap, by respected marketing and media consultancy ﬁrm Ebiquity. For the 18-24 viewing demographic, the ﬁgure is even more startling: more than half (56%) of the impacts will have disappeared in ﬁve years, reckons Ebiquity. These audiences, of course, have not totally stopped consuming TV content – they’re just watching on
BACK TO CONTENTS diﬀerent devices rather than the traditional TV in the corner of the living room, or catching up on their on demand platforms. Indeed, media agencies believe TV is still a strong and eﬀective medium – and that it will remain one of the most signiﬁcant factors in marketing.
RATHER THAN BLANKETING ALL VIEWERS WITH THE SAME AD, BROADCASTERS CAN NOW USE ADDRESSABLE ADVERTISING TECHNOLOGIES TO TARGET SPECIFIC AUDIENCES SO THEY CAN DELIVER MORE PERSONALISED ADS.
“Broadcast quality video content is still the best way to drive real emotional engagement with audiences,” says Liz Duﬀ, head of media and investment at media planning and buying agency Total Media, whose clients include TikTok, Slack and Lenovo. Unsurprisingly, recent IAB research – titled Covid’s Impact on Ad Pricing – shows that connected TVs have been the most resilient in terms of holding on to ad spend during Covid-19, registering a 6% decline in advertising rates (CPMs) compared to desktop (-27%), smartphone (-28%) and tablet (-29%). One of the reasons is the higher degree of trust consumers have for TV advertising. Letting advertisers accurately follow audiences across their on demand platforms has, as a result, become a huge focus for broadcasters. In October, for example, the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster ITV announced the launch of its own addressable advertising platform, Planet V, which will go fully live in February. Planet V will allow advertisers and agencies control over the purchasing of their campaigns across ITV’s VOD service, the ITV Hub, letting them optimise and monitor campaigns in real time, 24 hours a day. “It will be a continually evolving platform, providing the very best frictionless, data-driven buy, in a premium, brand safe environment, for our clients,” says Kelly Williams, managing director, commercial at ITV. Meanwhile, earlier this year, NBCUniversal unveiled One Platform which combines existing and new tools for advertisers to plan, target, transact and measure campaigns across all its linear and digital platforms. The global oﬀer is being rolled out across both Comcast-owned NBCUniversal and Sky content, which together reach an audience of half a billion viewers every month in more than 160 countries. Krishan Bhatia, executive vice president of business operations and strategy for NBCUniversal, describes One Platform as “a major step towards transforming the television business, which is in signiﬁcant need of increased innovation.” This has become even more pressing as viewers have enthusiastically embraced streaming platforms, including NBCUniversal’s Peacock service which launched this Spring.
One Platform includes access to Sky’s market leading Adsmart suite of addressable advertising products, which help advertisers target and optimise speciﬁc audiences. Also housed under the One Platform oﬀer is NBCUniversal’s highly regarded measurement system C-Flight, which aggregates the total impressions that a campaign generates across its platforms, including TV and digital. C-Flight has taken a lead in recent years in helping advertisers to assess marketing campaigns as TV becomes more fragmented and traditional measurement systems have struggled to keep up. Bhatia notes that the shift in viewing towards OTT and streaming platforms has made it much more complex for marketeers and agencies to reach audiences at scale. “For years, we’ve been on a journey to simplify the process, and also to make the transaction and measurement and accountability of premium video more intelligent.” Daniel Church, director of programmatic at Beachfront, an independent video ad management platform, says the opportunities for addressable TV for advertisers are huge. “We've been doing addressable in digital for a long time. I think people really understand the beneﬁts of showing more relevant ads to an audience that is more receptive to those messages…of changing creative copy regularly and also optimising copy based on performance.” The opportunity is also signiﬁcant for broadcasters, says Alan Young, CTO and head of strategy at LTN Global which provides tech solutions in the addressable advertising space. “The opportunity for them is to frankly make more money. The better the targeting is, and the better the reach, the more money they make.” Young notes that addressable advertising allows broadcasters to sell the same slot to multiple diﬀerent advertisers. This, he explains, increases their revenue but also brings in more advertisers to the TV advertising sector. “It opens the door to local advertisers, into smaller advertisers that have smaller budgets because they want to reach a very speciﬁc targeted audience.”
ADDRESSABLE TECHNOLOGY 109
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How do you produce in a global pandemic?
how do you produce an eight-part feature length campaign, in some of the most Beautiful places in the world, while working remotely during a pandemic? veronica Beach shares her experience.
hen a project hits my desk calling for global locations, my bags will be packed, my passport checked and all vaccines will be up-to-date. This time, I ordered another iPad, made sure my internet was high-speed and put on some cozy sweats.
As the agency producing through Pereira O’Dell, we set out to shoot an eight-part mini-docuseries this summer called Free Range Humans for ABI InBev’s Corona beer brand – ﬁlming in eight global locations and featuring international talent. We have all realised that production in a Covid-19 world, adds between 10-30% more to your budgets and 10-30% more time. We were trying to create the same work huddle by congregating on Zoom, FaceTime, Teams and Skype. Casting can be a challenge when producing a documentary and on this particular project, casting and locations went hand in hand. Shot in Brazil, Nicaragua, Canada, the UK, France, South Africa, Colombia and China, the ﬁlms were locations led but also needed to ﬁnd the best and most diverse cast. Not easy. Once we locked casting and locations, we started the daunting task of pre-production. In our particular case, our remote shoot went to the next level. We were working blind. All of the locations were very remote without access to the internet or Wi-Fi so the agency and the US-based production team, could not physically be there. We had to surrender completely to the local crews. Fortunately, we were able to attend the oﬃcial interviews with each cast member which enabled us to connect, creating that vital relationship between director, production and talent. In order to ensure as much control as we possibly could, and to properly brief and prep the local crews, we held multiple pre-production meetings, eight in fact, and we created prep decks for all the local crews with detailed shot lists, in-depth interview questions, art department manuals and more. We created so many Google decks and
documents we put together a production matrix that will be included in a new handbook for Poolhouse. At the end of every project, any good producer will inevitably replay the entire production in their head asking, “How would I have done this diﬀerently?” For us, the biggest challenges were blind shooting, the budget for satellite trucks, and the additional numbers of line producers, production managers and co-ordinators needed to cover the work. The other challenge was our race against time; we never had enough time to prep, to shoot, to edit. Add 30% more time into your thinking and you should be ok. Lastly, budget and plan for superb stock and archival footage and hire the best stock footage researcher you can. I am so proud of our community, this global community of production, and that we have ﬁgured how to continue to move forward with all the challenges this pandemic is throwing at us. At the same time, I miss those days on set, the travel on planes to remote areas of the world and mostly just time with friends as we prep these amazing projects as we build content together. With almost 20 years of experience in advertising and production, Veronica Beach was most recently head of global production and founding member for ad agency DAVID. DAVID took her to Argentina, Brazil, and Miami. This year, Veronica re-launched Poolhouse, which she originally co-founded in 2007. Poolhouse is now a platform that helps global producers to find jobs, and to share resources and information.
THE INAUGURAL MAKERS & SHAKERS AWARDS, CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE IN GLOBAL PRODUCTION, UNVEILED ITS FIRST WINNERS ON THE EVE OF FOCUS 2020. IT SHOWCASED THE VERY BEST IDEAS AND INITIATIVES FROM THE GLOBAL FILM, TV, COMMERCIALS AND GAMES INDUSTRIES.
he winners have been announced of the ﬁrst ever makers & shakers Awards, supported by EQUALS Money. Launched by the teams behind makers magazine, The Location Guide and the FOCUS show, the makers & shakers Awards celebrate ground-breaking ideas and initiatives from the world’s creative screen industries. Held virtually on December 14 on the eve of FOCUS Digital 2020, the makers & shakers Awards were hosted by comedian Jen Brister. Winners were announced in seven categories after a rigorous judging process by leading industry ﬁgures from organisations such as Netﬂix, Warner Bros Studios Leavesden, Pact, Screen Auckland, and LMGI. TLG managing director Jean Frédéric Garcia said: “We received entries from all over the world and we are truly grateful for everyone who entered. It’s been amazing to see the innovation and creativity the industry produces. There is a lot of hard work going on developing new initiatives, and what people have done during Covid-19 is inspirational. Many of the industry’s key issues have also been addressed in these awards: mental health, gender, diversity and inclusivity.”
FilM coMMiSSion initiatiVE oF tHE YEaR This trophy was awarded to a notable initiative from a local, regional or national Film Commission. The winner was the Lower Austrian Film Commission for its digital platform EVERGREEN PRISMA, which provides free access to professional expertise and the tools for implementing green ﬁlming into daily production processes. The judges praised the Commission for taking responsibility for the future. “This initiative leads a long-needed culture of change that goes beyond their own territory.” Highly commended was The Colorado Oﬃce of Film, Television and Media for its The Native Initiative Workshop July-August 2019.
initiatiVE to GRoW tHE local inDUStRY Here the judges were looking for a new and special initiative to beneﬁt the community and expand the local talent and skills pool. Northern Film & Media won for its North East Comedy Hot House initiative, which champions, develops and connects North East talent. Among its achievements, in its ﬁrst
year North East Comedy Hot House secured a Channel 4 commission for the North East to produce 24 sketches for online platforms. The judges said: “The winner has produced a wellrounded initiative, ﬁlling a gap in the market that is diﬃcult to break into. They really stood out and are committed to growing the local industry.”
oUtStanDinG cREatiVE USE oF a location This was awarded to a location professional for the creative use and management of a single location which created an on-screen memorable impact. Location manager Daniel Lee, LMGI, won for The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Shot entirely on location in San Francisco, this ﬁlm uses many very old, unique and untouched locations juxtaposed with modern construction in the city. The judges described the location as a critical character in the ﬁlm and crucial for telling the story. Mary Barltrop, supervising location manager on Extraction, was highly commended.
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Victoria Emslie of Primetime, winner of Shaker of the Year Award.
many of the industry’s key issues have also Been addressed in these awards: mental health, gender, diversity and inclusivity.
PRoDUction tEcH innoVation oF tHE YEaR In this award, the judges were looking for a game changing innovation in the way the industry produces, using new technology applied to workﬂow, communication, ﬁnance or distribution. This competitive category was won by Willco – a powerful, intuitive and time-saving cloud-based app to assist production management and coordination. The Willco app handles elements such as paperless crew and cast hiring, suppliers and locations management, scheduling for pre-production and shooting, and production and legal paperwork releasing. The judges loved this app. “It’s a global product that is a huge leap forward. Very user friendly and a producer’s dream come true.” SUStainabilitY aWaRD This award is for a campaign or initiative aimed at signiﬁcantly reducing the carbon footprint of production, while enhancing the production process and maximising screen value. It was won by KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission with WrapZERO for its Guidelines for Sustainable Production. KwaZulu-Natal is one of South Africa’s three main media production regions and the ﬁrst in the country to recognise the imperative to equip local content creators and service providers with knowledge and tools to practice their business in a sustainable manner. The judges said: “The winner was praised for their rigorous research and the result is beneﬁcial for everyone. This initiative is helping the industry reframe the approach to sustainability.”
Daniel Lee, Location Manager, LMGI, winner of the Outstanding Creative Use of a Location Award.
Event supported by:
tHE EqUalS MonEY aWaRD Created with EQUALS Money, which oﬀers expert payment solutions for businesses around the world, this award looks for an innovative production spend or process which has a positive eﬀect and made an impact on the production budget. The prize was won by FilmChain, a UK-based platform that revolutionises the collection and allocation of revenues in the ﬁlm and TV industries worldwide. The platform leverages a private Ethereum blockchain ledger to maintain transaction information, execute fast payments and accommodate complex recoupment schedules with hundreds of beneﬁciaries. One judge said: “In this digital world, I believe this is the future of ﬁlm and TV ﬁnance.” Production accountant Gareth Jones of Moneypenny was highly commended in this category.
SHakER oF tHE YEaR This category recognises those going above and beyond their duties to improve the sector, and who are the forces of change. Notably, this category had an all-female shortlist this year, and was won by Victoria Emslie for Primetime, a network and database of women working in the ﬁlm, TV, and commercial industries across pre-production, production and post-production. Launched at Cannes Film Festival in 2019, Primetime’s aim is to be a practical solution to help productions hire gender-balanced, inclusive teams worldwide. The judges all agreed that Victoria had shown generosity, courage and creativity. One judge said: “The winner has made phenomenal progress launching a trusted and respected resource in the industry at a time when it is much needed.”
WinnERS at a GlancE FilM coMMiSSion initiatiVE oF tHE YEaR
Lower Austrian Film Commission for EVERGREEN PRISMA initiatiVE to GRoW tHE local inDUStRY
Northern Film & Media for North East Comedy Hot House oUtStanDinG cREatiVE USE oF a location
Daniel Lee, Location Manager, LMGI for The Last Black Man in San Francisco PRoDUction tEcH innoVation oF tHE YEaR
Willco App SUStainabilitY aWaRD
KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission with WrapZERO for Guidelines for Sustainable Production tHE EqUalS MonEY aWaRD
SHakER oF tHE YEaR
Victoria Emslie at Primetime to REGiStER YoUR intERESt FoR tHE 2021 aWaRDS, Go to: makersandshakersawards.com
RUSSIA wide angles
Russia’s receptivity to incoming productions should not be underestimated and government agencies and studios are able to facilitate ﬁlming in this vast country. alongside epic locations, a new 30-40% rebate should turn heads.
ussia has recognised the power of the screen industries since the earliest days of cinema and Roskino, the state institution promoting and supporting Russian Cinema, celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2019. As such the country has large established studios, and a healthy respect for ﬁlmmaking.
Shooting in Russia is not always the cheapest option, and previously many large shoots would supplement set location doubles with short shoots in the country for establishing shots and plates. However, the launch of a new 30-40% rebate may change this.
To access the rebate, there are minimum spending requirements that range from RUB15 million for live action shoots over 52 minutes to RUB5 million for animated ﬁlms. Applications are considered based on the number “the NatioN sPaNs of days spent on pre-production, two coNtiNeNts so production and post-production castiNg oPtioNs on Russian territory, the presence for both euroPeaN of Russian citizens amongst the aNd asiaN markets creators and creative crew, planned spending on Russian territory and caN be fouNd iN the the connection to the Russian major hubs.” Federation. The addition of extra Russian citizens in the ﬁlm crew, shooting days and increased planned spending in Russia may see the subsidy increased to the higher 40% level. Epic locations are easy to ﬁnd in Russia: over half of the ten tallest buildings in Europe are found in Moscow and St Petersburg, meaning that their skylines are some of the most cosmopolitan in
Nizhny Novgorod may not have much of a reputation outside of Russia, but it is actually the country’s ﬁfth largest city, and is referred to by many as its ‘third capital’. Located in the Volga region, the city is situated at the conﬂuence of two wide rivers, the Volga and the Oka. The city is a popular retreat for Russians, because it is reachable from both Moscow and St. Petersburg. One of the oldest cities in Russia, it has medieval monuments, churches and streets. The most notable attraction here is the sixteenth century Kremlin situated on a hilltop whose large walls can be seen from the city. The BBC’s War and Peace ventured here to capture some key scenes which see the city doubled for another Russian city, Voronezh. Large white buildings in the city doubled for Novgorod palace and nearby countryside was used to double for the area surrounding Moscow.
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Europe. There are extensive palaces, large Soviet-era buildings and Romanov palaces as well as expansive and dramatic landscapes.
the additioN of extra russiaN citizeNs iN the film crew, shootiNg days aNd iNcreased PlaNNed sPeNdiNg iN russia may see the subsidy iNcreased to the higher 40% level.
Russian Photographer Sergey Gorshkov won 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year with an image of Siberian tiger scentmarking a ﬁr tree in the Russian Far East titled The Embrace. Gorshkov spent eleven months using motion sensor cameras to capture the picture. Chair of the judging panel Roz Kidman Cox noted: “It’s a story told in glorious colour and texture of the comeback of the Amur tiger, a symbol of the Russian wilderness”. Once distributed across northern Eurasia into Turkey and along the Caspian sea, the tigers now exist in the far east of this area. Thanks to a conservation eﬀort, the number of Amur tigers in the wild has increased from 20-30 to over 500. Although no longer hunted to the verge of extinction, poaching and logging still pose a threat. Gorshov captured the picture in The Land of the Leopard national park close to Vladivostock where many of the Amur tigers live.
The BBC adaptation of War and Peace based on Leo Tolstoy’s depiction of ﬁve upper-class families with homes in Moscow, St Petersburg and country retreats ﬁlmed the majority in Lithuania, to the South of Russia. However, because such a range of locations were needed, some of the more opulent settings were found in St Petersburg. The famous Catherine Palace stars in the series and can be recognised by the blue and white candy-striped gates, and the mirrored ballroom used for the scene where Natasha Rostov ﬁrst dances with Prince Andrei. Yusupov Palace, a historic palace set on the Moika river, also features. These settings and Soviet era urban environments also lend themselves particularly well to advertising shoots. The nation spans two continents and is home to over 190 ethnicities, so casting options for both European and Asian markets can be found in the major hubs.
ESSEntial FactS incEntiVE
30-40% tax incEntiVES
To receive a rebate, companies must pass a screening test & meet minimum spending requirements for various kinds of audiovisual productions:
As the major production hub in the country, Moscow itself has a dedicated ﬁlm commission and aids with information regarding locations, permits and information on local service providers. International shoots to have been carried out here include Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and The Americans.
RUB15 million for live action. RUB3.75 million for documentaries. RUB5 million for animated ﬁlms.
There is also a range of private and state owned studios across the country. The largest is Mosﬁlm with three backlots and 16 soundstages in Moscow but there are many more mostly concentrated around St Petersburg and Moscow. Productions in search of authentic Soviet military equipment will be able to ﬁnd it here. Moscow’s Mosﬁlm Studio has tanks and artillery installations as well as aeroplanes and aircraft sets ready for ﬁlming.
The Russian VFX, CG animation and post production sector is also centred in Moscow. “Recently we are receiving more and more requests from Chinese customers: the main reason would be our ability to provide high quality service, comparable to the best western companies, but at a lower price,” says Arman Yahni, CEO at Main Post Road, a visual eﬀects studio which has been involved in some of the largest Russian ﬁlms of the last decade, as well as a number of international projects. Recent credits include Egor Abramenko’s Sputnik, which has been released on VOD in the US and elsewhere, Invasion by Fedor Bondarchuk and Cosmoball by Dzhanik Fayziev.
Applications are considered based on the number of days spent in Russia on pre, physical and post-production work as well as the number of Russian creatives & crew being used.
European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production as well as bilateral treaties with Spain, France, Bulgaria, Italy, Canada, & Germany. ata caRnEt
Over 30 across the country. The largest are Mosﬁlm Cinema in Moscow with 16 soundstages, Gorky Film Studios in Moscow. In St Petersburg Kinostudia and Lenﬁlm have six soundstages each. tiME ZonE
GMT+2/12 intERnational talEnt
Directors Andrei Konchalovsky & Kantemir Balagov, Actors Ravil Isyanov, Vladimir Mashov & Michael Gorevoy.
AVODs Eye Europe
AD FUNDED STREAMERS HAVE ENJOYED METEORIC GROWTH IN THE US. CAN THEY REPEAT THEIR SUCCESS IN EUROPE?
Advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) services are winning over TV advertisers and brands, offering a targeted way of reaching a growing number of viewers. The US and China have quickly adopted AVOD platforms, but can they succeed in Europe’s more fragmented market?
lowly but surely advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) streamers are emerging from the shade of their subscription video on demand (SVOD) cousins.
Certainly, they are enjoying explosive growth in the US. Recent research from Ampere Analysis found that almost one in ﬁve US internet users are now accessing AVOD services such Fox-owned Tubi, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, Comcast’s Xumo, Amazon’s IMDb TV and tech ﬁrm Roku’s Roku TV. Although not oﬀering compelling new and original content like the SVODs (around 80% of AVODs’ catalogue is over ﬁve years old) these free platforms
are able to oﬀer catalogue sizes similar to the major paid for platforms in the US. Among the most popular AVOD platforms, Tubi oﬀers more than 29,000 titles. Reality TV is a key genre, while the service oﬀers ﬁve times as many movies as Netﬂix. Tubi says monthly active users reached 33 million in August – up 65% year on year, with viewing booming during Covid-19 lockdowns. Notably, Ampere believes that the two kinds of platforms aren’t competing for exactly the same audiences. Active AVOD users tend to be older than SVOD subscribers, and are more likely to be from lower income households.
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“Free ad-funded platforms will ﬁnd themselves well-positioned to attract an audience that is either unable or unwilling to pay for multiple subscriptions,” says Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere Analysis.
there are Just not as many start-ups or ‘digital By dna’ vod platforms in europe as there are in the us per square mile.
Underlining the growth opportunities, advertising expenditure on US AVOD platforms is expected to triple from USD8 billion in 2019 to USD24 billion in 2025, according to Digital TV Research. China, Japan and India are also signiﬁcant and maturing AVOD markets. Having secured a ﬁrm foothold in the US, Europe is now on the radar for leading AVOD players. ViacomCBS launched Pluto TV in Spain at the end of October. It will then roll out Pluto TV in France and Italy in 2021, the French launch being set for the ﬁrst quarter of 2021. Pluto TV has already launched in the UK, and in Germany and Austria in 2018. The Spanish version of Pluto TV oﬀers 40 thematic channels and thousands of hours of free content across diﬀerent genres, and works with 20 content partners such as All3Media, Baniijay, Lionsgate and Fremantle. Notably, Pluto TV has partnered with Movistar Plus, the Spanish pay TV division of giant European telco Telefonica, which is selling its advertising space in Spain. Elsewhere, Tubi – which is currently available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and launched in Mexico in June – has said it is targeting a UK launch. Other AVOD services such as Plex, sports service SportsTribalTV as well as Roku are also available in Europe, or are gearing up to launch. So how are AVOD services expected to fare in Europe – will they experience the meteoric growth that the ad funded streamers have experienced in the US?
Images: Fox Entertainment & Tubi, ViacomCBS & Pluto TV, Amazon.
Many think the European trajectory of AVOD will be very diﬀerent from the US. Ian McKee, the founder of online programme sales platform Vuulr, notes that the European market is more dominated by broadcaster, pay-TV or telco spin-oﬀ AVODs – like ITV Hub or 4oD in the UK – rather than pure-play start-up AVODs. These spin-oﬀ AVODs, he says, do not behave as aggressively as the equivalent AVOD platforms in the US. “There are just not as many start-ups or ‘digital by DNA’ VOD platforms in Europe as there are in the US per square mile,” says McKee. “Europe is “we’re seeiNg a actually a fragmented treNd for media market versus the US buyers moviNg their which is a single market, moNey from liNear and culturally they do sit to digital, aNd iN a little to the right on the diﬀusion of innovation Particular moviNg curve and have a “let’s it iNto avod.” wait to see “ attitude. In general, McKee adds, US organisations seem to lean into digital faster with a “it’s better to try and fail than never to try at all” approach. Max Einhorn, SVP acquisitions and co-productions at producer, distributor and AVOD channel provider FilmRise agrees that the US is embracing digital transformation more quickly and more fundamentally. “We like to think that Europe is a few years behind,” says Einhorn. He echoes McKee’s point about the fragmented nature of the market. The biggest opportunities for AVOD players, notes Einhorn, are in the markets where ad spend is highest, such as the US, China and Japan. Einhorn, however, is keenly aware of the opportunities for AVOD players. The market is currently small, but “there’s lots of potential.” “There’s a tectonic shift in the way advertisers are spending their money,” says Einhorn. “In the US, advertisers have really learned that spending in a
BACK TO CONTENTS broadcast manner is a bit of an ineﬀective way to get returns. Because when you spend in a digital manner, you can actually do signiﬁcantly more targeting, down even to the household level. So we’ve seen a meaningful shift away from linear.” Internet enabled, connected AVOD platforms, of course, allow advertisers to target audiences more eﬀectively, via addressable advertising (see our Targeted TV Ads on page 108) – something that could be pivotal for revenues for ad supported platforms. Advertisers are embracing AVOD service, says Tubi chief content oﬃcer Adam Lewinson, who describes his service as a kind of free Netﬂix: “Linear is in secular decline. We’re seeing a trend for media buyers moving their money from linear to digital, and in particular moving it in to AVOD.” we’ve seen a wider adoption of ad-supported viewing across the european market as consumers spend more time at home and experiment with new media and entertainment options.
Mainstream brands – from car manufacturers, fast food restaurants, insurance companies through to drinks ﬁrms – advertise on Tubi. “The ad experience doesn’t look and feel that diﬀerent than watching linear TV – with the exception that we have less than half the ad load of regular TV. It’s much better for the viewer and for the advertiser, because there is less clutter.”
Meanwhile, Rakuten TV, which oﬀers a TVOD (transactional video on demand) service, launched AVOD channels within its platform in Europe last year. “I believe that in the medium to long term, we will end up with oﬀerings that are a hybrid of both AVOD and SVOD,” says Vuulr’s McKee. “It will then become the consumer’s choice as to “i believe that iN whether they feel the medium to aﬄuent enough to pay loNg term, we and avoid the adverts, or will eNd uP with would rather have the offeriNgs that are ads and watch content a hybrid of both for free. Indeed, people avod aNd svod.” might toggle between them quite ﬂuidly.
Certainly, experts believe that viewers will sign up to AVOD services in Europe. Already there is sign of ‘subscription fatigue’ among many consumers, and this is likely to accelerate amid the economic challenges caused by coronavirus.
“At the moment, there is a false sense of pitting of AVOD versus SVOD. And in reality, AVOD suits some people, SVOD suits others. In my view – if you’re a platform company, you can let the subscriber choose and so appeal to a bigger base. However, this has an impact on how rights are acquired.”
“Ad supported viewing oﬀers an attractive solution to combat subscription fatigue and is a more economically palatable means of viewing content for many,” says Ariﬀ Sidi, general manager and chief product oﬃcer, media platform, at Verizon Media. Sidi cites recent research from Rakuten which found that 60% of European consumers would subscribe to an ad supported option to access free content. But he notes that awareness remains a vital issue for platforms, as only 37% of European consumers are aware of ad supported platforms.
McKee says there are other factors to take into account for where AVOD will take oﬀ – notably country socio-demographics and credit card penetration: “In parts of the world where people are aﬄuent and there’s a high penetration of credit cards, then it’s easy to see how SVOD is going to be successful. These people are experienced optimisers from a psychographic perspective and they can, and will, spend to have a better experience.
“Despite this, the European streaming market continues to grow. Driving greater awareness of entertainment possibilities coupled with consumers having more time to consume content will mean the European AVOD market is primed for growth.” Sidi believes that the prevalence and penetration of free-to-air TV in Europe compared to the US will aid the transition to ad supported streaming. The pandemic, as in so many areas, has accelerated trends that many were predicting would take place in the next few years. “We’ve seen a wider adoption of ad-supported viewing across the European market as consumers spend more time at home and continue to show a greater willingness to experiment with new media and entertainment options,” said Sidi. Like many observers, he expects to see more players adopt a hybrid of subscription and advertising models “to create an attractive proposition for advertisers and consumers and kickstart broader adoption of ad-supported viewing.” 118
Peacock, the big-budget streaming service of Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, is a good example of a hybrid streaming model. It launched in the US in July with a free-to-view tier featuring over 13,000 hours of programming, and two paid-for tiers with over 20,000 hours of premium content plus live sports.
“But then in other parts of the world, for example some of the Asian countries, or African countries where there’s a very low penetration of credit card usage, then payment becomes an issue and AVOD becomes much more attractive because of its simplicity to roll out.” It's important to stress that the AVOD market is still at a nascent stage in Europe. The challenges facing new or ﬂedgling ad supported services are signiﬁcant: there are already strong incumbent free TV players with spin-oﬀ AVOD services, and while the AVOD sector itself remains ripe for consolidation, with too many services chasing advertising dollars. It could be, however, that AVOD platforms will further disrupt Europe’s already challenged free-to-air commercial broadcasters, by oﬀering a huge range of content online for free in one convenient place. So far, the ﬁght between AVOD, SVOD and traditional TV is at the skirmishing stage – expect it to heat up in the next few years.
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South africa has long been considered a cost-eﬀective destination where producers can depend on production quality. incoming productions are invariably looking for the extensive range of locations South africa can provide backed up by its modern studios and reliable, knowledgeable crews.
outh Africa is an in demand production hub with a long track record as a destination for ﬁlm and TV as well as high-end advertising. There are two main production hubs in the biggest cities Johannesburg and Cape Town. Both provide up to date soundstages and facilities with many locations in close proximity to these centres that are able to double for much of the African continent and further aﬁeld. Savannah, desert dunes and green winelands are all in close proximity.
ITV series The Widow found its settings for Kinshasha, Congo in Durban as well as a Cape Town township. Further aﬁeld, season four of Homeland, doubled Cape Town for the modern city of Islamabad and older cities in Pakistan. Starz’ Outlander and Black Sails both doubled the country for the “The Two hours Caribbean. Most recently, Ridley Time difference To Scott series Raised by Wolves europe is an added ﬁlmed in Cape Town Studios and bonus aT a Time locations in the Western Cape where the mountainous landscape when remoTe, or plays the backdrop for two parTially remoTe androids who are raising producTions human children on a mysterious have become virgin planet where they learn commonplace.” how to manipulate the human belief system. On the East coast, Durban and KwaZulu-Natal are also positioning themselves as destinations for productions. “From the tumbling hills of the Midlands, to the lush green plains, to the snow covered Drakensberg Mountains, down to the beautiful beaches of the Indian ocean, no
Waterkloof Wine Estate, Somerset West Set between the Cape Winelands and False Bay, Somerset West is surrounded by the Helderberg Mountains, on the outskirts of Cape Town. There are a number of wineries in the region, and Waterkloof is one of the most eminent. Based on biodynamic farming, the grapes are cultivated in a diverse, balanced ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself that includes chickens and cattle. The estate’s modern restaurant has large glass windows and oﬀers views of the surrounding scenery and has been used as a ﬁlming location in anthology series Black Mirror episode San Junipero, where it played a high end retirement home. Black Mirror has ﬁlmed in South Africa on a number of occasions, most recently for Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too that starred Miley Cyrus as a pop star stuck in an abusive working relationship.
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ESSEntial FactS incEntiVES
20-30% Shooting on location in South Africa, the 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 & conducting post-production in South Africa, & utilising the services of a black-owned service company. For post-production only the incentive is calculated at 20% QSAPPE. An additional 2.5% of Qualifying South African Post-Production Expenditure (QSAPPE) is provided for spending at least R10 million of post-production budget in South Africa (22.5% cumulative). Foreign post-production with QSAPPE of R15 million & above, the incentive is calculated at 25% of the QSAPPE. co-PRoDUction tREatiES
Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, UK, Germany, Italy, Canada & France. ata caRnEt
Many including Q Studios Johannesburg, Film Afrika Cape Town, Atlas Studios Johannesburg & Cape Town Film Studios. tiME ZonE
GMT +2 intERnational talEnt
Director Neill Blomkamp, director, screenwriter & producer Gavin Hood, costume designer Diana Cilliers, ﬁlm composer Trevor Rabin & actress Charlize Theron.
other province in South Africa is as diverse as KwaZulu-Natal,” says Mu Ngcolosi from the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission. “The province is home to two world heritage sites, the UkhahlambaDrakensburg Park and iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Sodwana Bay, located on the North Coast of the province, is considered to be among the premier dive sites of the world, and is home to the southernmost tropical coral reefs on the planet, which are further south than the Great Barrier Reef. KwaZulu-Natal, is home to scene-setting locations.” South Africa has become synonymous with summer advertising campaigns from the northern hemisphere that are readying launches during the winter months. “We have great talent diversity which is obviously a big draw card for a lot of international shoots. You know you can cast quite a broad spectrum of people quite easily within Cape Town” says Beccy Kellond, partner at Moonlighting Films. During the Coronavirus lockdown, Moonlighting worked on a global campaign for Rexona called Move More at Home. Directed by Caviar’s Thomas Ralph for AMV BDDO the campaign focused on the creative ways people were staying ﬁt at home. The remote shoot sent out a casting call in ﬁve countries including South Africa and the Moonlighting team ran an intense 48 hour casting asking for home videos that received over 500 applicants. “It went from the sublime to the ridiculous” says Kellond. “People who would normally be out surﬁng or swimming in the ocean would tie an elastic band to something in their garden and power swim in their pools at home.” Moreover, the time diﬀerence from Europe is just two hours in the northern hemisphere winter when shoots take place, an added bonus at a time when remote, or partially remote productions have become commonplace. The Rexona shoot is a good example. The UK base was able to give live feedback and adjustments for clips from the ﬁve cast from South Africa, and both teams were working during the daytime. For ﬁlm and TV, South Africa also has one of the few ﬁlming incentives in continental Sub-Saharan Africa. The Foreign Film and Television and Post-production rebate provides 25-30%. Post production can access 20-25% depending on local spend. Co-productions can access the national incentive of 35% on the ﬁrst R6 million of QSAPE and 25% thereafter.
we have greaT TalenT diversiTy which is obviously a big draw for a loT of inTernaTional shooTs. you know you can casT quiTe a broad specTrum of people quiTe easily.
South Africa’s Jerusalema dance challenge has travelled around the world during Covid-19. The track in Zulu-language by Master KG and Nomcebo Zikode went viral after a group of friends in Angola shot a video dancing in February. The gospel song and dance has become a viral sensation, with performances by healthcare workers in France, Sweden, South Africa, the US, Australia, Zimbabwe and Puerto Rico, public places in the UK and Catholic priests in Montreal, Canada under the hashtag #JerusalemaDanceChallenge. President Cyril Ramaphosa urged citizens to take up the Jerusalema Challenge for South Africa’s Heritage Day. The gospel Singer Maser KG said: “It’s so beautiful to see how “Jerusalema” has taken over the world, to see how far it has gone. It ruled the streets and people created memories of that song”.
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Give smaller indies a chance TV commissioning has long faVoured larger producTion suppliers. BuT The coVid-19 pandemic should Be a caTalysT for change – relegaTing The The informal ‘deals’ and ‘faVouriTes’ ThaT haVe shaped commissioning for quiTe some Time To The pasT.
hroughout lockdown, our industry has been awash with webinars, groups, meets and tutorials across social media platforms and online chat services such as Zoom. Interested and intrigued, I’ve joined in with a lot of them.
The guests in the ‘room’ have all ranged in experience and calibre: from channel controllers to those on the front line of production – it’s been an incredibly accessible and informative process to have going on whilst we’ve all been locked away. A common theme amongst these sessions (especially when hearing from channel commissioners) is that above all and anything else, even in a global pandemic, a good idea is all that counts. It’s all you need to hit the jackpot to win a commission and charge through the green light. But is it? Especially if you’re a small indie with a turnover less than one million pounds? Competence and credibility will forever factor into the equation and surely the commissioning editor ‘relationship’ will likely be relied upon even more. The possibility to build those relationships because of all that’s happened is overwhelmingly positive. ‘Speed meets’ on Zoom and the opportunity to hear directly from channel controllers are both incredibly good things to come out of the pandemic. Interaction is elevated and that’s great news. But commissioning seems to have long favoured larger suppliers, with the highest percentage of new primary commissions going to those with revenues of GBP70 million plus (according to a 2018 PACT survey). Indies with a turnover of GBP1-5 million struggle to push into that share. Those even smaller, of which there are around 250 in the UK – with a turnover less than GBP1 million – factor even less across terrestrial networks – sometimes not at all.
So where does that leave those smaller indies now, or those just starting out? Likely in a teeth chattering precarious place, scrambling for funded development whilst sometimes being asked to compete in much the same way when it comes to pitching volume and materials. Honestly, how do you compete with a company turning over GBP70 million plus, or over GBP5 million for that matter? Whilst no doubt relishing the opportunity to engage and pitch their ‘perfect idea’ – small indies and producers are going to hope that networks don’t continue to lean towards their already established suppliers. Or in a world where budgets are small and schedules are tight, towards com-panies with bigger turnovers and proﬁts that can ride overspend and carry ﬁnancial risk of their own. Especially when the competition just got tougher. Broadcasters are no doubt awash with ideas and suppliers to choose from, with everyone having done very little but development these past few months. I hope – just as they’ve worked hard to level the ﬁeld when it comes to engaging in hearing ideas – they work as hard when it comes to greenlighting them. Especially given the number of smaller ﬁsh, hundreds of them, looking to break through the ice. The pandemic needs to continue to push us to a place where relationships remain key, of course they have to – but the informal ‘deals’ and ‘favourites’ that have shaped commissioning for quite some time are relegated to the past. This is a new era, where more voices can be heard, and good ideas – from everyone and indies everywhere can hopefully be allowed to shine through. Graham Sherrington is a director and executive producer of TV shows in the UK and US. He started his career on Top Gear, The Apprentice and Grand Designs before heading to the US where projects included Netflix Original Fastest Car and episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? He recently served as host series director on Limitless, a science super-doc for National Geographic fronted by actor Chris Hemsworth. His commercials work includes ads for BBH, Ogilvy and M&C Saatchi, for brands such as Waitrose, Hellmann's and Alpen.
Is the global industry confronting the diversity issue?
Half of Universal Pictures' 2019 releases, which included Us (pictured), Queen & Slim and Ma, starred female protagonists, according to the Inclusion Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Image: Us ÂŠ 2019 Universal Studios.
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The killing of george floyd and The jailing of harVey WeinsTein gaVe added impeTus To The Black liVes maTTer and #meToo campaigns in The us and uk in 2020. BuT WhaT’s The sTory gloBally? hoW are The creaTiVe indusTries around The World responding? MAKERS inVesTigaTes.
oronavirus has, understandably, dominated the news agenda in 2020. But the other big news story of the year has been around the issue of diversity, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in May and the jailing of disgraced ﬁlm producer Harvey Weinstein in March. The events gave added impetus to the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo campaigns, and focused attention on the imbalances in many workforces around the world. That has certainly been the case in the US and UK TV and ﬁlm industry, where there have been widespread calls for change. In the UK, for example, oﬃcial industry research consistently shows that those who identify as BAME, female or disabled are signiﬁcantly underrepresented on and oﬀ screen, and particularly in leadership positions within TV and ﬁlm. Hollywood's record in diversity and inclusion has improved in recent years, but it still lags behind the population – particularly in its executive ranks. Eﬀorts are being made to address the issue at the highest levels. The organisers of both the Oscars and the BAFTAs have made a series of changes to their voting procedures in eﬀort to put a stop to the all-white, all-male shortlists their voting members frequently draw up. The Oscars introduced diversity criteria for nominated ﬁlms in some categories, while all voting members of BAFTA will have to undergo unconscious bias training before casting any ballots. The BBC’s new director-general, Tim Davie, has said he intends to create a “50-20-12 organisation” a reference to the percentage of staﬀ who are female, from BAME backgrounds and those that have disabilities. Those BBC managers who fail to reach diversity targets will not be promoted, said Davie soon after taking over at the broadcaster. As protests erupted across the US following the death of George Floyd, every major entertainment company in Hollywood issued statements of support for the black community. Some companies have been more proactive. Half of Universal Pictures' 2019 releases, which included Us (pictured left), Queen & Slim and Ma, starred female protagonists, according to the Inclusion Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Universal, the lone major studio headed by a woman in Donna Langley, also led in female directors, writers and producers, as well as lead roles from underrepresented groups. Eﬀorts to improve diversity are also being made for ﬁnancial reasons too: a recent UCLA study (Beyond Checking A Box: A Lack of Authentically Inclusive Representation Has Costs at the Box Oﬃce), found that bringing authentic diversity to ﬁlm improves ﬁnancial performance at the box oﬃce while a lack of diversity can result in losses for studios. The report found that movie studios can expect to lose up to USD130 million per ﬁlm when their oﬀerings lack diversity in their storytelling. Indeed, ﬁlms like the Latino-fronted Pixar animated pic Coco, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and Warner Bros’ Crazy Rich Asians have proved that racially diverse casts can bring in highly proﬁtable grosses at the box oﬃce. While eﬀorts to address diversity in the media industry in the US and the UK have received widespread coverage in the wake of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, what’s the story elsewhere? Within Europe, Sweden has been a diversity champion. The Swedish Film Institute, for example, launched its 5050×2020 campaign for gender parity at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The campaign was subsequently joined by ﬁlm institutes and festivals around the world.
“france is a beauTiful counTry, Thinking ThaT we are advanced and modern and very open minded abouT This [diversiTy] quesTion buT iT's noT The case, absoluTely noT.”
Speaking at the BFI London Film Festival in October, Anna Serner, the CEO of the Swedish Film Institute said the local industry was supportive of the organisation’s moves to improve gender and racial diversity, and to fund projects from a new generation of talent: “We have to make sure that we give power and voices to people that didn't have it before. And that goes for not only women, people of colour, but also people of low classes that are far away from being privileged middle class people close to the ﬁlm schools. Everyone understands and everyone agrees, even though they are ﬁghting for their lives.”
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Images: Queen & Slim © 2019 Royalty Holdings LLC. Ma © 2019 Universal Studios.
The gloBalised naTure of The media indusTry means ThaT diVersiTy iniTiaTiVes from key cenTres of poWer, such as hollyWood, haVe WorldWide resonance.
“That's why I'm so positive. I've been working with these questions for quite a few years now, and I've met so much resistance. Suddenly now I don't. I think it's because everyone realises… going back to what we had is not an option.”
there has been high-level recognition at European Union level of the need to ﬁght structural racism. The action plan strongly urges member states to have better policies against racism and to report regularly about it.
Within Scandinavia, leading producer and broadcaster Nordic Entertainment Group recently ranked in the top two of the SHE Index 2020 – which measures companies on gender balance and inclusion – in Sweden.
Elsewhere, a recent diversity report threw a spotlight on the make-up of the Australian media. Media Diversity Australia’s study Who Gets to Tell Australian Stories? shows that free-to-air networks are disproportionately white compared with the wider Australian population – 76% of presenters, commentators and reporters on free-to-air networks are Anglo-Celtic despite making up only 58% of the population. Non-European and Indigenous Australians, who combined form 24% of the population, made up only 11% of free-to-air news personalities.
France is also confronting the diversity issue. In March, several actresses walked out of the César awards ceremony in Paris after Roman Polanski won best director. The awards had been mired in controversy after Polanski's An Oﬃcer and a Spy received 12 nominations. The Polish-French director has been wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl since the 1970s; the decision to honour Polanski at this year's awards had angered feminist groups and led to calls for a boycott. The César's entire board resigned earlier this month amid the backlash. Also at the Cesars, French actress Aissa Maïga spoke powerfully about the discriminatory treatment of actors of colour. "We survived whitewashing, blackface, tons of dealer roles, housekeepers with a Bwana accent, we survived the roles of terrorists, all the roles of hyper-sexualized girls," she said onstage. "But we are not going to leave French cinema alone." The speech left the mostly white audience stunned to silence. Bérénice Vincent, co-founder of Paris-based sales company Totem Films recognises that the country needs to do more to improve diversity. Also speaking at the BFI London Film Festival, she said: “France is a beautiful country, thinking that we are advanced and modern and very open minded about this question but it's not the case, absolutely not.” Germany is also addressing diversity. In July, an alliance of German companies and associations launched the country’s ﬁrst survey about diversity in front of and behind the camera, which is being run by Citizens for Europe. A spokesperson for German public broadcaster ZDF tells makers that it has appointed diversity delegate and has signed the so-called "Charta der Vielfalt", a countrywide diversity initiative. “Diversity is on top of our agenda: thus, for instance, the choice of our editorial trainees reﬂects this diversity and the editorial staﬀ strive for diverse guest lists for talk shows.” Within Europe, however, there is often a belief that a lack of diversity is not a problem, and that it is an issue that aﬀects societies such as the UK or the US. Clearly, that is not the case. In September, the European Commission published its EU Anti-Racism Action Plan. It’s the ﬁrst time that
BLACK LIVES MATTER 128
Minorities were also underrepresented at senior management and executive levels, the report found. National news directors across the board were all “i've been working white men, it said. All wiTh These this despite the fact that Australian society is a [diversiTy] quesTions mosaic of the world’s for quiTe a few cultures, with almost years now, and i've half of the nation either meT so much born overseas or with a resisTance. suddenly parent born overseas and more than 300 now i don'T.” languages spoken. Even if media industries are resistant to change, it is going to be hard for them to do so in the future. The globalized nature of the media industry means that diversity initiatives from key centres of power, such as Hollywood, have worldwide resonance. This was demonstrated this autumn by ViacomCBS Networks International new company-wide production policy: “No Diversity, No Commission” which requires that all new international productions be made by a diverse team. The policy will apply to VCNI’s business across ﬁve continents and more than 180 countries, across channels such as MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and Nickelodeon. The “No Diversity, No Commission” initiative was initially launched by ViacomCBS Networks UK in July and will require production companies to adhere to diversity guidelines before budgets are signed oﬀ and productions are approved to begin. Whether they like it or not, change is coming to the media industries around the world.
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The State of UK Studios MAKERS LOOKS AT HOW UK STUDIOS ARE FARING. WHAT HAS CHANGED IN 2020?
Image: e Pursuit of Love © eodora Films & Moonage Pictures.
Rather than curb the need for studios, Covid-19 has only fuelled demand in the UK for stage space. The past year has seen a raft of new studio developments announced, amid a scramble by productions to secure space as filming restrictions were lifted.
hen the production industry shutdown in March, studios were quick to investigate how they could adapt to ensure that production could safely resume as quickly as possible. Studios also drew on oﬃcial industry guidelines that were published in early June. “We have a dedicated Covid-19 safety supervisor in place at The Bottle Yard Studios,” says Laura Avlies, senior Bristol ﬁlm manager. “We published our Covid-19 Site Operating Procedures in June to support the productions and businesses based here. Being a multi-occupancy site, our focus has been on
increased cleaning regimes, site zoning, signage, sanitiser stations, one way systems, restrictions on communal spaces; these are just some of the areas where changes have been carefully planned and implemented”. Since lockdown lifted some of the ﬁrst high-end TV titles to resume ﬁlming in the UK shot in Bristol, including Pursuit of Love (pictured above) and the second season of War of the Worlds, which were up and running again by late July.
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Image: Masterchef: e Professionals © BBC & Shine TV.
“Projects initially started very small – some with a maximum of ﬁve crew – and grew slowly and safely in scale,” says Johnny Lincoln, head of sales and marketing at London’s 3 Mills Studios.
The liVerpool pop-up sTudio scheme is a shorT-Term soluTion To meeT currenT indusTry demand as, posT coVid-19, The demand for sTudio space in The uk is greaTer Than eVer.
“It has been highly impressive to see a range of productions pivot and apply their creative problem solving to the challenges of the new situation. A key part of this is the tying in the role of the Covid-19 production coordinator role with the Studio to help ensure all elements of production activity are carefully considered.” “The quick work of industry bodies and producers in establishing industry-wide protocols and guidelines have meant we have seen conﬁdence gradually grow and appetite to return to ﬁlming quickly rebound” adds Lincoln. “Our long-standing format, BBC’s MasterChef, (pictured above) was a brilliant example of applying this and quickly adapted their production for a successful restart to ﬁlming.” Aviles agrees, stating: “Recovery in Bristol has been relatively fast. Everyone on the ground has embraced the new safety measures and shown real resourcefulness; it's been everyone's goal to get production moving again for the beneﬁt of all involved. Right now we're seeing a high level of enquiries coming in every day, often with producers seeking more studio space rather than less.” The quick return of production to studios signals the unabated appetite for UK soundstages by both domestic and international work despite the impact of Covid-19. In 2018 a Lambert Smith Hampton report estimated that 1.9 million sqft of new ﬁlm and studio space would be needed in the UK to meet content demand. Due to the requirements of social distancing, productions are having to expand in
terms of space required meaning that the existing squeeze on production space has only been intensiﬁed. The Covid crisis has provided some temporary relief by way of ‘pop-up’ studios in warehouses or exhibition centres that are now standing empty. The ExCeL exhibition centre in London, usually booked up with international tradeshows and exhibitions, opened its one million sqft of pillarless space for hire, complete with drive in access, oﬃces, green rooms and production space, parking and 33ft clear “everyone on The height to rigging. As ground has expected, the space, embraced The new made available to safeTy measures production until April, and shown real quickly captured interest resourcefulness; from the UK as well as international projects. iT's been everyone's goal To geT
Liverpool City Council producTion also recently announced moving again .” an extra 40,000sqft of studio space directly adjacent to the planned GBP50 million Littlewoods Studio by way of two 20,000sqft stages. “The purpose of the scheme is a short-term solution to meet current industry demand and post Covid-19 the demand for studio space in the UK is greater than ever,” says Lynn Saunders, head of Liverpool Film Oﬃce. “It will also provide a solid base for the longer-term success of the Littlewoods Studio scheme.” The Littlewoods project is just one of the UK Studio projects and expansions on the horizon. In the north, Manchester’s Space Studios will expand to 105,000sqft of space over eight stages. Demand in greater London has seen Pinewood double in size, Shepperton set to quadruple, while Sky and Universal have announced plans for a large complex
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Image: Batman © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
in Elstree, north west London. In east London, Hollywood studio operator MBS Group is to develop a major studio complex in Dagenham studio complex in a GBP300 million deal, while Ashford International Film Studios in Kent has been given approval too. increased cleaning regimes, siTe zoning, signage, saniTiser sTaTions, one Way sysTems, resTricTions on communal spaces; These are jusT some of The areas Where changes haVe Been carefully planned and implemenTed.
“London is growing eastward, residentially, and commercially, and all manner of industry is also looking east. With key production facilities at other studios in London’s west locked up by long term deals, producers are naturally looking eastward too,” says Paul de Carvalho, general manager of 3 Mills Studios, based near Stratford in east London. The Rapid Skills Report, research produced by Dagenham Film Oﬃce with the support of Film London, found that there is very little geographical evidence of why a new studio site in Dagenham should face any worse or diﬀerent crewing and recruitment issues than those to the west of London. “I am very bullish about the east and the idea that the Thames Estuary Production Corridor and the creative industries are key to London’s growth,” says Carvalho. The corridor is the Mayor’s vision to unite east London, the north Kent Coast and south Essex to create a new centre for creative and cultural production of which joins Dagenham, Three Mills, and sites further aﬁeld in Ashford, Kent. “The new facilities which have been announced represent a variety of scales – from blockbuster to boutique – so will no doubt draw a range of domestic and international productions, and build on the work of established venues such as 3 Mills Studios to create an even greater creative ecosystem on the east side of London,” says Carvalho. Outside of London, the UK’s regions are securing their growing role in the ﬁlming the ecosystem with the oﬀer of new studios. “Liverpool is the most ﬁlmed in city out of London with 1000’s of high-end TV dramas and feature ﬁlms ﬁlmed on location in its diverse and magniﬁcent location-based
backlot over the past 100 years,” says Saunders. “The city recorded production levels are back 70%, with the USD100 million Batman ﬁlming in the city”. Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios is an example of how a studio can be instrumental in cementing a city’s proﬁle as a centre for TV and ﬁlm production. “When the Studios opened in 2010, it was relatively unusual for a local authority to repurpose “The new faciliTies disused Council-owned which have been buildings into spaces for announced are production. The risk a varieTy of sizes – paid oﬀ, productions from blockbusTer now bring in around GBP17 million a year to To bouTique – the Bristol economy and so will no doubT there are a number of draw a range cities looking at how of domesTic and they can achieve the inTernaTional same around the UK,” producTions.” says Aviles who was recently hired to oversee both the studios and Bristol Film Oﬃce to make sure that the city can deliver a single, complete and consistent oﬀer encompassing studio and location ﬁlming. With so many new sites in the works, the industry is speculating that the GBP3.6 billion of production spend in the UK will continue to increase. In recent comments to The Guardian newspaper, Adrian Wootton, the chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “If we can deliver the stage space we can move from the almost GBP4 billion investment in productions in the UK to GBP6 billion in the next ﬁve years. The growth curve is such that we are nowhere near the ceiling.”
RedeďŹ ning the meaning of shooting safe
When lockdown initially eased, studios were considered the safest places to shoot because the movement of people are easier to control.
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ensuring healTh and safeTy on seT has alWays Been The responsiBiliTy of a producTion, BuT coVid-19 has compleTely redefined WhaT This means. The aBundance of neW facTors aT play add To The cosT, Time and flexiBiliTy of any shooT and The experTise of healTh and safeTy consulTanTs has neVer Been in such high demand.
In 2020 an entirely new department was created that quickly became indispensable. The Covid Department is essential to the smooth running of any type of production by minimising the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak on set, tracking and isolating positive cases amongst cast and crew and ensuring every other department is able to fulﬁl its functions within the parameters of the Covid-19 guidelines. Putting into practice the guidelines that were created on paper on a functioning set is no easy task, and at the bigger end of the production spectrum the numbers needed in a Covid Department can easily go into double digits. Ludek Herda is a Covid marshal based in the Czech Republic, where various large projects have shot since the lockdown was lifted, including Amazon Prime’s Carnival Row, and several European co-productions. He says his team’s role is divided into several phases. “Firstly, we must continuously obtain as much relevant information as possible on Covid-19, how it spreads, and how to prevent its transmission. It is important to update workﬂows based on the latest information. In cooperation with government hygiene oﬃcials, occupational safety workers, infectious disease specialists, and ﬁlm producers, we then draw up detailed regulations for individual departments. However, the most important task for the Covid team is to get the entire ﬁlm crew on their side. The moment the crew understands the need for all the safety measures, we’ve won at least half the battle. Automatic use of protective masks, maintaining safe distances, and constant disinfection guarantee a smooth shoot.” During lockdown accredited Covid-19 training courses were taken by professionals in order to further understand how the guidelines would function, and how to mitigate risk – a beneﬁcial qualiﬁcation to show when applying for new roles during the pandemic. In November, the Production Guild of Great Britain unveiled an accredited Covid Supervisor Training that aimed to introduce an “international standard of best practice” that acknowledged how guidelines diﬀered in every country. The course is developed in consultation with the US based Producers Guild of America’s Production Safety Task Force to ensure that crew and Covid supervisors working on the large number of incoming shoots in the UK would meet necessary
requirements. The course is targeted at production managers, line producers and location managers, many of whom have pivoted to perform the crucial Covid department roles, or beneﬁt from a solid understanding of how productions function under the new parameters. Health & safety and risk assessment specialists have seen an increase in demand too. Remote Trauma are one such provider which quickly pivoted to helping productions get up and running again. “It's changed the whole safety advisory aspects within the industry,” says Alex Bohanna, managing director of Remote Trauma. “What they invariably want is someone from the outset who can give them the advice over lots of diﬀerent directions or routes.” This can include writing Covid-19 safety plans, operating procedures, and risk assessments, and setting up areas for crew and testing. “We are “The producTion seeing a change, people guild unveiled an are becoming a lot more accrediTed covid aware of it, which is great. They are not supervisor always requiring our Training ThaT services, mostly it is for aimed To inTroduce testing productions.” an “inTernaTional
sTandard of besT Strict and regular testing is one way that shoots pracTice” ThaT have been able to get acknowledged back to work, although how guidelines there are a number of differed in every ways productions can counTry.” approach this. Some facilitate daily testing for all cast and crew. Although the budget consideration for this is steep it can aﬀord producers more assurance, although the potential for “false negatives” also increases in line with the number of tests being carried out. Another way of organising the testing system is to carry out more regular testing within the highest tiers of a production, typically including lead actors, directors and producers and other crucial members of a production. By keeping the tiers separate, higher tiers are more protected from cases on lower tiers of a production.
When lockdown initially eased, studios were considered the safest places to shoot because the movement of people are easier to control. Studio facilities were involved in setting up ﬂuid systems to help direct people around the site, as well as cleaning regimes.
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Images: e Bridge © Pete Dadds & Channel 4. Celebrity SAS © Pete Dadds & Channel 4.
sTricT and regular TesTing is one Way ThaT shooTs haVe Been aBle To geT Back To Work, alThough There are a numBer of Ways in Which a producTion can approach This.
However, research has shown that Covid-19 spreads less easily outdoors, and on location ﬁlming picked up over the summer months. Some of the ﬁrst productions putting the new guidelines into practice were Channel 4 series The Bridge (pictured above) and Celebrity SAS (pictured below) which ﬁlmed in Scotland. “The strategy for The Bridge was to isolate everybody in order to create a complete and utter containment bubble,” explains Bohanna. Talent, contributors and crew were PCR tested on day one to see if the virus had been brought in, and stayed in isolation until day four or ﬁve, when retesting would show any virus that had been missed in the ﬁrst test. This crucial window was the time needed for a virus to build and be picked up in a test. Once ﬁlming began, containment was crucial to protect the bubble. However, not every shoot can work in such isolation and it would be particularly impractical budget wise for large projects that shoot for months on end. Even with the tightest plans in place, there is always the potential for a Covid carrier to be on set, but a large role of the Covid-19 department is to pick these up and prevent any further spread. The case of Robert Pattinson, who reportedly contracted Covid-19 from his stunt double, was a worse-case scenario for a production but even with the main star in isolation, the shoot managed to continue after a short hiatus. The health and safety for overseas shoots does add another layer of consideration and uncertainty but it is a hurdle that many producers are preparing to scale. The BBC’s hit drama Death in Paradise is a prime example of a shoot that took place abroad soon after lockdown eased. In late July it became the biggest BBC single camera drama to start ﬁlming since lockdown lifted, despite the fact that it shoots on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. In order to begin principal production on the tenth series, production company Red Planet Pictures worked closely with industry bodies and the BBC on its Covid plans. Working in a remote location was seen as a positive by the production. “We’re fortunate in that our show has certain advantages that perhaps make it better suited than other shows
ASSESSMENT SHOOTING SAFE 138
working in a Covid-19 world,” said executive producer Tim Key to Variety. The majority of cast and crew stay on the island for six months and beyond after the initial ﬂight to Guadeloupe, and they don’t have to commute via public transport. Also, the series doesn’t have big crowd scenes, intimate scenes or violent scenes and much of the show is ﬁlmed outdoors, with a small “when lockdown number of actors. iniTially eased, Changes that were made sTudios were include an expanded considered The production base, with extra oﬃce space to help safesT places To minimize close working shooT because conditions.
The movemenT of people is easier To conTrol.”
Key also noted that Death in Paradise was not dividing cast and crew up into small cohorts of people who don’t come into contact with other groups. Instead, the production decided to maintain a one meter social distancing rule for everybody, reasoning that if one person tests positive within a cohort that’s been working closely together, then the whole cohort would have to self-isolate, delaying production. However, if everyone is maintaining social distancing, then fewer individuals will likely catch and spread the virus.
Now, when considering overseas ﬁlming Covid-19 is considered from the outset, says Bohana. “What we're generally doing right now is looking at the bigger perspective. Are the reporting ﬁgures accurate in those countries? What are the laboratory facilities that they have in those countries? What is the intensive care capability in that country? And then what's the evacuation plan? And how are they managing Covid from the standpoint of isolation when you arrive, which might make it cost prohibitive? Now on recce’s we are going to see the laboratories to see if we can partner with them and if they meet international standards.”