makers - Real insight Into Global Production #8

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FOCUS 2021

CRYING OUT FOR CREW As film and drama production booms, hiring is tougher than ever

LAST CALL FOR INDIE FILM? Independent features battle for talent, finance – and attention


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Welcome to the eighth edition of makers, the biannual magazine for the global production industry. Nearly two years since Covid-19 began spreading around the globe, the creative industries are finally busy again thanks to vaccination programmes and safe shooting protocols.

Nearly two years siNce covid-19 begaN spreadiNg arouNd the globe, the creative iNdustries are fiNally busy agaiN thaNks to vacciNatioN programmes aNd safe shootiNg protocols.


LOCATIONS EDITORS Joe Jackson, Shona Smith





On page 30, we also weigh up the prospects for international commercials shoots. Encouragingly, overseas ad shoots picked up significantly during 2021 and seem set to grow even more during 2022, although environmental concerns about long haul flights may limit the numbers of people travelling.

As we report in our Crew Crunch feature on page 136, the big headache for many producers is simply finding enough experienced crew for film, television and commercials shoots given the high levels of demand for new content. Prices are rising for crews, studios and kit as studios, streamers and broadcasters look to restock after the Covid-19 shutdowns.

Elsewhere, makers provides advice for navigating two digital platforms that thrived during the pandemic: TikTok and Zoom. Our feature on the art of Zoom pitching (page 159) acknowledges that the video platform is here to stay, while our TikTok special (page 64) reveals how brands and independent creatives are making money from a platform that recently passed the one billion monthly user mark.

To provide a truly global perspective, we examine how the post pandemic boom has affected countries such as Croatia and the Dominican Republic in our Bounce Back feature on page 23.

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 also look at other ways the pandemic has left its mark on the industry. One prominent casualty seems to be the independent film industry, which has been hard hit by the closure of cinemas and the absence of film festivals. On page 104, we debate the future of indie film.

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 Tim Dams, editor

Looking ahead, we discuss the outlook for festivals and markets in 2022 on page 98. Are they expecting participants to return, or is the future in hybrid? CONTRIBUTORS Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE, John Rakich, Miranda Fleming, John Smithson, Eve Honthaner MANAGING DIRECTOR Jean-Frédéric Garcia CONSULTANT Ben Greenish FOUNDER Murray Ashton

IN MEMORY OF Sue Hayes PRINTERS Barley Print, UK

PLEASE ADDRESS ALL ENQUIRIES TO THE PUBLISHERS The Location Guide, 312, Mare Street Studios, 203/213 Mare Street, London, E8 3QE UK T (44 20) 7036 0020 E W 2021 © 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.

FINANCE Desmond Kroats, Farhana Anjum


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023 Bouncing Back Production levels are sky high for some territories after Covid-19

072 >NEWS

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 The Future of

Overseas Ad Shoots Are overseas commercials shoots likely to be as popular as they were pre-pandemic?

057 Arizona:

Grand Ambitions The state is building on its long tradition of audiovisual production

064 The TikTok Generation Both brands & independent creatives are turning to TikTok

072 Follow the Green Money The pressure to become more sustainable is mounting. Are green money incentives the answer?

080 Real-time Revolution Are games, television & film starting to intertwine?

098 The Future of

Festivals & Markets Will participants return as in the past, or is the future hybrid?

104 Are Independent Movies

Being Made Any More?

What are the prospects for indie movies & the indie film production sector in a globalised, big budget world?

>CLOSE UP 017 Preview

FOCUS What to expect at this year's show

028 Around the World

THE THRILL OF THE CHASE With LMGI President John Rakich

048 Making of

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS An epic production shot across South Africa & Romania

035 051 Preview

MAKERS & SHAKERS AWARDS We preview this year’s shortlist

>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 regions

035 Canada

Explorers’ paradise

045 Dominican Republic Hot right now

068 Finland

Destination cool


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122 The Book Craze The book rights market is booming

129 Festival Spirit

060 Interview with

NICOLA SHINDLER Founder of Quay Street Productions & Red Production

062 Contributor

MIRANDA FLEMING The uncomfortable truth about niche films

076 Contributor

DAWN MCCARTHY-SIMPSON The rise (and rise) of Indian television

082 Interview with

HELEN ARGO Head of commercials & short form fiction at Aardman Animations


090 Making of

FINDING THE NEW ROADS OF COLOMBIA Winner of a Gold Lion at Cannes in the brand experience category

096 Report

BRANDED IS BACK Advertisers are placing a greater emphasis on the power of meaningful stories

102 Contributor

JOHN SMITHSON Unscripted ambition is rising & so are budgets

116 Interview with

LORENzO MIELI & MARIO GIANANI Two of Italy’s best known producers

To understand Spain’s rapidly growing film & TV industry, start with its film festivals

136 Crew Crunch

As production booms around the world, crewing up is getting tougher

152 Navigating

Cancel Culture makers investigates the rise & ramifications of cancel culture

159 Zoom Pitching

Experts offer makers tips on how to nail your next Zoom pitch

119 Briefing

FOCUS ON CLIMATE ACTION COP26 sparked a raft of pledges from broadcasters & producers

121 Profile

CINESITE The VFX house celebrates its 30th birthday

141 Contributor

EVE HONTHANER The anatomy of a film commission

142 Making of

THE POWER OF THE DOG Jane Campion’s return to film

150 Interview with

LUKE HYAMS Head of originals EMEA at YouTube

085 Ireland

Wild & welcoming

093 Malaysia Total package

111 Scotland Location star

127 Serbia Safe hands

135 Singapore Bright lights

145 Thailand

Enchanting escape

155 Ukraine

Exciting adventures



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ADvertisers reveAl globAl inClusion ChAllenges The first ever global census of the marketing industry has identified key challenges around family status, age and gender as well as ethnicity and disability. The World Federation of Advertisers’ DEI Census found that women and ethnic minorities in the marketing industry report poorer lived experiences than men and ethnic majorities, but concluded that marketing still outperforms many other industries globally. The most common forms of discrimination identified by the survey globally were family status and age, with 27% agreeing that their company does not treat all employees fairly regardless of family status and 27% agreeing that their company does not treat all employees equally regardless of age.

Image: © HBO Max.

HBO Max has begun production on adult animation series Poor Devil, its first animation series commissioned in Spain. Produced by Buendía Estudios, the story centres around Stan, who is just an ordinary boy … except for the fact that he is the Antichrist and is just one month away from turning 666 months old.

36% of respondents agreed that age can hinder one’s career while 40% of women agreed that family status can hinder one’s career.

There is also strong evidence of a gender pay gap in some markets. In the US and Canada, for example, the gap is worst among industry starters with a 13% gap in the US and a 20% gap in Canada. There were similar findings for ethnic minorities, who score lower on key questions such as “feel like I belong at my company” than ethnic majority groups in nearly all markets. In the US, 17% say they have faced discrimination based on their racial background. In a number of markets this is also reflected by a pay gap. Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA, said: “There are significant minorities in all countries saying they witness negative behaviours and discrimination on account of their age, family status, gender, ethnicity, race, disability, mental health, sexuality… such that one in seven considers leaving the industry. No company or industry can ignore this.”

Disney+ greenlights 50 AsiAn-PACiFiC titles The Walt Disney Company is undertaking a major commissioning new shows from South Korea, Japan, expansion into Asian-Pacific content, with plans to Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia. Many of the greenlight more than 50 original titles from the programmes will be presented in local languages, region by 2023 for its Disney+ platform. Disney is from Bahasa Indonesia to Mandarin.

ChinA Proves A heADAChe For hollywooD Hollywood has spent years cultivating China, but amid tightening censorship and unpredictable regulation, studios are finding it increasingly difficult to get their biggest blockbusters into the market. Chinese movie-goers have not seen any Marvel film since Spider-Man: Far from Home in 2019. None of its recent big releases – Black Widow (pictured), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals – have secured release dates in mainland China even though they have made splashes overseas. Some suspect Eternals has faced difficulty securing a release date because its director, Oscar-winning China native Chloe Zhao, was criticised for making an unflattering comment about her homeland during an interview several years ago. 2021 is turning into a disappointment for movie companies in China, which passed the US last year to become the world’s largest film market. US films have grabbed about 15% of the box office, on par with pandemic-impaired sales in 2020 and far less than the 32% they claimed in 2019.


Image: Black Widow © Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Instead, Chinese movie-goers have flocked to see local releases. The result is that Chinese movies are now among the top five films at the global box office, according to Box Office Mojo figures. Battle at Lake Changjin, an epic film about the Chinese army in the Korean war, is the highest grossing film in the world so far this year, just above

Hi, Mom, a heartwarming Chinese movie about a woman going back in time in an attempt to make her mother’s life better. China allows 34 foreign films to be released in the mainland per year. Foreign films are also subject to blackout dates such as the National Day holiday week, when the authorities require that audiences be served only domestic productions.

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Investors spot potential in Africa’s film industry

Netflix has produced a

Number of africaN movies

such as SHADOW aNd QUEEN

SONO, aNd had almost two millioN subscribers iN

africa iN 2020, a Number

expected to grow to 6.3

millioN by 2026.

box oFFiCe returns to liFe in 2021 The film industry is enjoying better than predicted takings at the box office as cinemagoers start to return to theatres around the world after pandemic lockdowns.

ePiC mulls FORTNITE FeAture Film Epic Games is reportedly considering making a Fortnite feature film as part of the company's plans to expand into wider media. Those talks have also reportedly formed part of a broader conversation at Epic about the possibility of "launching an entertainment division focused on scripted video programming" as a way to diversify the studio's brands. Three former Lucasfilm employees have joined Epic Games this year.

However, recent years have seen growing interest from the USA and China, in particular from private companies with a decidedly commercial approach.

The USD21.6 billion estimate would put the 2021 box office 80% ahead of 2020, but still 49% behind 2019's record global tally.

Image: No Time to Die © 2021 Danjaq, LLC & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Gower Street’s global estimate for October has risen nearly 30% to USD3.2 billion. This would put October business just 4% behind the average of the three pre-pandemic years (2017-2019) for the month. No previous month in 2021 had previously performed better than 40% behind the three-year average. Gower Street thinks that Asia Pacific (APAC) will continue to expand its global box office market share from just over 50% in 2020 to 52.2% in 2021, with China driving the growth. EMEA drops from 23.1% to 21.6%, while the US and Canada are predicted to remain relatively unchanged at 21.6% as will Latin America at 4.6%.

The report, The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth, is billed as the first complete mapping of Africa’s film and audiovisual industries, which currently employs an estimated 5 million people and accounts for USD5 billion in GDP. It says the sector has the potential to create over 20 million jobs and contribute USD20 billion to the continent’s GDP. Currently, France, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Portugal and the EU remain important stakeholders in African auteur cinema, funding development initiatives such as film labs, workshops and festivals.

Film research firm Gower Street Analytics recently raised its end of year estimates for global box office in 2021. It has been revised up to USD21.6 billion, from a previous estimate of USD20.2 billion – and Gower Street thinks 2021 box office could even finish around USD22 billion globally.

The upward revision comes in the wake of a bumper October, driven by the release of Chinese blockbuster The Battle Of Lake Changjin, James Bond title No Time To Die (pictured below) and Marvel anti-hero sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage which ramped up cinema-going around the world.

African producers are attracting the interest of new, non-historical partners such as the USA and China, according to a major UNESCO report.

FreelAnCer wellbeing hub lAunChes As part of its Let’s Reset campaign to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people working in the industry, The Film and TV Charity has launched a new digital initiative. The Freelancer Wellbeing Hub houses a range of bespoke educational tools and resources including a 1-minute Wellbeing Check-In quiz to spot signs of stress and identify relevant support and a directory of common industry risk factors for freelancers. netFlix lAunChes gAmes PlAtForm Netflix has rolled out its previously-announced mobile gaming platform for subscribers globally, allowing Android device users with an active Netflix subscription to play a selection of mobile games, including two Stranger Things titles. The service will be used to develop games based on existing Netflix show IP and is also aimed at retaining viewers on-platform; Netflix has previously stated that it competes for attention with gaming services and platforms as much as it does with other video services (please see our feature, page 80).

Netflix has produced a number of African “the report says movies such as Shadow the sector has the and Queen Sono poteNtial to create (pictured below), and over 20 millioN jobs had almost two million subscribers in Africa aNd coNtribute in 2020, a number usd20 billioN to the expected to grow to coNtiNeNt’s gdp.” 6.3 million by 2026. Launching in Africa in 2022, Disney+ is predicted to sign up 3.1 million subscribers by 2026. Walt Disney Studios is also financing Greek Freak – a feature film by Nigerian director Akin Omotoso. In Nigeria, EbonyLife Studios has projects underway with Netflix, Sony Pictures Television, AMC and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios.

Image: Queen Sono © Netflix.

Meanwhile, China has also been making inroads into the continent. Chinese media giant Huahua Media has a deal with Nigerian studio FilmOne Entertainment to co-produce the first major China-Nigeria film. Other major investments in the media space by StarTimes and CCTV Africa point to growing Chinese interest in African content.


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The world

at a glance 10



13 uk spaiN 15

uNited states

4 Nordics

6 germaNy cyprus


saudi arabia 12 africa 14 8 latiN america


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south korea 2




5 iNdia



9 New ZealaNd 8



CyPrus Cyprus has increased its cash rebate from 35% to 40% for international film and television productions, with agency Invest Cyprus saying it is one of the most generous in Europe. south KoreA Apple has launched Apple TV+ in South Korea, debuting its first South Korean original, Dr Brain, as part of the service. uniteD stAtes Netflix may be on track to expand its US studio presence, saying it will be bidding on the 89 acre site of Fort Monmouth Military Base in New Jersey, USA. norDiCs HBO Max has finally launched outside of the Americas, debuting in the Nordics, Spain and Andorra.

new ZeAlAnD Amazon Studios is moving production of its big budget Lord of the Rings series from New Zealand to the UK. The announcement came after New Zealand said its borders would remain closed until at least the end of 2021. uniteD KingDom Sony may ramp up its UK production company presence amid reports that it is planning to buy His Dark Materials producer Bad Wolf in a deal said to be valued at around GBP60 million. south KoreA Squid Game was seen by 111 million fans within its first month of launch, the highest ever debut for a Netflix show.

inDiA Snapchat has hit 100 million monthly active users in India where another popular mobile app TikTok is currently banned.

sAuDi ArAbiA Saudi Arabia will reportedly soon lift a four-year ban on the Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports, which holds the rights to broadcast the Premier League in the Middle East.

germAny RTL Group is launching streaming service RTL+, which brings together all the company’s TV, e-books, podcasts, journalism and music in one platform.

uniteD KingDom Ad giant WPP has lifted its sales forecasts for a third time this year. CEO Mark Read said clients around the world “want to invest to restart their businesses”.

uniteD stAtes Disney is delaying upcoming Marvel releases including Doctor Strange, Thor and Black Panther. The fifth instalment of Indiana Jones is also delayed, and is now scheduled for summer 2023.

AFriCA Netflix and UNESCO have partnered to launch a short film competition on African Folktales, Reimagined across Sub-Saharan Africa. Winners will be mentored and provided with a USD75,000 production budget.

lAtin AmeriCA ViacomCBS is expanding its Spanish-language production capabilities in Latin America, acquiring a majority stake in Fox TeleColombia and Estudios TeleMexico.

sPAin The Spanish government is to invest EUR1.6 billion in a bid to establish itself as a European production hub for film and TV content as part of a plan to grow audiovisual production by 30% by 2025.










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NEWS tech & facilities




germAn inDustry lAunChes green ProDuCtion initiAtive Leading German broadcasters, streamers and producers have made a joint pledge to embrace more sustainable production methods.

The Green Shooting initiative includes production companies such as Constantin Film, Bavaria Film and Studio Hamburg, as well as ZDF, Netflix Germany, RTL Germany and Sky Germany and Austria. They have committed to a set of standards for sustainable productions. Projects produced according to the initiative’s standards can then be marked with a “green motion” label in their credits or promotional materials. The standards including switching to LED headlights, more train journeys, more environmentally friendly vehicles and more vegetarian foods.

The initiative has set out 21 must-have specifications. For a production to be awarded the green motion label, at least 18 of these requirements must be met. The Green Shooting working group plans to re-evaluate the minimum ecological standards after one year, adapting them as new technical methods for sustainable production emerge. The initiative is also supported by German funding agencies, as well the German Film Academy and producers association Allianz Deutscher Produzenten. Carl Bergengruen, MFG managing director and head of the Green Shooting working group, said the initiative was “a first, important step” toward creating a common ecological standard in Germany for all film, TV and streaming productions.

They also include the avoidance of diesel generators, short-haul flights and disposable dishes.

Image: Game of rones © Home Box Office, Inc.

Belfast filming hub Titanic Studios is up for sale. The 42,000 sqft unit is currently under licence to HBO and is famously a location where hit show Game of Thrones (above) was filmed. The space comprises two large clear span studios which are connected by a large acoustic door allowing for a combined use as one large space. Specialist commercial property consultants Riddell McKibbin is handling the sale.

netFlix exPAnDs uK PresenCe Netflix is expanding its studio presence in the UK with a deal to lease Longcross Studios. The streamer is partnering with the studio’s owners Aviva to operate and significantly expand the Surrey facility. The Longcross deal comes two years after the streamer took a long-term lease at Shepperton Film Studios to create a dedicated UK production hub including sound stages, workshops and office space. Netflix has ramped up UK production in recent years, filming shows such as The Crown (pictured right) and Sex Education.

Image: e Crown © Netflix.

the heart of Filmi Nagari, near many of the city’s tech, film and TV production companies.

FrAmestore oPens mumbAi stuDio VFX house Framestore has opened a 30,000 sqft purpose-built studio in Mumbai. The studio currently houses 120 VFX specialists working across titles such as The Matrix Resurrections, His Dark Materials, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore and Spider-Man: No Way Home.


Image: 1899 © Rasmus Voss & Netflix.

The company says it is still hiring in areas such as compositing, tracking and CFX, and aims to achieve its first phase of a 300-person team early in 2022. This will be followed by a phase two build-out, which will see the studio double in size the following year. The Mumbai studio will work with Framestore on films and high-end dramas. It is located in the Goregaon area of Mumbai in the Nesco IT Park in

Framestore has worked on recent and upcoming titles including: Red Notice, The Suicide Squad, No Time To Die, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, His Dark Materials, 1899, The King’s Man and Cowboy Bebop. The company also has offices in London, Vancouver, Montreal, Melbourne, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Fiona Walkinshaw, Framestore’s global managing director of film, says: “We have more projects on our slate than ever before, and Mumbai is a vital addition to our global offer given the wealth of formidable talent in the area.”

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sited close to berliN’s city

ceNtre aNd airport, the

studio has 21 souNd

stages, flexible backlots

Elisabeth Murdoch backs VFX start-up BeloFX

aNd large productioN

facilities oN a 42-acre lot. us reAl estAte Firm tPg to

ACquire germAny’s stuDio

bAbelsberg TPG Real Estate Partners (TREP) is to take a majority stake in Germany’s Studio Babelsberg (pictured below), one of Europe’s largest film studio complexes. TREP, the real estate division of investment firm TPG, will acquire the stake from Studio Babelsberg’s main shareholder, Filmbetriebe Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, which is controlled by Dr Carl L Woebcken and Christoph Fisser, CEO and COO of Studio Babelsberg, respectively. Woebcken and Fisser will maintain ownership in Studio Babelsberg. As part of the deal, TREP plans to launch a public offer to acquire all outstanding shares in Studio Babelsberg. Located close to Berlin’s city centre and airport, the studio has 21 sound stages, flexible backlots and large production facilities on a 42-acre lot.

Studio Babelsberg has recently hosted shoots including Warner Bros’ The Matrix Resurrections, Columbia Pictures’ Uncharted, Lionsgate and Summit’s John Wick 4. In July, Studio Babelsberg opened one of Europe's largest, permanently installed LED studios for virtual film productions, the Dark Bay Virtual Production Stage. Founded in 1912, Studio Babelsberg attracts a large number of international shoots, which are attracted by the studio’s facilities as well as Germany’s locations, experienced film crews and competitive incentive programmes. The Matrix directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski have shot several films at Studio Babelsberg over the past 15 years, including V For Vendetta, Speed Racer, Ninja Assassin, Cloud Atlas and the series Sense8.

nFts to oFFer First virtuAl ProDuCtion Course The National Film and Television School (NFTS) is to launch a part-time certificate course to service what it says is an unprecedented demand for virtual production skills within the screen sector. Virtual production is rapidly transforming the capabilities of the creative industries, offering filmmakers a real-time method of making movies and TV with actors, lighting and VFX all shot live in-camera in a studio. It has most famously been used on Disney+ streaming series The Mandalorian and season three of HBO’s Westworld. sCreen queenslAnD stuDios to oPen State film funding body Screen Queensland is to inject AUD6.8 million towards the construction of a new studio facility in Cairns, at the northern end of Queensland, Australia. The Screen Queensland Studios complex will house a sound stage and support facilities, and will complement Screen Queensland Studios in Brisbane and Village Roadshow Studios. The Far North is known for spectacular landscapes that include tropical rainforests, white sandy beaches and remote island oases. Recent productions in Far North Queensland include This Little Love of Mine, which rated number one on Netflix in the UK.


lisabeth Murdoch has backed new visual effects company BeloFX, which has been launched in Canada and the UK by former senior leaders of VFX giant DNEG.

The company has been set up by Matt Holben and Alex Hope, two of DNEG’s founders, Ellen Walder, former COO at DNEG, and Graham Jack, former CTO at DNEG. BeloFX will be based in British Columbia, Quebec, and the UK. They are joined by director of operations Hannah Cook and managing director for VFX Matt Plummer who will lead the VFX team alongside supervisor Joel Green. Mike Brazelton also joins as supervisor in early 2022. Murdoch is executive chairman of Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone’s production outfit Sister. Operating with a remote first structure, the team behind BeloFX say the start-up will be able to incorporate tech such as game engines into its pipeline right from the start.

“belofx’s dyNamism positioNs them perfectly to seiZe the excitiNg opportuNities the global vfx iNdustry offers.”

Murdoch said: “BeloFX’s dynamism positions them perfectly to seize the exciting opportunities the global VFX industry offers. From personal experience, Matt, Alex, Ellen and Graham have a deeply held commitment to creativity and innovation which are critical to delivering exceptional partnerships with the world’s greatest film and television talent.”

vFx Firm PixomonDo to oPen in lonDon Pixomondo, the Oscar-winning VFX Studio, is launching a London division that will offer virtual production services. Alex Webster has been appointed as head of the London site, with a focus on growing the company’s virtual production services in Europe. Pixomondo has three LED volumes in Canada, and has set its sights on building a UK facility, with potential locations under review. The company also has operations in Germany’s Frankfurt and Stuttgart. Alex Webster joins Pixomondo from Framestore, where he was managing director of pre-production.

Alex Hope, BeloFX co-CEO, said, “I loved working with this group of people for so many years at DNEG and I’m excited to have a fresh start with a fresh approach to how a VFX company can operate”. BeloFX is currently looking for staff for its artistic teams in Quebec, British Columbia and the UK.


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Delegates will be able to attend over 60 programme sessions featuring more than 150 leading industry experts.

FOCUS 2021 is returning as a live event in London and is offering a digital element too, allowing delegates to meet in person or virtually with content makers, film commissions, production services 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 show that is truly global in nature – and that’s aimed at all the creative screen industries.


OCUS – The Meeting Place for International Production – returns in a hybrid format in December 2021 for its seventh edition.

The traditional two-day live event takes place once again at the Business Design Centre London on 7/8 December, offering a packed programme of content sessions, networking opportunities and exhibition zones. Following a successful virtual edition in 2020, the digital element will be expanded to four days from 7 to 10 December. And, as always, FOCUS remains completely free to attend for industry professionals.

Once again FOCUS is aimed at professionals from all the creative screen industries – including film, television, advertising, animation and games – and offers filming solutions, potential partners and production intelligence for all types of project and all levels of budget, from pre through to post-production. Over 150 companies are exhibiting in person this year, with an A-Z of stands from Abroad Films right through to the Zagreb Film Office. At FOCUS you can pre-schedule in-person and virtual 1-2-1 meetings to meet with film agencies, production service companies and location providers from every continent.


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e metaverse will be explored this year with Byte’s Richard Coates, Metavision’s Rhys Hancock & Prox & Reverie’s Martin Taylor.

Delegates can discover millions of dollars of filming incentives and find the most up-to-date advice on the current filming situation around the world. Delegates will also be able to attend over 60 programme sessions – keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and presentations – both in person and live streamed, featuring more than 150 leading industry experts. There are also plenty of networking events taking place throughout this year’s event, including the FOCUS opening Welcome Drinks sponsored by Variety, the Location Managers Brunch sponsored by 2 In Tents, the Location Managers Xmas Drinks with Location One, the Producers Brunch sponsored by CCS and Variety, the Producers Without Borders Lunch in partnership with Québec Film and Television Council, the Green Zone Happy Hour sponsored by TheGreenShot, and the WAP (Women in Advertising) Drinks sponsored by Hero. In addition, for the 2021 edition, delegates will be able to upgrade to an optional paid Premium Package offering a variety of valuable additional benefits including: access to all FOCUS 2021 content on demand during and after the show; access to bonus content including the recent ‘makers pop up’ – a deep dive into production’s future and discounts on Variety subscriptions. One of the centrepieces of FOCUS is its conference programme. The in person conference is developed in consultation with a Content Advisory Board featuring representatives from leading industry bodies. Returning members include the British Film Institute, British Film Commission, Pact, Directors UK, the Advertising Producers Association, The Production Guild GB, ScreenSkills, UK Screen Alliance, Women in Film and TV and Safe In Our World. The content programme is presented in association with media partner Variety and sponsored by GPN (Global Production Networks). FOCUS managing director Jean-Frederic Garcia said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to return to the Business Design Centre for the next edition of FOCUS – nothing beats connecting in person. We are also pleased to offer the digital platform, having delivered a very successful virtual

event last year, where we were able to extend the unique FOCUS experience to many new countries. These are very fast-changing times for the creative industries and FOCUS provides a space to catch up with trends and connect with old and new industry friends.” The conference programme at FOCUS will reflect key industry talking points of 2021, from the challenges of financing and crewing projects through to boosting diversity, making best use of new production technology, creating content sustainably and improving training. Amid record levels of “at focus delegates production, the session caN discover ‘BOOM: Over 200 crew filmiNg iNceNtives, roles to fill. Where to locatioNs aNd find them?’ will debate services to how the industry ensures maximise screeN enough trained talent is value – for all coming through to meet productioN types demand. Moderated by Lyndsay Duthie, CEO aNd budgets.” Production Guild of Great Britain, the speakers include Alison Small of Netflix’s Grow Creative Team as well as Film London’s Rebecca Baker, the Production Guild’s Jivan Mann, Watford & Essex’s Christine Healy and UWE Bristol’s Adrienne Noonan. Also addressing training, ScreenSkills CEO Seetha Kumar will take part in a session with consultant and executive producer Nick Catliff that examines how to future-proof the screen sectors in a fast-changing skills market. Sessions that share expert advice on how to finance projects are always a big draw at FOCUS. ‘A Fistful of Finance – Funding Your Project Now’ aims to unpack the journey a project goes through in securing funding, from how to navigate multi-country co-productions, to the specifics of UK co-production rules and other finance structuring tools available to a producer. The speakers include Coutts & Co’s Judith Chan, Hanway Films’ Ivan Kelava, producer Mark Foligno, Protagonist Pictures’ Luane Gauer and Saffrey Champness’s Nigel Walde.

e Green Zone will be back at this year’s FOCUS.


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open pathways for under-represented young people will be discussed in ‘Quiet Storm leading the Way: Create not Hate’, which sees Trevor Robinson OBE, executive creative director of ad agency Quiet Storm & co-director of Create Not Hate in conversation with Raoul Shah , the founder and CEO of creative communications agency, Exposure.

ScreenSkills will be discussing meeting the skills challenges of today & future-proofing the industry of tomorrow.

Diving down into the specifics of financing, the session ‘That’s a Relief!: Making the Most of British Tax Breaks’ will feature industry experts from production, accounting, legal and certification providing advice and guidance on the UK’s Screen Sector tax reliefs. The moderator is the BFI’s head of certification Anna Mansi.


There’s also a session on the buzz topic of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), examining if they are a craze for the crypto rich and a bubble that’s bound to burst – or whether they will fundamentally change business models in the creative industries. Speakers include Reality Gaming Group’s Tony Pearce, Copa90’s Petrit Berisha, FilmChain’s Maria Tanjala and Eluvio’s Michelle Munson. The reality (and challenges) of independent production will also be explored by a stellar panel in ‘The Curious Case of Indie Producers’, with speakers including DNA Films’ Allon Reich, Neon Films’ Nicky Bentham, Erebus Pictures’ Helen Simmons, Pistachio Pictures’ Alex Boden and producer Andrea Cornwell. FOCUS will also investigate latest developments in technology. In ‘New Tech Solutions’ the founders of Call It! and SMASH discuss the disruptive power of tech and how simple apps can help make film and TV safer, more accessible and easier to navigate, breaking down barriers and minimising obstacles to entry and success. Want to know more about one of the tech buzzwords of 2021, the Metaverse? You’ll have a chance to in ‘The Metaverse: What it is and How to Use it’, which explores how media companies should be approaching the technology today to gain a stake in its potential future. Speakers include Byte’s Richard Coates, Metavision’s Rhys Hancock and Prox & Reverie’s Martin Taylor. Another of this year’s buzz topics – virtual production - is also explored at FOCUS. Taking part in the session ‘New Horizons: Where we are with Virtual Production’ are expert speakers including Final Pixel’s Michael McKenna, Nvidia’s Jamie Allan and DNEG’s Paul Franklin.

FOCUS will return to the Business Design Centre this year.


In the wake of the pandemic and the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, the creative industries have been forced to re-examine their working practices, and so too will FOCUS. How to

Mental health has also shot up the industry agenda. ‘On Your Mind: Tackling Mental Health in the Screen Industries’ finds out what the film, TV, advertising and games industries are doing to tackle mental health issues. Moderated by video games pioneer Gina Jackson OBE, the speakers include Sarah McCaffrey, Safe in our World’s Sarah Sorrell, Whole Picture Programme’s Andy Glynne and Bectu’s Emily Collin. There are practical, hands on sessions at FOCUS too. ‘The Art of Location Supervision’ brings together location specialists Harriet Lawrence, Helene Lenszner and Spike Davies, while Harbottle & Lewis LLP’s Katrien Roos returns to host the hugely popular ‘Legal Refresher for Film & TV Producers session at FOCUS 2021 for the fifth year.

“focus has over 60 programme sessioNs – keyNotes, paNel discussioNs, workshops aNd preseNtatioNs – both iN persoN aNd live streamed, featuriNg more thaN 150 leadiNg iNdustry experts.”

There’s also an in-depth conversation with the UK’s leading intimacy co-ordinator Ita O’Brien, founder of Intimacy on Set. Elsewhere, TAPE co-founder Isra Al Kassi, discusses new collaborative, supportive approaches to production and distribution with Girls in Film and FedUP Studio Lab in the session ‘The Future Is Collaborative,’ while Full Circle and First Cut Labs advise on ‘Making Better Films.’ FOCUS will also shine a light on creative trends and new thinking in the advertising production sector as we move into 2022. The ‘Gerety Talks Christmas Ads’ session will discuss some of this year’s most iconic Christmas ads by the people behind them; the panel includes Riff Raff Films’ Tracey Cooper and VMLY&R’s Karen Boswell. Meanwhile, Saddington Baynes’ Callum Gould will reveal new research on the impact of colour and what visual hues drive campaign and emotional effectiveness in the session ‘Neurocreative Productions: Understanding the Emotional Effects of Colour and Craft.’ Many more FOCUS sessions are due to be announced after makers goes to press. For up to the minute details on FOCUS, see

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Bouncing Back


Image: Oslo © 2021 Home Box Office, Inc.

Some territories have seen a strong bounce back in filming, building on their previous production records. Strong health and safety measures, support and guidance extended to the audiovisual industries as well as successful vaccination programmes have all had a part to play.


s the production sector emerged from lockdown, industry hubs once again began to welcome incoming production. Across television, film and commercials, crews were busy plugging gaps in content pipelines after months of disrupted production schedules. The real return of large-scale productions began in the later months of 2020, although greatly changed from how the sector had operated only months before. Croatia, for example, has recorded some of its highest levels of productions ever. Tanja Ladovic

Blazevic, head of the Filming In Croatia department of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, says that after the production restart in 2020 international projects such as The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Oslo (pictured above) and Split Homicide (Der Kratien Krmi) IX-X, were filmed in Croatia. “By the beginning of 2021 it was clear that it was going to be a boom year for productions in Croatia.” So far 18 international projects have applied for the Croatian incentive programme. These include The Ipcress File, a Cold War spy classic shot on locations in Zagreb, Rijecka and Split,


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Image: Sense8 © Murray Close & Netflix.


Netflix’s Clark, the story behind Sweden’s most notorious gangster, Clark Olofsson whose infamous crimes gave rise to the Stockholm Syndrome concept and Hotel Portofino for ITV and PBS which filmed its first season in Croatia. The UK was another market to see a strong rebound at the end of 2020. British Film Institute official 2020 statistics recorded a GBP1.19 billion production spend in the final quarter – the second highest ever over a three month period, signalling significant recovery. Queensland, Australia saw its biggest screen boom in history with film and TV productions including Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic, Ticket to Paradise starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney and Thirteen Lives from Ron Howard. Other territories have seen a more gradual return to production. Sao Paulo, Brazil has seen a steady return to production in the city which has previously hosted international projects such as Sense8 (pictured above), Black Mirror and Conquest. Viviane Ferreira the president of SPCine Sao Paulo’s Film and Audiovisual Company and Luiz Toledo, director of investments and strategic partnerships say that since film shoots restarted, back in July 2020, the city has experienced a progressive increase in the number of productions. Advertising, corporate videos and music videos in particular have resumed since the all-clear was given for filming permits. “As for features and series productions, in the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 we saw mostly the completion of productions that had been interrupted in March 2020 due to the pandemic, and only a few new projects. Earlier this year, we had already reached and surpassed some 2019 numbers and, due to the successful vaccination rollout in Sao Paolo, we’re now seeing a high number of features


and series shooting or in pre-production, reaching higher than pre-pandemic numbers.” In August 2021, the Sao Paolo Film Commission received requests to authorise a total of 515 shoot days; in the same period in 2019 this totalled 470 shoot days. SPCine has recently launched its 20 to 30% rebate on local spend in order to grow further the number of international projects considering the destination. A focus on health and safety protocols, support and guidance through the production process as well as high levels of vaccination have seen many countries successfully negotiate the post-lockdown period, “We took all the necessary precautions to ensure a safe working environment for film crews, in close consultation with the producers and our public health authorities. Minimum recommended safety standards are in place and are frequently exceeded. “we expect the In the spring of 2021 croatiaN audiovisual we vaccinated our film iNdustry to be workers on a priority workiNg at full basis thanks to the capacity this year support of our Ministry aNd are layiNg the of Culture and Media,” fouNdatioNs for says Blazevic. “The Croatian Audiovisual expected future Centre helped facilitate growth.” cast and crew entry procedures for our international partners. As for additional costs, they form part of the local eligible spend for our cash rebate programme in the case of international productions. Projects that were filmed till the end of 2020 proved that production with responsible COVID measures is possible and safe. Productions that had shown interest for filming in Croatia in 2021 have planned well with their local partners.”

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Image: Old © 2021 Universal Studios.


The Dominican Republic too has seen a huge growth in the past two years. “Our industry did not collapse with the pandemic, it became stronger. The pandemic challenged our status-quo. We were promptly able to establish safe-shooting internationally complying protocols to ensure that our industry didn’t suffer a prolonged shutdown,” says film commissioner Marianna Vargas Gurilieva. Productions that shot in the Dominican Republic during this time include M. Night Shyalaman’s Old, Mark Wahlberg’s Arthur the King and Jennifer Lopez’ Shotgun Wedding, both for Lionsgate, and Paramount’s The Lost City of D. Notably, the size of the productions coming to the country have changed, explains Gurilieva. “To give you an idea, we would usually average between USD25 million and USD35 million (at most) in foreign budgets. In contrast from July 2020 to July 2021, we’ve hosted foreign productions with aggregate budgets exceeding USD200 million. This developed organically: we had the right set of conditions to attract foreign productions (locations, infrastructure, incentives and crew) and also were able to provide a safe environment for them to shoot when other industries did not. Furthermore, we implemented Covid-19 protocols and created health and safety bubbles, plus ample availability of PCR testing, which now places us in the top 10 LATAM countries with the highest vaccination rate.” Support that makes productions feel up to speed and safe about new ways of working has been particularly relevant during this period too. “We’ve always been aware of the enormous potential of the audiovisual sector through numbers and data from the Sao Paolo Film Commission, so we did expect a recovery comparable to other major industry and economy sectors,” say Ferreira and Toledo. “However, we were extremely surprised with the results that came from the sector’s mobilisation for a safe and healthy


return, with sanitary protocols being strictly followed, including a very high number of Covid-19 tests for all those involved.” SPCine had prepared for the restart of production since the initial interruption. The film “due to the commission focused on successful producing materials vacciNatioN both in English and in Portuguese, and created rollout iN sao a new, updated system paolo, we’re Now for productions to apply seeiNg a high for authorisation and Number of filming permits, with features aNd series improved functionality shootiNg or iN and an online centralised pre-productioN, database of production reachiNg higher companies, professionals thaN pre-paNdemic and service providers in the city. Numbers.” A similar approach was taken by Film London, which produced additional guidance for crews filming in public spaces in London as production restarted, in addition to the national Covid-19 Guidance which allowed blockbuster features including Mission Impossible 7 and 8, Jurassic World: Dominion and Pirates to re-start production as early as June 2020. As for the future, the content production boom shows no signs of abating, opening opportunities to proactively grow the screen production industries further. “In Croatia we expect to be working at full capacity this year and are laying the foundations for expected future growth,” says Blazevic. It is unlikely to be alone.

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Around the world The thrill of the chase SIX LOCATIONS CHOSEN BY LOCATION MANAGER JOHN RAkICH

1 BROOKLYN, NEW YORK During pre-production for Grand Army, I was sent to trace and photograph all the real world practical locations and feel of the areas of Brooklyn where the original play took place, both for our eventual New York filming unit and to help us in the world building of the show. 2 TORONTO, ONTARIO I’m one of those few lucky ones that gets to work out of my home geographic area, which has a wealth of so many location possibilities.

3 NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK There really is no city like New York and it’s always a joy to be there, this time to scout locations for a small unit that would be sent to shoot establishing shots and some key New York City locations to use throughout Shadowhunters which was being filmed in Toronto.

4 OUIMENT CANYON, ONTARIO It’s always a thrill to tick things off my bucket list and the chance to scout the majesty of this location for SEE was one of them. The thought of being surrounded by the giant 300 ft deep gorge – the remnant of the glacial lake that covered the province – still makes me happy.


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BACK TO CONTENTS ohn Rakich was elected president of the Locations Managers Guild International in May this year. He has worked as a location manager and scout for over 20 years, with numerous credits spanning feature film and television projects such as SEE, American Gods, Pixels, Hemlock Grove and Shadowhunters.

Rakich is also a longtime member of the Directors Guild of Canada in the Ontario District Council, where he serves as a board member and their locations caucus representative. He was also the first member from Toronto to join the LMGI in 2015.

5 PLITVICE LAKES, CROATIA Being of Croatian heritage it was my pleasure to go back to my homeland to wander and take plate shot reference images – for a new project – of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the many lucky opportunities this career that I fell into has provided me.

6 CARRIE FURNACE, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA I’ve had a few chances to be sent to scout areas around Pittsburgh – including for Hemlock Grove and SEE – and the historic landmark Carrie Furnace. There is something beautiful and haunting about them and the stories they evoke, and being surrounded by the rust and decay.


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The future of overseas ad shoots


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early two years since Covid-19 started sweeping the globe, its impact on the commercials industry remains acute.

Ad spend has, of course, bounced back and is estimated to grow by 12.6% this year, according to WARC global advertising trends data. Further growth of 8.2% is forecast for 2022. This has translated into more work for commercials producers as advertisers launch new campaigns to tap into a post-lockdown consumer spending splurge. Still, the nature of commercials production remains different. For obvious reasons, far fewer ads have been shot abroad during Covid. Overseas ad shoots have returned this year, but are still not at the level they were pre-Covid. Mike Day, CEO of Mallorca-based production services firm Palma Pictures, says advertising shooting volumes were down by 75% in 2020 compared to 2019. Business has picked up in 2021, but lockdowns and complex Covid-related travel rules which could change at the last minute mean that Palma Pictures’ shooting volumes have remained 50% down this year compared to pre-Covid levels. Looking ahead, though, there is real confidence that overseas ad shoots will return in the year to come. “There has been much less shooting abroad, but I think it will return significantly because clients always want to save money and there are locations they want to use,” says Steve Davies, chief executive of the Advertising Producers Association. The easing of travel restrictions amid successful vaccination campaigns has already given the confidence to many clients and agencies to greenlight overseas shoots. “We have been doing a lot of work abroad this year,” says Rogue Films founder and executive producer Charlie Crompton, estimating that the commercials producers’ overseas shoots are now at about 60% of their pre-Covid level.

Crompton thinks the demand for overseas shoots will only grow next year. The main reason, he says, is that although there is a lot of advertising work around, a lot of it isn’t very well funded. “People are constantly trying to get better bang for their buck. So, like many companies, our shooting lives have been going further east in search of a deal. First it was Prague, then Budapest and Bucharest, and then Sofia. Kiev, more than anywhere, has been absolutely crazy this year.” Palma Pictures’ Mike also predicts a “little bit of a bounce back effect next year.” He thinks this will partly be driven “there has beeN by creative factors. Having shot so much much less at home in recent shootiNg abroad, years, there is a creative but i thiNk it urge to expand horizons will returN once again. sigNificaNtly

He agrees that clients because clieNts are looking for cost always waNt to savings too. “Spain is a save moNey aNd much cheaper alternative there are to shooting in the UK, locatioNs they France or the United States,” he points out. waNt to use.” The better weather has cost implications too, allowing clients to rely on sunnier skies and more predictable shooting days. Already this year, Palma has hosted shoots for Doritos through Object & Animal, Renault through Paris-based Wanda, Tui via Forever Pictures and Hyundai through Stink Berlin. Day notes that many stakeholders in a commercial have to feel confident about shooting abroad before it can actually take place – from the client and its marketing team through to agency account managers, creative directors and copywriters, and on to directors, producers, DoPs, actors and actresses. “That group of people all need to be confident in their entirety to get on a plane and go somewhere.” But he thinks confidence is now growing as more people are vaccinated and entry requirements ease. “Corporately, people are gaining confidence again, quicker than they are personally. That is my sense of it.”


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This has translated into greater board flow. “It tends to come in patches,” says Day. “You’ll suddenly start to see the United States wake up a bit, or you’ll see the French market wake up.”

Davies adds: “I think it will result in more production staying here than it probably would in the past. But a significant amount will still go abroad.”

Rogue Films’ Crompton says that as winter approaches he thinks South Africa will be an interesting market to watch. Until recently, many European producers haven’t dared think about travelling as far as the Southern Hemisphere due to Covid restrictions. But commercials searching for a summer look may now be tempted to travel south as South Africa opens up.

Even though overseas shooting will pick up next year, fewer people are likely to travel to locations than they have in the past, both for environmental and cost reasons – and because remote technology means they no longer need there.

“The economics of going to South Africa are pretty good right now – the exchange rate is very, very advantageous to us at the moment. And none of us have gone out there for almost two years. This could be a big winter for them to see if they can get their crown back as the premier summer place to shoot our winter.” A decade ago, it felt like there was a film crew on almost every street corner of Cape Town until Latin American locations such as Buenos Aires, Mexico City or Santiago started gaining traction as rival places to shoot during the European winter. However, Crompton thinks it might take a while before crews start travelling in large numbers to Latin America again, even though most of its countries have brought Covid under control compared to the worst affected territories. “I think South Africa is going to be a big temperature check on where we are as an industry.” Although there is widespread agreement that overseas shoots will bounce back next year, many say that considerations around the environment and diversity may limit the number of people travelling. Growing concern about the environmental impact of travelling internationally will cause clients to monitor their supply chains more closely, and to question the need for overseas shoots. Additionally, the fact that many clients are striving to improve diversity both in front of and behind the camera could mean more shooting at home. “If you take all your production to Eastern Europe, it is going to be more damaging to the environment and you’re going to find it impossible to hit your diversity targets,” says the APA’s Steve Davies. Davies says there will be a tension between traditional client objectives of trying to make the best commercial they can at the best price possible versus new environmental and diversity objectives. “This is a good thing as it shows the world is moving forwards, but it also makes decisions for clients, agencies and production companies more complex.”



On many international shoots, it used to be that several client and agency execs would fly out to attend the production. “That is a lot harder to justify now,” says Crompton. “If you don’t need to be there you probably shouldn’t because we’ve now got very used to remote shooting.” Day echoes this point. “Historically, commercials shoots have perhaps been populated with too many stakeholders who don’t necessarily need to be in the country to execute the project. But the remote technology we’ve been using over the past year and half works very well.” It’s not just clients and “overseas ad agency execs who may shoots have be flying less. Many returNed this year, production service but are still Not at companies have kept the level they were local crews busy on remote shoots during pre-covid.” the pandemic, allowing them to improve their skills and take on more responsibilities. It means production companies may no longer need to fly out as many crew as they used to – saving both money and cutting the carbon footprint of a shoot. Crompton cites South Africa. “Traditionally, in pre-pandemic days, we'd go out there and take as many of our heads of department as we could, because that was the way to get the quality we needed. While the pandemic has been going on, they've been doing a lot of shooting remotely. So you are now getting really good production designers, first ADs and DoPs out there. “That's very interesting for us – if you're not having to take a lot of crew with you and you’ve got a good exchange rate, suddenly that does become an economically good place to go and shoot during our winter months.” Looking ahead to 2022, it does seem that international shoots will pick up significantly – albeit with fewer people travelling.

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CANADA explorers’ paradise

Canada has something to offer almost every production, from locations through to studio space, post-production facilities or competitive filming incentives. little wonder the country has established itself as a filmmaking powerhouse – a reputation it has only enhanced since lockdowns ended and production restarted.

Image: Pet Sematary © Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

anada is an attractive destination for producers negotiating the post-pandemic business environment. Film and television support systems are spread all over the country and, after the pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invested CD19 billion dollars to kickstart lockdown recovery for all Canadian businesses. A variety of film production tax incentives are in place across the nation’s ten provinces and three territories. Producers can save large quantities of money if they take the time to understand what each area of Canada has to offer.

ALBERTA Alberta is one of Canada’s two landlocked provinces, boasting available stage space of around 500,000 sqft. Net production values are set to double for the province this year to CAD995 million from 50 productions, resulting in 9,000 new direct and indirect “producers caN jobs. “Our province boasts expert save large crews, an incredible range of quaNtities of diverse locations, as well as state moNey if they take of the art facilities,” says Mark the time to Ham, executive director and commissioner for the Cultural uNderstaNd what Industries Branch Alberta Film. each regioN of “Alberta-crewed productions have caNada has also garnered notable recognition to offer.” and hardware from the Golden Globes, Oscars and Emmys.” In 2020 Alberta replaced its Screen-based Production Grant with a new Film and Television Tax Credits (FTTC) to make it more competitive with other Canadian provinces. The new scheme offers a refundable tax credit certificate worth 22% on certain goods, services and labour costs,

loCAtion highlight

Old Québec

The historic district of Old Québec became one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1985 and comprises two main sections: the Upper and Lower Towns. The Upper Town was selected as the site for Fort Saint Louis in 1608 and has since remained the city’s administrative centre as a result of its strategic position atop the mighty Cap Diamant. The Lower Town, as the name suggests, sits at the bottom of Cap Diamant, and its famous church the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires captures the flair of classic French architecture. An electric cable car running at a 45-degree angle from the famously narrow Petit-Champlain road to the top of Cap Diamant connects the Upper and Lower parts of Old Québec. The picturesque neighbourhood is served by Gare du Palais train and bus station, a transportation hub built in 1915 with a grand châteauesque design similar to the grand railway hotel Château Frontenac.


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bruCe brownstein suPervising loCAtion mAnAger

Image: e Unforgiveable © Kimberley French & Netflix.

reinforcing Alberta’s status as an advantageous location for producing audiovisual projects. HBO’s The Last of Us, which started production in the province in July, is touted as the largest such production in Canada’s history. Season 15 of Heartland and the series debut of Billy the Kid have also been recently hosted in Alberta. “Calgary is very famous for its rocky mountains,” says Black Summer producer Jason Wan Lim. “We have an area in southern Alberta called the Badlands, spanning from Drumheller. It has this otherworldly feel to it... Lost in Space shot there, and The Unforgiven too. We also have beautiful lakes, rolling wheatfields, and really cool cities. Multimillion-dollar projects are frequently drawn here.”

BRITISH COLUMBIA As surging Covid-19 rates shut down productions in certain parts of the world, service in British Columbia was booming in September 2020. Between 40 and 50 projects were either scheduled for production or in pre-production after Canada’s westernmost province began implementing health and safety procedures to protect its film industry workers. These projects include: Netflix drama The Unforgivable starring Sandra Bullock and Disney’s live-action fantasy adventure Peter Pan & Wendy, as well as ABC network drama Big Sky and Sony’s action-comedy The Man from Toronto, two projects which both relocated from America to Canada as a result of the pandemic. “We have very strict Covid-19 protocols in place here – they call it the Gold Standard,” asserts Jim Edward, founder of COPILOT Productions. “This is really just about keeping people safe, testing everyone on a regular basis. And as a result, Canada is open for business... We are busier now than we were pre-Covid.” The regional Film Incentive BC Tax Credit programme consists of six initiatives: Basic (35%), Scriptwriting (35%), Training (30%), Regional (12.5%), Distant Location Regional (6%) and the DAVE cluster (16%) – otherwise known as Digital Animation, Visual Effects and Post-Production.

NOVA SCOTIA Nova Scotia – or New Scotland in Latin – was rocked in 2015 when the government attempted to remove the film industry’s generous tax incentives. The industry rallied together against the move, resulting in the establishment of the Nova Scotia Film and


Ghostbusters: Afterlife Television Production Incentives Fund. This means that Nova Scotia is one of the only Canadian provinces to offer an incentives fund rather than a tax credit for film production. The money comes through the province as opposed to the central government, so payments are processed quickly. Two streams are available for projects spending at least CAD25,000. In Stream I, a minimum of 50% Nova Scotians must be employed in head of department positions, and a base rate of 26% on all eligible Nova Scotia costs is covered. In Stream II, with less than 50% Nova Scotian ownership or control of production, 25% is offered. However, where eight or fewer head of department positions are filled, half of the positions (rounded to the highest whole number) must be filled by residents of Nova Scotia. Where nine or more of these positions are filled, a minimum of four must be filled by Nova Scotians. For both streams, 2% additional funding is offered for shoots where greater than 51% of the principal photography is in a rural/non-metropolitan area. Shoots of more than 30 days in Nova Scotia also receive 1% additional funding. The newly-established incentives fund marked the beginning of the province’s impressive comeback story. 2018 saw production services begin to return to Nova Scotia. Despite the complications that arose during the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 was Nova Scotia’s busiest year for film production. Recent productions include UCP’s The Sinner and eOne’s Moonshine as well as two Stephen King adaptations: EPIX/MGM’s From and EPIX’s Chapelwaite.

ONTARIO Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Amazon’s The Boys have all recently filmed in Ontario. “We have great incentives and a world-class production environment… that make Ontario a leading film destination worldwide,” emphasises Jonathan Bronfman, President of JoBro Productions. The east-central province boasts an incentive scheme divided into three groups: First-Time, Small First-Time and Other Than First-Time Productions. For First-Time Productions, projects are eligible for tax credits worth 40% of the labour expenditures (for the first CAD240,000 spent on the production, and 35% on the balance) as well as an additional 10% of the labour expenditures if it is designated as a regional Ontario production. If the project qualifies as a Small First-Time Production

Q: Tell us about shooting the new

Ghostbusters movie in Canada. A: We flew up to Calgary in the middle of February, and scouted some locations that the team found through the Film Commission and some scouts that I recommended. You’ll see there’s a beautiful farm in the movie but it was hard at first to find the ‘hero farm.’ We had a look around but nothing really fit the bill. We decided to find the coolest barn, and then see if the rest of the farm went with it. Q: What happened next? A: We realised that we had to find the landscape

and then put everything on top of it, so we actually bought the barn that we liked and had it moved to a new setting. We found a piece of land, slightly south of Calgary with lots of rolling hills. We had a gravel, rural road with next to no traffic, and a hilltop surrounded by crops. Q: What else did the region offer? A: You can go from hundreds of kilometres of nothing but perfect farms with crop in the field to little towns that haven’t been gentrified or bulldozed over. We had to create a place where the kids go to school as well as streets where the chases take place. We ended up looking at and then using a lot of these small towns. From Drumheller in the north-east to Fort MacLeod to the south, we found in these places enough to build our own fictitious town. There’s great variety but it all fits well together…. The landscape in southern Alberta is beautiful – it’s absolutely spectacular.

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YUKON Visiting productions in the Yukon province are incentivised by an attractive rebate scheme. Production companies from outside the area who are filming in the territory or hiring Yukon crew must be registered with Yukon Corporate affairs. A 25% rebate is then made available for payments to Yukon residents and businesses who are working on feature films, digital media, documentaries, and television programmes. Image: e Queen’s Gambit © Phil Bray & Netflix.

essentiAl FACts tAx inCentives


The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC) provides eligible productions with a fully refundable tax credit, available at a rate of 25% of the qualified labour expenditure. The CPTC is jointly administered by the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO) and the Canada Revenue Agency, encouraging the establishment of Canadian film and TV programming as well as the development of an active domestic independent production sector. Co-ProDuCtion treAties

Approximately 60 countries have signed treaties and memoranda of understanding with Canada. The Department of Canadian Heritage is responsible for the negotiation of these international agreements. AtA CArnet

YES stuDios

Canada has a range of quality studios dotted across its territories. Wallace Studios in Ontario is a comprehensive media production complex, spanning 56,000 sqft & housing key auxiliary services. Film Alberta Studios’ 51,570 sqft site incorporates a 15,000 sqft soundstage. Pinewood Toronto Studios homes 11 stages across 20 acres, including the Mega Stage, one of North America’s largest purpose-built sound stages. internAtionAl tAlent

Gifted & reliable producers include: John Kerr, James O’Donnell, Tamara Bell, Bernard Bourret & Andrew Leung. reCent ProDuCtions

Calgary – Canada’s third most populous city – has hosted Fargo, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Heartland, Interstellar, Jumanji & The Revenant, while Alberta was a key site for Hold The Dark, The Young & Prodigious T. S. Spivet, RV & Sanam Re.


(ie. the total labour expenditure cannot be more than CAD50,000 at the time the production is completed) it is possible to claim credit equal to the lowest of: labour expenditures, or CAD20,000 for regional Ontario productions, or CAD15,000 for non-regional Ontario productions. For Other Than First-Time Productions, one can claim a credit equal to 35% of the labour expenditures, or an additional 10% of labour expenditures if the project qualifies as a regional Ontario production. In the same manner as British Columbia, Ontario has experienced a post-lockdown surge in production as film companies turned to Canada’s resources for assistance. “Since we returned from the lockdown, we’ve had record-breaking numbers in terms of production volume and production spending,” says Ontario Film Commissioner Justin Cutler. “Toronto is such a strong film jurisdiction with its festival – but I always encourage producers to think about all of the regions that we have in Ontario. It represents such a wide variety of locations, from forests and lake regions to small town American and Midwestern looks. There are 40 unique film offices across the province that can help film productions advance their projects, so support networks will exist wherever you work.”

QUÉBEC Twentieth Century Fox’s superhero blockbuster X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Paramount’s Stephen King adaptation Pet Sematary were shot as coproductions in Québec. A 20% cash incentive is available for all projects with a minimum total budget of CAD250,000. Provided by the government of Québec, the tax credit is based on all expenditures and the producer is not required to release the film in the province. For VFX and computer animation projects, an additional 16% tax credit enhancement is also available. On a federal level, the Canadian government also offers refundable tax credits. The Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC) Programme offers a 16% incentive to foreign production companies for services performed in Canada by Canadian residents. These incentives are co-administered by Canadian Heritage’s Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office and Canada Revenue Agency.

The productions may also access a 25% rebate on wages paid for on-set training to eligible Yukon labour. This training typically covers both technique and equipment training as long as the necessary resources are available and everything is pre-approved by the appropriate body. A travel rebate is also offered to cover travel costs from Edmonton, Calgary, or Vancouver to Yukon’s capital city Whitehorse. Travel costs may amount to a maximum of CAD15,000, and productions must either be commercials or any other form of production that does not have access to the Yukon Spend Rebate.

something else

You may have read about startled tourists catching glimpses of Scotland’s Loch Ness monster – but have you ever encountered similar tales of the legendary Ogopogo? According to Canadian folklore the Ogopogo is a resident of Canada’s Okanagan Lake, the largest of five freshwater lakes in the Okanagan Valley. Often referred to as Oggy, sightings of smaller beasts resembling the mysterious creature are known affectionately as Ogopups. Although the origins of the lake monster’s palindromic name are disputed, some historians claim that it can be traced back to one night in 1924 when an English music-hall song was misheard by locals in the city of Vernon, British Columbia. The lyrics of this detail that the Ogopogo’s mother was an earwig whereas his father was most likely a whale. The Ogopogo myth is also largely shaped by Secwepemc and Syilx natives, two indigenous Canadian groups who lived in the region before foreign settlers discovered their territories. For the Secwepemc and Syilx, the word Naitaka was used to describe a water.

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Everybody Knows Greece For its heaven-like locations, highly experienced crew, a range oF incentives through Flexible procedures, saFety protocols, easy access

JD Washington in Ferdinando Cito Filomarino’s manhunt thriller Beckett on location in Athens, Greece © 2021 BECKETT / Yannis Drakoulidis.

Greece is beyond dispute a gem country in the Mediterranean offering an attractive combination of sunshine, blue skies, ancient sites, and monuments. On top of these, two strong financial incentives have been created to work towards supporting the local audiovisual industry and attracting international productions.


spotlight filming destination in the south-east of Europe, Greece offers stunning locations versatile both in terms of landscape as well as in architecture, incredible financial incentives (40% cash rebate and 30% tax relief ), qualified crews and a devoted local talent pool. Greece is blessed with heaven-like diverse locations and landscapes some of which can double for other countries. It offers a highly competitive 40% cash rebate and a 30% tax relief. The country’s manpower includes extremely experienced and efficient production companies and film professionals capable of servicing even the most demanding audiovisual productions. Public institutions

coordinate their efforts to support international audiovisual productions with all means possible. On top of all that shines the renowned Greek light and the Mediterranean climate. The successful operation of the Greek cash rebate programme since 2018 led the Greek administration to further raise the cash rebate to 40%, in July 2020. In addition, there is another incentive related to tax relief. It is complimentary to the cash rebate incentive and provides a 30% tax return. New provisions of subsidy for productions with eligible expenses over EUR8 million offer the possibility to foreign production to include non-resident labour 41

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invoices. A cultural test applies. The eligible costs in the tax relief are the same as the eligible costs in the cash rebate. The two incentives are complementary but you need to apply for each one separately. Both the 40% cash rebate and the 30% tax relief are administered by EKOME, the Greek National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication. From April 2018 up until September 2020, 99 projects have been approved for financing (of which 54 are Greek and the other 45 international). The amount of invested funds in the country amounts to EUR96 million, while the amount returned to the production companies reaches EUR33.5 million. The support of the audiovisual production is inextricably linked to the national goal to make Greece one of the most attractive and safe destinations for the realisation of audiovisual projects. In this direction, the services provided by the Hellenic Film Commission of the Greek Film Centre and the implementation of the National Film Offices Network in the 13 regions and the two main cities (Athens and Thessaloniki) paves the path for the promotion of the comparative advantages of each region and provides them with the potential of attracting investments. Greece is a natural studio, a point for which we have an added value that only a few countries can match. It is not only the fact that to shoot a film you need great light, but, also, that the country offers an incredible variety of locations covering ancient Greek, Roman, Medieval, Byzantine and later elements for every occasion. From snowcapped mountain ranges to forests, lakes, beaches, even volcanos (!) 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. In addition, Greece can provide production companies with 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, Paramount and Universal have already expressed interest in filming in Greece and some of them have already begun production on Greek territory. Last year, Warner and Universal filmed a TV series each in the country, while Sony Pictures shot another film in 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 international producers. Greek crews speak fluent English and have the expertise to collaborate flawlessly with international audiovisual productions. From outstanding drone operators and INVEST

Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon in Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip to Greece on location in Peloponesse, Greece © THE TRIP TO GREECE.




Anna Castillo in Marcel Barrena’s Mediterraneo on location in Attica, Greece © MEDITERRANEO.

post-production labs equipped with high-end industry technologies to world-class VFX artists servicing demanding projects, Greece provides dream teams. Greece has coped with the pandemic efficiently and is one of the first European countries to have resumed filming after the pandemic began. Keen to capture post-coronavirus work, several measures have been introduced including the release of safety guidelines for filming in Greece by the Ministry “The supporT of of Culture and Sports in The audiovisual collaboration with the producTion is National Public Health inexTricably linked Protection Committee To The naTional against the COVID-19 goal: make greece coronavirus. EKOME, the Greek National Centre one of The mosT of Audiovisual Media aTTracTive and and Communication, as safe desTinaTions well as the Hellenic for producTion Film Commission of the in The world.” Greek Film Centre, are 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 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. for more informaTion conTacT:

Venia Vergou, Director Hellenic Film Commission, Vasiliki Diagouma, Head Communications & International Relations EKOME vdiagouma@ekome.meida Stavroula Geronimaki, Operations Manager, Hellenic Film Commission, Eleni Kostala, Film Offices Project Manager/ Cash Rebate Directorate EKOME

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hot right now

The Dominican Republic became one of the hottest destinations in the caribbean in 2020. Well set up for international productions in terms of locations, studios and incentives, the destination saw a huge increase in the scale of productions choosing to shoot there.

Image: Old - Phobymo/Universal Pictures © 2021 Universal Studios.

he Dominican Republic is one of the most established production hubs in the Caribbean. As one of the largest and leading economies in the region, the country is ready to welcome incoming productions with a base of crew, leading facilities and a solid tax credit.

In 2020 the size of productions increased exponentially. “To give you an idea, we would usually average between USD25 million and USD35 million (at most) in foreign budgets. In contrast from July 2020 to July 2021, we’ve hosted foreign productions with aggregate budgets exceeding USD200 million,” says film commissioner Marianna Vargas Gurilieva. This increase was down to the conditions in the locations, and the fact the country was able to provide a safe environment for shooting during Covid-19.

“as one of The largesT and leading economies in The region, The counTry is well seT up To welcome incoming producTions wiTh a base of crew, leading faciliTies and a solid Tax crediT.”

These productions included M. Night Shylaman’s Old (pictured above) for Universal, which utilised the island’s beaches for the story of a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach is causing them to age rapidly. Other large shoots included Mark Wahlberg’s Arthur the King and Jennifer Lopez comedy Shotgun Wedding for Lionsgate and Paramount’s The Lost City of D.

As well as beach settings, the country offers a range of locations including colonial architecture, wildlife and tropical landscapes.

lOcaTiOn HiGHliGHT

Basilica of La Altagracia, Higuey The city of Higuey is 40 minutes from the resort town of Punta Cana. Mostly famed for the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia, or La Altagracia Cathedral, visitors can also visit the nearby markets and streets of the less touristic cities. The basilica was built in 1956 to house a religious icon, and was visited by Pope John IV who declared it a Minor Basilica in 1970. Its distinctive arch and contemporary appearance has made the Basilica a tourist destination. Interested visitors can see the art inside, while filmmakers may be captured by the shadows cast by the unique arch and bell tower. 1977 thriller feature Sorcerer from William Friedkin used the basilica. Based on George Arnaud’s novel Le Salaire de la Peur the film follows four outcasts of different origins who meet in a South American village where they must transport cargoes of unstable dynamite.


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The Dominican Republic is the largest Caribbean country to offer an incentive, with only Trinidad and Tobago and the US Virgin Islands offering alternatives. The Dominican Republic has a 25% transferable tax credit for feature films, documentaries, TV series and mini-series, music videos and short films qualifying. Productions spending over USD500,000 can apply and there is no per project cap on support. Smaller projects can be accumulated to reach the expenditure level if they are produced by the same entity during the same fiscal period. Both resident and non-resident labour is eligible spending.

ESSEnTial FacTS TaX incEnTiVES


Feature films, documentaries, TV series and mini-series, music videos and short films qualify for A 25% Transferable Tax Credit (TTC). The minimum spend is USD500,000. TRaVEl

There are nine airports in the Dominican Republic, six of which are international. As a result there is often an international airport nearby, no matter where you plan to travel within the country. Producers can fly to the islands from the US, the UK & other European countries with ease. aTa caRnET



The country has a tropical maritime climate, & tends to be hot throughout the year with a rainy season from April to October & a dry season in winter. The period from November to April would offer prime opportunities to shoot. REcEnT PRODUcTiOnS

The Lost City of D, Finding Ohana, Caribe All Inclusive, Pulso, Old & Survivor. TiME ZOnE



The film commission is experienced with working with international productions and is committed to processing permit applications within ten days. The commission has recently expanded to accommodate the increasing level of production. “The Dominican government acknowledges the importance of its film industry and is committed to support its growth with inter-institutional collaborations and the creation of policies that ensure the objective of making the Dominican Republic a film production hub,” says Gurilieva. “Such is the case of the expeditious creation of a branch of the Film Commission in the municipality of Samaná, which served as the filming location for five productions during the month of April 2021. This enabled the commission to facilitate processes and swiftly respond to production needs.” The island has facilities that are well set up to satisfy the demands of the types of productions that are looking to shoot in the Caribbean. Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios is a purpose-built, state of the art studio comprising of eight acres of water effects facilities including the biggest horizon water tank in the region as well as three traditional soundstages. In May 2021 Vin Diesel’s One Race Films announced a new state of the art studio facility will be developed on Bergantin Beach in Puerto Plata. President Luis Abinader welcomed the opportunities for talent, investment and tourism it would provide and noted it would be supported with government policies for the development of talent and investment. Incoming productions should take note of the tropical seasons that can impact filming. The rainy monsoon season starts in May and lasts until October. Although it can affect filming, most rainfall generally occurs in the evening, and productions can benefit from lower costs of travel and accommodation. Like much of the Caribbean, hurricanes are common and typically occur from June to November. The Dominican Republic is particularly well situated to welcome US shoots. The fastest flights from LA are around eight hours, three and a half hours from New York while it takes between 10 and 11 hours from Europe.

in may 2021 vin diesel’s one race films announced a new sTaTe of The arT sTudio faciliTy will be developed on berganTin beach in puerTo plaTa.


The Dominican Republic was named the Best Golf Destination in the Caribbean by the World Golf Awards 2020, and was nominated again for the 2021 awards. It is projected that the Dominican Republic could see a 11% increase in golf tourism compared to 2019. 2019 itself saw a 14% increase on previous year, with 268,000 golfers playing over 335,000 rounds and contributing USD419 million to the economy. There are nearly 30 golf courses in the country but the World Golf Awards 2021 highlighted the Puntacana Resort & Club and Casa de Campo as the country’s best Golf Course and Golf Hotel respectively. Casa de Campo is famed for its Teeth of the Dog course, while Puntacana hosts the Impact Corales Puntacana Championship, now in its fourth year.

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Making of Around the World in 80 Days

an epic production



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his epic international adaptation of the Jules Verne classic stars David Tennant as explorer Phileas Fogg, Ibrahim Koma as Passepartout and Leonie Benesch as young journalist Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue.

A Slim Film + Television and Federation co-production, the eight-part series had a budget in the region of GBP40 million. Massive sets were built to recreate 1870s London, Paris, New York as well as villages in Arabia and India, the streets of Hong Kong and a Pacific island. At various points there were up to 3,000 people working

BACK TO CONTENTS on the production, says executive producer Simon Crawford Collins of Slim Film + Television (pictured below with Ibrahim Koma). Adding to the complexity of the shoot, Covid-19 forced filming in South Africa to stop in March 2020 after just three weeks in production. The producers had to quickly repatriate cast and crew, restarting again in Romania in November and completing the shoot in Cape Town in March 2021. The majority of post production took place in Paris, while legendary composer Hans Zimmer, scored the soundtrack from Los Angeles.

The series was adapted by a team of writers led by Ashley Pharoah (Life on Mars) and Caleb Ranson (Child of Mine), and helmed by film, television and music video director Steve Barron (The Durrells) with the late director Charles Beeson and Brian Kelly also directing a number of episodes. The producer is Peter McAleese. Around the World in 80 Days was produced for the European Alliance formed by France Télévisions, ZDF and RAI, with additional co-production partners, Masterpiece PBS (US), Peu Communications (South Africa), Be-Films and RTBF (Belgium) and Daro Film Distribution (associate producer).


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It’s not long until the winners of the makers & shakers Awards 2021 are revealed. Nominees were unveiled in October, ahead of the winners being announced at a special live ceremony taking place at London’s BAFTA Piccadilly on 8 December. The Awards are timed to coincide with the final evening of the FOCUS show in London.

Launched by the teams behind makers magazine, The Location Guide and the FOCUS show, the makers & shakers Awards celebrate groundbreaking ideas and initiatives from the world’s creative screen industries. This year’s shortlist features remarkable uses of locations, bold campaigns to enhance the global screen industries, and innovative deployments of technology. The shortlist spans six categories: Film Commission Initiative of the Year, Initiative to Grow Local Industry, Outstanding Creative Use of Location, Production Tech Innovation Award, Sustainability Award, and Shaker of the Year.

e team behind Film In Limerick’s ENGINE Shorts, shortlisted for this year’s Initiative to Grow a Local Industry Award.


Nominees were selected for innovation, creativity and their overall impact in both the long and short term. The final shortlist applauds the most ambitious and enterprising work being carried out today – from growing local industry talent to producing sustainable approaches to filmmaking.

FILM COMMISSION INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR Calgary Film Commission: Their consistent and diligent efforts resulted in the province being among the first to restart production in the aftermath of the pandemic.

They are being judged by an expert panel including key representatives from Warner Bros Studio Leavesden (UK), LMGI and PACT, as well as last year’s winners.

Cine Tirol Film Commission: During the global lockdown, the group organised the first ever in-depth and thorough Virtual Location Tour of the city of Innsbruck.

Jean-Frederic Garcia, event director for makers & shakers, said: “We are elated by this year’s response to the awards. The shortlist for 2021 captures the high levels of achievement that makers & shakers is designed to applaud, highlighting the commendable work taking place across the international production support industry.”

Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media: The Rural Theatres Covid-19 Support Initiative provided substantial financial assistance to remote theatres across Colorado. Film Paris Region: The Paris Region Production Forum went digital after ten years of physical existence, broadening its public reach. Liverpool Film Office: The team helped Warner Bros return to film in Liverpool in October 2020 as the world’s first largescale production in an urban area to shoot under the new Covid-19 industry guidelines.

Quite Brilliant has been shortlisted for this year’sProduction Tech Inovation and Sustainability Awards.


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Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission: The newly-launched channel Palm BeachesTV operates as a specialist tourism marketing tool, and is also available via Roku and a downloadable mobile app. Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga – New Zealand Film Commission: The Te Puna Kairangi Premium Fund and the Ara ki te Puna Kaiarangi Premium Development Fund were created to support the Aotearoa New Zealand production sector’s recovery from COVID-19.

Transactivist and teacher Cole Meyers, shortlisted for this year’s Shaker of the Year Award.

The shorTlisT for 2021 capTures The high levels of achievemenT ThaT makers & shakers is designed To applaud, highlighTing The commendable work Taking place across The inTernaTional producTion supporT indusTry.

iniTiaTiVE TO GROW lOcal inDUSTRY Film Bay of Plenty: TOHEA is an Indigenous Screen Industry Employment, Training and Apprenticeship Programme that has succeeded beyond expectations, ensuring 80% of participants who complete the programme remain in the industry. Film in Limerick/Innovate Limerick: ENGINE shorts is a brand new a short film development and production scheme for emerging film talent in Limerick, Tipperary and Clare. North East International Film Festival: The festival aims to increase on-screen representation of previously underrepresented groups and communities, while encouraging and promoting the work of independent filmmakers. Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB): PGGB’s Diversity and Inclusion Mentor Scheme is designed to help underrepresented talent at entry, early, experienced and expert levels, to reach the next stage of their career in their chosen field. The Stratagem Group: The team designed an inclusive curriculum to expose a wide cross-section of the emerging labour force in Ontario to the growing opportunities in the creative industries. Sudanese Filmmaking Association: This NGO is dedicated to developing the film industry in Sudan by training emerging talents, offering free training sessions for young people. Women’s Work: Women’s Work is a collective of female photographers who want to shine a light on the underrepresentation of women, women identifying and non-binary people in commercial photography.

OUTSTanDinG cREaTiVE USE OF a lOcaTiOn Karl Beatson-Smith, Luke Wilkinson and the Sweet Tooth Locations Team: Based on a DC Vertigo comic series, the production filmed the pilot in Auckland in 2019, and when picked up in 2020, chose to shoot the series in New Zealand for the proximity of many varied hyper-real landscapes to represent the fantasy world of the comics.

CREATIVITy Circus, shortlisted for this year’s Production Tech Innovation of the Year Award.




Maureen O’Connell – HUM: The team behind HUM brought the Seán Scully paintings to life and made a simple script with two men in a gallery very cinematic with their camera and sound design. Naomi Liston – The Northman: The most Northerly point of Northern Ireland was selected as the space on which to build a Viking Village. The main access road was limited to 3.5 tonnes, meaning that project’s lorries required special dispensation from the Department of Infrastructure. Peter Conway – The Last Duel: Ireland’s Bective Abbey and the historic Bective Bridge were selected as an adaptable setting with the scale, breadth and authenticity for the producers to plausibly place their version of medieval Paris, thereby fulfilling the vision of Ridley Scott and Arthur Max. Sayyora Xudayberdiyeva – Taste of the Sun: One of Uzbekistan’s most prominent features – an abundance of patterns – developed into a massive influence on the project. The patterns contain the messages from the Ancients that guide the boy and his grandfather to the secret treasure. PRODUcTiOn TEcH innOVaTiOn OF THE YEaR Circus: Circus is Canada's most advanced team onboarding and time-tracking platform for the entertainment industry.

Film Locker: Film Locker was established to ensure that there is a safe way to store long-term film data, generating new processes for the industry that will not contribute to global warming. The Greenshot: The core ambition of this project is to attract productions for its innovative real-time budget while calculating, also in real-time, the carbon footprint, thereby making sustainable film productions a reality. Gritty Talent Group: A new platform connecting and matching talent, Gritty Talent was designed by television professionals and data scientists using anti-bias and inclusive technology principles. Quite Brilliant: A full-frame cinema camera with gyro and optical-tracking system that provides its real world location to a server running a game engine, this technology offers affordable turnkey virtual production experiences for the commercial and short form market. The Third Floor: Cyclops presents a clever solution for visualising digital characters or elements within the physical environment in real time.

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Sweet Tooth, shortlisted for this year’s Outstanding Creative Use of a Location Award.


SUSTainaBiliTY aWaRD B2Y Productions: Their goal is to set an example by making their processes as sustainable as possible. Their initiatives include reducing paper usage, reusing all wooden sets used in production and adopting reusable water bottles. They also have their own composting system, their own forest to plant additional trees and take care of 17 beehives. CAMA AssetStore: Through the CAMA initiative, productions and studios can seamlessly redistribute items in storage to other productions and the wider creative industry. Props, costumes and furniture can be used by other productions, and unwanted household items are donated to the local community. Coffee & TV: The first Certified B Corporation® and Carbon Neutral creative studio. Coffee & TV earned ‘B Corp Trademark’ status for the studio’s award-winning company culture, passion for a sustainable planet, and a relentless focus on all stakeholders. The Generator Project: Set up by Sustainable Film, On Bio and FilmFixer Ltd, the Generator Project is a not-for-profit initiative set up to ensure film industry reduces its reliance on diesel-powered, pollution-producing generators. Good Planet Innovation: The organisation is guiding the shift to sustainable practices, both behind the scenes and on screen. Providing consultation and hands on support from preproduction to post, Good Planet finds sustainable solutions for every department. GreenEyes: The company implemented an integrated onset waste management system in Budapest with the help of local vendors. The team managed to reduce their general waste by two-thirds – on studio grounds. Greenset: This not-for-profit company in South Africa is developing a team of freelance Eco-Stewards and Green PAs to help productions to minimise their carbon footprint and overall environmental impact. Quite Brilliant: The team produced and directed the UK’s first ever carbon neutral virtual production film, as certified by Adgreen and Albert.

SHakER OF THE YEaR Cole Meyers: Rurangi is written by transactivist and teacher Cole Meyers. A ground-breaking series and feature film from New Zealand, this project has been working with the transgender community for over three years in its production. Debbie Priestnall, Serious International: Serious Stages/Serious International has built sound stages and pop-up stages for the film and television industry during the pandemic, becoming the market leader overnight. Gillian Tully: Gillian Tully set up Film Expo South to promote filmmaking, filmmakers, services and locations across the Dorset and Hampshire region. Jodi Nelson-Tabor: Jodi Nelson-Tabor addresses the gaps in virtual production skills, knowledge and documentation, exploring how to best approach it as an interdisciplinary, practice-based process. Louise Patel: Louise Patel, the founder of Share My Telly Job, this year launched, an industry-wide method of recording working hours in British TV and film. The Time Project was created to address how working hours are linked to burnout, failures of diversity, the loss of women to the industry, career stagnation and mental health problems. Sarah McCaffrey, Solas Mind: This mental health business supports freelancers with a professional counselling service, and is being used by Apple, Amazon, Warner Brothers, Playground and SeeSaw after being established only last year. Seetha Kumar: The CEO of ScreenSkills heads an organisation which has created thousands of opportunities for people from a wide diversity of backgrounds to get into the UK screen industries and, in turn, progress within them. Yarit Dor: Intimacy coordinator Yarit Dor created an intimacy coordination mentoring scheme solely for those from underrepresented groups. For more information about the awards go to



pRODUCTION Photographers Women’s Work have been shortlisted for this year’s Initiative to Grow a Local Industry Award.


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Arizona: Grand Ambitions

Arizona has negotiated trailblazing intercultural MoUs with the Navajo Nation and the Mexican state of Sonora. By cooperating with different groups within and beyond the state’s geographical borders, it hopes to further build on its long tradition of film and media production.


rizona – also fondly termed America’s Backlot – is a hotspot for filmmaking. Over 5,000 films and TV shows have been filmed in Arizona since 1913. High-profile film, TV and commercials producers often turn to its large spaces, bringing their projects to the state in search of its distinct looks and warm weather. The state is no stranger to big projects. Film Tucson recently facilitated two days of production on the upcoming feature film The Fabelmans. Directed and co-written by Steven Spielberg, the film is a semi-autobiographical take on Spielberg’s childhood as an aspiring filmmaker in Scottsdale during the 1950s and 1960s. The film is scheduled to hit theatres in 2022. Away from the big screen, over the last few years Arizona has hosted a range of new media projects. In 2020, the livestreamed event David Blaine: Accession saw the illusionist and endurance artist float 250,000 ft in the air using helium balloons. In mid-July 2021, Film Tucson assisted a dazzling commercial for Fireball Whisky involving 300 drones launched from the parking lot of a local

mountain park. The project created a light show which could be seen for miles around, culminating in a festive dance party at a nearby event space. Back in February 2021, Food Network’s Best Baker in America filmed all of season four at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa. Reality shows were asking production services companies such as Film Tucson during the pandemic to buy out entire hotel properties, attempting to create protective bubbles for their cast and crew members. Arizona has a progressive, outward-facing mentality when it comes to international co-productions. Officials from Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to keep working together to grow film and media production in their neighbouring regions. The two states aim to promote a 300-mile zone stretching from Phoenix to Hermosillo, and from the New Mexico state line to the Sea of Cortez. "So you have major cities. You have pristine beaches. You have deserts. You have volcanoes. You have mountains,” states Matthew Earl Jones, director of the film and digital media programme at the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Basically, there is no filming


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destination that you couldn’t find within this zone.” Luis Gonzalez, who works for Sonora’s tourism office, co-signed the agreement with Jones, declaring that the concept would allow the region to compete with any film destination in the world.

we are graTeful To presidenT nez and The navajo naTion for Their parTnership, for graciously allowing filmmakers To creaTe on navajo land, and for Their commiTmenT To increase workforce opporTuniTies in The navajo naTion and sTaTe-wide.

This is not the only film-related MoU that Arizona has negotiated in recent years. In August 2021, the Navajo Nation and the Arizona Commerce Authority signed a special partnership deal, committing to promote the Navajo Nation as a major international film and media destination. “We are grateful to President Nez and the Navajo Nation for their partnership, for graciously allowing filmmakers to create on Navajo land, and for their commitment to increase workforce opportunities in the Navajo Nation and state-wide,” announced Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. The deal was signed by Watson and Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez. "We look forward to developing a new and structured film and media opportunity for our Navajo Nation, including our fellow Arizonians,” said Edsel Pete, programme manager at Navajo Nation TV & Film. “It is a great endeavour to develop a thriving film and media industry that will provide economic, workforce, and training opportunities.” Classic American traditions are also accommodated in the state. Corporations seeking Western looks are frequently drawn to different parts of Arizona in the early stages of the year in order to finalise their spring and summer rollouts. Projects have been arranged recently for the Sundance Catalogue, Marlboro Cigarettes, Buckle Fashion, and the popular Country music act Midland. In a similar manner, Tennesseeborn singer and songwriter Mitchell Tenpenny shot the music video for the 2021 song Bucket List across the state, using Arizona’s vivid imagery to capture an appropriate aesthetic for his Country-pop hit. The state’s affinity with the Wild West in part stems from its rich filmmaking heritage. Old Tucson is the old movie studio and theme park adjacent to the Tucson Mountains and close to Saguaro National Park. The studio was constructed in 1939 for the film Arizona, developing into a key site for the production of classic Western film and television. Projects based at Old Tucson include: Gunfight at the OK Corral, Rio Bravo and El Dorado, as well as the popular series Little House on the Prairie. The historic space was closed on 8 September 2020 for an indefinite period by landowners Pima County as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pima County remains responsible for the site, and they have invited ideas from future operators and leaseholders about what the area could become.


One of the Arizona’s most prolific movie stars is the Grand Canyon. Carved by the Colorado River, the steep canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles at its widest. This gargantuan geological feature has appeared in classic Western movies, as well as Ghost Adventures, How To Be Single, Into the Wild, and Thelma and Louise. Of course, the colossal rocky chasm is not the only stunning visual feature to star in a high-end production. Michael Bay’s sci-fi action-adventure Transformers: The Last Knight was shot at Luke Airforce Base. Robert Conway’s horror film The Covenant was filmed in Gila County’s Globe region and Bad Santa 2 and Maximum Ride were both shot in the state capital, Phoenix. Havasupai Falls and Red Rock State Park were explored by Beyoncé in 2019, when the singer filmed the official video for her song Spirit. The project was part of Disney’s The Lion King soundtrack, and Beyoncé’s video generated nearly 70 million views on YouTube. The state has hosted superstars such as Beyoncé for numerous high-profile projects, yet the grassroots spirit of filmmaking remains a major component of the local Arizonian film culture. The Arizona International Film Festival (AIFF) is the oldest festival of its kind in the state, offering a platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their work. The 30th edition of the event is scheduled for 2022 and will take place in the city of Tucson, spread across the Mercado Annex, Hotel Congress and The Screening Room. This year, the AIFF is set to include special online panels covering topics such as distribution, documentary filmmaking, behind-the-scenes filmmaking, and screenwriting. The Phoenix Film Festival is a similarly important celebration of independent filmmaking based in Arizona. Established in 2000 by three local filmmakers who sought to gain exposure in their hometown, the event has since expanded from a three-day exhibition of talent to an eleven-day festival featuring over 300 films. Filmmaking seminars, workshops and parties are all on offer in one location: the Harkins Scottsdale 101 theatre. To stay connected with the industry during Covid-19 lockdowns, Film Tucson (in collaboration with A Street Productions) created Tucson Talks, an online series aimed at engaging virtually with industry insiders. The most recent guest was Watchmen, The Good Place and Master of None writer Cord Jefferson, who happens to be a former resident of Tucson. These informal interviews with writers, producers, and directors give Film Tucson direct access to Hollywood in a relaxed setting while, at the same time, providing the local film community with information and career advice. Filmmaking – after all – is in Arizona’s blood.

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interview nicola with shindler MakERS



When you make something for Netflix, is there a different tone you aim for compared to a traditional broadcaster?

Will Quay Street have a different focus, or will it build on what you have done?

Are you finding it difficult to crew up at the moment?

rama producer Nicola Shindler OBE launched Quay Street Productions last year. She earned her first full producer credit on Jimmy McGovern’s Hillsborough in 1996, before setting up Manchester-based Red Production in 1998 aged just 29. She quickly found huge success with Russell T Davies’ cult hit Queer as Folk and then Paul Abbott’s Clocking Off. Since then she has been behind distinctive dramas such as Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley, Years and Years and Harlan Coben’s The Stranger. This year she has exec produced It’s A Sin, Ridley Road, the upcoming Stay Close for Netflix and No Return for ITV through Red. She sold Red to Studiocanal in 2013, and announced her departure last year to set up Quay Street within ITV Studios.

Not really. In the end you need to make a good story with good characters who people believe in. That's universal across any channel you're working for. With Netflix we've got a licence to go a little bit more heightened. Because there's so much American content on there we can just be a little bit glossier. It can also be a little bit more pushed, whether that’s the violence, the love story or the humour. But broadcasters are asking for something not dissimilar. Everyone's aware they've got to attract an audience and they've got to push boundaries.



Tell us about Stay Close – why have you produced this next out of Harlan’s books? nicOla SHinDlER

All of Harlan’s books are brilliant, but this had always stayed with me. I love the story of the central character Megan, who's played by Cush Jumbo, a seemingly complete soccer mom and suburban woman who has got an extraordinary history which invariably is going to – not in straightforward ways – come back to haunt her. When Netflix asked us to do another one after The Stranger, we all agreed that this would be a great story to tell.

nicOla SHinDlER

How did Covid affect the shoot? nicOla SHinDlER

It's been very difficult. We started in February, midway through the third lockdown. We had our first read through in individual plastic bubbles round a table. At the time, it felt like the only way to protect everyone. But it felt really important that we were all in a room, not on zoom to interact with each other. MakERS

Why did you leave Red, and what are your plans for Quay Street? nicOla SHinDlER

It was time. I'd been there for 20 years. I'd worked through my contract with Studiocanal and I had an exciting new opportunity. There were different things I wanted to do in a different way, so it just felt like the right moment to go.

nicOla SHinDlER

Definitely building on what I have done. I loved what I did at Red, so there's no need to leave behind what I was doing. I have a very supportive new partnership with ITV Studios that enables me to work with a lot of people, which is brilliant. The work that I want to do is similar to the work I'm doing at Red, which I would say is challenging but very entertaining, always a bit provocative, always quite funny - things that grab an audience and make people sit up and take notice. MakERS

What is the drama market like right now? nicOla SHinDlER

It’s a very exciting time and a really scary time. It's scary because the impact of Covid costs is still rolling through the industry. There will inevitably be less commissions because people have to save money somehow. On the other hand, such rich material is coming through drama production companies. Every [commissioner] you meet is saying, ‘What is the best you've got?’ No one's saying, What have you got that’s like 10 things we've done before?’ So we can genuinely go to writers and say, ‘What's your passion project, what do you really want to make?’ Taste amongst broadcasters or buyers was much more conservative. But that's just all changed.

nicOla SHinDlER

It's a very, very difficult time to produce. Finding the talent to make the shows is now one of the most difficult things that any production company is facing. Crews are just so overworked. And because rates have gone up so much on some shows, it's incredibly difficult to make anything for less than what used to be a high budget, but is now a really low budget figure. There's no low budget drama anymore. MakERS

Has Brexit had an impact too? nicOla SHinDlER

Yes. Even down to availability of wood, or anything you need to build sets. Any type of material building material is now twice as rare as it was the year before last. Brexit has had an impact on everything. We just filmed half of No Return in Spain, which was incredibly hard in terms of visas because we’re no longer in the EU. There have been no benefits at all to our industry. MakERS

Looking back at this past year, you've had It’s A Sin, Ridley Road and now Staying Close and No Return coming up. How has it been for you? nicOla SHinDlER

In practical terms, it has been the hardest year of my working life. But it's not just 2021, it's been incredibly difficult from March 2020. The unsung heroes of this entire 18 months have been the production teams. I've had two amazing heads of production at Red - the stress they've been through, and the situations they've had to deal with, has been extraordinary.


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The uncomfortable truth about niche films

Image: Crip Camp © Betty Medsger & Netflix.

Niche films provide a glimpse into diverse stories and overlooked communities, but discovering them on giant streaming platforms is harder than ever, says Bohemia Media’s Miranda Fleming. It’s time for niche films to have a home of their own


t’s time for niche films and niche audiences to have a home. Niche films bring with them massive communities from all over the world, many of them online. Successful niche films are not a new enigma by any stretch – films like Moonlight (LGBTQ+), Walk With Me (mindfulness) and Crip Camp (disability) used their niche audiences to springboard their highly successful marketing campaigns both here and in the States. Niche films provide an incredible glimpse into diverse stories and the worlds of communities which are so often overlooked by mainstream filmmaking.


It’s these films that so many filmmakers passionately want to change the world with – to tell their story and make a real impact. Are these diverse stories getting to wide audiences though? Our world is not only becoming polarised by social media, it’s also becoming polarised by the giant film streaming platforms. Just like Facebook, the streaming platforms serve up films to audiences selected by their algorithms. If you have never actively searched for a disability film, or you have skipped over one in a menu, the algorithm will presume that you are not interested in disability films.

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If you need educating about diversity (as so many people of the world do), this polarisation will be taking you ever further afield from new knowledge and education. The result is that people’s view of the world is becoming increasingly narrow. Audiences are also struggling to find diverse content among the wide selection of choices offered by streaming platforms. Curation is still underutilised by the large platforms like Netflix and Amazon. Inadequate search and recommendation tools are an all too common frustration of viewers. Although there is a higher representation of diversity in films, which has been greatly supported here in the UK by the BFI’s Diversity and Inclusion policy and BAFTA, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these smaller niche films find a good home on a streaming platform. Many small niche films will be bundled by distributors and lost forever in a sea of titles on the major streaming platforms.

In many ways, smaller independent niche films like these are easier to market and find audiences for than the mid-level budget films (GBP1 million to GBP4 million). Films like these can’t afford A List stars and unless the film gets an award or it catches the public's imagination with a zeitgeist theme, it will be expensive to market. If a film has a niche audience, the digital avenue of social media, grass roots and outreach partnership to finding a targeted community and audience becomes easier. I hope Bohemia Euphoria adds to that ease and provides a solid home for diverse films and audiences.

Now more than ever the world needs a diversity focused distributor and a film streaming platform to house these important and urgent stories – and to get them seen by wide audiences. That’s why we created Bohemia Euphoria. The streaming platform offers films to rent such as Sundance winner Clemency and LGBTQ+ film Rebel Dykes. It has also been built with integrated community building tools to help find, build and engage diverse audiences. For example, it provides livestream premiere events with filmmakers in conversation with influencers and organisations relevant to the film’s community. In October, it launched a takeover page for LGBTQ+ and Rebel Dykes fans – the film is being distributed by Bohemia Media and BFI Distribution. By bringing diverse moderators to host livestream Q&A’s after film showings, we are able to extend out to more audiences within niche communities. In Bohemia’s first three months of beta with no paid marketing, we have had over 650 people purchase tickets for the Q&As – each screening bringing a new community to Bohemia. Ultimately Bohemia Euphoria will be a home for niche films with inbuilt audiences for relevant communities and it will enable filmmakers and content creators to find their audiences without having to pay big bucks for marketing.


Miranda Fleming is a digital audience engagement expert and head of marketing for new diversity film distributor, Bohemia Media. Founded by Phil Hunt and Lucy Fenton, Bohemia Media focuses on films which give voices to historically marginalised groups that are not well-served within mainstream culture. Bohemia Media’s first film, the 2019 Sundance winner, Clemency, utilised a ground-breaking revenue sharing model with cinemas and grassroots organisations. Since then, Bohemia has acquired over 50 titles that all focus on giving voice to underrepresented groups. This year Bohemia launched its new film streaming and livestream platform, Bohemia Euphoria, which Miranda developed and built out for Bohemia Media.




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The TikTok Generation in the search For highly lucrative and snappy content bOTH bRANDS AND INDEpENDENT CREATIVES ARE TURNING TO TIkTOk.

A mere 10.4 million viewers tuned in to the Academy Awards in the US this year; a fraction of the 80 million followers that 20-year-old influencer Addison Rae has on TikTok. Who is watching – and what content are they enjoying? And how can producers, creatives and advertisers tap into this market?



ikTok has passed the one billion monthly active user figure mark in September 2021, making it the seventh social media platform to have a billion users. It took five years to reach the milestone, gaining momentum in August 2018 once it merged with lip-syncing app Under the new TikTok name lip-syncing videos have expanded to short dance, comedy, talent videos generated by users who can create, save and share videos of up to 15 seconds. The platform has continued to top global download rankings, and its continued rise shows no signs of slowing.

The platform is not only an outlet for creative expression; top creators can make a good livelihood from the platform. There are a number of lucrative income streams creators can engage in through the platform, including receiving cash tips during live streams, partnerships with sponsors and brands, selling merchandise, and using the platform to launch careers as talent. In March 2021 TikTok launched the Creator Fund, which allows creators with at least 100k authentic video views in 30 days

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to receive funds based on the amount of engagement videos receive. The platform has committed to GBP230 million over the next three years to help creators earn money and make a livelihood from the platform.

platform.” The offer helps the TikTok community “gain even more enjoyment from the artists and tracks they've known on TikTok."

The platform has become a go-to place to discover emerging and unsigned artists such as Nathan Evan, who started a revival of Sea Shanties and went on to sign a record deal with Polydor. According to TikTok, 80% of the people who use the platform say they discover new music on it and it is the number one place for music discovery – above even streaming services and friends. The platform rolled out a large advertising campaign highlighting the unsigned talent on the platform via QR codes placed in public across the UK. “TikTok is a platform that’s made for discovery, which makes it easy for people to hear artists for the first time,” says Paul Hourican, head of music operations UK at TikTok.

In addition to independent creators, TikTok is an effective platform for brands. While it is true that its users skew young, many assume the platform caters to a solely teen audience. In actual fact adults aged 18 to 24 years old make up nearly 43% of its users, while 25 to 34 year olds are 30% of the audience. Digging deeper into the demographics, according “adulTs aged 18-24 to Kepios Digital 2021 year olds make up October Global Statshot, nearly 43% of 56% of the audience is TikTok’s users, while female. Recent brands 25-34 year olds are that have leveraged 30% of The audience.” Tiktok’s marketing power includes Guess, which launched a #InMyDenim Hashtag Challenge to the tune of Bebe Rexh song I’m a Mess with 5,550 user generated videos, 10.5 million video views and a 14.3% engagement rate. Speaking about the campaign, Edward Park, SVP of retail and digital at Guess said “These digital natives' tastes govern the future of social media and culture. A cluttered brand space demands unique, engaging content and integrated participation. Our partnership with TikTok is an exciting evolution within our digital marketing strategy."

The platform actively pursues partnerships with music corporations, such as the free Spotify Premium trial for TikTokers new to Spotify. As David Nunez, head of growth, Europe at TikTok explains, “TikTok is a sound-on, immersive experience, with music sitting at the heart of how people create and engage with content on the

A Nielsen Authenticity Study commissioned by TikTok asked 8,000 respondents from across the world about their perception of content and brand authenticity on TikTok, compared to other social and video platforms. The study found that the platform is seen as authentic and genuine, even when it came to tricky advertising content. The study

Music remains central to the TikTok’s offering. Users can browse a database of sound clips including songs and movie clips, which form the basis of videos. Referred to as a sound-on social platform the soundtracks engage audiences and spark trends which have skyrocketed musicians’ careers including Lil Nas X who rose to prominence with Old Town Road, and Loren Gray who originally posted on





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more and more brands are launching onTo The plaTform, Taking The opporTuniTy To reach a new audience.

found that TikTok content’s ability to showcase authenticity and inspire joy set it apart from other social media platforms. Outside of the US 60% of TikTok users follow brands on the platform, and 52% of users search for products and shop on the platform. The platform offers a host of tools for brands to tap into, such as the Creator Marketplace which helps businesses find creators within the same niche and interest as their brands, customised instant pages which load 11 times faster than standard pages, the Business Creative Center which helps brands see what is trending on the platform to inform creative strategy for the platform and tools that track brand value and impact. The most followed brand account is Flighthouse, a media company specialising in viral social media content. Netflix is another highly followed brand account, using its media assets to create compelling posts, as well as filters and hashtags. The streamer produces at least one large campaign a month as well as producing around three videos each day. Many brands also choose to tap into popular TikTok creators’ influencing power, aligning themselves with relevant stars who start trends and encourage followers to engage in challenges. Some brands are able to effectively participate in the TikToks Live opportunity, such as beauty brand ELF which captures audiences for live beauty makeovers and tutorials. More and more brands are launching onto the platform, taking the opportunity to reach a new audience. Avon is one such brand, which recently debuted on the platform as part of a digital transformation journey. “This is a really exciting chapter in Avon’s digital story as we harness social platforms to demonstrate Avon’s relevance in the beauty world as well as offer creative and fun content




for viewers, says Hannah Lally, Head of Beauty at Avon. “#LiftLockPop is a fun and visual campaign that brings Unlimited Instant Lift Mascara to life to an audience that may not have considered Avon as a beauty destination but will now see that we offer competitive, on trend beauty products at the click of a button.” It is also increasingly advised that brands on TikTok create a strong sonic identity. According to a study from MRC Data 65% of users prefer content from brands that feature original sounds, and 68% remember a brand better when they feature “referred To as a songs they like. In sound-on social October 2021 the app plaTform, The announced six certified soundTracks sound partners that engage audiences brands can use to and spark Trends build their sonic brand which have identity. The push includes partnerships skyrockeTed with global music musicians’ careers.” production company KARM, and global music agencies MassiveMusic and The Elements Music which will create bespoke tracks on TikTok. “Sound is the universal language of TikTok, and brands need to embrace music and sound in order to show up authentically on the platform. Our new sound partners have a proven track record of helping marketers develop strategies for TikTok, and offer scalable options for brands of all sizes” says Melissa Yang, head of ecosystems at TikTok.

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FINLAND destination cool

Finland is one of Scandinavia’s go-to destinations for ice, snow and expansive forests and lake landscapes. Established as a production base, locals know how to work with international crews in such conditions, and incoming productions can access a 25% cash rebate.

inland is an increasingly popular filming destination, with competent English speaking crews and four film commissions covering the country.

South Finland has the largest cities as well as lakes, forests and the archipelago region, while north Finland has more wilderness areas, as well as industrial settings and can guarantee snow during the winter, as well as the famed “midnight sun” during the summer months.

Although Lapland encompasses the northerly part of a number of Scandinavian countries, Finnish Lapland is one of the most built up destinations for filming. In addition to numerous documentary, factual and reality shoots, some of the biggest incoming scripted “in laTe 2020 DUAL productions to date have taken became The firsT place in the region, including hollywood Hindi action thriller War which feaTure To shooT shot an electrifying car chase on a enTirely in The frozen lake and through a snowy forest close to Rovaniemi, counTry, despiTe Lapland’s largest city. Advertising noT originally campaigns such as Coca-Cola’s inTending To shooT First Time Seeing Snow There unTil covid Christmas campaign and Audi affecTed plans.” R8’s Snow have also come to capture the magic. Finland’s 25% cash rebate has also attracted larger projects to the country, and covers feature and documentary films, scripted TV drama and animation. Minimum spend increases depending on 68

lOcaTiOn HiGHliGHT

Rautuvaara Mine, Kolari

Kolari sits in a valley along the border between Finnish and Swedish Lapland and is home to Finland’s popular Seven Fells national park and the country’s largest ski resport Ylläs. The municipality has been a centre for iron, copper and limestone for centuries. From the late 1960s to the end of the 1980s the Rautuvaara Mine was at the heart of a booming mining industry. Today the mine is run-down but constructions, including a tall mining tower, an enrichment plant and neglected railway tracks are still in place. The Finnish-Estonian-Dutch co-production The Last Ones by director Vieko Õunpuu shot at the site, as well as other locations in Finnish Lapland. Set in a small mining village which is full of tensions between local reindeer herders and miners, the film asks what is the worth of the Arctic lands. Set in a harsh and secluded area, the mine fits the tone of the film. Tundra landscapes of Lapland also helped set the scene.

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the type of production but feature films must spend EUR150,000 in the country, and the total production budget must be EUR2.5 million and have a distribution agreement. Some regions also offer their own rebate, such as Tampere, which offers a 10% cash rebate for the production’s total budget spent in the region, including planning and postproduction. finland’s 25% cash rebaTe has also aTTracTed larger projecTs To The counTry, and covers feaTure and documenTary films, scripTed Tv drama and animaTion.


Finland climbed the ranks of the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) to place 3rd after Denmark and South Korea, having come 11th in 2020. The importance of digital life was highlighted by the pandemic, and the index evaluates nations based on five digital wellbeing pillars across internet affordability, e-infrastructure, e-government, e-security and internet quality. Cybersecurity firm Surfshark are behind the DQL. CEO Vytautas Kaziukonis says: “Digital opportunities have proved to be more important than ever during the Covid-19 crisis, stressing the importance for every country to ensure fully remote operational capacities for their economies…The index sets the basis for meaningful discussions about how digital advancement impacts a county’s prosperity and where improvements can be made.” 110 countries were included, and Finland excelled in categories including affordability, e-infrastructure and e-government but ranked 27th on quality of internet.

The rebate, locations and relative success during the Covid pandemic attracted satirical sci-fi thriller Dual, starring Karen Gillan, Jesse Eisenberg and Aaron Paul to Finland. In late 2020 it became the first Hollywood feature to shoot entirely in the country, despite not originally intending to shoot there until Covid affected plans. Writer, producer and director Riley Stearns explains: “XYZ Films and I had been looking at the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle and Portland but the pandemic changed things. We weighed our options for months, considering various other parts of the United States and Canada, but it was near the peak of the pandemic and case counts were high everywhere. Just when it looked like we may have to push our shoot, our financing partners IPR VC in Helsinki brought up the idea of shooting in Finland. Not only had the country intelligently navigated the pandemic but they also have world class crews, equipment and facilities. It quickly became apparent that Finland and specifically Tampere would be the ideal shooting location for Dual.” The shoot took place in Tampere where the city’s unique architecture, such as Metso Library fits into the sci-fi world of Dual, and Finland’s abundance of Forests were used for some pivotal scenes. “One of the things we realized as soon as we started location scouting was that the city of Tampere was extremely supportive of us and helping us secure any location we needed,” says Stearns. “Being an indie filmmaker who had only shot in the US up to this point, I didn’t believe we could actually afford to shoot there. It required shutting it down to the public for several hours but every time I thought something was impossible, my Finnish producers at Film Service Finland and our location manager were able to make it happen. The added production value we got by shooting in Finland was immense.” One example of added value was in location moves in the city: “In Tampere our moves were the fastest I’d ever experienced. And with as many locations as we had, that time was invaluable.” Stearn adds, “There’s a Finnish term called “sisu” which roughly translates to “grit” - and the Dual crew had it in spades.”


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FollowThe Green Money the pressure to become more sustainable is mounting ARE GREEN MONEy INCENTIVES THE ANSwER?

The drive to make production greener has prompted the industry to look at every tool at its disposal to foster more eco-friendly practices. Filming incentives have long been a powerful way to attract filmmakers, but they are increasingly being used to drive sustainability too.



roven as a method to boost a region’s reputation and attract valuable international projects, financial incentives are offered by established and emerging filming hubs to encourage incoming production in their jurisdiction. At the latest count, there are nearly 100 currently offered across the globe. Incentives are often strategically deployed to develop specific areas. Uplifts for productions that shoot outside of main production hubs have been used to spread the economic benefits in places like Ireland and Croatia. France’s new 10% uplift for projects

that spend at least EUR2 million in VFX-related eligible French expenses is one example of how incentives can be used to develop the post-production, VFX and games industries. Soon after its introduction, UK based VFX house One of Us announced a new Paris studio. Only recently however, has green money, or the linking of sustainable filmmaking to tangible financial incentives, become more prevalent. Zena Harris, president of Green Spark Group and creative

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director of the Sustainable Production Forum says that “rewarding good behaviour and giving prizes,” is one of the main ways financial incentives are used to encourage sustainable practices. The practice is slowly being adopted. A number of national funds are in the process of introducing sustainable commitments as part of funding criteria, be it through additional uplifts or access to funding. in france, The respecT of environmenTal pracTices will be a condiTion To access public funding by 2024. in flanders, There is already a formal obligaTion To consider green choices and To moniTor Their impacT in deTail.

In 2020 the European Film Agency Directors Association (EFAD) launched a sustainability working group, chaired by Tim Wagendorp, sustainability coordinator at the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF). The working group provides a forum of exchange for best practices and common projects between its members. “Our first approach was to identify the different measures in place or envisaged by our members to contribute to the sustainability goals. We are also collecting expertise from international experts and connecting to common projects such as Eureca, the European Carbon Calculator,” says Julie-Jeanne Régnault EFAD Secretary General. “At a national level, EFAD members are engaging in different ways to orientate their support towards sustainability solutions”. In total, the 35 EFAD members and their governments fund around EUR3 billion through subsidies and tax reliefs each year. Sustainability is firmly on the agenda and embedding eco-criteria, eco-bonuses, training, adjustment of eligible costs, financing innovation projects, use of carbon calculator, using green certification tools such as Green Film into funding are all methods employed EFAD members. “Green incentives are already in place in several countries in the form of additional points in selection criteria, more funding for greener projects or imposing a sustainability strategy,” says Regnault. “In France for example, the respect of environmental practices will be a condition to access public funding by 2024. In Flanders, there is already a formal


obligation to consider green choices and to monitor their impact in detail. In the new German Film Law coming into play in 2022, it will be obligatory to implement certain sustainable criteria if producers apply for funding.” In addition to formal incentives, there are other ways that productions are starting to access green money. “Integrating incentives with local permitting seems to be effective,” says Green Spark’s Harris. “The City of Vancouver has a permitting incentive “rewarding good whereby if a production behaviour and can demonstrate they giving prizes is used a battery power noT a new concepT station or are plugged into the grid instead of buT has only using a diesel generator, recenTly been the permit fee for the used in relaTion day is halved. That To susTainable incentive pays for the pracTices.” battery unit or could even save the production money because it costs less to use grid power than buy diesel for the generator. It’s also helpful that this has an immediate impact for the production and the local community.” Film London’s Green Screen Programme also incentivises productions to sign up to environmentally friendly filming through permit discounts. The platform enables productions to set environmental targets, and provides an action plan to achieve their goal. Enrolled productions are offered a 3-5% discount on filming fees. Popular locations including Network Rail, English Heritage, Harrow School offer the discount. Before green incentives become ubiquitous, however, ease of accessibility to sustainable production is a necessity. This is another capacity that funds and local filming agencies can provide.



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i’ve heard some say They don’T wanT To change processes for fear ThaT iT imposes on filmmakers buT on The oTher hand i’ve heard filmmakers say They work wiThin The parameTers given.

“National Funds (EFAD members) not only play a role as a catalyst by embedding sustainability in their funding policy,” says Régnault. They also play a vital role in connecting different stakeholders. They can help productions to translate global sustainable practices at their local level. They know to locate sustainable service providers, they can suggest alternative energy sources, connect to regional sustainability experts and local crew.”

implemented measures. The obtained points can be used in the application for local grants and incentives, and have to be certified during and after the end of production in order to get the "Green Film" label,” explains Barbadillo. The system can be adopted by local jurisdictions, and adapted to different needs and has the advantage of being the only system that can be utilised by cross border coproductions.

Many commissions, such as the Mallorca Film Commission, have been laying the foundation for sustainable production at a local level over a number of years.

Barbadillo expects the system to become more widespread in coming years: “In the future, once the national film funds of more countries include it as a mandatory requirement, like Germany has recently done, the system’s utilization will increase.”

Since its formation in 2016 the commission has worked to foster sustainable practices on shoots for both foreign and local productions. “In this time we have participated in several forums on green shoots, during the past years in Cannes and Berlinale,” says Pedro Barbadillo, head of the Mallorca Film Commission. “We have organized several workshops and seminars about specific questions related to sustainability on the shoots, in order to raise awareness for producers and film technicians. They have focused on plastic waste, and particularly on plastic water bottles, organic and local catering, reusing of materials, sustainable transportation and energy supply on set. We are currently planning a training program for "Green Consultants" and "Green Production Assistants" to provide better skills to the interested staff and crew members.” All of this goes towards making sure incoming productions can easily integrate green measure on set during location filming. “In the last two years, we have included the "Green Film Rating System" as a non-mandatory requirement on the calls for grants we have published. The plan is to improve gradually the sustainable practices, as a voluntary decision by the producer, who can get some beneficial results in terms of incentives, access to grants, and to film credits,” says Barbadillo. The Green Film Rating system was originally developed by the Trentino Film Commission in Italy as a way to measure and calculate the value in points of the sustainability measures. Successful productions are awarded a certificate verified by third-party bodies. “By using the "Green Film Rating System" during preproduction and production, the producer gets a number of points, depending on the number and intensity of the


From her experience of consulting with organisations across the production industry, Harris has identified some of the main challenges that hinder the widespread implementation of green incentives. “The main hurdles that I’ve seen are getting consistent buy-in from various stakeholders which can hold up the process and having the courage to propose the incentive in the first place. I’ve heard some say they don’t want to change processes for fear that it imposes on filmmakers but on the other hand I’ve heard filmmakers “in The new german say they work within the film law coming parameters they are inTo play in 2022, given,” says Harris.

iT will be obligaTory To implemenT cerTain susTainable criTeria if producers apply for funding.”

Moreover, since Covid, there has been a heightened awareness of sustainable production as well as demand from crews themselves. “In my experience, the main hurdles are the relenting support of the producers to communicate the expectation to crew and thinking about sustainability in a holistic way and integrating sustainable practices into job descriptions and workflow. If the producers do not set the expectation and actively communicate it, then we get the inevitable excuses like ‘I still need approval’ or ‘I haven’t heard about this so I can’t do it unless they tell me’, says Harris. Perceived hurdles should not be complete barriers. We are at a time where we cannot afford, whether financially, politically or socially, to not be sustainable. Municipalities, agencies and commissions must put sustainable production incentives, parameters, and guidelines in place and ensure broad communication, training and implementation.”

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The rise (and rise) of Indian television

Image: e Big Day © Shreya Sen Photography & Netflix.


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despiTe a slow-sTarT, india has one of The fasTesT growing Television indusTries in asia. pacT’s managing direcTor of business developmenT and global sTraTegy, dawn mccarThy-simpson obe, charTs The rise of The small screen in india.


rriving in Mumbai is a complete sensory overload: the explosion of energy, colours and smells hits the second you step out of the airport and seeps deep into your every pore. I was late visiting India, only going for the first time in 2014. My mission for the trip was to sign an MOU agreement with Siddarth Roy Kupur, film producer and the president of the Indian TV & Film Guild. I was still relatively new to the Indian television market so was slightly surprised to find that a simple MoU signing between two television & film trade associations took place in a large conference room filled with journalists. No sooner had the ink dried on the agreement than we were whisked down a long corridor, going from room to room for television and press interviews. Still catching my breath from a morning of interviews, I was relieved when Siddarth suggested we leave the hotel and head for lunch. A few fans collared him for selfies on route but we finally managed to get away, leaving the last of the paparazzi behind. I was shocked at the interest our agreement had garnered and as we weaved in and out of the busy traffic I began to wonder about this unknown world that I had entered, which felt different to anywhere I have visited before.


By comparison, three years before B Sivakumaran conducted his demonstration, the US already had 48 television channels active across 25 cities. The US became an obvious potential investor in the burgeoning Indian television market, but the thinkers and policy makers of the country – which had recently been liberated from centuries of colonial rule – rejected any ideas of foreign investment in its media. In fact, many politicians frowned upon television, looking on at it as a luxury for Indians. This negative attitude resulted in a Cabinet decision in 1955 disallowing any foreign investments in media. However, it wasn’t long before the government was changing its mind, having seen the benefits television had brought to other nations. They realised “even up To 1975 this new medium could There were sTill help them to reach, only seven indian inform and educate ciTies ThaT had their vast population. So in 1959 they launched Television services.” an initiative with UNESCO to help the roll out of television across India’s capital territory, Delhi. They also received donations to help with their efforts, with the US supplying a range of equipment and Philips India providing a low cost transmitter. And so terrestrial television was at last introduced in Delhi, in the form of public broadcaster Doordarshan, more commonly known as DD.

India was a relatively late starter where television is concerned. In 1950 the India Express first reported that an electrical engineer student, B Sivakumaran was to showcase a demonstration of television at an exhibition in the Teynampet locality of Madras (now Chennai). The apparatus he had created was built in the simplest of forms, and the India Express journalist, TN Seshadri described the contraption as being put together with ‘crude equipment’ but equally congratulated the student for his unique achievement and ingenuity.

DD’s broadcast began as an experimental telecast from a makeshift studio in Delhi. Each day’s transmission started with a five-minute news bulletin by female reporter, Pratima Puri, who was chosen for her simple look and engaging voice. Viewers quickly warmed to Puri and she went on to become a television icon in India. She passed away in 2007 but is still remembered for paving the way for other women wanting to follow the same path.

As the contraption kicked into action, there were gasps from the crowds that had gathered to witness this historic moment. The demonstration was merely a scanned image of a letter that projected from a cathode ray tube screen. But no matter how basic this first introduction was, it was enough to encourage the government to invest in India’s first transmitter, which was installed in Jabalpur in October 1951.

The UNESCO funding and additional donations resulted in a total of 180 ‘teleclubs’ launching across a 40 km radius of Delhi. The teleclubs began to broadcast a range of 20 minute programmes twice a week. The clubs proved to be very popular, with crowds of locals all squeezing around the small screen to watch programmes that had been produced with the aim of educating communities on topics such as health, citizens’ duties and rights. By 1961, a UNESCO study on the impact of television programming in India showed that for many, television was the only source of education. Subsequently, the government decided to put


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India’s small screen programming was becoming more and more popular, even though there was little choice of viewing with only one main national channel operating. However, by the late 1980’s the Indian government finally recognised that one channel was not enough to satisfy their growing, diverse audience. So they set about launching another national terrestrial channel, DD2, later renamed DD Metro. DD2 operated as a national network but offered part-time regional services to help serve local communities.

by The mid-nineTies, india wenT from having Two governmenT-owned channels To more Than 100, serving over 70 million homes.

television sets into schools, and teachers in Delhi were trained to help inform the topics of the programmes. Using television to teach subjects such as science particularly benefitted the most disadvantaged schools, where funding and facilities were limited. Television viewership began to increase, and by the mid 1960’s individual television sets were being purchased for the home by affluent citizens, encouraged by the introduction of more entertaining programming to the schedule. Entertainment, popular farming and agricultural shows rated well, and the one hour per-day broadcast slot doubled to two hours per-day by 1967. But India’s progress remained slow. Even up to 1975 there were still only seven Indian cities that had television services. The majority of the content remained restricted to subjects such as agriculture, health and family planning, and news, with entertainment – in the form dance, drama, folk and rural arts – weaved around the schedule. But despite expanding genres and increasing broadcasting hours, the sales of television sets in 1977 remained as low as 677,000 across the whole of India – a nation which at the time had a population of over 650 million. However, in 1976, it was UNESCO who yet again proved to be a key driver for the progress of the television industry across India. They conducted an experiment on satellite communication, providing the Indian government with evidence that satellite television transmission would be possible, and would be of benefit to India. Satellite television was launched as an experiment enabling the transportation of educational programmes via satellite links across India. In total it was able to reach more than 2,400 villages. These villages were in some of the most deprived areas of India and for many people it was their first experience of television. The programming was mostly based around education and social wellbeing, and the satellite experiment was deemed a success. But it was the 1980s that would prove to be the television turning point for India, initially due to two coinciding events: the introduction of colour television and the 1982 Asian Games, which were hosted by India. As it was still illegal for private enterprise to set up television stations or to transmit television signals, it was the state-owned broadcaster DD that was able to take full advantage.


The first television series which launched on DD2, Hum Long, looked at the lives of a large middleclass family and proved popular with the era’s aspirational audience. There followed a stream of equally popular series. Two in particular really paved the way in attracting a mass audience: The Ramayana and Mahabharata were both based on Indian epics and registered world record viewership at the time, attracting more than 100 million viewers. These series also boosted the sale of televisions, with more people purchasing their own sets. As more citizens began to travel outside of India, they became exposed to what television programming in other parts of the World had to offer. In comparison, the domestic programming they had become accustomed to suddenly appeared dull, and didn’t offer the same levels of escapism and entertainment. But this was all about to change when the central government launched a series of economic and social reforms in 1991, “india's Television under Prime Minister indusTry is Narasimha Rao, which predicTed To be made it possible for worTh ir882 billion private and foreign (gbp8.5 billion) broadcasters to launch limited operations in by 2022.” India. Suddenly the Indian population was exposed to radically new content, with channels such as Star TV, CNN, Zee TV and Sun television launching at great speed in a race to capture market share. Until this time viewers had little choice over what to watch as it had been dictated by DD’s chosen schedule. The popularity of DD fell rapidly, with many viewers shifting loyalty to more exciting channels. With the introduction of more channels, the local producers’ ambitions also heightened. As they entered the liberalisation of the 90’s it triggered an explosion of new productions and series. By the mid-nineties, India went from having two government-owned channels to more than 100, serving over 70 million homes. The market quickly became saturated; it’s estimated that at one time there were more than 60,000 cable operators in India. For many of them, it was not a sustainable business model – having subscriber bases as low as 50 people. The battle for market share proved too much and a lot of the cable companies ceased trading. The dominant multi-system operators (MSO's) used their scale and weight and attempted to take over the local networks, but this only led to resistance from the smaller cable operators who joined forces and started functioning as MSOs themselves. This intense battle for market share resulted in 30,000 operators disappearing.

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Today India is one of the fastest growing entertainment industries in Asia. Thanks to the rise of streaming platforms, a revolution in Indian television is underway. Moving popular Bollywood films from cinema to the small screen has also been a significant form of soft power for India. Viewed now by global audiences, Bollywood films and series have helped influence and change perceptions of India. The Indian television industry has continued to gain new momentum due to enhanced enthusiasm shown by broadcasters and advertisers on the back of the audiences it can deliver. It remains the most penetrated medium in the country, catering to over 100 million households, and rises year on year. India's television industry is predicted to be worth IR882 billion (GBP8.5 billion) by 2022.

With more than half of all Indian households now owning a television, thousands of programmes are produced in many different languages, and even niche religions, languages or communities are able to access programming that relates directly to them. And what became of the student – B Sivakumaran – who took that first step towards bringing television to India back in 1951? No one seems to know! But his name lives on in history, and I imagine he would be quite amazed by how that new and exciting technology has developed and helped to transform his nation and its people over the past seven decades. No doubt it will continue to do so going forward, too.

Programming has radically changed from those early years, when shows such as Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu thi and Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki largely reflected traditional Indian values. Today India’s domestic output is much more gritty, with risqué topics reflecting some of the serious issues that contemporary society is tackling such as violence against women and child marriages. Balika Vadhu was a popular series which ran for eight years and charted the story of child bride Anandi, who was married into an affluent family. Television has also tapped into to India’s aspirational population, reflected in ‘dreams come true’ style programming such as Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahi about Jassi, an average-looking girl who lands her dream job with Gulmohar, a leading fashion agency. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that India managed to survive with only one broadcaster for so long, being one of the most diverse countries in the World.


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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Real-time revolution

Image: e set of 1899 © Alex Forge & Netflix.

Are games and television and film coming closer together? After years of developing along very separate lines, there are more signs than ever that these distinct worlds are starting to intertwine.

or years, the video games industry has developed completely independently of the film and television business – with very little crossover of talent or production technology.


unit of Skydance Media to build what it describes as “a narrative-driven, blockbuster action-adventure game, featuring a completely original story and take on the Marvel Universe.”

And it’s has done so very successfully too. The video games market is on track to pass the USD200 billion mark by 2023, according to Newzoo figures. For comparison, the global film industry first hit USD100 billion in 2019.

However, the most interesting signs of convergence are taking place at the production level – whether that’s television companies helping games tell narrative stories or visual effects companies embracing gaming technology to create film and television content.

But there are signs that these very separate worlds may be starting to converge. At a corporate level, there are signs of change. Netflix officially unveiled its plans to enter the video game market in July, and soon after acquired game developer Night School Studio. Initially, the streamer will start with mobile games, seeing it as a new content category that will help it attract and retain customers. Also in July, UK broadcaster ITV invested in mobile games firm Live Tech Games. Disney’s Marvel, meanwhile, recently partnered with the new-media


Best known for producing television shows such as Horrible Histories, Lion Television, for example, has been working for the past three years with Xbox Game Studios’ World’s Edge Studio and Relic Entertainment on strategy game Age of Empires IV, which was released at the end of October. Age of Empires IV has drawn upon Lion’s expertise in making factual shows to produce 50 short films which help provide historical context for players throughout the game about conflicts such as the Battle of Hastings or the 100 Years War.

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Image: Disney Gallery: e Mandalorian © Disney & Lucasfilm Ltd.


For Lion executive producer Bill Locke, the experience was eye-opening. “They are vast enterprises – like big movie franchises like Marvel or Bond. They have a big user community, and an amazing relationship with their fan base, which TV could learn from. They really engage with their fan base, and take it very seriously.” Asked if the two industries are coming closer together, Locke says he thinks they will. “There is a great synergy between the two. We’re used to pointing cameras at things, and they create virtual worlds within computers. But you are still trying to tell a story, and to lead people enticingly through something.” Still, he is surprised by how few people who work in television have played games or know anything about the games world. And he recognises that the skills for creating games are very different to those in the television world. However, production processes themselves are starting to overlap – in particular in the field of virtual production – which makes use of the real-time engines used in the games industry. Epic Games, creator of Fortnite, is making a name for itself in the film and television industry by providing its Unreal Engine software for virtual productions. Famously, over 50% of The Mandalorian’s first season was filmed using this ground-breaking technology, eliminating the need for location shoots entirely. Complex shots were filmed completely in-camera using Unreal Engine and LED screens that provided photo-real digital locations within a studio setting. Since then the demand for virtual production has accelerated hugely, says Framestore global real-time director Karl Woolley. He says the vfx house’s virtual production team shot up from zero to 100 within the space of a year in 2020. This year, Framestore has been working on Netflix series 1899, which has filmed at Europe’s largest virtual production stage at Studio Babelsberg in Berlin. 1899 hails from the German creators of supernatural drama Dark, and is a period mystery set on a migrant boat sailing from Europe to the United States.

The series had been in prep since 2018 and planned to shoot in Spain, Poland and Scotland. When the pandemic hit, these plans were derailed and the show pivoted wholesale to virtual production techniques. Visiting the set earlier this year, Netflix chief Reed Hastings hailed the show as a new benchmark for series production. “Right now, the most advanced production technology in the world is here [in Berlin], it’s really cutting edge and amazing.” Real-time engine skills for virtual production are in high demand, say Woolley. “At the tools level, the industries are heavily intertwined and will only become more so.” Framestore has created a “The adopTion of training partnership with real-Time engines Epic called Fuse to help in film and retrain its existing talent Television is and allow it to create a moving as fasT large-scale real-time VFX as The indusTry pipeline to be used in can Train and the production of a film, recruiT sTaff.” created from concept to final pixel entirely with Unreal Engine. It has also hired senior figures from the games industry, including Grant Bolton, lead technical director for engine. Eventually, the shared use of real-time production tools that span the games, television and film industries will allow creators to output content more easily across multiple platforms – be that games, film or virtual reality – rather than having to start from scratch for each medium. This is what Framestore had to do when creating the Niffler creatures for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; it had to remake the Nifflers three times – once for film, the other times for games and VR – as they had to be created with different technology. The adoption of real-time engines in film and television is moving as fast as the industry can train and recruit staff. Framestore’s team that handles in-camera visual effects shoots is having to turn down work, says Woolley. In October, London’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) announced the launch a new course to service what it described as the ‘unprecedented demand’ for virtual production skills within the screen sector. The convergence of games and film and television production techniques is still very much at the early stage – but it seems it is only going to accelerate.

Image: 1899 © Rasmus Voss & Netflix.


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interview helen withderspici argo elen Argo is head of commercials and short form fiction at Aardman Animations. She joined in 1998, initially starting in the features department before moving into series work on Creature Comforts. Over the past 15 years she has worked in commercials, creating short form animated and interactive content for advertising agencies and third party brands. Recently, she has produced the half hour Christmas special Robin Robin for Netflix.

Robin Robin is a stop-frame musical animation, directed by its creators Dan Ojari and Mikey Please. When her egg fortuitously rolls into a rubbish dump, Robin is raised by a loving family of mice. But as she grows up, her differences become more apparent. So Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse – but ends up discovering who she really is. MakERS

Tell us how the project came about – and Netflix came on board? HElEn aRGO

Sarah Cox, our executive producer, was at the Annecy Film Festival and Dan and Mikey were there, and pitched the film to her and sang her a song from it. Sarah fell in love with it. She felt it was a real perfect fit for Aardman, with new characters and a classic story. We were also on the lookout to do


have a reset so the directors could really concentrate on the story and the animatic. When we did go back at the end of June / beginning of July, it was a much easier shoot because the directors could focus on the studio floor. When we stopped production we were around 85 crew. Planning for the return to work, with social distancing, we had to be really mindful of numbers. So we decided to reduce the crew and to shoot for longer. So we ended up shooting from July until December 2020.

What was it like creating a new character from scratch?

make Robin bigger, but in a real environment the sets end up being huge. The kitchen set was something like 175% of normal size – it was a huge, oversized kitchen. Across the whole production, it's not sustainable to build sets on that scale – so we had four scales of sets, and three scales of puppets. We ended up with about 55 to 60 sets. Towards the end of the shoot, we were averaging about 10 seconds a week per animator. We also did a lot of in camera effects – it was lovely to go back to almost that old school way of filming where everything's in camera.



What is the animation market like at the moment?

The biggest challenge was that it was completely new IP for Aardman. You can’t underestimate how much time it takes to establish new IP, especially when you’ve been used to working in a familiar world, like Sean the Sheep. Dan and Mikey very much knew that felted puppets was the look they wanted to go for, and the whole environment has a stylized look, with more of graphic feel. There was a lot of R&D with different materials. At one point, we were testing using nappy liners for leaves.

Who is Robin Robin aimed at?

specials and shorter form storytelling, which is something we used to do a lot. She loved the fact that it is a musical as well. She worked with Dan and Mikey on a pitch package, getting a really good treatment together and also built a maquette of Robin. Then they invited Alexi Wheeler [director of kids and family content EMEA] at Netflix to come to Aardman. They pitched it to him and he loved it. The rest is history. MakERS


What was the shoot like? HElEn aRGO

It was probably one of the most complex shoots I’ve worked on. If you made Robin in real life bird scale, then the beak would be too small [for talking]. So we had to


Aardman pitch their films very much at family audiences. For me, this is a real family film – it is for parents with children, young children. It is also a musical [a new departure for Aardman]. MakERS

How did Covid-19 impact the production? HElEn aRGO

We started pre-production in May 2019, and shooting in February 2020. [The plan was] for quite an intense shoot up until July and then to deliver to Netflix at the beginning of September for a Christmas 2020 airdate. It was a really tight timeline. Then of course lockdown hit [and so the airdate was moved forward to 2021]. Stopping meant we could



There’s a real demand for content. I don’t think Aardman has ever been busier. We're doing series, features, specials and short form as well as commercials still. It's really busy, to the point where we struggle to get crew and talent. If there are big stop-frame projects happening in the US, that impact us as well because the talent – whether that's riggers, animators or camera – will move where the big features are. On the commercial side of our business, we’re getting a lot of scripts that were meant to be live action coming to us because they couldn't shoot it in live action, and asking if we can do it in, say, three weeks. We need a little bit longer! The timelines are so different with animation.



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IRELAND wild & welcoming

ireland is enjoying a post-lockdown production boom, as international projects turn to the country for its variety of locations, experienced crews and attractive Section 481 tax credit, while successes such as normal people have cast a spotlight on its homegrown talent.

Image: Valhalla © Bernard Walsh & Netflix.

reland has created myriad projects with almost every European territory as well as several US studios and companies across Canada, Australia and South Africa. It is part of the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production, which includes members of the EU and some EEA states, and also has bilateral co-production treaties with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Luxembourg.

Like many countries, Ireland enjoyed a postlockdown production boom. To date, the country’s highest annual production contribution on record is EUR358 million, achieved in 2019. Early figures indicate that 2021 is set to surpass this figure; an estimated EUR289 million of production was recorded in the first six months of “The global the year alone. “Production populariTy of hulu activity in 2021 will see record and The bbc’s levels for Irish film, television and NORMAL PEOPLE has animation despite the enormous ongoing challenges faced by the showcased The industry throughout the Covid-19 naTion’s audiovisual pandemic,” says Steven Davenport, media indusTry To Screen Ireland’s head of US The world.” production and partnerships. AMC’s sci-fi utopian series Moonhaven selected Ireland as the location for its moon-based sanctuary. When the NBC and Universal Pictures project Cocaine Bears began filming in August, director Elizabeth Banks, Modern Family cast member Jesse Tyler Ferguson and producer Christopher Miller were spotted in the Emerald Isle. Vallhalla – Netflix’s sequel series to the popular show Vikings – recently wrapped up filming in the country. Meanwhile, the second season of Apple TV+’s Foundation has been given the greenlight;

lOcaTiOn HiGHliGHT

Ballinesker and Curracloe Beaches Steven Spielberg chose to film his famous 20-minute opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan (above) on these beaches in County Wexford rather than Omaha Beach. In a chance conversation with Spielberg, Mel Gibson recommended Ireland as an ideal destination for shooting immense action sequences having used it extensivvely in Braveheart. A hybridisation of Irish Defence Forces, An Forsa Cosanta Áitúil (now FCA Army Reserve) and An Slúa Múirí (now Naval Service Reserve) were supplied as extras. Filming took place on the beaches over two months. Scenes from John Crowley’s Brooklyn were also shot on these soft, wind-blown sands. The co-production between Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom features Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhall Gleeson and Jim Broadbent. Image: Saving Private Ryan © (2015) Paramount Pictures & Dreamworks LLC & Amblin Ent.


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Everything Looks Better In The Sunshine and Erin

Q: What makes filming in Ireland so special? A: The people of Ireland are a special warm breed with the right dash of wildness. Storytelling is part of the history, it’s in the land. Meeting locals and being welcomed into communities is a really special thing… You could be driving to a location when something catches the crew’s eye and all of a sudden you are able to capture something spontaneously that plays into the story perfectly. Q: Which elements really stuck out when

working in Ireland? A: Close to Dublin there are some really picturesque lakes in the neighbouring county Wicklow which is only about an hour away. These locations definitely shape the production, in terms of the overall story but then also in terms of the mood of the crew. When you are surrounded by such beauty, everyone is willing to push the work or stay later when needs be because it really is a gift to be able to work in these places. Q: What would you suggest to filmmakers

visiting the country? A: I would recommend talking with the Irish film board, Tourism Ireland and smaller county tourism boards to get a sense of accessibility. Also, check out some Irish films, both features and shorts, to get an idea of the varying locations that can be discovered in relative ease. There are seriously talented freelancers of all trades who often join international projects that come through so it’d definitely be worthwhile, if not hiring, to at least speak with them to get a sense of the industry as well as filming possibilities in Ireland.


the first series was one of Ireland’s largest ever productions, creating over 500 jobs. Ireland’s incoming projects also include Lorcan Finnegan’s third feature Nocebo, which is set to star Eva Green and Mark Strong, and Frank Berry’s Aisha, featuring Letitia Wright and Josh O’Connor. Meanwhile, Disney’s Disenchanted, starring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey, was shot on location in Wickow and Dublin, Holding, the four-part adaptation of Graham Norton’s debut novel, was captured in West Cork, and folk horror You Are Not My Mother, the first film directed by Ireland native Kate Dolan, was set in a North Dublin housing estate. In addition to strong collaborations with international partners, Ireland has been home to domestic TV projects such as Smother and Kin alongside Holding and You Are Not My Mother. Popular animated shows in the vein of My Father Dragon and Karma’s World – as well as Irish feature films An Cailín Ciúin and The Banshee of Inisherin – similarly emphasise the wide-ranging production expertise in Ireland. Generating approximately 11,960 jobs across the nation’s economy, the estimated value of the film, television and animation sector in Ireland exceeds EUR692 million. Building for a Creative Future 2024, the new Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland development strategy, is expected to drive further commercial growth within the national screen industry. EUR3 million will be invested in the initiative, attempting to address increasing demands for filmmaking talent and crew across the country. Three new regional crew hubs and two new national talent academies for film, television drama and animation are being established alongside Pathways, an additional scheme that aims to enable industry entry for new workers through paid work experience opportunities. Screen Ireland has also launched a funding scheme with a specific focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (D&I). The new fund, Pathways, is set to invest EUR500,000 to ensure that employment and skills opportunities for crew members are open for all. International productions are drawn to the country by the well-tested Section 481 incentive scheme, which offers a 32 to 37% tax credit on all goods and services in Ireland, as well as all international cast and crew members working in the country. The production company must reach out to the Ministry for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for a cultural certificate confirming that the project should be treated as a qualifying film for the purpose of Section 481. Companies should be Irish resident or trading through a branch or agency, and trading as a production company for at least twelve months.


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While there is no annual cap or limit for funding, Ireland’s Tax Credit is subject to a per project cap. This limit is determined by the lower of either: all eligible expenditure, 80% of the total production cost, or an overall total of EUR70 million per project. Projects are unable to qualify for the incentive if their eligible expenditure amounts to less than EUR125,000 or, on the other hand, the total cost of the production is less that EUR250,000. The Budget 2022 just announced an allocation increase of 22% for Screen Ireland, and a new tax credit for digital gaming development has been also confirmed.

ESSEnTial FacTS TaX incnTiVES

32% Section 481 is administered by Ireland’s Department of Culture & the Revenue Commissioners. While the core rate of tax credit is worth up to 32% of eligible Irish expenditure, projects in the regions (outside Dublin/Wicklow, and Cork City and Country) qualify for a 5% uplift in 2021, augmenting to the tax credit to 37%. The uplift is scheduled to become 3% in 2022 and 2% in 2023. STUDiOS

Ardmore, Ashford, Font Hill, Kite & Troy Studios house state-of-the-art production and post-production facilities. Check out the world-class support infrastructure offered by Studio@5 and Stiúideo Telegael. aTa caRnET


inTERnaTiOnal TalEnT

Ireland’s list of accomplished professionals includes actress Caitriona Balfe, costume-maker Breege Fahy, producer Jackie Larkin & editor Alan Slattery. REcEnT PRODUcTiOnS

Disenchanted, Cocaine Bears, Vallhalla, Holding, Calm With Horses and When All Is Ruin Once Again were recently filmed in Ireland, and Nocebo, Aisha, Arracht, Defenders, Finky and The Lost Letter are currently in production.

California-based property group Hackman Capital Partners (HCP) and London’s Square Mile Asset Management recently bought two of Ireland’s largest movie studios. Ardmore and Troy Studios – based in Wicklow and Limerick respectively – were owned by the Olcott Entertainment group, spearheaded by Ion Equity co-founder Joe Devine. Hackman’s USD7 billion portfolio also encompasses The Culver Studios, Sony Animation Culver City, Television City Studios, and Silvercup Studios NYC. The portfolio places strong emphasis on studio properties, with approximately 90 sound stages across nine productions studio campuses. Recent projects shot at Troy and Ardmore include Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, Netflix’s Winx and Apple TV Plus’s Foundation. Troy is Ireland’s biggest studio complex: it has around 100,000 sqft of stage space, 250,000 sqft for production support, and one of the largest sound stages in the country. Ardmore is similarly sizable, boasting sound stage space at around 140,000 sqft and 160,000 sqft of support building infrastructure. Tipperary’s newly-built Silver Rock Studios is set to launch very soon, and large-scale studio facilities are in development at Grey Stones Media Campus (790,000 sqft, with 270,000 sqft of soundstages) and Ashbourne Studios (170,000 sqft, with 88,000 sqft of soundstages), further illustrating the Irish production industry’s potential as an option for future investment. “We have seen a significant increase in Ireland’s infrastructure offering, with expansion at all the current studios and several new studios in development,” explains Davenport. “This, aligned with the launch of new training and development academies will continue the growth and expansion of the Irish screen industry, creating a centre of excellence for creativity, talent and storytelling.”


Gaelic Football is an Irish team-invasion sport played between two teams of 15 on a rectangular grass pitch. Players score points by kicking or punching a round ball into the opposition’s goals for three points, or between two upright posts and above the main goals for one point. While the origins of this competitive activity are contested and unclear, the first legal reference to football in Ireland stems back to 1308 when spectator John McCrocan was charged with accidentally stabbing a player. In 1527, as various physical invasion games began to gain popularity throughout Ireland, the Statute of Galway permitted ‘foot-balle’ while at the same time banning ‘hokie’ and several other sports. However, even Gaelic football was prohibited by 1695’s Sunday Observance Act, which imposed a harsh penalty of one shilling (a large sum of money at this time) on those caught playing sports. While the English Football Association codified and widely distributed its rules in 1863, Irish forms of football were not formally codified by the Gaelic Athletic Association until 1887. Nowadays, the annual final of the All-Ireland Senior Championship is held at Croke Park, drawing an estimated crowd of 80,000 fans.


GMT+1 Image: Fate: e Winx Saga © Jonathan Hession & Netflix.


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Making of Finding the New Roads of Colombia

a chevrolet brand Film IN THE HEART OF SOUTH AMERICA


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inner of a Gold Lion at Cannes in the brand experience category, Finding the New Roads of Colombia premiered this year on the Discovery Channel across Latin America.

The branded entertainment documentary was the brainchild of the team at Commonwealth/ McCann Colombia. The project was two years in the making for their client Chevrolet, and aimed to

bring the car brand’s purpose to life by showing how it could help “find new roads” while also entertaining Discovery viewers. Hosted by María Alejandra Cardona, the documentary explores Caquetá, one of the most biodiverse regions in the country, and a gateway to the Colombian Amazon rainforest. It’s also one of the least explored territories in the country – a place historically held by the FARC guerrillas and associated with violence and kidnappings.


Finding the New Roads of Colombia reveals stories of people from the region who, thanks to tourism, agriculture and sports, have now found a new way of living since the conflict ended. “Chevrolet’s involvement in this type of production shows our brand commitment to help Colombians ‘find new roads’ that have not been explored for many years in our country”, said Diana Reynoso, marketing manager at General Motors.


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MALAYSIA total package

Malaysia has all the qualities of a desirable filming destination including a large high-end studio, competent crews and equipment, a filming rebate and locations that can double for much of asia from mountains to beaches.

alaysia spans two regions separated by the South China Sea, which offer a large range of settings that have successfully doubled for various South Asian locations. Peninsula Malaysia is more urbanised and is the main filming hub, with both the capital city Kuala Lumpur and the large Iskandar Studios located at the southern tip. By contrast, East Malaysia is located on the island of Borneo bordering Indonesia and Brunei. Making up 60% of the country, the region is considered a more rugged and natural than the peninsula.

Such diversity in landscapes and culture provides filmmakers with many options. Muzri B Abdullah, strategic partnership lead at the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) says “Malaysia is a unique multicultural tropical country with a diversity of religions and races. It's known for its great food, islands, beaches, national parks, rainforests, highlands, plantations, villages, and cityscapes.” Crazy Rich Asians doubled Kuala Lumpur not only for Singapore (heritage building Carcosa Sri Negara stood in as the Singapore building) but also some New York scenes. Period drama Indian Summers also filmed two seasons in the country, on the Island of Penang which doubled for Simla, in India’s Himalayan foothills.

location HiGHliGHt

George Town, Penang

George Town is the capital of the island state of Penang and is the economic centre of the northern region of Malaysia. The city has a colonial history dating back to its founding by the British East India Company in 1786.It gained independence from the British Empire in 1957. A large part of the historical centre of the city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008 and the city has both colonial properties as well as a sky-scraper lined seafront. Armenian Street is a creative strip featuring galleries and street murals and cafes. Elsewhere in the city ‘Little India’ is located close by and is a more bustling district where Malaysian Indian food can be found.


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The incenTive offered by fiMi has been a Major driver for foreign producTion coMpanies selecTing Malaysia as a desTinaTion for filM shooTs, including high budgeT filMs and Television series.

ESSEntial FactS taX incEntiVES


Qualifying Malaysia Production Expenditure (QMPE) must meet MYR5 million for production (inclusive of postproduction); or MYR1 million for postproduction activity only (for production inside Malaysia). An additional rebate of 5% is determined by a cultural test made up of Malaysian cultural elements. SoUnD StaGES

Pinewood’s Iskandar Malaysia opened in 2016 and boasts over 100,000 sqft of sound stages, 30,000 acres of backlot, & both indoor & outdoor water tanks. The facility is located near the Malaysian border with Singapore. ata caRnEt


REcEnt PRoDUctionS

Crazy Rich Asians, Edge of the World, Marco Polo & Roy. BESt tiME to SHoot

The climate in Malaysia is typically tropical. Warm & humid days are balanced with cooler nights. The dry & wet seasons vary area to area – so plan ahead in order to capture the country’s stunning sights in the correct weather. tiME ZonE


The Film in Malaysia Incentive (FIMI) launched in 2013, which Abdullah says has made the country “a prime and preferred destination for international producers.” The 30% cash rebate incentive applies to eligible Malaysia expenditures for production and post production activities. “The incentive offered by FIMI has been a major driver for foreign production companies selecting Malaysia as a destination for film shoots, including high budget films and television series,” says Abdullah. Between 2016 and 2020, total Qualifying Malaysia Production Expenditure was recorded at MYR403.3 million. Iskandar Studios has worked with the incentive to bring in a large number of international work. “Iskandar is the largest and most equipped facility in South East Asia, with over 120,000 square feet of stage space, three water filming environments, several backlot spaces and all the support facilities and infrastructure you would expect from a premier production facility. Practically, there are very few things that cannot be filmed here.” says CEO Rashid Karim. “The studio is purpose-built and laid out in a way where support facilities such as workshops, dressing rooms, production offices etc are available within a few minutes’ walk from the stages, water tanks and backlots. This allows producers full control on schedule and costs, while being convenient and comfortable to talent and crew. Our best asset though is our experience. We had the honour of hosting several high-end productions for platforms including Netflix, Disney and HBO, and are familiar with the requirements of this type of production.” Some of these productions include Marco Polo for Netflix, Warner Bros. Crazy Rich Asians, Cinemax’s MI6 drama Strike Back and disaster film Skyfire. “Over the years, we have built a robust set of expertise, services and networks to ensure the production process is at or exceeds level expected by producers and competitive globally,” says Karim. In addition to physical shoots, Abdullah says “impressive post-production works have become one of the main attractions in Malaysia.”


Postproduction work falls under the rebate scheme and is an increasingly coming to the country. Recent credits include both series of Lucasfilm’s Disney+ series The Mandalorian, who outsourced their VFX work to Malaysia, as well as Michael Bay’s Netflix feature 6 Underground. Abdullah says FIMI is currently focused on introducing a strategy to further establish Malaysia as the go-to production hub in the region. “Foreign filmmakers that have filmed in Malaysia believe that additional promotional activities need to be undertaken to attract foreign filmmakers, since many have not been to Malaysia and do not yet fully appreciate the full potential of filming in Malaysia.”


Gunung Mulu National Park is a tropical jungle characterised by flowing streams, jagged limestone outcrops and mossy forests. The park sits in the shadow of Mount Mulu, a giant sandstone and shale mountain littered with giant caverns. Gua Payau Cave is famous for housing nearly two million free-tailed bats, whose emergence during the evenings is a main attraction for bold adventurers. The Sarawak Chamber is one of the biggest cave spaces in the world. The grand geological formation is located at Mulu’s Gua Nasib Bagus, the Good Luck Cave. Explorers must follow an upstream river from the cave’s entrance, and sometimes a short swim and a steady traverse along a ledge are required too. Only experienced cavers with expert guides tend to reach the chamber.

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Branded is back

In the wake of the pandemic and growing concerns about digital ad fraud, advertisers are placing a greater emphasis on the power of meaningful stories that resonate with consumers, and less on short term promotional advertising. makers reports.

The past year has seen something of sea-change in thinking within the advertising industry – one that has placed a greater focus than ever on branded content. The reason is twofold. Firstly, in the wake of the pandemic, social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter and growing concern about the state of the natural world, many advertisers have elevated their brand content strategies. Many are placing a greater emphasis on the power of meaningful stories that resonate with consumers, and less on short term promotional advertising. More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago, according to a recent Advertiser Perceptions report.


Secondly, many agencies and commercials producers say there has been a move away from hyper-targeted, pay per click (PPC) advertising designed to maximise short term sales over long term brand building. “There’s been a really interesting shift,” says Maurice Wheeler, chief executive of the We Are Family agency network, which specialises in children, young people and family marketing and works with brands such as Lego and Mercedes-Benz. He says that brand (or native) content was the hot thing five years ago as advertisers tried to foster deeper engagement with audiences. But then the hyper-targeted programmatic ad buy enabled by tech giants like Facebook and Google grew in popularity, with algorithms allowing advertisers to deliver specific pieces of content to specific people.

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“I think they got slightly dazzled by it,” says Wheeler, explaining that this kind of advertising typically doesn’t need the big storytelling or emotional journeys of branded content. “It tells you ‘this is who we are’ and ‘here is the 20% discount code’ – it’s a quite brutal approach.” Many advertisers and agencies think they went too far, and were too focused on KPIs and costs of conversion. “It was just a numbers game – [advertisers] thought that if you shout out to enough people, some of them will buy,” says Wheeler. They recognise that, within the digital space, they have been “riding on the back of brand collateral” that they have might have built up over the past 30 years, says Wheeler – and that they need to focus once again on their brand story. This realisation has gone hand in hand with growing concerns about the trustworthiness of digital ad delivery. 40% of advertisers cited ad and bot fraud as their second-largest concern among this year, compared to fifth in 2020, according to the 2021 Advertiser Perceptions Trust Report. Global losses to ad fraud exceeded USD35 billion last year, a figure expected to rise to USD50 billion by 2025, according to the World Federation of Advertisers. Unsurprisingly, highly regarded advertising figures have increasingly begun to question the effectiveness of targeted digital ad campaigns.

Global losses to ad fraud exceeded usd35 billion last year, a fiGure expected to rise to usd50 billion by 2025, accordinG to the World federation of advertisers.

Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, lashed out in a recent blog post against ads bought by algorithm. He cited a study by MIT professor Catherine Tucker which found that even targeting something as basic as gender was unsuccessful more than half the time (i.e., it was worse than random). Furthermore, the technology that enables tracking, the digital cookie, is on the way out. As it is, most tracking cookies are either blocked or deleted by web browsers. Apple recently updated iOS to require would-be ad trackers to obtain a user's position before dropping a cookie. Google's Chrome, which commands 60% of the browser market, will block third-party cookies altogether by 2023.


making it a requirement to have content that people want to find and that they want to engage with, versus content that is being pushed at them.” Hubbard-Breen agrees that advertising became too data and tech driven in recent years. “Nowadays, we have the opportunity to tell deeper stories that are beyond just the selling of a product… it’s definitely about sharing and shining a light on the brand's values and deeper stories.” The ability to share “This realisaTion stories has also grown, has gone hand creating an environment in hand wiTh for “much more flexible growing concerns distribution of content,” abouT The TrusTsays Hubbard-Breen. worThiness of “Not only can you reach people through a post or digiTal ad delivery.” television, but also through an Instagram Reel, a TikTok or a podcast. That flexibility is sparking the creativity and innovation in our market – in different ways for brands to be able to connect with audiences.” By way of example, she cites the lauded The Real Heroes Project, which Hecho Studios worked on with agency 72andSunny. Produced during the height of the pandemic, the project saw famous athletes and players dedicate their match shirts and jerseys to a healthcare hero working to combat Covid-19. The athletes covered their name on their jerseys and replace it with the name of their healthcare hero. In Hubbard-Breen’s words: “We flipped the script.” Hecho Studios, which was spun out of 72andSunny in 2013, is known for high profile storytelling content such as Google’s emotional Year in Search films. It’s currently focused on the technology and sports markets, where Hubbard-Breen thinks there is room to expand Hecho’s offer. Her advice for creating stand out branded content is straightforward. “It’s always about finding a human insight. If you are not really solving a problem or telling a story about something that people are actually interested in or curious about, it is going to fall on deaf ears.”

“The change away from cookies is changing the landscape,” says Celeste Hubbard-Breen, president of US-based content agency Hecho Studios. “It is 97

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The future of festivals and markets


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covid-19 has hit festivals and markets hard, With many pivotinG to virtual events over the past year and a half. MAKERS looks ahead to 2022 to see Whether festivals and markets expect participants to return as in the past, or if the future is hybrid?


nable to hold physical events during the pandemic, most festivals and markets went digital. But now, as vaccination rates rise around the world, they are finally returning as in person events, but often with a digital element attached. Indeed, the trend in recent months has very much been for a return to meeting in person. Major festivals like Cannes and Venice led the way, with strict vaccine rules, managing to hold successful events that loosely resembled their 2019 versions. The London Film Festival also returned as a largely physical event, albeit with a slightly more slimmeddown version with 160 films in the programme. For many festival goers, the experience was hugely positive and emotional – with many expressing their delight at being able to meet in person at a live event once more. Although there were fewer people at the events, many said it was a more comfortable and enjoyable experience as a result. This was very much the case at this year’s Zurich Film Festival, held in late September, which ran with a full programme of onsite screenings and events. Notably, its industry event – the Zurich Summit – ran as a fully physical gathering – there was no hybrid version of the Summit. Head of ZFF Industry Reta Guetg says Zurich deliberately opts for a boutique feel to its Summit creating an atmosphere where execs and creatives can easily meet and build relationships at the same time as gaining market intelligence. This explains why it didn’t run online at the same time. “We decided last year that our industry events are meant to be on site,” says Guetg. “To have this boutique conference feeling, it really does need to be a physical event.” The fact that it was an in-person summit, doesn’t seem to have prevented Zurich from persuading a high-profile line up of speakers to travel to the event. Among the speakers were MGM bosses Pamela Abdy and Michael De Luca. Coming up, many of the major festivals are planning to return as hybrid physical / digital events for 2022, albeit it with the emphasis firmly on meeting onsite in person. After a pandemic affected hybrid version in 2021, the Berlin Film Festival will return to being an in-person event in February 2022.


Parallel events, the European Film Market and the Berlinale Co-Production Market, and Berlinale Talents, will focus on on-site offerings but will also provide online formats. “The need for a physical festival experience and face-to-face encounters is strongly evident in both the industry and the public,” said Berlinale festival directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, announcing the move. “The experiences of the last months have shown that on-location events can take place safely and successfully, and how important they are for dialogue and exchange.” The Sundance Film Festival will also go ahead with its 2022 edition, from 20-30 January, with an in-person and online event, including health and safety guidelines that require full vaccinations and masking up for cinema-goers. The event combines virtual screenings with physical screenings in Salt Lake City and seven other indie art house cinemas elsewhere. Likewise, FOCUS London returns in December in a hybrid format for its seventh edition. The traditional two-day live event takes place at the Business Design Centre London on 7 and 8 December, following a “The experiences virtual edition in 2020. This year the digital of The lasT MonThs element is expanded to have shown ThaT four days from 7-10 on-locaTion December. Most festival and market organisers are betting that attendees are keen to return to in person events once more, although they are aware of the need to be flexible.

evenTs can Take place safely and successfully, and how iMporTanT They are for dialogue and exchange.”

They are acutely aware that this summer and autumn’s festivals were meant to return as in person events following vaccine roll-outs. But as we know, by mid-summer, the Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy among many, especially in the States, meant that most autumn festivals for 2021 had to rethink their plans and re-invent a new kind of hybrid live/online festival. Flexibility looks to be key going into 2022, hence many events running digital versions alongside their physical offer in case people are unable to travel.


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decision making in broadcasting.” He cites March’s London Screenings, which is increasingly important for UK-based distributors, May’s LA Screenings, October’s Mipcom and then regional events at key points for buyers. Even before the pandemic, many distributors had adjusted their strategy for selling programmes so they were no longer tying programme launches to specific markets but were launching them year-round. “Buyers are looking for new content through the year, not just at three or four fixed points,” says Mutimer.

Among filmmakers, one senses a strong desire for A list festivals in particular to return to their former physical selves as key platforms for creating the buzz needed to launch new films.

We’re assessinG Which markets to attend on a strateGic and case-by-case basis dependinG on What value they provide.

However, there is a sense that many smaller festivals may struggle to survive as travel is reduced in the wake of Covid, and amid heightened concerns about the carbon footprint from international travel. “Festivals are the columns that support the roof of the distribution of the independent movie,” says director and producer Bogdan George Apetri, whose feature Miracle played at Venice this year. Arthouse films, in particular, have suffered from the lack of festival exposure over the past 18 months. “The last big [arthouse] hit before the pandemic was Parasite, which did huge business in the UK and everywhere else. It shows there's definitely an audience there, but they haven't come back yet – I think it's going to take a full festival and award season to hopefully get there,” said Danny Perkins, CEO and founder of Elysian Film Group at a Zurich Summit session discussing film distribution. For television markets, the outlook is more mixed. Many distributors have actually saved significant sums of money by not having to pay to attend expensive physical markets, while still managing to sell large volumes of programming at a time of heightened demand for TV content. Looking ahead, one senses that distributors are being pickier about which events they attend, having previously had to grapple with a calendar that was packed with markets throughout the year. “Physical markets remain very important, and our sales and acquisitions teams are or will be resuming face to face meetings with clients, particularly in some regions where it’s culturally beneficial,” says Tim Mutimer, CEO of distributor Cineflix Media. Cineflix attended Mipcom, though with a much smaller presence, and is planning to attend Content London, NATPE Miami and Realscreen going forward. “Overall, we’re assessing which markets to attend on a strategic and case-by-case basis depending on what value they provide,” says Mutimer. “Markets need to be at important times for FESTIVALS



He says Cineflix will continue with this strategy, as well as new marketing and digital initiatives which it has increased during Covid. Its marketing teams have been reaching clients with “e-premieres” and digital screenings with cast and creatives, as well as creating bespoke digital initiatives like and Cineflix Content Fest. “To some extent, working online has meant being able to cut to the chase more quickly,” says Mutimer. “No one wants to spend any more time on Zoom or Teams than they have to, so deal-making has been efficient, direct, and quick. We’ll take all of these learnings into account in assessing future strategy for markets, digital marketing and sales trips.”

“even before The pandeMic, Many disTribuTors had adjusTed Their sTraTegy for selling prograMMes so They were no longer Tying prograMMe launches To specific MarkeTs.”

Cineflix is not alone. ITV Studios is another of many top distributors to invest more in digital initiatives to sell its content, notably the Fall Festival which it first launched in 2020 and repeated this year. Looking ahead, the film and TV industry festival and markets landscape will continue to evolve in 2022 and beyond, with changes accelerated by the pandemic. Everyone accepts that the number of events had mushroomed in recent years, to an unsustainable extent. Festivals and markets will look to tap into a pent up desire for people to connect in person next year, while extending their potential reach by offering digital coverage. But the number of events on offer is likely to drop as executives and creatives focus on quality of meeting opportunities over quantity - safe in the knowledge that most people they want to meet are just a video call away.

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Unscripted ambition is rising – and so are budgets

Image: I, Sniper for Channel 4.

There has never been more opportunity for producers of non-scripted content, and outrageous ambition is suddenly an option, says Arrow Pictures co-founder John Smithson.


e’re living through a booming global television drama market, fuelled by the insatiable demand of the streamers. Ambition, production value and star power are soaring, as are the budgets necessary to deliver at this level. And global audiences are lapping them up. What’s exciting for producers of non-scripted content is that boom time is coming to our world. Despite the challenges of working under Covid restrictions and going through seismic changes to our business as the balance of power shifts from


linear to streaming, there has never been more opportunity for producers. Outrageous ambition is suddenly an option. The first signs are in the specialised world of natural history. Budgets were already high, due to the unique challenges of filming this genre. Now SVOD has become a super catalyst, pushing the creative bar higher and higher and swelling budgets to an unprecedented level.

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The very good news is that other parts of the nonscripted landscape are now in line for super-sizing.


It’s already happening with sports documentaries, from the Premier League to Formula 1. They have become the flavour du jour. The access costs are eye-watering, but audiences want them and directors, skills honed on hours of outside broadcast documentaries in hospital wards or prison cells, are suddenly behind the scenes with sporting mega-stars.

There used to be a nurturing culture for independent producers. Forget it now, it’s a tough world. If the magic you promised in the proposal does not make the final cut, you’re in trouble. But read the market, find the elusive idea everyone wants, deliver the ambition and quality and feel that warm glow of creative satisfaction and financial reward.

There’s a similar movement in the worlds of celebrity, music, and entertainment. Access and rights are crucial but there is nothing like a big fat budget to prise open the access door. The inexorable rise of premium content is impacting the more traditional worlds of factual output. Here there are banker territories that have never gone out of fashion. True crime, especially in a series format, has massive appeal and will only get bigger as a genre. Producers are now scouting the factual landscape looking for the next classic to put on steroids, be it UFO’s, dinosaurs or pyramids. Underpinning this gold rush is the rise of the box-set. The streamers have programmed us into the joys of binge viewing and ideas that a few years ago would have been green-lit as a single are now working as multiple episodes. No producer is going to turn down making six rather than one episode. Just before you rush to set up your new shiny factual indie, some words of warning. The higher you get up the food chain the tougher it gets. You’re competing with hundreds of great projects. Companies with the talent and track record are always going to be in pole position. Just as with scripted, the costs of development are soaring. In most cases the producer picks up the tab, and far too often the project never flies.


An Oscar-nominated and Emmy awardwinning producer, John Smithson is a co-founder and creative director of Arrow Pictures. He was an Oscar nominee for Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, a film he originated and produced. His theatrical documentary Touching the Void won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film and broke box-office records. His documentary credits also include Sherpa, The Beckoning Silence, The Falling Man; Deep Water, Time Travel with Stephen Hawking, and Thrilla in Manilla. His latest projects are I, Sniper (pictured) for Channel 4 – a six-hour serial over four years in the making – the minute-by-minute account of the 2002 Washington DC Sniper case, and Positive for Sky Documentaries, marking Britain’s 40-year struggle with HIV/AIDS.




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Are independent movies being made any more?

Miracle, by Romanian-born director and producer Bogdan George Apetri, recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival.


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as comic book adaptations take over at cinemas, and hiGh-end dramas snare the best on and off screen talent, hoW can smaller films possibly compete? MAKERS looks at the prospects for indie movies, and the indie film production sector, in a Globalised, biG budGet World.


he state of the independent movie business has always had people wringing their hands, complaining how tough it is and how things aren’t as good as they used to be. As recently as 2018, the British Film Institute (BFI) published a major report on independent film amid concern about its future. Even then, it reported that finance and revenue for independent film were in decline, noting a sharp drop-off in the value of distribution deals. This had been caused both by the diminished distributors’ profit margins resulting from the transition from DVD to streaming platforms and by the continuing fall in the value of film deals to broadcasters. This, of course, was before the pandemic – which has only intensified the challenges facing independent film. Even if they do get their films made, indie filmmakers now have few places to show them. The pandemic has accelerated a trend that saw indie films crowded out of cinemas by big studio blockbusters, pushing everything else towards the small screen. In a recent interview in Variety, filmmaker Oren Moverman did not mince his words. “It’s very clear that independent cinema, as we know it and as we love it, is over,” he said. Moverman, who directed movies such as The Messenger and Rampart, questioned whether there was still a place for the sort of “grungy putting-together of 10 dollars here, 10 dollars there to make a film”. Certainly, producing movies has only got harder. The streamer spending spree is skewing the production market, sending the rates being paid for key on-screen and off-screen talent rocketing. The streamers are locking in on-screen talent for their long-running series, often for years at a time. It’s not unusual for options to run for up to seven years. Independent films are finding it increasingly difficult to compete. And without talent to help a film stand out in the market, it’s challenging to get an indie feature financed, no matter how good the script is. “Independent film has become pretty much impossible now – it is desperately hard to get them off the ground,” confirms casting agent Kristina Erdely. “The only way to finance independent film


is by having names, but you’re after the same talent that is under option for a seven year, high-end TV series that is paying them a lot of money.” It used to be that when talent was attached to long running TV series, there would be a window between series where they could join a film to try their hand at something a bit different. But now few are even bothering to do that. With so much shooting, committing to a small budget project is now often viewed as more trouble than it’s worth. “It’s incredibly tough to cast independent films if you’re making them for the right amount of money because there aren’t enough actors in the “while a loT of range that’s affordable to independenT filMs the independents that are geTTing Made, can really raise the value of their film in the noT a loT are marketplace,” confirms finding successful Caroline Stern, founder disTribuTion.” and producer of indie distributor and producer Canoe Film. Stern is currently in production in Latvia on Christopher Hatton’s Raven’s Hollow, a horror film about gothic writer Edgar Allen Poe. Meanwhile, many producers are making a good living out of line producing or executive producing big scale inward investment projects in their local markets, rather than making original independent films, says Giorgos Karvanas co-founder of Greece’s Heretic Film, which recently wrapped Vasilis Katsoupis’ fiction feature directorial debut Inside starring William Dafoe. “Crews have little interest to leave well paid jobs on TV series or international films to go on to the debut film of a daring young director. But when you have a young director, you need experienced crew around them,” says Karvanas. Yet, despite the complete transformation of the industry landscape, indie films are still being made. 128 domestic British features went into production between July 2020 and June 2021, according to the BFI (which says this figure may rise due to a time lag in reporting). This is down by more than half since 2017/18, when 269 productions were produced.


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Apetri has also co-produced a range of indie films, such as Sundance winners Blaze, Advantageous and 3 Backyards. The fate of such movies now, he says, is a week or two on release in one theatre in a big city. “Very few people will see them because the whole market is flooded with big, big movies.”

Image: Blaze © e Sundance Institute.

But, at a time when plenty of high-end TV dramas and big budget features films are shooting, the figure shows that producers and investors are still prepared to invest in independent film. indie film producers need to take more account of the particular needs of the distribution market as it currently stands if they Want their movies to reach audiences.

Far from worrying about whether any independent film is being made, Stern says: “My question is, how is so much independent film being made – because it is.” Her point is backed up Karvanas, who speaks of an “inflation of projects,” citing how much easier it is to make a film compared to even 20 years ago thanks to more accessible and affordable kit. “In the 1970s, directors were a very unique set of people – it was a very small group. Right now, the pool is much bigger.” He cites better education and easier access to watching content, meaning more people understand what is possible in filmmaking and how to do it. In fact, many think that there are too many independent films being made, given the challenges of finding a home for them in the market. The biggest issue facing indie film, they say, is distribution, over and above production. In particular, big budget comic book adaptations and animations have taken over at cinemas, closing down opportunities for other kinds of films. “While a lot of independent films are getting made, not a lot are finding successful distribution,” says Stern. “The industry is almost under attack by the big tentpole movies,” argues New York-based, Romanian-born director and producer Bogdan George Apetri, who directed Miracle which recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival. “The disaster is in distribution,” he adds, explaining that most art house cinemas in New York have disappeared, citing in particular the closure of the 2018 Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. Even in New York, which used to be one of the best cities in the world to see movies, it’s difficult to see the best of world cinema at theatres.

CINEMAS DISTRIBUTION Image: 3 Backyards © Screen Media Films.



It’s a similar story across the world, with distributors struggling to get independent films seen. “I’m not very optimistic,” said Dan Wechsler, founder of Switzerland’s Bord Cadre Films, speaking at the recent Zurich Film Festival. “Our arthouse distributors are suffering a lot. The whole chain is suffering.” He notes that 15 years ago Geneva had 15 arthouse cinemas, but now has just three. Stern says that indie film producers need to take more account of the particular needs of the distribution market as it currently stands if they want their movies to reach audiences. She worked in international sales for 20 years before setting up Canoe Films in 2017, and teams with producers to help maximise the creative and commercial potential of projects through distribution.

“indie filMs are being crowded ouT of cineMas by big sTudio blockbusTers, pushing everyThing else Towards The sMall screen.”

She says that Raven’s Hollow is a good example of how the company works, and how she thinks indie producers should be working. “You’ve got to be clever about looking at the needs of the marketplace, who the possible distributors are and what they are picking up.” Raven’s Hollow is in a genre – horror – that tends to sell, while Edgar Allen Poe is a recognised name in the US and international market place. Two years ago, Stern travelled to the Cannes Film Festival to test out the project with potential buyers, having put together a deck and a one line pitch. “We know we had demand and interest. Without that it would have been very difficult for me to form and model and know how much to make it for.” Genre platform Shudder has since boarded Raven’s Hollow for North America, UK-Ireland and Australia-New Zealand. Stern says that so much content is currently being created by the streaming platforms and US studios, that there is little demand for more independent feature films. “But if we can find that market access and find the right partners, and you can test it in advance, then I think there are opportunities. In a sense, there are reasons to be hopeful.”

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SCOTLAND location star

Scotland is winning an increasing share of international productions, from amazon’s The Rig to apple tV+’s Falling Blocks as well as Stephen Frears upcoming The Lost King, while a major Warner Bros project looks set to film in Glasgow.

Image: T2: Trainspotting © Tristar Productions, Inc 2017.

hile some industries struggled to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the strict healthy and safety measures in place across Scotland meant that its film industry continued to develop and grow. “2021 has been one of the busiest years for production in Scotland,” states Dave Nielson, producer and owner of Filming Scotland. “With some of the most highly skilled crew and facilities, Scotland continues to deliver as one of the world's major production hubs.” All UK co-production treaties apply in Scotland, and active treaties exist with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand and South Africa. Thanks to various incentives such as the UK’s healthy 25% cash rebate for high-end television and film productions, the nation has recently hosted a succession of high profile projects.

“scoTland’s acceleraTion in The lasT couple of years is down To crew, locaTions, sTudios and enhanced finance.”

“Scotland’s acceleration in the last couple of years is down to crew, locations, studios and enhanced finance,” says Isabel Davis, Executive Director at Screen Scotland. “Our crews are second to none and our locations incredibly versatile… Added to that is a growing constellation of studio space and facilities across Scotland’s central belt, including Glasgow’s recently redeveloped Kelvin Hall production city.”

Glasgow City Council announced plans at the start of 2021 to invest GBP11.9 million into a television and film studio inside the historic Kelvin Hall, and STV Studios finished production on Screw, the first project to be filmed inside the new space, at the

location HiGHliGHt

Glenfinnan Viaduct, near Fort William The famous Glenfinnan Viaduct was built in 1901 and remains the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland at 380 metres. With an initial cost of GBP18,904 – the equivalent of approximately GBP2.3 million – its construction signified one of the last major developments of the Victorian railway revolution. The impressive design boasts twenty-one semi-circular spans of 15 metres that catch the eye and enchant the imagination. Speaking of enchantment, you might recognise this iconic feat of engineering from four films in the wildly popular Harry Potter film franchise. Whether narrowly escaping an oncoming flying car in The Chamber of Secrets (above) or carrying the latest wave of magical students to the excitement and wonder of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry in The Prisoner of Azkaban, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is one of the most underrated actors to feature in the series’ magical universe.


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Blackbird and When The Song Dies

Q: Why did Deerstalker Films – a

company based in England – choose to film two productions in Scotland? A: Both films were a collaboration with Scottish arts collective Trangressive North. The core team actually started the projects as film school students but by the time they were finished we had graduated. Scotland has an abundance of stunning locations to work in. However it is a diverse country from where many stories can be told. Q: Where did your productions take place? A: The films were primarily shot in Dumfries and Galloway in the South West. We also filmed in Uist in the Outer Hebrides. The local authorities in Dumfries and Galloway were incredibly supportive. Moreover people across the communities where we worked were very giving and helpful. It’s a two-way relationship when you work in a particular location, and we made long-lasting connections and friendships on those shoots. The experience was overwhelmingly positive. Q: What would you recommend to

filmmakers visiting Scotland? A: Well, it really depends on the context of the project. Creating harmonious partnerships with the communities that one works alongside is massively important for productions of all sizes. I would also say that in the global climate crisis we have to be conscious of our choices. Filmmakers need to consider the impact of productions on the environment but also how that translates to relationships with communities as well as the workers on the project. It is so important to think what stories we choose to tell at this juncture and where the climate crisis is happening now.


end of the year. Screw is a six-part series starring Jamie-Lee O’Donnell from Derry Girls as well as Nina Sosanya from His Dark Materials and Little Birds. The high-end prison drama was created by BAFTA-nominee Rob Williams, who also wrote Killing Eve and The Victim. Towards the end of 2021, Warner Brothers was drawn to Scotland by Glasgow City Council. A special Filming Incentive Grant of GBP150,000 was approved and offered to the company, which is set produce an unnamed film entirely in Scotland’s largest city. The Batman, Indiana Jones, The Flash and World War Z were all filmed in Glasgow, and the latest Warner Bros production is expected to employ local crew and talent where possible. It is estimated that Glasgow’s unnamed collaboration with Hollywood will create jobs for 250 to 350 crew per day, and up to 1,000 jobs on peak days. Glasgow is not the only Scottish city to host a range of high-end production this year. Six-part thriller The Rig was the first scripted Amazon Prime series to film exclusively in Scotland, oscillating between an oil rig and Edinburgh’s FirstStage Studios. Falling Blocks – Apple’s forthcoming movie about the creation of the popular video-game Tetris – features Golden Globe-winner Taron Egerton and will use parts of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh to replicate Cold War-era Russia. “Scotland can double for a huge variety of landscapes from New York in Glasgow to Soviet Russia in Aberdeen,” explains Davis, “as well as offering any amount of locations, from the spectacular vistas of the Highlands to Glasgow’s urban tower blocks and Edinburgh’s gothic streets.” Comedy drama The Lost King, starring Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan and directed by Stephen Frears, was also shot in Edinburgh. A Baby Cow production with Pathé, the film tells true story of how one ordinary woman discovered the long-lost remains of King Richard III. The film is produced by Coogan, Christine Langan (The Queen) and Dan Winch (A Very English Scandal). “When we first went up to Scotland it was still very much in lockdown, so you could hear a pin-drop in central Edinburgh,” recalls Langan. “As the world gradually started to wake up, it was like watching Edinburgh through a time-lapse… Having that beautiful setting really enhanced the film, and Stephen was very excited about being there. In the early scenes, some of the little interstitial moments – a women alone, wandering through alleyways and streets, reading in a park – become especially significant in a place as beautiful as Edinburgh. The city amplifies any movie narrative because it has such a strong character.”


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Image: Guilt Series 2 © BBC Scotland.

ESSEntial FactS taX incEntiVE

25% Scotland offers appealing HTR and FTR schemes for external investors. High-End Television Tax Relief (HTR) presents a 25% rebate for scripted television projects with a core expenditure of GBP1 million per broadcast hour. Film Tax Relief (FTR) allows companies to make a claim on a film if it is intended for theatrical release & at least 10% of the production costs will be spent in the UK. A cultural qualification test that potential projects must pass is set by the British Film Institute. StUDioS

Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, the old Pelamis building – or the big blue shed – in Edinburgh, & Wardpark Film and Television Studios in Cumbernauld. ata caRnEt


intERnational talEnt

Gerard Butler, Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy & Tilda Swinton are consistently ranked among the best actors in the business. tiME ZonE

GMT+1 REcEnt PRoDUctionS

Outlander, The Rig, Screw, Skyfall, & What We Did On Our Holiday.


“We had work to do up at Edinburgh Castle,” Winch elaborates, “and Heritage Scotland were the team who provided the support to make that happen. We were also presented with the unique challenge of finding a space to dig up… We were scouring the whole of the Edinburgh area for somewhere that we could feasibly take a digger and stage an archaeological dig. In the end the Mining Museum came to our rescue, though we didn’t go as deep as the mines!” Scotland possesses stunning locations both within and beyond its tremendous cityscapes. The latest James Bond film No Time To Die was shot in the Scottish highlands, illustrating how the nation’s photogenic and inspiring concoction of mountain ranges and coastal regions are loaded with as much potential as its lively urban centres. “You don’t have to go far before you are in the most spectacular countryside just outside Edinburgh as well as Glasgow,” comments Winch. “The versatility of locations from the main base captures the breadth of opportunities on your doorstep.” Scotland has 17 hours of daylight during the summer months, offering crew some extra time to secure those final shots before the day fades to night. On the reverse side, a similar situation applies during the winter period, when daylight only lasts up to eight hours in certain parts of the country. The extra hours offered to the shoot in both scenarios mean that savvy directors can plan ahead in order to secure more value for their money. Since it is possible to pack in longer shooting periods, stress levels are either reduced – or intensified – depending on how you prefer to utilise this excess time. Whatever your style as a producer, Scotland’s array of physical features functions in tandem with its proven filmmaking infrastructure. “Our focus now is ensuring the optimal conditions for Scotland’s creative firepower to be originating its own work and flourishing alongside with the thriving service industry,” states Davis.


In 2020, Hollywood star Vanessa Hudgens journeyed to Scotland with Netflix to commence filming the third instalment of The Princess Switch franchise. The original movie is based on Mark Twain’s 1881 doppelganger novel The Prince and the Pauper, and in the second film The Princess Switch: Switched Again the introduction of a third look-alike generates further mayhem. For the latest portion of the Princess of Belgravia’s royally absurd antics, Netflix filmed the romantic-comedy near Dalkeith in Midlothian, transforming Newbattle Abbey’s College with fake snow and fir trees to capture the film’s Christmassy energy. The Princess Switch: Romancing the Star was filmed across Edinburgh and Glasgow from December 2019 to January 2020, and further reports suggest that Hopetoun House in Edinburgh’s South Queensferry is also expected to make a grand return after featuring previously at the fictional Monteraro Castle. Despite admitting to TheWrap that a fourth instalment would offer “a great excuse to master the Scottish accent,” Hudgens has dismissed the possibility of extending the franchise. She claims the project is already at its “max outrageous” point with three characters who look startingly similar. Image: e Princess Switch: Romancing the Star © Mark Mainz & Netflix.

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interview lorenzo mieli with & mario gianani orenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani are two of Italy’ best known producers. Both worked together from 2009 at Wildside, which took Italian scripted content to the world with TV dramas such as The Young Pope and My Brilliant Friend and films by Bernardo Bertolucci, Marco Bellocchio and Saverio Costanzo.

Fremantle acquired Wildside in 2015. Wildside is now run by Gianani, while Mieli set up new label The Apartment in 2019 within Fremantle. Wildside is set to deliver features by Paolo Virzì, Felix van Groeningen and Emanuele Crialese, and is co-producing mafia drama The Good Mothers for Disney+. The Apartment is set to release Paolo Sorrentino’s Hand of God, Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All with Timothee Chamolet, and season three of My Brilliant Friend (pictured), and will shoot season four next year. MaKERS

What are you focusing on at The Apartment? loREnZo MiEli

The Apartment is an evolution of the job that I was doing at Wildside. Firstly, I’m focusing more on the two things that I worked on during my last years in Wildside – developing international movies and TV series. The Apartment is more focused on fewer but bigger projects, and 100% focused on the international appeal of these projects. Secondly I’m reinforcing my professional and creative relationships with filmmakers that I was working with before – Paolo Sorrentino, Luca Guadagnino, Marco Bellochio. I'm also very interested in trying to find great new filmmakers, whether in Italy or outside of Italy. I believe that

producers are not defined by the nationality of where they are, quite the opposite. They're mostly defined the type of projects they develop and deliver. MaKERS

And how about at Wildside? MaRio Gianani

Wildside was born 10 years ago, bringing together very commercial local comedies alongside high-end production. I think this model still works for Wildside. But selecting projects is getting tougher and tougher. The environment has radically changed. Now there is a great opportunity to produce because of the OTT hunger for product. When Wildside first sold to Fremantle, cinema was not considered a real business and everybody was focusing on TV. But we’ve always stuck to our film side because we knew that making films was profitable for us, and it is also a way to secure talent because cinema has a fascination that TV sometimes doesn’t. When high-end TV came, every talent wanted to do TV. Now we are experiencing the opposite. High-end talent with experience of TV still considers cinema as home. So we still do four or five feature films per year. MaKERS

Do you both still work together and overlap on projects? Or are you both quite separate in terms of what you're working on? loREnZo MiEli

I wouldn't say there’s an overlap now. We’ve been collaborating for so many years. Each us has his own creative and professional relationships and had them while we were together at Wildside for a long time. On that side, there is no overlapping. On the other hand, we are producers and we know each other so well.

Sometimes it's useful for us to work together when we have to deal with projects that are already are in place and there will be projects in which our relationships and creative and productive skills are useful to each other. MaKERS

Italian drama seems to be booming right now, and doing very well internationally. What has changed? MaRio Gianani

The environment is very different. The Italian landscape for producing was family based production companies at one point. With Lorenzo, we were the first company to understand that size mattered. We sold the company to Fremantle, and since then we've been followed by other companies, like Cattleya [to ITV Studios]. The best are producers now on radar of other companies to be bought, because the market needs size and development money to be secure. Our commissioner of the time Mediaset is now a dwarf compared to the OTTs. The whole scale has changed. Luckily we started first. Many producers colleagues say, ‘But you are losing your independence.’ But it is the opposite. Independence with no money is not freedom - it’s no possibility to invest in the market. loREnZo MiEli

For us, at the time, it was a necessity to sell not because we needed money, but because we

were making a big step. We were trying to make The Young Pope, our first big international show. We couldn't do that and take all those risks if we weren't backed by a big company with big shoulders that was ready to support us. Maybe we could have done it once, but not every time. Companies like ours and Cattleya have shown that our content can really be seen and loved in other countries. That’s how the new Italian producers are looking at the market. This was not the case 10 years ago. Nobody was looking outside Italy because there was no history. Now there is a history. In the last 10 years, the opportunities have completely changed. I don’t think Italian producers should be pushed by platforms to stay local – that's the biggest risk happening in our market. My feeling is that the streamers’ business model tends to push local producers to stay local because they need local content. That’s completely counter intuitive and counter opportunistic. We have shown that our movies and our TV shows can travel. We must not agree to be just great local producers. Local content is important, but we need to think of ourselves as international producers. So talk to the streamers as international producers. This might sound easy, but it's not.

Lorenzo Mieli.

Mario Gianani.


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Focus on climate action he COP26 summit in Glasgow focused the world’s attention on climate change, and sparked a raft of pledges from broadcasters and producers about how they plan to help viewers to decarbonise their lives.

The summit also led to calls for studios, streamers and producers to invest in clean power solutions to dramatically lower the carbon footprint of content production. Of course, many media industry companies have already made significant green pledges. Earlier this year, Netflix said it wants to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022. Ad Net Zero also recruited high profile supporters such as Publicis, WPP, Dentsu, Unilever, Omnicom and Droga5 as part of its ambition to help the ad industry achieve net zero by 2030. ITV already has plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and on the eve of COP26 committed to running a 100% sustainable supply chain by 2030. In Italy, Rai has committed to procuring green energy from renewable sources – 97% of its energy consumed is from green energy sources. Sometimes it’s been about small steps: Swiss public broadcaster RTS uses water from Lake Geneva to help cool the server rooms in its Geneva building.


It will be no easy task for the entertainment industry to go green though. Film and television sustainability organisation Albert reported this year that the average tentpole film, with a budget of over USD70 million, generates 2,840 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of 11 one-way trips from the Earth to the moon. Transport has the largest impact in terms of carbon emissions, accounting for approximately 51% of total emissions for tentpole films. MaKERS

What are entertainment companies doing to make sure they hit green targets? Ahead of COP26, ITV led the way by revealing that it is to link bonus payments for its senior leaders to the delivery of its climate action targets. ITV has also agreed to commit to the delivery of carbon emissions reductions targets as a requirement of future bank and debt capital market financings. MaKERS

What other green pledges did COP26 elicit? Leading German broadcasters, streamers and producers made a joint pledge to embrace more sustainable production methods. The so-called Green Shooting initiative includes production companies such as Constantin Film, Bavaria Film and Studio Hamburg, as well as ZDF, Netflix

Germany, RTL Germany and Sky Germany and Austria. They committed to a set of standards for sustainable productions, including switching to LED lights, more train journeys, more environmentally friendly vehicles and vegetarian foods. The standards also include the avoidance of diesel generators, short-haul flights and disposable dishes. The powerful Producers Guild of America also called on its studio, streaming and production partners to dramatically lower the carbon footprint of content production. It set out a number of emissions reduction priorities including eliminating the use of diesel generators, installing EV charging stations to enable the electrification of production fleets. MaKERS

What are broadcasters doing to help viewers decarbonise their lives? 12 leading UK broadcasters and streamers signed up to The Climate Content Pledge, a commitment to use their content to help audiences tackle climate change and to inform sustainable choices. The signatories – who represent over 70% of time UK audiences spend watching TV and film – include the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 / ViacomCBS, Discovery UK and Eire, ITV, RTE, S4C, Sky, STV and UKTV.


What kind of content are we talking about? Speaking at COP26, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said there are two ways to address climate change on screen. One is very overt, with specific programmes on climate change which try to change people's views. “Equally important is the more subtle messaging,” said McCall. She cited Emmerdale only using electric vehicles for the last three to four years. “That subliminal message, which is electric is available, accessible and good, is a very important message.” She also noted a growth in vegetarian recipes on ITV’s daytime programming and said quiz show The Chase will incorporate facts about climate change. “It will be entertaining. And it will get more people to remember the facts in a quiz show than it would if you were doing a documentary.” Also at COP26, Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said the number one issue for young people is climate change, but that it was important for broadcasters to address the issue in way that's not lecturing or hectoring, and to give practical examples of how people can change their behaviour. She cited Vegan Week on Bake Off or Grand Designs featuring projects using sustainable building materials.

COP 26



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PROFILE Cinesite Looking ahead, Hunt says that Cinesite’s focus is on meeting the increasing demand for high quality animation content. The animation market is worth around USD270 billion – up from USD259 billion two years ago – growing around two or three per cent a year, says Hunt. “It’s really accelerating. If there’s any upside of Covid-19, it has been that so many people are home... It has accelerated the need for more animation.” Upcoming Cinesite animation projects include Addams Family 2, Blazing Samurai, Extinct, Riverdance and Hitpig.

VFX house Cinesite celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. CEO Antony Hunt picks out some of the firm’s creative and business highlights of the past 30 years.

CinEsitE grOup CEO Antony Hunt FOundEd 1991 in Los AngeLes As pArt of KodAK's entertAinment imAging, to restore snow wHite And tHe seven dwArfs. OFFiCEs Cinesite is HeAdquArtered in London witH studios in montreAL And vAnCouver ALongside group vfX brAnds imAge engine (vAnCouver) And triXter (muniCH And berLin). CrEdits Space Jam, Band of BrotherS, World War Z, the marvel cinematic UniverSe, pirateS of the cariBBean, the harry potter, X-men and JameS Bond franchiSeS, the revenant. the Golden compaSS and animated filmS like riverdance: the animated adventUre and the addamS family 1 & 2.

t’s 30 years since Cinesite was founded – and the VFX house has come a long way in that time.

With credits spanning James Bond to Harry Potter, London-based Cinesite is one of the handful of post-production houses to have established themselves as major global players in the VFX market in a period when visual effects have become part and parcel of big budget productions. The company was originally launched in the early 1990s, making history with the first digital processing of a feature film, the restoration of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. CEO Antony Hunt picks out several key creative moments in its 30 year history, beginning with Cinesite’s collaboration with celebrated cinematographer Roger Deakins to create the digital intermediate for the Coen Brothers' O Brother Where Art Thou? It was the first major studio release to use the digital film mastering process. Back in 2004, its models division built the 1:24 scale Hogwarts model for Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban. Then, in 2007 Cinesite created fully CG photorealistic creatures – including a deadly Komodo dragon - for James Bond film Skyfall, the first to feature full CG creatures. 2017 saw Cinesite create the explosive meeting of the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers in Avengers: Infinity War. As it has stretched its creative muscles, so Cinesite has expanded through a series of acquisitions. A key date for Hunt was May 2012 when Cinesite was sold from Kodak in a management buyout combined with private investment. It has since opened a studio in Montreal, and acquired Vancouver-based vfx studio Imagine Engine and animation studio Nitrogen, as well as Germany's leading visual effects and animation studio Trixter.

Meanwhile, Cinesite has used real time game engine technology on The Bourne Stuntacular (pictured), a stunt-based stage show which opened last year at Universal Studios. An innovative fusion of stagecraft and film, it won Cinesite a VES Award last year for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project. “Now we’re using the skills we’ve learnt to develop a project with Andy Serkis,” says Hunt. WHAt is tHE VFX mArkEt likE At tHE mOmEnt?

“Though the last five to 10 years have been disruptive in the visual effects universe, the industry is currently quite robust. Movies, animation and video games rich with the latest stunning visual effects top box offices and sales charts worldwide. With the current golden age of television, and an explosion of new platforms from Amazon Prime Video to Disney + to Netflix, the need for content has mushroomed and, with it, the need for visual effects of all kinds. “Our industry is exploring new technologies from virtual reality to 360-degree experiences and game engine technology, all of which require the expertise and knowledge base of the visual effects industry.” tHE biggEst CHAngEs yOu’VE sEEn OVEr tHE pAst 30 yEArs?

“I’ve seen so many changes or rather innovations during my career but to mention a few: colour grading, fluid simulations, crowd effects, mocap technology, universal capture, full CGI performances, the advent of the digital backlot - shooting live actors on mostly green- or blue- screen sets. The use of live rendering, and facial capture as large-scale set pieces were being filmed. Honestly the list could go on, we’ve come such a long way in the last three decades it’s quite staggering.”


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The Book Craze

WHAT’S THE IMPACT OF THE ADAPTATION BOOM? Makers explores the book rights Market

A high proportion of film and TV drama is now based on a book, crowding out original scripts. makers investigates the burgeoning market for book rights, looking at the titles in demand through to the prices being paid – and asks if we have hit peak book adaptation yet.


rom Bridgerton to Normal People and The Queen’s Gambit, our screens are full of scripted series that have been adapted from books.

It’s a trend that shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Amazon is spending USD465 million on the upcoming first season of The Lord of the Rings. Netflix, meanwhile, has just bought the rights to Roald Dahl's classic children's books from the author's family. Books, of course, have always been mainstays of the TV and film industry. Julia Kreitman, one of the founding partners of The Agency – where she


represents writers for theatre, television and film, directors and the dramatic rights in books – notes that books help scripted TV shows and films to stand out in a crowded market. “If it comes with a bit of a brand, or with audience recognition, that can often help your show.” Books are often also easier to get greenlit, providing a level of comfort for commissioning editors. “Books are such a wonderful proof of concept – they are just like a very long bible,” says Hannah Griffiths, head of literary acquisitions at superindie All3Media, which houses leading drama indies such as New

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“DeManD for book rights has increaseD significantly since the streaMing revolution kickstarteD the tv anD filM proDuction booM.”


Pictures, Two Brothers, Company Pictures and Neal Street. “When you are pitching, you are pitching something concrete.” Demand for book rights has increased significantly since the streaming revolution kickstarted the recent TV and film production boom, and explains the growing number of adaptations on our screens. Griffiths – who previously worked at publisher Faber & Faber – says she noticed that demand for adaptations started to grow around 2014, two years before she joined All3Media. More and more TV producers were approaching her about book rights. “There was this uptick and hunger for material – and that maps quite directly on to the number of new buyers coming in to the market, when there was suddenly more opportunity and more hours of drama needed.” Griffiths thinks, however, that the market may have passed the peak moment of competition for book rights. In recent years, she says, a swathe of scripted production companies have launched, all looking to tap into the content boom. “The new indies, launching with empty slates, were hungry to buy. That just drove up prices – the market became so competitive.” Many producers ended up overpaying to option books, and then were unable to find recognised, commissionable screen writers to adapt them as the market for top screen writers was so hot. Others say that the market for book rights might have peaked following last year’s lockdowns and the long production hiatus, when many producers spent the time focusing on development instead of making shows. All these projects are now looking for homes at a time when production is running at full pelt, meaning that producers are not so actively sourcing new material.


It's currently possible to pick up an option for exclusive rights to develop a script from a backlist title for a relatively affordable sum – between GBP3,000 and GBP8,000. A number of newly published titles at auction, with several parties competing, have hit GBP50,000 for an 18 month option. Many producers were routinely paying GBP25,000 for an option. Then, of course, the producer still has to pay for the script – which may take longer than 18 months to create, particularly if they can’t find a screenwriter to adapt it, triggering another option payment. The first option fee then comes off the final purchase price (usually a multiple of the option price) which is triggered when the project is greenlit.

“Books are often easier to get greenlit, providing a level of comfort for commissioning editors.”

Kreitman, however, is not quite so sure if the market has peaked yet. “It’s true there is now a huge amount in development, and a lot of that development has to run off. But I see no diminution in the demand for new material.” As an example, she notes that The Agency represents Sarah Perry’s novel The Essex Serpent, which has just been adapted by Anna Symon through See-Saw Films for Apple TV+. Director Yorgos Lanthimos and actor Emma Stone, meanwhile, are reuniting for an adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s book Poor Things, which the Agency represents. The Agency also recently sold the rights to Kate Summerscale’s new book The Haunting of Alma Fielding to Des and Catherine the Great producer New Pictures. Belinda Campbell, joint managing director at Death in Paradise and Sanditon producer Red Planet Pictures, thinks books retain an “enduring appeal



Images: Bridgerton © Liam Daniel & Netflix, e Queen’s Gambit © Phil Bray & Netflix, Normal People © Element Pictures & Enda Bowe.


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for commissioners”, and says there remains huge competition for rights. “Sometimes they’ve gone before they’ve even put a front cover design on it – it’s so immensely competitive.” Red Planet has just finished production on an adaptation of Louise Candlish's Sunday Times bestselling crime thriller Our House. Campbell recalls popping into Waterstones bookshop on Piccadilly in London in 2019 where it was being promoted as thriller of the month. She bought the book, read it in a weekend, and then went on to acquire the rights in hotly contested auction. Images: Bridgerton © Liam Daniel & Netflix, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo © Netflix.

Lots of new indies, Launching with empty sLates, were hungry to option books. that just drove up prices – the market became so competitive.

“I could immediately see it on television,” says Campbell citing its simple premise and a very clear key concept that draws the reader in. “It’s a very accomplished thriller. But the characters were extremely also very well drawn. For me, those two combinations are what made great television – connection to character and really strong and clear story.” Notably, Campbell attached a writer to the book before approaching the agent about the rights. Explaining the move, Campbell says producers have to be very strategic if they are to option in demand books. “Rightly, authors want to know their properties are going to be in safe hands – they want to know your ambitions match their ambitions.” Indeed, Kreitman confirms that agents and their authors really want to know how a producer is going to get a book into production before assigning rights to them. “What we’re looking for is a very clear path to production. Getting something optioned isn’t necessarily that hard. It’s getting something made that is hard.” It’s not enough for a producer to simply say how much they like the book. Agents want to know how they are going to get it made, and also about their approach and ideas for how it might be adapted. “It’s that clarity of thinking that encourages us to enter into business with a producer,” says Kreitman. Often, however, producers find they have optioned a book that isn’t right for the screen. “I get calls all the time from someone who has just acquired the rights to a book,” says agent Elaine Steel, who represents writers and directors in film, television, stage and radio as well as book writers. “Usually they want a writer, and the writer will tell them that it is impossible to do. A good book doesn’t necessarily make a good film.” Steel says the books that make the best films or TV series are often ‘schlocky’ or pulp fiction which might have strong stories but need characterisation work “which a script writer who is any good could

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do very well.” Literary fiction, she says, is very difficult to pull off as it often explores interior worlds. One of the writers that Steel represents is Gwyneth Hughes (Vanity Fair), who has adapted The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling based on Henry Fielding’s classic novel, which is being produced by Mammoth Screen for ITV and Masterpiece. The Henry Fielding adaptation stands out for the fact that broadcasters are not adapting as many classic novels as they used to. “There’s a bit of resistance to adapting classics at the moment,” says Steel. This is despite producers not having to pay to option out of copyright classics. Post-Black Lives Matter, many of the classics can now seem irrelevant to contemporary audiences – meaning that contemporary work is more in demand. “I know the definition of a classic is that it never goes out of date, but if you look at say, an EM Forester novel, I don’t know how you would refresh that for a contemporary audience,” says Griffiths. “Classics have some implied class [aspects] and things that just feel really far from the mark right now.” Kreitman says there is a particular interest in less represented voices in fiction – work that comes from different places in terms of gender, ethnicity, diversity and cultural background. “There’s a real appetite for material that may have not been on screen a few years ago, but which now speaks to a multiplicity of experiences across a very wide range of people,” she says. One of the fastest growing sectors of the adaptation market is non-scripted. Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up became a huge hit when it launched on Netflix in 2019. True crime, cooking, narrative history, gardening and lifestyle books are similarly in demand. Griffiths says she used to spend 10% of her time working on non-scripted book deals and 90% on scripted. Now it is more like 40% non-scripted, to 60% scripted. “It’s a massive change.” She also thinks that competition for non-scripted books remains on the rise. The adaptation craze, of course, isn’t confined to books. Kreitman says the growth of book adaptations is part of a wider demand for adaptations of existing IP – be that podcasts, plays, old TV shows and films, author estates, true stories and journalism. Again, this is all about searching for ideas that already have built-in audience recognition in a highly competitive TV and film marketplace. The knock-on effect, however, is clear. “It does mean that there is less original material being commissioned,” says Steel. “It is easier to sell a book with a screenwriter attached to adapt it than it is to sell an original by the screenwriter.”

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SERBIA safe hands work and live in a city that offers you safety and quality of life makes it a good home when you are working.” In April 2020 financier Head Gear Films, an industry leader in production services and debt finance to independent media projects, expanded to Serbia, partnering with Balkanic Media to provide a USD25 million credit facility to cash flow the government cash rebate, focusing mainly on TV projects. Bozic explains the credit facility “opens doors to midbudget and independent projects that never shot in this part of Europe to experience the quality of work and collaborate with Serbian talents. It is also a signal for other investments in studio and postproduction facilities that are happening at the moment.” Another example of continued investment is recently opened Belgrade postproduction facility 447HUB, which provides high-end editing and colour grading facilities.

serbia has a thriving industry attracting advertising, film and tV projects from across the globe. increasing investment in studio and postproduction means that the industry continues to serve the needs of the international production community.

erbia is one of the few countries in Europe with a cash rebate that accommodates advertising production making it a popular destination for the sector. In 2020 40 TVC’s benefitted from its 20% cash rebate including productions from the likes of Stink Films, Biscuit Films and brands such as Lexus, Mercedes and Adidas.

For TV, feature film, animation and documentary and VFX work the rebate increases to 25%, and feature films spending over EUR5 million can access 30%. Recent large scale productions include CW fantasy series The Outpost and feature film The Machine for Legendary Entertainment.

“the reBate makes the already low-cost of working in serBia even more Budgetfriendly But the country’s appeal goes Beyond this.”

The rebate makes the already low-cost of working in Serbia even more budget-friendly but the country’s appeal goes beyond this. Milica Bozanic, executive director of the Serbian Film Commission says: “Brutalist architecture and abandoned industrial sites have proven to be highly inspirational for a new generation of directors in advertising. TV series benefit from studio infrastructure and great production design and backlots, while feature films successfully combine many faces of Belgrade streets to double for cities around Europe, while some of them explore remote nature and mountain sights never seen on screen. On top of that another attraction is the welcoming and vibrant Serbian lifestyle. Especially in the era of pandemics, being able to

lOCAtiOn HigHligHt

Jelasnicka Gorge

The gorge is close to the city of Nis in Southern Serbia. Nicely accessible to productions from a main road serviced by a public bus, the gorge itself stretches just two kilometres. Varied rock formations such as stone windows, cavelets and a waterfall, as well as 200 free climbing routes for sports climbers, makes it a popular destination. UK-Serbian co-production The Ledge directed by Howard J. Ford shot in Jelasnicka in October 2020. The thriller tells the story of a young woman who finds herself free-climbing up a freezing mountain pursued by a group of murderous men who just threw her companion off the mountain.


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Festival Spirit


From the San Sebastian Film Festival to the International Fantastic Film Festival in Sitges, Spain hosts a variety of film events which have a global reach thanks to the 463 million people who speak Spanish as a native language. Investors have taken note, with the likes of Netflix earmarking significant sums to make its own Spanish language content out of purpose built studios in the country.


pain’s film scene is characterised by an enviable array of festivals, setting this Southwestern European nation apart from the rest of the world. The San Sebastián International Film Festival is of course the largest of its kind in the country. Although the festival was originally designed to honour Spanish language films when it was founded in 1953, the event’s parameters shifted in 1955 as organisers began to accept films from different parts of the world.

Shell, otherwise known as the Concha de Oro, for the best film at the festival. The Silver Shell, meanwhile, is awarded to the best actor and actress, and the lifetime achievement award – which has been bestowed to stars such as Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, and Denzel Washington – is known as the Donostia. San Sebastián is one of the globe’s 14 highestcategory film festivals. The current film programme consists of approximately 200 features selected for

Berlin has its Bear, Cannes the Palme. The most prestigious prize at San Sebastián is the Golden


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the Most prestigious prize at san sebastián is the golDen shell, otherWise knoWn as the concha De oro, for the best filM at the festival


six competitive sections (Official Selection, New Directors, Horizontes Latinos, Zabaltehi-Tabakalera, Perlak and Nest) and seven non-competitive divisions (Culinary Zinema, Made in Spain, Zinemira, Velodrome, Movies for Kids, Retrospective and Klasikoak.) Alongside the star-studded event in San Sebastián, Spain nurtures a lively range of independent festivals. “As a lover of movies on the big screen, every year, when I have to make my festival schedule, my home country keeps making my choices harder,” explains Beatriz Leal, Director of Programming at the newly-formed AFRIKALDI, Africa Film Festival of the Basque Country. “In addition to the classic international festivals in San Sebastian, Gijón, and Malaga (a must-see for lovers of Spanish cinema), we must add such specialised events as Seville’s Festival of European Cinema, the Cartagena Film Festival, and the Ibero-American Film Festival of Huelva.” “Other standouts include the International Fantastic Film Festival in Sitges and two documentary jewels: Play-Doc in Galicia and MiradasDoc in the Canary Islands. I can’t overlook another favourite, Animac in Lleida, where animation lovers can enjoy the finest the genre has to offer in relaxed surroundings. For those looking for a social or human rights focus, there is MUSOC in Asturias; for independent cinema, L’Alternative and D’A, both in Barcelona, and finally, the Ourense Film Festival. In my own area of specialisation, FCAT is a reference point, bringing together Europe and Africa in Tarifa, a surfer’s paradise just eleven miles from Africa.” The Tarifa-Tangier African Film Festival, widely known as the FCAT, is organised by the Spanish non-profit cultural association Al-Tarab. The event was founded in 2004 by its current director Mane


Cisneros as a showcase for African cinema in Spain. In 2006, the FCAT became a competitive film event, rapidly developing into the largest annual African film festival in the Spanish-speaking world. In each edition, the FCAT programmes over 70 African and Afro-diasporic films under different categories, including a special focus on the African diaspora in Latin America. “The stories told by African filmmakers remind us of the interconnectedness of our global world,” observes the festival’s Project Manager, Federico Olivieri. “The FCAT is a one-of-a-kind connecting space between Spanishspeaking audiences and the best African films.” The global reach of “as a lover of Spain’s film festivals – movies on the Big from San Sebastien to screen, every year, FCAT, from Europe to when i have to Africa – is not at all surprising. An estimated make my festival 463 million people schedule, my home speak Spanish as a native country keeps language, meaning that making my Spain’s mother tongue is choices harder.” the second-most spoken native language in the world (after Mandarin Chinese) as well as the globe’s fourth-most spoken dialect (behind English, Hindi and Mandarin Chinese). For filmmakers, the widespread nature of the national language can prove incredibly useful. Valencia-based producer Pablo Zanón acknowledges that many people are attracted to Spain for its “openminded society and high quality of life,” yet he also notes that many Europeans speak much better Spanish than English. Intercultural communication between foreign crews and local Spanish talent has the potential to be even




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filmmaking infrastructure that exists in the region. Netflix’s investment in the national screen industry marks the start of new era for Spanish film and television services. A government initiative named Spain: Europe’s Audiovisual Hub made plans to invest EUR1.6 billion into the Spanish media sector between 2021 and 2025.

Image: Money Heist © Tamara Arranz & Netflix.

more efficient thanks to the global reach of the language. Zanón laughs: “I met an Austrian producer, and his Spanish is much stronger than his English!” the government’s spain: europe’s auDiovisual hub initiative is to invest eur1.6 biLLion into the spanish media sector between 2021 and 2025.

As well as its film festivals, language and reliably good weather, Spain has proven fertile ground for incoming investors with an interest in the screen industries. In 2018, Netflix opened its own film and television studio in Tres Cantos’s Ciudad de la Tele (TV City) on the outskirts of Madrid. Marking the establishment of Netflix’s first European production hub, the facility has since housed 35 productions. The Money Heist series, created by Álex Pina, is one of the new development’s most popular outputs. With around 65 million Netflix accounts streaming the show in 2020, the programme was more popular than the Tiger King docu-series that aired at a similar time. Plans are underway to expand the Tres Cantos site, emphasising the streaming service’s commitment to the Spanish production scene. At present the production base is spread over 20,000 sqm, and the largest of five sound stages covers approximately 1,500 sqm. A new state-of-the-art post-production facility and five additional sound stages are currently being constructed as part of Netflix’s ambitious expansion plans. Besides doubling the number of sound stages currently provided by the hub, it is expected that some of these sound stages will exceed 1,500 sqm. The new Netflix hub as well as leading Spanish TV and film companies Movistar Plus, The Mediapro Studio, Atresmedia and Mediaset España are positioned within close proximity of each other in northern Madrid, highlighting the world-class

Spain: Europe’s Audiovisual Hub aims to grow the nation’s film and television industry by 30% by 2025. The majority of the funding will be earmarked for tax breaks and credit lines, offering around EUR1.3 billion to both international and regional companies, while EUR15 million will go towards training initiatives nurturing home-grown industry talent. PwC anticipated that the audiovisual sector will grow by 2.8% across the globe over the next five years, with Spain experiencing a 3.3% augmentation at around EUR35.567 million if it continues to invest in video-on-demand services as well as the emergent video game industries. The eSports market in Spain is also growing at a particularly fast rate and is expected to reach EUR1.95 billion in annual revenue from total video game sales by the start of 2022. In late October, Britain and Spain’s respective Film Commissions signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The two commissions had already worked very closely during the peak of “in 2018, netflix Covid-19 to facilitate opened its own travel and production film and television services between the UK studio in tres and Spain for several cantos’ ciudad major television series, de la tele (tv city) and the move is on the outskirts designed to develop the positive relationship that of madrid.” two nations hold. Meanwhile, Spain offers generous tax incentive schemes to entice foreign production businesses. The main rebate for international shoots across the country stands at 30%, while Canary Islands has a sizeable 50% tax rebate, and Navarre offers 35% through tax credits. Production spending in these regions must total at least EUR1 million in order to qualify for these incentives, and the sum of the incentives plus other additional grants cannot exceed more than the equivalent of 50% of the production costs. If filmmakers choose to shoot in Spain while adhering to the relevant protocols, producers can save significant sums of money. The most savvy might just find time for a beachside festival or two, too.

netflix investMent 132


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SINGAPORE bright lights very dedicated to their craft. They are responsive, proactive and usually really fun to work with.” To help attract larger feature films the Singapore Development Authority Singapore has a selective cash incentive programme for feature films that gives back up to 40% of eligible expenses. Box office smash Crazy Rich Asians is one of the most recent films that highlights the country’s large-screen potential. The film shot in some glamorous locations that are possible to shoot in Singapore, from elegant and luxury Marina Sands Bay to the Sky Garden.

Image: Westworld at the National Gallery Singapore © 2020 Home Box Office, Inc.

singapore’s unique skyline creates a lasting impact on screen. the island has an enthusiastic and well equipped production ecosystem that has worked on large international titles, while a selective 40% rebate is in place to entice feature films.

Sci-fi dramas like the thrid season of HBO’s Westworld and feature film Equals are also attracted to the modern feel of its architecture and city settings. According to Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy the city appealed due to the way nature entangles with modernity on the island, such as the Helix Bridge and the island of Pulau Ubin.

lthough Singapore is not as busy as some of its neighbouring countries in South East Asia, the island city-state attracts high quality work looking for impact on screen.

Guilad Kahn, producer and director at Aasia Productions, explains that the island hosts a wide variety of projects each looking for different things. “Singapore is a perfect mix of east and west. You can shoot pretty much ‘anywhere in the world’ in Singapore – except desert and snow – because of the wide variety or architectures and landscapes. From European or Arabian streets to Borneo jungles, exotic beaches to futuristic office buildings, Formula 1 Race track to Asian villages.”

“singaporean crew are hard workers and very dedicated to their craft. they are responsive, proactive and usually really fun to work with.”

Recent projects that Aasia has worked on include Netflix’ Somebody Feed Phil that focuses on the food scene, and Discovery’s Impossible Engineering that looked at the engineering behind the world’s largest free-spanning dome at Singapore National Stadium, as well as campaigns for F1’s Petronas, Mercedes, Lalamove, Siemens, and Schneider Electric.

According to Khan one of the strengths of the local industry is its great crews: “Singapore is the only country in Asia with English as a first language. Singaporean crew are hard workers and

lOCAtiOn HigHligHt

Marina Barrage

The Marina Barrage Dam stretches 350 metres across the Marina Channel, creating a 10,000 hectare reservoir that plays an important part in alleviating flooding on the island. The barrage is also a recreational area. The reservoir is calm enough for water sports such as kayaking or dragon boat racing as well as providing an attractive green space for relaxing. It is powered by a 400 panel solar park and the Sustainable Singapore Gallery has multimedia exhibits on environmental and water issues. The Barrage features briefly in sci-fi romance Equals as well as more popular filming destinations such as Keppel Bay and the Henderson Waves Bridge.


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The Crew Crunch

AS PRODUCTION BOOMS AROUND THE WORLD creWing up is getting tougher

Image: All Quiet on the Western Front © Reiner Bajo & Netflix.

Amid buoyant levels of post-lockdown production, the big issue for many producers is simply finding enough people to work on shows. makers looks at the impact of this production deluge, and asks how the industry should respond to the skills shortage.



t’s busy out there. Talk to anyone in production, and the conversation will quickly turn to how difficult it is to find experienced crew for film, TV and commercials shoots.

This guarantee helped turn Britain into a relative haven for companies wanting to shoot projects at a time when global streaming companies are also looking to take advantage of the UK’s generous tax credits and studio facilities.

The streaming boom and a backlog of filming that was delayed because of the pandemic – has led to a chronic lack of trained crew members, with global giants such as Amazon and Netflix able to outbid independent rivals.

According to BFI figures, the combined total spend on film and high-end television production in the UK for the first half of 2021 was GBP3.6 billion from 300 productions – the highest figure on record.

In the UK, the film and television industry was boosted last year by the government-backed insurance scheme to guarantee against the financial impact of production being shut down by a Covid19 outbreak.

Inward investment high-end productions starting principal photography included Apple TV+ WWII drama Masters of the Air, HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, Disney+ fantasy series Willow and Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso.

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Big budget features, meanwhile, included the as-yet-unnamed Indiana Jones 5, fantasy adventure Dungeons and Dragons, and Stephen Frears’ The Lost King. “Film and HETV production is experiencing unprecedented demand,” says Lyndsay Duthie, CEO of the Production Guild of Great Britain. “Hiring teams has become more complex.” A recent survey by skills body ScreenSkills found the skills shortage to be a ‘very serious or serious problem’ for 72% of its participants.

if we get it right and adapt weLL, our industry wiLL benefit in the Long term and become far stronger overaLL.

It reported that lower budget productions in particular are suffering most with crewing up as they are not able to offer the same rates of pay as those with much higher budgets. The bigger budget projects are setting new expectations for rates of pay. Roles that are particularly difficult to find include production accountants, location managers, production co-ordinators, production managers, line producers and 1st ADs. One agent tells makers that it is “like the Wild West out there,” saying the boom has revealed what a cottage industry the film and TV business essentially remains. On the plus side, crews themselves have never had it so good. “They are commanding so much money,” says the agent. “But some are doing terrible things – they get contracted by one company, but then don’t turn up because someone else has offered them more money.” The crew crunch is not just confined to the UK. Greek producer Giorgos Karnavas, co-founder of Heretic Films, says production is running at full pelt in the country. International shoots such as Knives Out 2 have based themselves in Greece, lured by its attractive new tax incentive and by the country’s adept handling of the Covid pandemic. “The situation is global,” says Karnavas. “We don’t have the resources to accommodate this situation – it is totally crazy right now.” He says that producers have resorted to trying to block book crews for a year ahead, even if they don’t have projects fully confirmed. “You just need to find ways around it.” That could mean paying more crews, bringing in people from outside Greece, or promoting people to more senior roles.

Image: House of the Dragon © 2021 Home Box Office.


Image: Extinction © Sky UK Limited.

In the US, the industry narrowly avoided a major crew production strike after The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union campaigned against what it said are excessively unsafe and harmful working hours, and a consistent failure to provide reasonable rest during meal breaks, between workdays, and on weekends. With production bouncing back after the pandemic, the union was in a strong position to negotiate for better conditions with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents major film and TV production companies as well as Amazon, Apple and Netflix. On the other side of the world, Queensland in Australia has secured 39 international and domestic productions, which are worth an estimated USD437 million to the local economy. Some of the most recent projects filmed in Australia include Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic, Escape from Spiderhead starring Chris Hemsworth and Ron Howard's Thirteen Lives, all shot on the Gold Coast.

“spend on film and high-end tv production in the uk for the first half of 2021 was gBp3.6 Billion from 300 productions – the highest figure on record.”

Elsewhere, crews in the Czech Republic are incredibly busy. The country is currently home to big budget shoots such as Netflix series All Quiet on the Western Front, Starz and Lionsgate’s reworking of Dangerous Liaisons, Sky’s apocalyptic feature Extinction, Netflix film Spaceman of Bohemia starring Adam Sandler, and the Russo brothers big budget Netflix thriller The Gray Man. In the UK, Duthie says that high demand is causing “a very active picture on the ground,” in some cases with more shifting of schedules and experienced crew considering more options before committing.


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“On the one hand, this presents challenges, but on the other hand it means there has never been a better time to work in production, it means your experience will work in your favour and could secure you a faster pace of progression than before,” says Duthie.

Image: Stay Close © Netflix.

roLes that are difficuLt to find incLude production accountants, Location managers, production co-ordinators, production managers, Line producers and 1st ads.

Elsewhere, Screen Ireland announced plans to invest EUR3 million to address a growing demand for talent and crews. Screen Ireland says 2021 is shaping up to break production activity records.

Her comments are backed up by Nicola Shindler, founder of Quay Street Productions, whose recent credits include It’s A Sin, Ridley Road, the upcoming Stay Close for Netflix (see interview page 60): “Finding the talent to make the shows is now one of the most difficult things that any production company is facing. Crews are just so overworked.”

In the first six months of this year, the agency estimates the industry made a EUR289 million economic contribution to the Irish economy, putting it on track to beat the previous annual production contribution high of EUR357 million in 2019.

The result, she says, is that rates have shot up. But so too has the speed at which people are being promoted. “The problem is that people are taking on massive shows without necessarily the amount of experience behind them to make decisions.” She says that people used to learn by moving from show to show, picking up experience along the way. “There isn’t time for that now. Training is out of the window. A lot of people sink or swim. Most people are swimming and doing brilliantly. But there are always going to be a few that really struggle.”

Other initiatives have sought to give more recognition to overworked teams, in particular key production roles who have often been the unsung heroes of the past 18 months – dealing with Covid regulations on top of their normal job. Bafta will now count line producers, production managers and heads of production as nominees in its awards, “there has never alongside the traditional Been a Better roles of producer and time to work in executive producer.

Acknowledging the acute need to build a deeper crew base to service production in the UK, the British Film Institute (BFI) is currently undertaking a major strategic skills review on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport which aims to develop long-term solutions to tackle the skills needs of the screen industries. The review is being conducted in collaboration with ScreenSkills, national and regional screen agencies, trade bodies, unions and leading industry figures.

Looking ahead, few can see the production boom petering out anytime soon – although it is likely to level off next year. Israel’s experience may provide a template – it was one of the quickest countries in the world to emerge from pandemic lockdowns thanks to an effective vaccination policy.

“Future proofing the industry’s skills is one of our key strategic priorities,” says Ben Roberts, BFI CEO. John McVay, chief executive of PACT, says the review is happening at a critical moment for the UK AV sector as it faces an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers. “Pact has been concerned for some time that this will inflate wages and ultimately damage both domestic and inward investment production.” Duthie says it also means there is more investment going into training, not just via the ScreenSkills levies but through more of the screen sector giants rolling out their own programmes like Netflix’s Grow Creative. Netflix has committed GBP1.2 million to its Grow Creative training programme, which will support the training of up to 1000 people across the UK through its own productions, partners and education institutions, with an additional GBP1.5 million put aside to support the training of talent from under-represented groups.

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“If we get it right and adapt well, our industry will benefit in the long term and become far stronger overall,” says Duthie.


production. your experience will work in your favour and could secure you a faster pace of progression than Before.”

“We had a huge surge in production and were in dire need of crews when we resumed production after the first Covid wave in the summer of 2020,” recalls Danna Stern, managing director of Yes Studios, the producer and distributor of global hits such as Fauda, Shitsel and Your Honor. “Since that first round of production spike things have tapered off a bit and we are back to a normal pace of production.” Few think it is the time to row back on initiatives to train up more crews though. “It is important that industry continues to work together to find solutions to support growth,” says The Production Guild of Great Britain’s Duthie. “We want the boom to long continue and there’s no reason for it not to, but this means managing industrial relations, skills and soundstage space needs with a joined-up approach is more vital than ever.”

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The Anatomy of a Film Commission the newLy appointed president of the association of fiLm commissioners internationaL reveaLs what fiLm commissions reaLLy do behind the scenes

aving worked in production for many years, I thought I knew what film commissions did – until 2013 when I became the deputy director of the California Film Commission and quickly learned the extent of what I didn’t know. When asked about my new position, a few friends asked if I had been given a badge (because all deputies should have badges, right?). But by far, the most asked question was “What does a film commission do?” Now that I represent film commissions all over the world, I’m still asked that question as if it might be a secret.

Many film commissioners and members of their staff come from film/TV production backgrounds, which provide them with a good understanding of filmmakers’ needs. Some have government backgrounds and are skilled at navigating the politics of their region and adept at cutting through bureaucratic red tape. And others are knowledgeable about everything related to their jurisdictions, especially the locations. The ideal is a staff with shared expertise that covers all these bases. Film commissions come in all shapes and sizes. They may represent a nation, state, province, county or city, an economic development office, a CVB (convention and visitor’s bureau) or a chamber of commerce. They may be regulated by government code or by a county or city film ordinance, and their staff sizes vary depending on their location and budget. Film commissions provide any or all of the following functions. They: l Help productions of all sizes find locations (including ones they may have not thought of ). Some will even take you location scouting. l Issue film permits; and if they aren’t the issuing authority, connect filmmakers with the appropriate permitting offices.


Promote their jurisdiction (by marketing in trade publications, attending industry trade shows, creating events and conferences to showcase their territory). l Work with local government entities that oversee beaches, parks, forests, utilities, roadways, airports, courts, museums, universities, etc. to create reasonable guidelines and accommodations for filming. l

Work with local districts/neighbourhoods to promote film-friendly policies (a process often called “community outreach”).

l Help filmmakers solve problems.

Solving problems was my favourite part of the job. It’s often as simple as making one phone call to the right person who’s amenable to listening, understanding and acquiescing (or working with the production to find an alternate solution). Sometimes, it could take days to secure a resolution and may require the assistance of a sympathetic government official. Whether a production has only one day to gain all the permissions necessary to land a plane on a municipal golf course, discovers that their location has fallen through the night before it was to be filmed, has to expedite the transport of a 204 ft long, 21 ton Airbus fuselage over 100 miles through Los Angeles or close-down a major highway – these are all challenges they had trouble accomplishing on their own. Our ability to solve these types of issues is why a location manager I often worked with called us his secret weapon. Film Commissions worldwide function as unsung heroes because the invaluable assistance they provide is totally free and gladly offered. What film commissions do shouldn’t be such a secret. Instead, their work should be known and understood as a filmmaker’s secret weapon.

l Administer incentive programmes. l Provide resources for filmmakers (ie, hotel and other vendor deals, equipment rentals, crew, supplies). l Get involved with legislation and issues that could affect the film industry.

Eve Honthaner was appointed as president of the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) in August 2021, having previously been deputy director of the California Film Commission. Founded in 1975, the AFCI is the only global non-profit professional organization representing city, state, regional, provincial and national film commission members on six continents. AFCI is based in Los Angeles and produces two signature events each year – AFCI Week and Cineposium. For more information, visit


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Making of The Power of the Dog


in Jane caMpion’s latest filM


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he Power of the Dog is Palme D’Or winning director Jane Campion’s first feature film since 2009’s Bright Star.

Adapted by Campion from a novel by Thomas Savage, the psychodrama about two warring brothers in 1920s Montana stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst. The film was shot on location on the remote South Island of New Zealand — its sparsely populated, grassy plains and rocky mountains standing in for Montana — as well as in studios in Auckland, New Zealand.

BACK TO CONTENTS Campion had initially thought she would make the film in Montana, but when she travelled to the region, it became apparent that the area was overbuilt for the era in which the film takes place. Campion was then encouraged to consider New Zealand, her home country. “Ultimately, shooting in New Zealand wasn’t a compromise, it was the best choice for us,” she says. The outdoor ranch and barn sets were created by production designer Grant Major, who had worked with Campion on An Angel at My Table.

An important reference for Campion and Major was the work of photojournalist Evelyn Cameron, who documented the American West at the time the film is set. They also referenced Time magazine archives, featuring photography of cowboys of the era, in addition to the Ken Burns documentary series The West. Director of photography Ari Wegner spent roughly a year working with Campion, location scouting, storyboarding, and developing the visual style for the film.

Images: e Power of the Dog © Kirsty Griffin & Netflix.


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THAILAND enchanting escape

before Covid struck, over 700 international media crews generated approximately tHb5 billion for the local economy in 2019. now thailand – which offers jungle scenes through to private islands and busy urban backgrounds – is hoping filmmakers will return as restrictions ease.

s travel measures ease around the world, the Thai film scene is beginning to welcome back producers. “Restrictions are lightening up considerably – once you get here, it is easy to start working,” observes Les Nordhauser, managing director of Greenlight Films. “Thailand is opening up for business.”

Before the pandemic struck, Thailand Tourism Department’s director-general Anant Wongbenjarat announced that approximately 740 international production crews generated an estimated THB4.86 billion, or EUR127.6 million, for the Thai economy in 2019. Since then, local talents and production companies have been working on creative ways to overcome the various hurdles posed during the pandemic while, simultaneously, sustaining working relationships with international clients from all over the globe.

“the tourism authority of thailand recently arranged the no Quarantine phuket sandBox scheme, opening up the city to vaccinated thai and foreign travellers.”

Louis Ditapichai, executive producer and partner at Ta Production, elaborates: “During the past two years, we had to change our strategy and way of working to overcome the restrictions due to the Covid-19. We have developed local directors as well as proxy directors for remote shooting purposes. We shot a big campaign for a car brand in Austria remotely – four days in Bangkok, two days in Vienna and two days in the Austrian Alps.”

lOCAtiOn HigHligHt

Wat Pho: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha Officially named Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is a sacred Buddhist complex built in 1788 by King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty. Now the homeplace of Rama I’s enshrined ashes, this stunning construction near Bangkok’s Grand Palace is classified within Thailand’s highest bracket for royal monasteries alongside five other temples dotted around the country. The holy building stores over a 1000 images of Buddha, yet it is perhaps most famous for its eponymous Reclining Buddha statue. Measuring 46 metres long and 15 metres high, the sculpture is Thailand’s largest portrayal of Buddha. Wat Pho is also a historic centre where the Art of Nuad Thai, or Thai Massage, has been refined over the years.

“We also just finished a beauty shoot campaign, shooting three days in Bangkok and two days in Indonesia’s Jakarta with international agencies and 145

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clients. We’ve done many remote projects like this in the past two or so years, because of course travel bans made it difficult to move people around. You must really take your time to prepare thoroughly when collaborating with people from different parts of the world in this way. It was challenging but we’ve done it with success.” The No Quarantine Phuket Sandbox scheme was one of the first major steps when re-opening the nation. Although travellers were not required to quarantine, they did have to stay in Phuket for at least seven nights before being allowed to visit other locations around the country. In November no quarantine measures were required for the majority of international travellers who were fully vaccinated and could prove it – with the EU, UK, USA and China included on the exemption list. It is accepted that all the bars and entertainment centres will continue to open up throughout December, meaning that Thailand’s recovery from the lockdown is nearing completion. Netflix is currently working on a limited series that will tell the famous story of the twelve young footballer players – known as the Wild Boars – who were trapped in a flooded Thai cave in 2018 and eventually rescued as the world watched on. The series, directed by Baz Nattawut Poonpiriya and Kevin Tancharoen, is shooting primarily on location in Thailand. The tourism industry is one of the largest contributors to Thailand’s economy. As a result, the country is always eager to sustain relationships with international business partners. “There has been synergy between the government and the Thai film industry,” argues Pakinee Chaisana, managing director of A Grand Elephant Production Company. “Of course, the government has its quota and everyone wants the vaccines – but they have been trying to allocate vaccines for foreign crews, and they are starting to proactively ask us if any other jobs are coming in too.” A Grand Elephant have just finished a commercial in collaboration with British Airways and American Express. A large amount of film work in Thailand comes from America and Europe as well as Asian countries such as China, India, Japan and Korea. When applying for the nation’s film production tax incentive scheme, the Thai government navigates the process alongside the local film board coordinator. Tax rebates in the country range from 15% to 20%, and further bonuses are in place for hiring Thai workers and promoting national tourism. While remote campaigns offer certain ways to stay in touch with external business partners, there are advantages about working together in the same space that cannot be underestimated. “We took the


WAdE mullEr CinEmAtOgrApHEr

Elephant White / The Cave

Q: What projects have you worked on

in Thailand? A: The first feature I DP’d in Thailand was the

action film Elephant White, starring Kevin Bacon and Djimon Hounsou, and directed by Prachya Pinkaew. More recently, I worked on The Cave directed by Tom Waller, which is a film about the heroic cave rescue in northern Thailand. One of the most challenging moments for me would hands down be shooting deep inside water-filled caves! While The Cave was shot in Chiang Rai, Sa Keaw and Bangkok, Elephant White was all shot in Bangkok. It is a vibrantly coloured film, and Bangkok’s neon-lit streets around China Town and the Chao Praya River were the perfect backdrop for it. We had scenes requiring street lights, modern high rise buildings, temples, night clubs, river scenes. All of these are easy to find in Bangkok. Q: What tips would you offer for

international filmmakers visiting? A: I often hear international crews saying ‘I wish

the crew back home were like this!’ Thai crews are extremely skilled in their professions and are very hard working. Elephant White sourced almost every single crew member locally… there was only a handful of crew brought in, and most of these crew members were part of the VFX team from Europe. I would recommend getting a great local production company. Q: What project will you be working on next? A: My next film will be the sequel to Occupation Rainfall, starring Temuera Morrison and Ken Jeong.


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EssEntiAl FACts tAX inCEntiVEs

20% Thailand’s film production tax rebates were first awarded in 2019 and range from 15% to 20%. There is an additional 2% bonus if the film promotes tourism to Thailand as well as a 3% bonus for hiring Thai workers to key positions. Incentive payments are capped at around USD2.17 million & project organisers would need to plan on spending the equivalent of USD1.4 million in order to qualify. AtA CArnEt

YES studiOs

The Studio Park in Samutprakan Province possesses a range of world-class features, including five soundstages, and a water tank. Pace Studio Bangkok offers a range of pre-built, ready-to-use sets – such as the Metro Train and Airplane sets – while Chopstick Films houses the only cinebot motion control rig in Thailand as well as a talented and flexible SFX department. rECEnt prOduCtiOns

Aninsri Daeng, One for the Road, The Edge of Daybreak, The Medium. timE ZOnE

GMT+7 intErnAtiOnAl tAlEnt

Directors Ratchapoom Boonbunchacoke, Banjong Pistanthanakun, Nattawut Poonpiriya & Taiki Sakposit.


opportunity during lockdown to develop some of our own stuff – some scripted television, some features,” Nordhauser notes. “However, there is nothing better than shaking hands in person, grabbing a bite to eat or a drink together. You’re breaking bread together – you’re bonding!” Ditapichai is similarly enthusiastic about Thailand opening again for foreign filmmakers. “Now, we are looking forward to doing what we do best, which is providing excellent and top-notch quality production services for clients from all over the world. Normally, when Europe gets cold, Asia becomes the place to be for the next three or four months. We are super happy to welcome back our friends who have been away for the last two years. In Thailand it is in our blood to welcome people and to make them feel at home.” An abundance of top-level cameras and filmmaking equipment is available in the country, including: ARRI, RED and Sony Master Primes, as well as technocranes, Hawk Anamorphic lenses, and Russian Arms. While production costs in Thailand are much lower than the West, their quality remains world-class. Major Hollywood movies to shoot in Thailand include: A Prayer Before Dawn, American Assassin, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Mechanic: Resurrection and The Hangover Part II. The Oscar-winning Michael Cimino film The Deer Hunter – as well as Good Morning, Vietnam and The Killing Fields – represent the first war films to replace Vietnam with Thailand, illustrating the adaptability of the nation as a shooting location. “With all the projects moving in or already here, it is starting to look like a really exciting end to 2021 as well as a promising start to 2022,” emphasises Nordhauser. The global film industry is reopening, and it seems Thailand is more than ready to start shooting new productions with international crews.

sOmEtHing ElsE

Thailand’s national animal is the elephant. Asian elephants are divided into four categories: Bornean, Indian, Sri Lankan, and Sumatran. While Thai elephants are classified as Indian elephants, they possess slightly different characteristics in comparison to other elephants from this sub-species. For example, they are typically smaller than their Indian counterparts, with shorter front legs and a thicker body. The Elephas Maximus is the largest land mammal on the Asian continent. In Thai culture, the elephant features prominently: appearing on the official Provincial Seals of various areas such as Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Tak; and performing practical roles in diverse fields, including manual labour, militarism and – most commonly today – tourism. In 1917, Thailand’s official flag was a white elephant in the middle of a red background, thus white elephants came represent wealth and power as a result of their association with Thai royalty. Despite being the country’s national symbol, Thai elephants are in danger of becoming extinct as a result of habitat loss and poaching. There are currently an estimated 3,000-4,000 elephants in Thailand.

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interview luke withd erspici hyams uke Hyams joined YouTube Originals in 2017 as head of originals EMEA, overseeing the platform's original content productions and development slate. During his tenure, his projects at YouTube Originals have included the documentary Terms and Conditions: A UK Drill Story, Together We Rise, Virtually History, How to be: Behzinga and Birthday Song.

Prior to YouTube Originals, Hyams was the director of global content for The Walt Disney Company, head of content at Revelmode and chief content officer for International at Maker Studios. Starting his career at the BBC as a presenter, Luke is also a writer, director and producer, and he has produced multiple shorts, music promos and web series.


How many are you creating? lukE HyAms

This year, we’ll have released 101 YouTube originals across the Americas, in Korea, India, Japan, in the UK and sub-Saharan Africa. At the last count, we released 30 in the EMEA region which I oversee. An example is Raise your Game with Gareth Southgate, (pictured left) a documentary that looks at a lot of the issues that young people are facing in the UK like mental health, discrimination and the general post pandemic post Brexit feel that the country is in. YouTube creators explore these issues with Gary through the prism of football. We also did a five hour Pride special in June [which featured talent such as Olly Alexander, Elton John and Trixie Mattel].



lukE HyAms

lukE HyAms

Why does YouTube have an originals strategy?

The real purpose for us in creating YouTube originals is to give a platform to some of the really exciting trends, formats and personalities that have made YouTube so special. And also offer a hand of cooperation to some of the people who have invested a great amount of time in building their presence on YouTube but want to take things to the next level creatively or artistically in a way that they maybe cannot do on their own.

What genres are you are working in?

At the moment, the strategy is for our shows to feel like close cousins of stuff that is already native to YouTube. So we really do stay within the unscripted space. mAkErs

How do YouTube originals differ from traditional TV or other a VOD platforms? lukE HyAms

It’s about their ability to exist natively on a specific YouTube channel for a specific YouTube community. What’s great about YouTube is that my interface of the

platform is completely different from yours. The algorithm learns who we are and what we like. Gone are the days of doing something for everybody all at once. When you make something for us, you have to be super granular about who the audience is. When I have to go through the process to greenlight a show, the first question that a lot of the different partners internally ask is, can you explain to me why this could be only on YouTube? And not on Netflix or BBC One? If I don't have a decent answer for that question, often the show is not commissioned. mAkErs

What’s working well for you? lukE HyAms

We did a three part documentary last year called How to be Behzinga. Behzinga is 1/7th of a gaming crew called The Sidemen who are hugely popular. On their channel he was starting to open up about broadening his horizons, mental health and fitness levels. So we partnered with him on a series that saw him train for the London Marathon and lose a tonne of weight and really turn his life around in a way. It was the best we've ever done in terms of liked versus disliked for YouTube originals. mAkErs

What kind of audiences are watching?

is to make sure that what they're watching in that hour and a half feels like something that has more production and editorial value that really enriches their YouTube experience. mAkErs

What are your plans for 2022? lukE HyAms

Next year will see us do a few fewer shows in order to market them better. So fewer, bigger, better. At the same time, we’re very keen on data. And we have identified that climate change is still a humungous concern for Gen Z. So we want to find ways to tackle that subject in an entertaining way. Also, racial injustice is incredibly important. We have a black voices fund that is dedicated to shows that create a positive black role models in front of and behind the camera. YouTube has also defined itself as a place where people come to talk about their mental health more openly. If there are ideas out there that can tackle that subject in an entertaining and informative way, that's interesting to us. We want to do personality pieces, not puff pieces. If there's an artist or YouTube creator, who has a new chapter of their story that they want to go on, and a new side that they want to show their fans, we're definitely a place to do that.

lukE HyAms

The majority of the stuff that we make is aimed at a 14 to 30 year old audience, hitting somewhere squarely in the middle. Young people already spend an hour and a half according to data on YouTube every day. Our mission Luke Hyams



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Navigating Cancel Culture

Cancel culture has both been praised for holding the powerful to account but also blamed for creating a climate where talent and industry executives are afraid to speak their minds. makers investigates the rise and ramifications of cancel culture.


avigating the culture wars is no easy task. From US comedian Dave Chapelle through to Harry Potter author JK Rowling, numerous celebrities have been cancelled for what they have said in recent years. Simply put, cancel culture is the idea of taking away support for an individual, brands, shows and movies due to what some consider to be offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies.

Sometimes this can have damaging financial and professional consequences. Other times, there seems to be little long term affect. Some see participating in cancel culture as the most effective way to hold public figures to account, especially if no other lawful way appears to be working. The term became popular with the #MeToo movement, as public figures such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and R. Kelly were all cancelled due to allegations of sexual abuse. 152

Since then, cancel culture has made its way into mainstream vocabulary. The verb ‘to cancel’ entered the official Merriam-Webster dictionary earlier this year. Last year, J.K Rowling was cancelled for a succession of online posts and activities that have been labelled as transphobic by many LGBTQ+ activists and organisations. This year, Bourne Ultimatum star Matt Damon told The Sunday Times that he only recently stopped using a homophobic slur commonly used to refer to gay men after his daughter told him it was dangerous – leading to widespread criticism and a clarification from Damon. Brands have been affected too. Starbucks was cancelled for telling employees not to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts and badges. Pancake brand Aunt Jemima was cancelled last year for perpetuating racist stereotypes. In response, Quaker Oats, the owner of the brand, announced it would retire the name.

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cancel culture is the iDea of taking aWay support for an inDiviDual, branDs, shoWs anD Movies Due to What soMe consiDer to be offensive or probleMatic reMarks or iDeologies.


That result sparked cancellers to double their efforts to get another food brand, Uncle Ben, to change its name for the same reason. It worked and the brand's parent company, Mars, said it would change it to Ben's.

Netflix, for example, has come in for serious criticism for airing Dave Chappelle special The Closer, in which he says, "gender is a fact" and that LGBT people are "too sensitive".

Some people who have been cancelled have gone on to be held accountable for serious crimes, relating to what they were called out for such as Harvey Weinstein, R Kelly and Bill Cosby.

The Netflix special sparked a transgender backlash and a Netflix employee walkout.

However, others believe cancel culture is more of a mob mentality that’s got out of control. Sometimes it seems like a new celebrity falls out of favour every day. Others think cancel culture is creating an onslaught of boring movies and television series. Atlanta creator David Glover took to Twitter earlier this year after noticing users on the social media platform complaining about how tired they are of reviewing lacklustre films and series. “We’re getting boring stuff and not even experimental mistakes because people are afraid of getting cancelled,” the comedian wrote. “So they feel like they can only experiment with aesthetic.” Johnny Depp also took aim at cancel culture during an appearance at the San Sebastian Film Festival, describing it as being “so far out of hand” while discussing his fall from grace in Hollywood. The actor was speaking in the wake of his libel case against British tabloid The Sun, which characterised Depp as a wife-beater as it related to the treatment of ex-wife Amber Heard. He lost that court case and subsequently did not appear in the third entry in Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts franchise. The actor said cancel culture as a movement is “so far out of hand now that I can promise you that no one is safe. Not one of you. No one out that door. No one is safe, as long as someone is willing to say one sentence.” Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson also thinks cancel culture has gone too far. “I think there’s definitely a major overcorrection happening,” she told The Hollywood Reporter recently. “But I do believe that there’s a way for the pendulum to find the middle.” Navigating cancel culture is tricky even for the biggest studios and streamers, no matter how much PR support they can pay for.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos apologised for how he handled internal dissent from employees, saying: "I screwed up." He told Variety: “First “we’re getting and foremost, I should Boring stuff have led with a lot more and not even humanity. Meaning, I experimental had a group of mistakes Because employees who were people are afraid definitely feeling pain of getting and hurt from a decision cancelled.” we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged upfront before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn't do that." It's little wonder that cancel culture is having profound impact on companies throughout the media and entertainment sector, with executives acutely worried that something they say will affect their business or that a star interview damages the prospects of a movie or TV series. Many within the industry are investing in training as a result. “Some of my clients are giving all of their staff courses on unconscious bias to educate and make sure their people are more aware,” says one PR executive. Unconscious bias training is designed to tackle the deep-seated prejudices we all absorb due to living in deeply unequal societies. In the UK, for example, ScreenSkills and BIFA rolled out an online learning module this year designed to address unconscious bias and to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the screen industries. Given that the creative industries have long struggled with deep seated issues around diversity, bullying and sexism, such initiatives have been welcomed – and could also go some way to tackling the root causes for why so many stars and execs have been cancelled in the first place.


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UKRAINE exciting adventures

ukraine’s talent pool and affordability is complemented by generous support from the state as well as diverse locations. these factors all work together to offer promising opportunities for international collaboration.

Image: Chernobyl © Sky UK Ltd & HBO.

ost-Soviet buildings and medieval architecture are perhaps the first features to spring to mind when one considers Ukraine. However, it is easy to forget that the nation offers far-reaching forests, picturesque coastlines and winding valleys. The Oleshsky Sands is one of the largest European expanses of sand, offering a smart alternative to other, more distant desert locations. Lake Svityaz is part of the Shatsky Lakes in Polissya, where woodlands shelter the clear waters of these tranquil spaces, providing numerous possibilities for filmmakers.

Ukraine has many architectural treasures. St. Sophia’s Cathedral is one of the so-called Seven Wonders of Ukraine, retaining a collection of mosaic designs and mural paintings from different epochs. The Kyic Pechersk Lavra monastery – which “dense woodlands features in Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin – is a shelter the clear similarly impressive Ukrainian waters of these holy building, achieving UNESCO tranQuil spaces, World Heritage status in 1990.

providing numerous possiBilities for filmmakers seeking attention-graBBing spots loaded with primeval energy.”

The nation’s theatres also offer promising opportunities for filmmakers. Originally built on the marshlands of the Poltva River, Lviv Opera is positioned on Freedom Avenue, the tree-lined centrepiece of yet another Ukraine-based UNESCO Word Heritage site, Lviv’s historic Old City. Meanwhile the Odessa Opera House, Ukraine’s oldest theatre, is designed in the late French Rococo style. The building is one of the city’s most famous features, perhaps only paralleled by the Potemkin Stairs – the iconic steps famously captured in Russian director Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.

lOCAtiOn HigHligHt

Khotyn Fortress

The fortress is situated in Western Ukraine, on the righthand-side bank of Khotyn’s Dniester River. It is located on rocky territory and was originally a large mound of dirt with wooden walls designed to protect early Khotyn settlements. Prince Danylo of Halych and his son Lev started to rebuild the fortress in 1250. After experiencing many battles and switching hands between Moldavian, Polish-Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Turkish forces over the years, the Russian military stormed the fortress in 1769 and 1788 but ensured its safe return both times in accordance with peace treaties. While one legend claims that the large dark spot on the exterior walls of the fortress was formed by the tears of Khotyn rebels, another claims the tears in fact belong to a girl named Oksana, whom the Turks imprisoned and then buried in the walls. Khotyn Fortress has appeared in many films, including The Viper, The Arrows of Robin Hood, The Ballad of Valiant Knight Ivanhoe and Taras Bulba.


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25% The Ukrainian State Film Agency offers tax rebates up to 25% on eligible expenses. The foreign film production entity may be entitled to an additional 5% rebate when certain criteria are met. CO-PRODUCTION TREATIES

Canada, France & Israel. ATA CARNET


The major studios include: Dovzhenko Film Studios – named after film producer Alexander Dovzhenko – UA Studio & Ukrainian Documentary Film Studio. INTERNATIONAL TALENT

Directors Roman Bondarchuk, Oleg Sentsov & Oles Hennadiyovych Sanin. RECENT PRODUCTIONS

Since Russia and Ukraine have such interwoven histories, filmmakers can frame Ukraine as a costeffective double for the largest country in the world. In fact, many of the world’s locations and buildings could be imitated by what Ukraine has to offer. “Most CEE [Central and Eastern European] countries on their own are too small for global platforms to commission content,” explains Victoria Yarmoshchuck, executive director of the Ukrainian Motion Picture Association (UMPA) and CEO of FILM.UA Group. “However, if we are to combine our efforts and resources, both within Ukraine and together with our CEE neighbours, we can produce content that will successfully compete and win globally. Our joint efforts have already put Ukraine on the audiovisual industry map. Our TV series, films, and formats travel very well. Our content is already available on Netflix, Amazon, and many other platforms around the world. We co-produce with Europe and beyond. We provide production services (from VFX to animation) to companies far and wide — from the UK to India and China.” In order to help producers navigate the nation’s myriad possibilities, a new film location database has been developed by the UMPA with the support of the USAID Competitive Economy Programme (CEP). “The filming locations database is aimed to promote the Ukrainian film industry on the

international arena, offering a universal catalogue of Ukrainian filming locations for both local and foreign productions,” states Anna Volkova, the UMPA’s international relations executive officer. “Ukrainian industry professionals can place their location on the service, update the basic information about it, respond to the user requests and promote their production services.” The decision to establish the database stems from Ukraine’s willingness to generate longstanding, meaningful partnerships with the rest of the world. “You can easily access Ukraine from European countries and most places across the world,” Volkova elaborates. “Kyiv is served by two international airports connected to prime regional centres. No visas are required to enter the country for citizens of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, and they are free to enter and travel within the country for three months. Living costs for cast and crew are more than competitive.” Recent projects to visit the nation include: Netflix’s movie The Last Mercenary and HBO’s series Chernobyl, as well as the Swiss-Ukrainian-French co-production OLGA, winner of the SACD Award for Best Screenplay at Cannes’ 60th Semaine de la Critique in 2021.

Atlantis, The Earth Is Blue as an Orange, Homeward & My Thoughts Are Silent.

Since the interwoven hiStorieS of ruSSia and ukraine poSSeSS Such prominent linkS, one can frame ukraine aS a coSt-effective double for the largeSt country in the world.


The Kyiv Opera – otherwise known as the National Opera House of Ukraine, or the Tara Shevchenko National Academian Opera and Ballet Theatre of Ukraine – was established in 1867. After a performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in 1896, an unextinguished candle caused a devasting eruption, entirely consuming the establishment in several hours. The incident resulted in the loss of one of the largest musical libraries in Europe, along with numerous costumes and stage props. In response to the fire, the City Council created an international competition to design a new building for the Kyiv’s Opera Theatre. The winning proposal by Victor Schröter used a Neo-Renaissance style for the exterior while using a classical ‘Viennese Modern’ style for the interior.


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The Perfect Pitch

Video conferencing became the primary way that business was conducted during the pandemic. But even as in person meetings return, shifts in working culture means that Zoom meetings are set to stay. Experts offer makers tips on how to nail your next zoom pitch


ovid-19 saw video conferencing platforms boom as people suddenly began to both work and socialise remotely, confined to their own homes. US tech firm Zoom quickly became the number one platform to dominate the space, and saw annual revenues jump from USD622 million in 2020 to USD2.651 billion in 2021. The platform’s simplicity, its ability to function on any device, and the success in keeping up with surging demand – as well as a business savvy decision to remove the time cap for free meetings as

the pandemic took hold – was key to its initial success. By June 2020 there were 300 million daily meeting participants on the platform, including the UK cabinet as well as 90,000 schools in over 20 countries delivering classes via Zoom. For the creative industries the platform was widely used for holding meetings that would traditionally be face-to-face, including pitches. After nearly two years the flexibility that comes with remote working means that businesses are expecting it to be a permanent fixture of working life.


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Zoom and remote pitching shouLdn’t get in the way of chemistry, nor wiLL it create chemistry if it is not there in the first pLace.

“The pandemic kicked open the door to virtual pitching. The technology had been a barrier; now it was the only game in town,” says Laura Brennan, pitch and development consultant who works with writers, producers and executives to develop and pitch projects for television and film agrees. “Executives had no choice but to get comfortable using online platforms, writers had to get better at pitch decks, and everyone had to learn to network virtually.” “Since the pandemic began, 95% of pitches have been run remotely,” says Martin Jones, managing partner of AAR, a consultancy that advises businesses on potential communication agency partners in advertising, media and PR. AAR runs approximately 100 pitches a year for clients including Comparethemarket, Gousto, KFC and Kopparburg. “Going forward, we believe that initial chemistry meetings and final presentations will revert to being in person but a lot of the interim stages, such as briefings and work in progress, will take place remotely.” Brennan agrees, saying “I think, once we’re truly on the other side, that there will be an initial flood of in-person meetings, if only because we are all Zoomed out. But after that, I think people will start to routinely have maybe a third of their pitch meetings virtually. It’s just too convenient to go away entirely.” Despite its flexibility and convenience, the virtual conferencing format does present its own challenges. This particularly comes to the fore when trying to create chemistry and connection with new potential clients. The term Zoom fatigue encompasses the frustration that comes with virtual communication. One of the first papers conducted on the topic by researchers in communication and virtual reality at Stanford University and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that the biggest


predictor of Zoom fatigue is not just down to the amount of time spent on Zoom calls, but also the length of transition time between calls. When compared to face-to-face meetings, the lack of non-verbal communication to pick up during meetings requires participants to engage in more prolonged and sustained attention on solely verbal cues. The less subtle signs, such as body language means that it is much harder to gauge how a “using images to meeting is going, create a jazz up a zoom connection or moments pitch was what of levity. There are other most writers challenges too, such as thought the gallery view feature would Be the hard which challenges the brain’s central vision – part, But in fact, meaning that participants the real proBlem are trying to decode a is how to connect panel of people at once, with others so maintaining attention through the on the main speaker screen.” becomes harder. When it comes to zoom pitching, these elements do make an impact. “I think using images to jazz up a Zoom pitch was what most writers thought would be the hard part, but in fact, the real problem is how to connect with others through the screen. Chit-chat at the beginning of the meeting is how you develop relationships that can last beyond one pitch or even one project,” says Brennan. “Having multiple people on screen, audio lags, unstable connections, and just the awkwardness of the moment, it became incredibly difficult to develop rapport virtually”.


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get good at teLLing your story in a compeLLing way, so you’re okay when internet gremLins eat your powerpoint.

That is why Brennan advises researching who you’ll meet, so that you identify some common interest. It is a good strategy for any meeting but invaluable for a virtual pitch, she says. “You can also use the beginning of the pitch itself to create a connection over the material. None of these are difficult, but they do require prep. In terms of practical tips, you can curate your background – have a wall behind you, no depth-of-field, and have something interesting for them to look at and maybe even ask you about that can spark chit-chat. Have something to say that is not about the pandemic or the weather. People are desperate to be engaged, even for just 30 seconds, which means talking about almost anything else. The bar is low.” Ultimately however, Zoom/remote pitching shouldn’t get in the way of chemistry, nor will it create chemistry if it is not there in the first place,” insists Jones. “There’s universal recognition that something is missing, less impactful in a completely remote pitch but pitching has made the relationship more human and less us and them as both sides are seen in their own homes with children, pets etc.” Both Brennan and Jones underscore the heightened importance of preparation when it comes to remote pitching. “It’s never been about pitch theatre, but in video pitching the people, thinking and work are all there is on which a client has to focus. So, the better it is, the greater chance of success. It requires a greater degree of rehearsal than face to face pitching”. Creating a narrative and story that engages participants is also harder virtually. “One mistake writers make is assuming that if tech issues happen in a pitch, it’s the end of the world,” says Brennan. “We are story-tellers. If you tell a great story, you will engage people, with or without slides. Enrol them with your voice, with your passion for the piece. Get good at telling your story in a compelling way, so



reMote pitching 162

you’re okay when internet gremlins eat your PowerPoint.” Jones adds that research shows “smaller tighter pitch teams tell a better story than bigger ones. This is exaggerated in video pitching and recognised by the client teams.” Visuals can certainly “you should think help elevate a pitch too, aBout your visuals but they should be not as individual used wisely. “The gameslides But in terms changer is thinking of seQuences.” about your visuals not as individual slides but in terms of sequences,” says Brennan, “Your pitch will have anything from seven to 15 sequences depending on how much you’re pitching and how complicated the story. Creating visual sequences keeps the story moving; it’s less choppy, and you’re better able to convey the emotions of the moment, which is where pictures can really elevate your pitch.” Jones adds that teams should use “slides more selectively in order to increase face time particularly during chemistry meetings.” Once the pitch is made, there are additional actions that can maximise the impact. “Once you’ve made your presentation, it’s great to have the opportunity for the client team to discuss privately amongst themselves before coming back with questions. So, put them back into the virtual meeting room to discuss what they have just seen, and so offer some considered feedback.” “Following-up appropriately no matter what the outcome of the meeting might be is another under-utilised skill,” encourages Brennan. Jones also says that sending “a recording of video conference meetings is a useful reminder for clients, particularly the final pitch presentations. Time signposts are even more helpful such as strategy minutes five to 12, creative minutes 13 to 20 and research testing minutes 21 to 26. Recordings are also useful for clients that were not able to attend the live session but want to see the agency presentation”.

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Articles inside

Zoom Pitching article cover image

Zoom Pitching

pages 159-164
Ukraine article cover image


pages 155-158
Navigating Cancel Culture article cover image

Navigating Cancel Culture

pages 152-154
Interview with article cover image

Interview with

pages 150-151
Thailand article cover image


pages 145-149
Making of article cover image

Making of

pages 142-144
Contributor article cover image


page 141
Serbia article cover image


pages 127-128
Singapore article cover image


page 135
Profile article cover image


page 121
Briefing article cover image


pages 119-120
Scotland article cover image


pages 111-115
Interview with article cover image

Interview with

pages 116-118
Contributor article cover image


pages 102-103
The Future of Festivals & Markets article cover image

The Future of Festivals & Markets

pages 98-101
Report article cover image


pages 96-97
Are Independent Movies Being Made Any More? article cover image

Are Independent Movies Being Made Any More?

pages 104-110
Malaysia article cover image


pages 93-95
Making of article cover image

Making of

pages 90-92
Ireland article cover image


pages 85-89
Interview with article cover image

Interview with

pages 82-84
Contributor article cover image


pages 76-79
Real-time Revolution article cover image

Real-time Revolution

pages 80-81
Contributor article cover image


pages 62-63
Finland article cover image


pages 68-71
Interview with article cover image

Interview with

pages 60-61
Arizona Grand Ambitions article cover image

Arizona Grand Ambitions

pages 57-59
Preview article cover image


pages 51-56
Canada article cover image


pages 35-44
News in Brief article cover image

News in Brief

pages 8-9
Making of article cover image

Making of

pages 48-50
Around the World article cover image

Around the World

pages 28-29
The Future of Overseas Ad Shoots article cover image

The Future of Overseas Ad Shoots

pages 30-34
Tech & Facilities News article cover image

Tech & Facilities News

pages 12-16
Dominican Republic article cover image

Dominican Republic

pages 45-47
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