makers - Real insight Into Global Production #9

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EYE POPPING TRENDS FESTIVAL SEASON Will NFTs, the metaverse & virtual What to expect as the film & production transform film & TV? ad industries return to Cannes


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Welcome to the ninth edition of makers, the magazine for the global production industry. After more than two years of disruption from Covid-19, the television, film, advertising and games industries are getting back to business as usual in many parts of the world.

We also look at other ways the pandemic has left its mark on the industry. The games sector thrived during lockdowns, leading to a sudden rush of consolidation in the gaming industry (page 130). By comparison, cinemas struggled – and we examine the prospects for exhibition (page 56).

Clear signs of this will be evident at the Cannes Film Festival in May and the Cannes Lions in June (see pages 21 & 49 for previews of each event). Both are expected to attract decent crowds this year; registrations for Cannes Film, for example, are running at pre-pandemic levels.

makers also picks out some of the most notable international growth markets in this issue, among them Saudi Arabia (page 76) and South Korea (page 80). Growth is also a key theme in the buoyant studio sector (page 140), which is experiencing an unprecedented boom – but is it sustainable?

Nothing stays the same for long in the production sector though, so it’s hard to say truthfully that business is progressing as it did two years ago.

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.

Sure, producers, crews and suppliers are busy as production has burst back into life after the pandemic. But many are aware they are operating in a very different landscape, where technology such as Zoom has ushered in hybrid ways of working. In this issue, we look at some of the other technologies that promise to shake up the industry in the near future: from virtual production (page 154), the metaverse (page 159), new tech platforms (page 133) to NFTs (page 40).

CONTRIBUTORS Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE, Frank Spotnitz, Emily Feller, Jack Newman, Ashley Hovey MANAGING DIRECTOR Jean-Frédéric Garcia

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

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

FOUNDER Murray Ashton

2022 © The Location Guide Limited. All rights reserved.

IN MEMORY OF Sue Hayes PRINTERS Barley Print, UK

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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>FEATURES 028 Africa on the Rise Why are so many media companies being drawn to Africa?

032 Animation Grows Up makers investigates the impact of growing investment in the animation sector

036 The Rise (and Rise)

of High-End Docs


The curious growth of the deep-dive documentary in a post-truth world

040 NFTs: Are They Really

Worth the Hype? Could this nascent tech be a source of long-term revenues for film & TV?

052 Putting the Climate

into Content How the industry can help audiences reduce their carbon footprint

056 The Future of Cinemas Can cinemas revive in the wake of the pandemic & the streamer boom?

066 Media Convergence

Comes of Age Media boundaries are blurring

076 Changing Times in Saudi All eyes are on Saudi Arabia's media industries

093 When Advertising Scores Advertisers flock to big sporting events but brands need to strategise wisely



008 News in Brief

014 Report

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


EXODUS FROM RUSSIA Media, tech & entertainment firms are leaving in droves

016 Around the World

MILITARY MIGHT With the US Department of Defence’s Glen Roberts

018 Making of

THE NORTHMAN Recreating a Viking kingdom

021 Report

A CLASSIC CANNES? The film festival is back


>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

025 Chile Land of opportunity

045 Georgia Gorgeous sights


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097 Filmmaking in the USA

133 Disruptive Tech

How can creatives make the most of it?

Pioneering tech for film, TV & commercial production continues to evolve

107 Portugal Heats Up

140 Studios: Build it

The country’s talent pool is growing as its infrastructure expands

& They will come? With film & TV production booming, demand for studios has never been higher

117 New Asian Opportunities Drastic savings can be made in Asia

154 All Eyes on Virtual

130 The Gaming Rush


Why are so many entertainment companies looking to enter the gaming market?

Slowly but surely virtual production is growing in popularity


049 Report

LIONS RETURN TO CANNES The advertising industry’s biggest shindig returns as an in-person event

054 Interview with

LOU PATEL Winner of the Shaker of the Year Award at the makers & shakers 2021

061 Report

SPOTLIGHT ON FOCUS The event offered a hybrid physical & digital experience for its 7th edition

074 Comment

159 Media & the Metaverse As the internet involves, what lies ahead for the industry?

080 Comment

DAWN MCCARTHY­SIMPSON The secrets of South Korean success

089 Report


112 Making of

SUSPICION A UK adaptation of a hit Israeli series

115 Comment

JACK NEWMAN Adaptability in the production industry is going to be crucial


129 Briefing

TRAINING LOCAL TALENT Improving diversity & training a new generation of talent is a big challenge

138 Interview with

UNTOLD STUDIOS How the self-styled creative studio & community has grown from six people to over 200

145 Comment


153 Profile

CAMA ASSETSTORE Helping productions to adopt a lifecycle approach to their assets

070 Greece Endless possibilities

085 Norway Collaborative force

103 Peru Picture perfect

123 Poland Dependable wonder

147 Spain A hotbed of talent

103 7

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HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL TRANSFORM ADVERTISING Artificial intelligence is already upending advertising, but the industry is only just beginning to glimpse the impact of this transformative technology. That’s the conclusion of a major GroupM study on the technology, titled The Next 10 | Artificial Intelligence, which looks 10 years into the future to imagine where the changes the industry is experiencing today will lead. GroupM estimates that AI will reach more than USD370 billion of ad revenue this year and is likely to inform the vast majority of media by 2032, reaching USD1.3 trillion, or more than 90% of total ad revenue.

RRR © DVV Entertainment.

Two of India’s biggest cinema chains, PVR Cinemas and Inox Leisure, are merging to form a mega-circuit of 1,546 screens. The merger follows two difficult years of Covid-induced cinema shutdowns and the rise of streaming in India. Both PVR and Inox are family founded and operated businesses.

GroupM defines AI-enabled advertising as any artificial intelligence used in the process of advertising, from insight generation to activation and optimisation.

The report says that by 2032, the media landscape will look considerably different as a result of the widespread adoption of technology, AI and wireless connectivity. For example, linear TV will decline in reach, and there will be less tolerance of irrelevant, interruptive ads. Advances in AI and evolving media channels could result in marketers being increasingly innovative. For example, in the automotive sector, the use of AI and digital twins will enable greater personalization of advertising in the sector, such as a custom colour model shown driving in the buyer’s own city. In entertainment, personalized storytelling could become a reality as ads and IP are customised based on audience data and selections.

FILM USA LAUNCHES Film USA has officially launched with the new national, non-profit trade organisation aiming to offer representation for all film commissions across the United States. Almost all US states have a film commission office as well as several regional film

commissions, but there has never been a film commission that represents the country as a whole. Film USA’s first physical event is set to take place at Cannes Film Festival, where the group will host a pavilion at the 2022 Marché du Film.

DEALMAKING RESHAPES HOLLYWOOD Two major deals have reshaped the Hollywood studio system in the first half of 2022. Discovery officially closed its USD43 billion merger with AT&T’s WarnerMedia in April, with the combined companies trading as Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. The business now spans brands including Discovery Channel, discovery+, Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN, Eurosport, HBO, HBO Max, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, New Line Cinema and Cartoon Network. Earlier in March, Amazon closed its USD8.5 billion deal to acquire MGM. The online retailer and streaming giant is now home to MGM catalogues of more than 4,000 film titles, including James Bond, Rocky and Thelma & Louise, and 17,000 TV episodes. The deals are the latest in the studio market which is being reshaped by the rise of streaming and the need for scale to compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney Plus.


NoTime to Die © 2021 Danjaq, LLC & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Disney completed its acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019, while Viacom and CBS merged in the same year with the combined entity renamed Paramount Global this year. David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive officer, said: “With our collective assets and diversified business model, Warner Bros. Discovery offers the most differentiated and

complete portfolio of content across film, television and streaming.” "MGM has a nearly century-long legacy of producing exceptional entertainment, and we share their commitment to delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience," declared Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios."

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UK GOVERNMENT TARGETS PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTERS The UK’s TV landscape is being reshaped by government interventions at public service broadcasters the BBC and Channel 4.

IPA WARNS OF THREATS TO AD SPEND British marketing spend is at an eight-year high point, according to the latest IPA Bellwether report, citing the easing of Covid restrictions in the UK. However, investment levels may have peaked, as external threats to business confidence mount. The IPA revised its ad spend forecasts for 2022 and 2023 down, as it took into account rising inflation, the economic impacts of the Covid outbreak and the invasion of Ukraine.

Channel 4 described the government move as disappointing.

Derry Girls © Peter Marley / Channel 4.

Money made from the sale will be reinvested in a creative dividend to be shared among the television industry, with some of it earmarked for independent production companies. Meanwhile, the government has frozen the BBC licence fee for two years and is to embark on a major review of how the public service broadcaster is funded. The settlement means that the BBC is expected to receive around GBP3.7 billion in licence fee funding in 2022. “The BBC’s income for UK services is already 30 percent lower in real terms than it was ten years ago,” said BBC director general Tim Davie and chair Richard Sharp.


S streamers have unveiled a string of commissions in France, months after agreeing with the CSA, the country’s broadcasting authority, to invest more in French content. Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus signed a long-gestating agreement with the CSA in December to start investing 20% of their annual French revenues on local content. The CSA expects the investment to be between EUR250 million (USD282 million) to EUR300 million (USD330 million) on average per year. In March, Netflix announced its French originals slate for 2022, investing more than EUR200 million (USD221 million) in almost 50 new titles this year. The streamer has 25 new French titles ready for launch this year and more than 20 in production. Among the show highlights is the Romain Gavras-directed Athena. Standing Up, meanwhile, is a new series from Call My Agent! creator Fanny Herrero, which goes behind the fictional scenes of the stand-up world.

The government has decided to go ahead with plans to privatise Channel 4, arguing that public ownership is holding the broadcaster back in the face of a rapidly changing media landscape. Channel 4, founded in 1982 to deliver programmes for under-served audiences, is funded by advertising but is publicly owned. A commissioner broadcaster, it has no inhouse production unit and is widely credited with giving birth to the thriving UK independent production sector.

Streamers embrace French production

Halo 4: Forward Until Dawn © Content Media.

VIDEO GAME DEALS SURGE 2022 is already the biggest ever year for video game M&A announcements in terms of gross transaction value, according to analysts. Three major deals alone – Microsoft's mammoth USD68.7 billion acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard, Take-Two buying social game developer Zynga for USD12.7 billion, and Sony's deal to buy Halo and Destiny creator Bungie for USD3.6 billion – amounted to USD85 billion (see The Gaming Rush, page 130).

ROKU STEPS UP ORIGINALS PUSH Streamer Roku is stepping up its originals push, hiring ITV America’s chief creative officer. David Eilenberg joins as head of original content at the AVOD and FAST streamer, in a move that marks the latest expansion of Roku’s original strategy. The streamer acquired around 70 shows from defunct shortform streamer Quibi last year which it then branded as Roku originals. The company has since extended a number of them, including Die Hart, into second seasons (see The Rise of FAST & AVOD, page 145).

In April, Amazon Prime Video announced seven new French productions, which the company said marked a new step in its commitment to increasing investment in French TV production.


The new originals announced are Alphonse, Medellín, Hawa, Classico, Cosmic Love, Ourika, and Killer Coaster, a mix of series and films, with Amazon revealing that more announcements are to follow soon.

Standing Up © Mika Cotellon / Netflix.

Elsewhere, WarnerBros. Discovery, parent of HBO Max, is to produce six to eight local feature films a year in France as it expands its production footprint in the country across both cinema and series, top executive Priya Dogra told French TV festival and industry event Series Mania in March.

Critics say the Conservative Party is ideologically opposed to the BBC and Channel 4.


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The world

at a glance 11 SCANDINAVIA










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UNITED KINGDOM Training body ScreenSkills is to invest more than GBP10 million of industry contributions to address training needs in the high-end television sector, amid a boom in production and shortage of skilled talent.


UNITED STATES ViacomCBS is rebranding to Paramount, adopting the studio brand as its new name as it shifts focus towards direct-to-consumer and streaming operations.


MEXICO Spanish-language content giants Televisa and Univision have concluded their USD4.8 billion merger to form Televisa Univision, and are launching new streaming platform ViX.


SOUTH AFRICA Disney+ is to launch in an additional 42 countries this summer, starting in South Africa on May 18. Other launch territories include Turkey, Poland, Hungary and the Middle East.


INDIA SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster RRR has quickly become the third highest grossing Indian film ever, taking INR10 billion (USD132 million) globally. The period epic stars Jr NTR and Ram Charan.









JAPAN Netflix recently showcased highlights from 40 new exclusive anime titles at AnimeJapan 2022, including series Thermae Romae, Novae Kotaro Lives Alone and Rilakkuma’s Theme Park Adventure. AUSTRALIA Amazon Prime Video has commissioned its first Australian original feature, romantic comedy Five Blind Dates, created by US comedian Nathan Ramos-Park and China-born Australian actor Shuang Hu.

POLAND Netflix is doubling down on Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), opening an office in Warsaw as its CEE hub. The company also announced 18 new Polish films and series.


CHINA Chinese streamer iQIYI has launched in the US, priced at USD8.99 or USD9.99 a month; the app will be available on Roku devices.


NETHERLANDS HBO Max has launched in 15 additional countries, including the Netherlands and swathes of Eastern Europe. The territories join the Nordics and Spain, where HBO Max launched in October 2021.


SCANDINAVIA Nordic Entertainment Group is planning to adopt the name of its fast-expanding streaming service, Viaplay, to better reflect the company's focus.


SOUTH KOREA South Korea’s leading entertainment company CJ ENM is planning to increase its output of Korean content for global audiences with the launch of CJ ENM Studios.


CANADA Sony has bought its second video game company in 2002, acquiring Montreal-based Haven Studios. In January, Sony acquired Bungie, the original creator of Halo (see The Gaming Rush, page 130).


FRANCE France Télévisions has said it will sell its stake in streamer Salto, valued at around EUR45 million, if a planned TF1-M6 merger goes through.



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IRELAND SET FOR EUR300 MILLION STUDIO COMPLEX Ireland is set to get its largest studio complex when a new development, Greystones Media Campus, comes online from mid-2024. Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital, along with The MBS Group, have teamed up to develop and operate the new film and television facility. The group, which was behind the acquisition of Ireland’s Ardmore Studios and Troy Studios in August 2021, has been selected to develop the new studio approximately 15 miles south of Dublin. The development is a joint venture with the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), Ireland’s sovereign development fund, and Capwell, a Sisk family investment vehicle. When fully developed, Greystones Media Campus will offer more than 670,000 sqft of studio space on 44 acres with sea views, including 14 sound stages. The first seven sound stages and associated office, workshop and backlot spaces will be delivered in mid-2024.

Avid, Adobe, Vizrt, Zixi and Ross Video are among the media tech companies to have halted shipments to Russia, and cut support for its products in the country in protest at the invasion of Ukraine. Avid CEO and president Jeff Rosica said: “We urge others in our tight-knit Media & Entertainment industry to also join the international pressure campaign against Russia’s political leaders to stop their aggression immediately” (see Exodus from Russia, page 14).

The total investment in the project is estimated at nearly EUR300 million and the development will double Ireland’s high-end film and television stage capacity. The audiovisual sector is currently worth over EUR1 billion to the Irish economy, with approximately 12,000 people employed in film, television and animation production. Hackman/Square Mile said new development in Greystones will create 1,500 new jobs once it is operational (and 450 jobs during the construction phase) along with other direct and indirect benefits to Ireland’s economy. Greystones Film and Television Studios will be the latest addition to the Hackman Capital/Square Mile Capital portfolio of studio assets, which includes 18 studios and 120 stages. These include The Culver Studios in Los Angeles; Wardpark Studios in Scotland; and the under construction, Eastbrook Studios in London and Basin Media Studios and Downsview Studios in Toronto.

STUDIO BABELSBERG ACQUIRED BY TPG REAL ESTATE TPG Real Estate Partners (TREP) has completed its acquisition of Germany’s Studio Babelsberg, which has recently hosted The Matrix Resurrections and Netflix series 1899. Studio Babelsberg becomes part of TREP’s global studio platform, Cinespace Studios, the second largest sound stage operator in North America. With Studio Babelsberg, Cinespace will now operate 90 stages. Studio Babelsberg credits include German series Dark and Babylon Berlin, and films such as Inglourious Basterds, V For Vendetta and Bridge Of Spies.

FILM AND TELEVISION STUDIO TO LAUNCH IN SPACE Media company Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE) is to build the world’s first content and entertainment studios and multi-purpose arena in space. The space station module will be built by Axiom Space, which specialises in human spaceflight services and human-rated space infrastructure.

view at HBO, Richard Johnston, the former CEO of Endemol Shine UK, and Remi Abayomi, the former vice president of technology at Viacom, alongside NYC-based investment bank GH Partners.

SEE-1 is planned to launch in late 2024 and dock with Axiom’s commercial space station, Axiom Station, while it is connected to the International Space Station.

Dmitry and Elena Lesnevsky, co-founders of SEE, said: “It will provide a unique, and accessible home for boundless entertainment possibilities in a venue packed with innovative infrastructure which will unleash a new world of creativity.”

The module will allow artists, producers, and creatives to develop, produce, record and live stream content which maximises the Space Station’s low-orbit micro-gravity environment, including films, television, music and sports events.


The company is currently in discussions with investors and commercial partners on the project with a further fundraising round planned shortly.

SEE is co-founded by Elena and Dmitry Lesnevsky, media entrepreneurs and film producers, who are producing the first Hollywood motion picture filmed in outer space. SEE’s partners, consultants and advisors include senior media industry figures such as Mark Taffett, former senior vice president of sports and pay per

SEE-1 is planned to become operational starting in December 2024.

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Virtual production and cloud-based tech on the rise


TECHNICOLOR RESTRUCTURES VFX BRANDS Technicolor Creative Studios has restructured its visual effects brands in the advertising, film and scripted spaces. Technicolor is consolidating VFX studio MPC Advertising into sister brand The Mill, creating one global studio network. Technicolor is also integrating its VFX brands MPC Film, MPC Episodic and Mr. X under Moving Picture Company (MPC) to service the feature film and episodic market globally. The Mill will be led by Josh Mandel, previously CEO of The Mill, who will be taking on the new role of president of advertising at Technicolor Creative Studios. The Mill’s existing studios in London, Berlin, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Bangalore are combining with MPC Advertising’s studios in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles. The Mill is planning new studios in Seoul and Shanghai as well as expansion of European operations in Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam.

PINEWOOD EXPANSION WINS PLANNING GREENLIGHT Plans to expand Pinewood Studios have been agreed by local councillors. The proposed development for the UK site includes more sound stages, a skills and training hub to be operated by the National Film and Television School, a business growth hub and a film inspired visitor attraction. Meanwhile, Pinewood-owned Shepperton Studios has agreed a long-term contract with Amazon Prime Video for exclusive use of its new production facilities. Netflix also has a production hub at Shepperton. Disney, meanwhile, has a long-term deal for studio space at Pinewood.

NEP TO POWER OB FLEET WITH BIOFUEL Outside broadcast firm NEP has switched its fleet of OB trucks to be powered by recycled biofuel as part of a step to reduce CO2 emissions and achieving carbon neutrality. GD+ HVO is made from 100% waste organic matter such as used cooking oils and fats and other Agri waste. By moving its fleet of trucks to using GD+ HVO, NEP has looked to reduce its greenhouse gases related to transport by 95% and improve local air quality by reducing tailpipe emissions by up to 85%.


ong defined by elaborate sets and busy craft service tables, Hollywood film and video production has gone virtual over the past two years, fuelled by pandemic concerns, the need to accelerate delayed production, and the insatiable consumer demand for new content.

Almost 70% of industry respondents anticipate expanding virtual production, and more than 60% will increase their use of remote collaboration “ALMOST 70% tools and cloud-based OF INDUSTRY technologies even after the pandemic has RESPONDENTS ended, according to a ANTICIPATE new survey by TMT EXPANDING VIRTUAL consulting firm Altman PRODUCTION.” Solon. The survey found that soundstage capacity constraints will continue to drive more virtual production; a hybrid of remote/virtual production and on-set processes will become more common in productions; and virtual production use will drive down costs and cycle times, at least over the long term. The survey gathered data from more than 100 industry executives – from film and television studios, production companies, advertising,

Around the World in 80 Days © BBC.

Technicolor said that scaling up The Mill would allow it to invest in areas such as realtime production and the metaverse. Meanwhile, MPC will be helmed by newly appointed president Tom Williams, previously managing director of MPC Episodic. MPC’s studio locations now include London, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Adelaide, Bangalore and Mumbai, with over 3000 artists. Recent credits include Around the World in 80 Days. The changes mean that Technicolor will now have four brands each with a different industry focus. The Mill will be advertising (VFX, creative production, experiential), MPC will be feature film and Episodic VFX, Mikros will be animation and Technicolor Games gaming.

ILM TO OPEN VIRTUAL PRODUCTION STAGE IN VANCOUVER Industrial Light & Magic is to expand its StageCraft LED virtual production services to Vancouver, British Columbia. The new stage, at over 20,000 sqft, is expected to house one of the largest StageCraft LED volumes in North America. The Vancouver stage will be ILM’s fifth permanent volume. ILM also runs three stages in Los Angeles as well as one at Pinewood Studios in London. ILM won two Emmy Awards for its real-time visual effects work for the first two seasons of Lucasfilm’s Disney+ series, The Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian © Lucasfilm / Disney.

streaming, broadcast media, post-production, music, and live entertainment – across productions in 30+ countries, spanning North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Altman Solon concluded that, thanks to competition for content among streaming services, networks, and movie studios, global content spend is expected to grow by an average of 7% annually – with an estimated USD330 billion valuation by 2027.


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Exodus from Russia

Media, technology and entertainment firms have pulled out of Russia since it attacked Ukraine, while Russian delegations have been banned from leading film and advertising festivals. The war is also having a wider impact on production in Eastern Europe.


ussia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has caused many in the media and entertainment industry to rethink how they do business with the country. There has been an exodus of companies from the country since it attacked Ukraine. Disney, Warner Bros., Sony and Paramount have all stopped distribution of new movies in Russia. Warner Bros., for example, dropped its planned March release of The Batman in the territory. Netflix also paused production and acquisition of four Russian projects, and has suspended its streaming service in Russia. So too has Amazon Prime Video for customers based in Russia. In addition, Amazon has suspended the shipment of retail products to customers based in Russia and


Belarus. Amazon will also no longer be accepting new Russia and Belarus-based AWS customers and Amazon third-party sellers. Major European distributors such as BBC Studios, All3Media, ITV Studios and Fremantle have similarly put trade with Russia on pause. ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall revealed that ITV Studios had written to Russian broadcasters demanding that they drop local versions of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and The Voice Kids. “We don’t want our shows broadcast in Russia,” said McCall during ITV’s annual results. “We are also not selling any new content into Russia.”

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Many of the world’s biggest ad agencies have followed suit: WPP, Publicis, Omnicom and IPG have announced that they will cease trading in Russia, while consultancies Deloitte and Accenture have also said they will leave. Dentsu announced it was going to transfer ownership of its operations to local management. Indeed, the boycotts range widely – from Fifa to the Eurovision Song Contest. Ukraine has a thriving IT and gaming industry, and their international counterparts have responded to Russia’s attack on the country. Over the course of a week, almost all the major players cut off sales to Russian gamers, including Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, EA, Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft and CD Projekt Red. The moves by media and entertainment firms to cut ties with Russia echo those of technology companies like Microsoft, Apple, Samsung and Dell which have announced that they have suspended sales in the country. US credit card companies Visa, Mastercard and American Express have also cut services in Russia. A number of media technology firms have pulled out of Russia, which could make it difficult for the country’s media and entertainment industries to create content. Editing platform Avid has ceased all sales and support to customers, users and resellers in Russia and Belarus. Adobe has also confirmed it has halted all sales of its products and services in Russia. Meanwhile, festivals have joined in the Russian boycott. Ascential Events’ Cannes Lions advertising festival said it will not accept submissions from the country. The Cannes Film Festival said that “unless the war of assault ends in conditions that will satisfy the Ukrainian people,” Russian delegations or “anyone linked to the Russian government” would be barred from the May festival. This approach means individual Russian filmmakers could still attend the festival. Venice Film Festival said that it will not work with any artists or professionals who have “carried out or supported” the Russian invasion and “will not accept the presence of official delegations, institutions or persons tied in any capacity to the Russian government.”

However, Venice said it will welcome Russian filmmakers “who oppose the current regime in Russia”, according to a statement issued by La Biennale di Venezia, which runs the event. Meanwhile, FIAPF, the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, has paused the accreditations of the Moscow International Film Festival and Message to Man International Film Festival until further notice, “as both are financed by the government of the Russian Federation, whose actions are in violation of international norms,” the organisation said. In any case, business with Russia is almost impossible following Western sanctions. The SWIFT boycott that has hit its banks means that financial transactions with Russia are not possible. Likewise, travel between Russia and Europe and North America is difficult: the US embassy in Moscow, for example, has stopped processing visas for most Russians.


Beyond the boycotts, there are signs that the war has affected UK, US and other international film, television and commercials projects that had planned to shoot in central and eastern Europe. Risk averse at the best of times, many productions are now reportedly considering a move to western Europe instead, to countries such as Spain, Turkey and Iceland, because of concerns about the wider impact of the Ukraine war in the region. It's a major setback for a region that has seen a recent boom in international production. Under President Volodymyr Zelensky — previously a television producer and popular comedian — Ukraine had begun to open up to the global industry. In 2020, it introduced a 25 to 30% tax incentive for series or feature films that shoot in the country, making it competitive with incentives in neighbouring countries like Hungary, Romania and Poland. Productions including HBO’s Chernobyl and Netflix’s The Last Mercenary shot in Ukraine, while Chinese sci-fi epic The Wandering Earth did its VFX work there.


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Around the world Military might SIX LOCATIONS CHOSEN BY THE US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE’S GLEN ROBERTS 1 ALASKA This is a Lockheed HC-130J Hercules at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. Alaska is an amazing place to film – rugged, cold, with long days filled completely with sunlight, and also incredibly short days with very little light. The Aurora Borealis has to be seen to be believed. And the wildlife is abundant. This place fills a camera lens like no other place on the planet. 2 CALIFORNIA A squad of the US Army 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment demonstrate MOUT (military operations in urban terrain) techniques at Fort Irwin National Training Center in California. It’s an ultra-realistic environment for soldiers to train in urban warfare. 3 MASSACHUSETTS This is a Netflix studio publicity shot from Don’t Look Up with Leo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s shot on a C-5M Galaxy aircraft at Westover Air Reserve Base near my small childhood hometown of Chicopee. If you had told my childhood self that someday I’d be working a movie there with Meryl Streep, I’d have laughed at you. It’s amazing how life comes full circle.


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len Roberts is chief of the US Department of Defense Entertainment Media Office, the de facto film commission for the US military, providing military assets, access to locations, and technical advice to productions looking to film with them.

The office has supported hundreds of films - from Iron Man, Transformers, Fast & Furious, Top Gun, Lone Survivor, and Band of Brothers – through to TV series such as NCIS, Hawaii 5-0 and Jack Ryan. The primary role of the office is to project and protect the image of the US military across the entertainment spectrum. Projects must have guaranteed distribution and funding before the office can grant support.

4 HAWAII Executive producers and co-creators of NCIS Hawaii, Matt Bosack and Christopher Silber, consult with US Navy Lieutenant Andrew Bilden aboard the USS Daniel Inouye, during a recent shoot at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The US Navy has a 20 plus year history of supporting NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans and NCIS: Hawaii. 5 CALIFORNIA A US Marine Corp Osprey MV-22 aircraft lifts off at Camp Pendleton during the filming of Mending The Line in mid-2021. 6 HAWAII Hawaii Five-0 films a scene at Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s beautiful Ulaupa’u Crater Weapons training range overlooking Kaneohe Bay.


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Making of The Northman



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irected by Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse), The Northman is an action-filled epic that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father’s murder. With an all-star cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe, The Northman had a reported budget of USD70million and filmed in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The film won the prize for Outstanding Creative Use of a Location at the recent makers & shakers Awards for recreating a North Atlantic island and complete Viking village, home to a Norse petty kingdom, at Torr Head, a rocky outcrop on the edge of Northern Ireland. It was no easy feat, recalls supervising location manager Naomi Liston, who worked with site manager Robbie Huffam, location assistant Eoghan Patterson and unit manager Sean Logan.

The remote location was over an hour away from the studio base at the most northerly point of Northern Ireland, and difficult to access. A huge amount of earth movement was done to bed the set into land to make it as authentic as possible. To build the set as close to the cliff face as possible, the team also had to carry materials over gullies and crevices by hand.

Images: Aidan Monaghan / © 2022 Focus Features, LLC.


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A classic Cannes?

All the ingredients are there for a classic Cannes Film Festival – a competition packed with acclaimed filmmakers and a host of Hollywood stars set to tread the red carpet. makers weighs up the prospects for the 75th anniversary edition of Cannes.


fter a two-year Covid-19 hiatus, the Cannes Film Festival once again returns as a physical event in its traditional May slot for its 75th anniversary edition – having had to cancel 2020’s festival and move its 2021 dates to July. And at first glance, Cannes’ recently announced official selection seems like it is back to business as usual. Cannes Film Festival delegate general Thierry Frémaux has reined in the line-up to 66 films, a more usual size, after the bumper 83-title Official Selection of last year’s special July edition. Attendance is also expected to hit pre-pandemic levels with 30,000 to 35,000 accredited guests compared to around 20,000 at last July’s edition

(although professionals from some countries, such as some in Asia, may be still reluctant to travel). There are also many reassuringly familiar names in the official Competition – in fact there are no less than four recent Palme d’Or winners in contention. Romanian director Cristian Mungiu won Cannes in 2007 with his thriller 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, and returns with RMN, about a man who visits his small village for Christmas and finds that his community is plagued by anti-immigrant bias. Ruben Ostlund returns to the festival after his art-world satire The Square won the top prize in 2017. Buzz is strong for his first English-language undertaking, Triangle of Sadness, which stars Woody Harrelson.


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Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda won the Palme d’Or for 2018’s Shoplifters and is back with Broker, the story of “baby boxes” that allow parents to anonymously abandon their infants. The Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, are among the few directors to win the Palme d’Or twice, and return with immigration tale Tori and Lokita. Elsewhere, the competition is packed with familiar Cannes names, but who have never won the top prize: Claire Denis with Stars At Noon, James Gray with Armageddon Time, Mario Martone (Nostalgia), Arnaud Desplechin (Brother And Sister), Kirill Serebrennikov (Tchaikovsky’s Wife), Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi (Les Amandiers), Park Chan-wook (Decision To Leave) and David Cronenberg (Crimes Of The Future).


As per usual, the competition is dominated by male directors. Just three women directors – Denis, Bruni-Tedeschi and Kelly Reichardt – are behind the 18 films in competition. That’s one less than last year, when Julia Ducournau won the Palme d’Or for Titane. Hollywood studios are also back at Cannes in force this year, having largely sat out last year’s edition as they were reluctant to promote their big movies with so many cinemas closed. This year, with cinemas open for business in many parts of the world, Hollywood films and stars will be centre stage on the red carpet once again. Among the out of competition films this year are Top Gun: Maverick, starring Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris; Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, with a cast including Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom, Austin Butler as Elvis, Olivia DeJonge and Kodi Smit-McPhee; and George Miller’s Three Thousand Years Of Longing, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. Stars will be prominent in many of the competition films too: Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux and Kristen Stewart headline Cronenberg’s sci-fi thriller Crimes Of The Future; Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Strong star in James Gray’s 1980s coming-of-age tale Armageddon Time. Beyond the familiar Cannes names and the big Hollywood films, though, there are some surprises in store. The opening film is French zombie comedy Z by Michel Hazanavicius, playing out of competition – a leftfield choice perhaps, but not the first time a zombie flick has opened the festival ( Jim Jarmusch's zombie movie The Dead Don't Die kick started Cannes in 2019.)




Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will also be front of mind for many at the festival. Cannes has selected two films by Ukrainian directors: Sergei Loznitsa’s The Natural History Of Destruction in Special Screenings and Maksym Nakonechnyi’s Butterfly Vision in Un Certain Regard. But Cannes hasn’t barred Russian directors, at least those who are independent from Vladimir Putin’s regime. Now living in exile in Europe, Kirill Serebrennikov returns to competition for a third time with Tchaikovsky’s Wife. Some festivals have chosen to ban Russian voices altogether, but Cannes has taken a more nuanced approach. The festival revealed its thinking in March, with an official statement on the war and its selection process. “We would like to salute the courage of all those in Russia who have taken risks to protest against the assault and invasion of Ukraine… the Festival de Cannes will always serve artists and industry professionals that raise their voice to denounce violence, repression and injustices for the main purpose to defend and liberty.”

CANNES COMPETITION 2022 – Eo, Jerzy Skolimowski – Tchaïkovski’s Wife, Kirill Serebrennikov – Boy From Heaven, Tarik Saleh – Leila’s Brothers, Saeed Roustaee – Showing Up, Kelly Reichardt – Decision To Leave, Park Chan-Wook – Triangle Of Sadness, Ruben Östlund – RMN, Cristian Mungiu – Nostalgia, Mario Martone – Broker, Hirokazu Kore-eda – Armageddon Time, James Gray – Close, Lukas Dhont – Frère Et Sœur, Arnaud Desplechin – Stars At Noon, Claire Denis – Tori & Lokita, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne – Crimes Of The Future, David Cronenberg – Les Amandiers, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi – Holy Spider, Ali Abbasi – The Eight Mountains, Charlotte Vandermeersch, Felix Van Groeningen – Mother And Son, Léonor Serraille – Tourment Sur Les Iles, Albert Serra

OUT OF COMPETITION – Z, Michel Hazanavicius (Opening film) – Masquerade, Nicolas Bedos – 3,000 Years Of Longing, George Miller – Novembre, Cédric Jimenez – Elvis, Baz Luhrmann – Top Gun: Maverick, Joseph Kosinski – The Innocent, Louis Garrel

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CHILE land of opportunity explains Axel Brinck, partner and producer at La Casa Films. “Our recent projects shot in Chile include work for Renault, Peugeot and Nike, and all our work involves international co-production.” Nearly every type of climate existing on Earth is found in Chile, offering a versatile canvas for the creation of new audiovisual projects. The Pan-American Highway runs from Alaska to Argentina through Chilean territories (including Puerto Montt and Quellón) and the Austral Highway connects to Patagonia, linking filmmakers to different parts of Latin America. “The capital and production hub of Chile, Santiago, presents a mixture of European classic and modern USA-style architecture, with a full medley of urban parks providing superb locations for any shoot,” details Brink. “The proximity of the capital to the ocean, mountains, forest, and near desert is another key advantage.”

Chile’s 30% rebate on qualified expenses for film and television series is one of the most generous incentive schemes in Latin America. The country also offers great locations across four well­defined seasons, making Chile a tempting proposition for external investment.


rom the Andes Mountain range to the longest coast line, from the Atacama Desert to Patagonia, from modern cityscapes to quaint European alleys, and everything inbetween, Chile offers an unbeatable variety of locations,” explains Max Cruz from Chile Fixer.

The country is comprised of 15 regions and 54 provinces. Each of these territories is subdivided into comunas or municipios administered by an autonomous public body called a municipality. Each of the country’s 346 comunas possesses its own authorities and regulations to negotiate when coordinating a film project. While this might present a daunting task for uninitiated “NEARLY EVERY TYPE filmmakers, fortunately a network of skilled and considerate OF CLIMATE EXISTING production teams – such as Film ON EARTH IS FOUND Commission Chile, Valdivia Film IN CHILE, OFFERING A Commission, Valparaíso Film ad VERSATILE CANVAS FOR Media Office, and Shoot in Chile THE CREATION OF – are on hand to assist foreign filmmakers who wish to work in AUDIOVISUAL PROJECTS.” the country. “In addition to having a head office in Santiago, we also have a key office in Patagonia, which gives a very strong advantage in terms of knowledge and up to date specifics for shooting in the more remote reaches of Patagonia, in both Chile and Argentina,”


Valparaíso Valparaíso is a major seaport city in Chile. There are stark height differences between different parts of city. The hilly terrain means that an unusual system of lifts and carriages are in place to help production crews move around the city. Nicknamed the Jewel of the Pacific, the location has achieved UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to its distinctive urban design. The first part of BAFTA-award winning film The Motorcycle Diaries was filmed here, before the movie continues its journey through the Lautaro area of Araucanía and the Atacama Desert. Gun Shy – which was produced under the name Salty – was also shot in the city. Antonio Banderas stars as an old rock musician who vacations in Chile with wife.


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South Africa’s Blood & Water © Jonathan Ferreira / Netflix.

Media investors have been drawn in by Africa’s potential, with businesses such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney Plus now working in different parts of the continent. With new funding opportunities and a wealth of talent, could the continent become a filmmaking force?



here are clear signs of growth in the African media sector. Digital TV Research predicts that the number of pay-for-TV subscribers in the continent is set to grow by 46% between 2021 and 2027, adding 18 million subscribers for an overall total of 57 million. African audiovisual production also continues to rise, meaning that incoming filmmakers can capitalise on new opportunities.

Currently, three groups account for 90% of Africa’s pay-for-TV subscribers. Multichoice – through its DStv and GOtv platforms – is anticipated by Digital TV Research to have 20.8 million subscribers by 2027, while subscriber numbers for StarTimes and CanalPlus are predicted to hit 18.4 million and 11.2 million. The global streamers have also started to put down roots in the continent. At the end of 2021 Netflix had an estimated 2.6 million subscribers in Africa, while Amazon Prime Video

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The Ghost and the House of Truth © Temple Productions.


reached approximately 575,000 subscriptions. Disney Plus is launching in South Africa, Egypt and Libya this year. Netflix has been pumping money into African content. Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media was the first African company to sign a multititle deal with Netflix, encompassing features Oloture, Blood Sisters and Death and the King’s Horseman, and the series Castle & Castle. EbonyLife also has a first-look deal with Sony Pictures Television, as well as a slate of film and television projects with Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studio. “The filmmakers are happy that finally the world recognises their talent and that their works can be seen outside of their country,” explains Karine Barclais, founder of Pavillon Afriques at Cannes Film Festival. Pavillon Afriques supports African cinema at the festival, offering various promotional networking and training opportunities. “For a few, funds are also getting more accessible. The more platforms, the more opportunities seems to be the motto now.” Barclais adds: “From the conversations I have with film professionals, it seems that they are beginning to be concerned with the share they get out of the deals they get. Quality is rapidly improving and in a few years’ time, African filmmakers will probably begin to be more demanding. They also feel that they should have their own powerful streaming platform, not to be dependent on others, which would help to prevent their work eventually ‘getting out of fashion’ in the eyes of other parts of the world.” Netflix has announced a commitment of USD1 million towards the newly-established Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund (CESF) for Sub-Saharan Africa’s film and television students.


The company also recently unveiled African Folktales, Reimagined – a competition championing short film adaptations of traditional folktales across the continent. More than 2080 submissions in numerous languages were evaluated by industry professionals. A shortlist of 21 talented directors will be whittled down to six winners. In turn, each of the final six filmmakers will be given a production grant of USD75,000 to create their story. Investment is also being directed towards production partnerships between different African nations. KwaZulu Natal Film Commission in South Africa have worked on two films with Nigeria. Comatose, shot in Durban and Lagos, will feature on Amazon. While the filmmaking infrastructure across Africa is relatively uneven across different countries, there are options for potential collaborations between separate African territories. The Namibian Film Commission, for example, launched a fund to encourage coproduction between African filmmakers and those in the diaspora and Namibia.


Meanwhile, a wealth of talented women have shaped Nigerian filmmaking over the years, long before the streamers started investing in the continent. Ego Boyo’s 2003 film Keeping Faith essentially began the era of romantic comedies for the Nollywood industry, offering new ways of portraying the lives of



Castle & Castle © Kelechi Amadi-Obi / Netflix.


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Silva Company. The Meeting (2012) and Suru L’ere (2016) are comedy films set in Lagos that explore the joys and complications of contemporary relationships. Le Femme Anjola (2019) is a psychological film noir outing, following the mysterious entanglement between an enigmatic wife of a gangster and a stockbroker-saxophonist, who is tempted to stray from his girlfriend.

Le Femme Anjola © The Audrey Silva Company.

African people. Boyo also produced The Ghost and the House of Truth in 2019, a gritty, critically-acclaimed film that opened Film Africa Festival in 2020. AS THE LARGE­SCALE INVESTMENT FROM THESE MEDIA CONGLOMERATES ILLUSTRATES, AFRICA IS EMERGING AS A NEW FORCE WITHIN THE GLOBAL FILM INDUSTRY.

Chioma Ude founded the African International Film Festival (AFRIFF), one of the country’s most impactful events. At the last edition of the festival, Amazon attended and revealed its future business strategy in Africa, communicating its desire to work with independent filmmakers. “For a female filmmaker it’s the best time to be alive because, as a matter of fact, a lot of us women have paved the way, especially in Nigeria and Africa,” says actress-turned-director Omoni Oboli. She starred in 2009’s Nollywood thriller The Figurine and won Big Screen Actress of the Year at the 2014 ELOY Awards (Exquisite Lady of the Year) for her movie Being Mrs Elliot, which she both acted in and directed. “Female filmmakers from other parts of Africa reach out to me and say thank you for the work that [we] do because we have paved the way… Any female filmmaker, feel free to come in now. It’s a lot easier for you now. Feel free to come in and make your mark – there’s a seat at the table for all female filmmakers because we really have stood our ground. We’re here!” Multi-award winning filmmaker Mildred Okwo is one of the key figures in the Nigerian film industry who is keeping a close eye on the incoming streaming giants’ actions. Okwo’s directorial debut came in 2006 with 30 Days, an action thriller that received eight nominations at the 2008 Africa Movie Academy Awards. In 2010 the former lawyer cofounded a film and entertainment production company with her friend Rita Dominic, the celebrated actress who received an African Movie Academy award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in the Kenyan film Shattered. Together, the two filmmakers created the Audrey


“When we established the Audrey Silva Company, we felt that there was a need to tell sophisticated African narratives at a level that the rest of the world would understand,” explains Okwo. “We want to make films in such a way that other parts of the globe come to recognise what an African story means, what it means to be an African. At the moment, we have lots of organisations arriving into the continent, the big streamers Amazon and Netflix – and we hear that HBO and Apple could be arriving soon too. For our company, this means we have projects coming up in the next two or three years that will reach new international audiences, and now more than ever it is the time for Africans to tell their own stories.” As the investment from these media conglomerates illustrates, Africa could now emerge as a new force within the global film industries – meaning it could be the perfect time for international producers “WE WANT TO MAKE to engage in business FILMS IN SUCH A with the African film WAY THAT OTHER community.


“Challenge the continent with your highest expectations, and you'll be the pioneer of a new perspective, of an exclusive overview of the world,” emphasises Lalie Rabeharison, founder of the African Fixer Guild. “Take risks and go through new, exclusive locations even if in remote areas: we always find a way to set up logistics. Many locations on the continent are still unexplored. Be the first to film them, as you know that remarkable places give a true branding to great movies!”

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Animation Grows Up

Guillermo Del Toro & Pinocchio © / Netflix.

Animation has become one of the buzz genres of recent years, thanks to streamers like Netflix and Amazon investing heavily in grown-up shows such as Arcane and Undone. From Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio remake to Richard Linklater’s space drama Apollo 10 ½, 2022 will see the genre in the spotlight as never before. makers investigates the impact of growing investment in the animation sector.


ack in November, Arcane topped the viewing charts in over 50 countries when it launched on Netflix, dethroning Squid Game from the streaming service’s mostwatched chart. The ambitious, big budget League of Legends animated series won fans beyond the gaming community, and even earned acclaim from critics – winning the most prizes (nine) at this year’s Annie Awards, the Oscars of the animation world. Arcane beat highly acclaimed series like Love, Death + Robots, Star Wars: Visions, and


Castlevania. It even beat best feature winner The Mitchells vs. The Machines, a Netflix film that won eight categories, and popular Disney film Encanto, which won three. Many within the industry cite Arcane as a good example of the new breed of animation content that is emerging thanks to greater investment in the sector from streamers and studios. It’s a sector where there is greater demand than ever for animation aimed at broad audiences, not just kids.

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Love, Death + Robots © Netflix.


Coming up this year is Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the sequel to the acclaimed original; and two Netflix animations helmed by acclaimed directors: Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion take on classic tale Pinocchio and Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood.

It’s little wonder that animation houses are of interest to investors, like China-owned developer and publisher Riot Games, known for League of Legends. It recently invested in Paris-based animation studio Fortiche Production, which produced Arcane.

Meanwhile, Studio Ghibli's renowned auteur, Hayao Miyazaki, has come out of retirement to direct another anime feature film, How Do You Live.

Marc du Pontavice, CEO of French animation firm Xilam (which produces kids shows such as Oggy and Mr Magoo as well as adult features such as Academy Award nominated I Lost My Body, says that three quarters of its turnover in 2021 came from projects made for streamers.

Netflix is also readying animations based on classic French comic book The Adventures of Asterix, and invested an estimated USD1 billion for rights to bring Roald Dahl’s works to life in animated form. Netflix is not alone: Disney, Sony, WarnerMedia, Amazon and Apple are also investing heavily in animation. Animations are also earning greater kudos than ever. For example, Danish filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated docudrama Flee made history this year when it won Academy Award nominations across three separate categories: documentary, animated feature and international film. While animated shows take longer to craft, they are ultimately cheaper to make than scripted originals and can be safely produced during a pandemic. They also repeat well on streaming platforms where they have a timelessness that allows them to play for many years, making it easier to attract new audiences. Animation is also easily adapted to other languages, a benefit for globally focussed streaming platforms. And, when successful, they can lead to lucrative merchandising deals. For example, Rick and Morty – which launched in 2013 – is already a multibillion-dollar franchise, joining stalwarts like Family Guy, The Simpsons and Bob’s Burgers with collectible toys and apparel.


“Animation has always “ANIMATION HAS been an art form that ALWAYS BEEN AN ART travels extraordinarily FORM THAT TRAVELS well, probably better EXTRAORDINARILY than live action,” says WELL, PROBABLY Pontavice. “But until the BETTER THAN LIVE streamers, you had to ACTION.” make a very big effort to convince broadcasters, territory by territory, [to take animations]. So, becoming global was a big challenge. But now, because of the [streaming platforms], they just push a button and you are in 200 territories.” That’s exactly what happened to Xilam when Netflix launched I Lost My Body around the world. “Because of Netflix we had a fabulous audience, one we could never have dreamed of.” Xilam is still creating kids’ animations for the streamers and Pontavice says the platforms are very supportive of the genre. But, he expects to see greater demand for animation aimed at young adults and older audiences in coming years.



Arcane © Netflix.


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Animation has always suffered from a perception that it’s somehow for kids, not for adults, Pontavice says. True, adult animation has been popular with a wide audience for years – but only a limited number of American adult animations, like The Simpsons and Family Guy, have really broken through. Pontavice thinks boundaries are now breaking down. “Animation is not a genre, it’s a medium. And using this medium, you should be able to tell any kind of story. It’s just the tool you are using is different from live action – you prefer the pencil to an actor. At the end of the day, we’re just telling great stories.” I Lost My Body © Netflix.


By way of example, Xilam currently has nine adult animation series in development; some of them are already signed up with the streamers. Amsterdam-based animation house Submarine is also busy creating adult animations, including the second series of Amazon’s critically acclaimed Undone, a genre-bending animation series from BoJack Horseman showrunners Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, an innovative hybrid of live-action and a combination of hand-drawn and computer-animated imagery. Also in production is the new film by Oscar nominated directors Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, They Shot the Piano Player. Submarine co-founder Bruno Felix reckons there is a greater appetite for serialised animation aimed at older audiences, citing the likes of Arcane on Netflix. He’s noticed an “enormous hunger” from streaming platforms for animations, and he says that growing competition has led to greater risk-taking and ambition – which is a boon for animators. “It’s great to do pre-school animation, but as you can imagine the storytelling is slightly more advanced when you go for an older audience,” he says. Submarine’s work on Richard Linklater’s upcoming Apollo 10½ is a case in point. Like his 2001 movie Waking Life, Linklater’s latest was shot using digital video of live actors and their performance was then rotoscoped by Submarine’s artists so it became fully animated. “In a way, it’s the best of both worlds,” says Felix. “It brings an animated story closer to a traditional drama series or feature film – it’s easier for directors, commissioners and for the audience to engage with the characters.” Still, some think that creativity is being limited by long held audience expectations about animation. For example, the CGI perfected by the likes of Pixar is still felt to be the preserve of animations aimed at family audiences. Adult animation, by comparison, is usually 2D, like The Simpsons or Family Guy. There is very little in between.

STREAMING ANIMATION Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood © Netflix.



Felix is optimistic about the outlook for the animation sector. Nowadays, most big films in the cinemas, he notes, are animation films, from those reliant on digital set extensions, special effects to pure CGI animated movies. “In mainstream entertainment, there is almost no traditional [pure] live action anymore,” says Felix. “More and more, the live action sector is realising how they can use tools we use all the time in animation.” Precise figures are difficult to come by but most reports examining the animation sector point towards significant growth. A recent UK Screen Alliance report found that while production spend on animation for TV and online had actually dipped, there was a significant increase in animated films from GBP80 million in 2016 to GBP520.4 million in 2019. Meanwhile, a recent European Audiovisual Observatory report concluded that Europe produces around 55 animation films a year, and 830 hours of animation TV content.


With animation production levels rising, as in the live action drama and film sector, crewing up is challenging. “Recruitment is very tough at the moment,” says Felix. “Finding good 3D character animators or designers is very hard.” It’s a point echoed by Xilam’s Pontavice, whose company employs about 500 people, of whom 400 are based in France and 100 in Vietnam. Pontavice says that many countries such as China, Brazil and India are producing large amounts of animated content. “But if you are talking about super premium, high-end animation, which the streamers are looking for, there are pretty much five countries in the world which have the industry organised for this – the USA, Japan, France, Canada and the UK. About 80% of the trade in animation is done by those countries.” With streamer demand focused on those five countries, it’s little wonder that they are struggling to respond to the boom. “The talent pool is pretty much saturated right now. It is the biggest difficulty we have to deal with. It’s a nice difficulty to have though: I’d rather fight to get the talent, than fight to get the money,” says Pontavice.

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The rise (and rise) of high-end docs

High-end documentary series such as Amazon’s Drive to Survive, Netflix’s The Last Dance (pictured) and Nat Geo’s 9/11: One Day in America have provided deep dives into thrilling and emotional real-life stories.


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ocumentaries are enjoying their moment in the sun. Audiences have mushroomed for the documentary genre. Viewers have tuned in in their millions to feature docs such as Netflix’s My Octopus Teacher, Nat Geo’s The Rescue or the BBC and HBO’s Four Hours at the Capitol.


“An amazing single film or series that does absolutely brilliantly now has an increased value for us,” says Mirzoeff. “It’s not just about the overnights anymore – but about something that could sit around on All4 and deliver for several months, consistently over a long period of time.”

Meanwhile, high-end documentary series such as Amazon’s Drive to Survive, Netflix’s The Last Dance and Nat Geo’s 9/11: One Day in America have provided deep dives into thrilling and emotional real-life stories that are often as dramatic as anything that fiction could dream up.

“There are more buyers with genuine ambition” in the documentary space, says Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning producer John Smithson, the co-founder and creative director of Arrow Pictures whose credits include Touching the Void, Sherpa and the recent crime series I, Sniper which has played on Vice TV and Channel 4.

This year’s Sundance saw brisk documentary deal making – Netflix snapped up slavery doc Descendent, Showtime acquired 2nd Chance, the biopic of the inventor of the bullet proof vest, while Nat Geo bought into volcano doc Fire of Love. It follows last year’s Sundance where animated doc Flee was acquired by Neon, the Oscar-winning distributor of Parasite, in a deal understood to be worth around USD1 million. Directed by Danish-French filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee centres on an Afghan refugee and went on to be nominated for an unprecedented three Oscars – for best documentary, international film and animation. Streamers, of course, have played a key part in helping broaden the appeal of feature docs, Netflix, in particular, has helped to raise awareness. The streamer has won three documentary Oscars already for My Octopus Teacher (2021), American Factory (2020) and Icarus (2018). Apple TV+, meanwhile, set the industry alight in 2019 by paying a reported USD25 million for Billie Eilish – The World’s A Little Blurry, highlighting that there is money to be made in the genre. Discovery Plus and Nat Geo have also pushed hard into the premium doc space. The big international streamers are not alone in their interest. So too are traditional broadcasters. “We are massively interested in high-end docs at the moment,” says Sacha Mirzoeff, a Channel 4 factual commissioner and head of Channel 4 Bristol. Docs that sit on broadcasters’ online platforms are achieving large numbers of viewers, often eclipsing what they achieve when broadcast on linear channels. Audiences build steadily over time as they are discovered through word of mouth as well as on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Over four years in the making, I, Sniper provides a minute-byminute account of the 2002 Washington, D.C. sniper case, where ten people were killed in a series of random shootings that occurred over three weeks.


“A long time ago, we’d have made it as a one-hour special, or over 90 minutes,” says Smithson. But now there’s a demand for longer box-set type series that viewers can binge on. Many also link the growth of feature docs to the demise of long-form, investigative newspaper journalism. Others say the rise of social media, which is said to have ushered in a ‘post-truth’ world where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion, may explain the rise in popularity of docs. Viewers, so the argument goes, are thirsty for the information and truths that documentaries can elicit through their in-depth investigations into subjects. “Docs are a real way of navigating your way to understanding the world today, and are increasingly important as a result,” says Mirzoeff. He cites I, Sniper as an example. At the time of the shootings in 2002, there was “a frenzy and a media storm around the story that just exploded.” Telling the story in an in-depth way and featuring interviews with surviving shooter Lee Boyd Malvo has allowed the filmmakers to provide a more rounded perspective to the story.


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Similarly, Nat Geo’s The Rescue goes behind the scenes of an event that transfixed the world in 2018: the daring rescue of twelve boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. The passage of time has allowed the filmmakers – Free Solo’s Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi – to dig up details, footage and interviews that viewers would never have known, even if they had pored over the round-the-clock news coverage of the 17-day operation at the time, as many across the globe did. The documentary provides insight that was missing entirely at the time.

I, Sniper © Channel 4.


Other acclaimed docs have also prised open truths that had long been buried, hidden or ignored. Alexander Nanau’s 2021 Oscar nominated Collective was a years’ long and jaw-dropping investigation into corruption in the Romanian health service. This year, Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson’s Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), about the long-overlooked Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969, has picked up an Oscar nomination. (Remarkably, the film was picked by ABC in the US, which gave it an unprecedented primetime network premiere leading up to the Academy Awards.) Meanwhile, HBO and CNN feature doc Navalny won the Sundance audience award in both the US documentary competition and for the overall festival. A biopic of Alexei Navalny, the Russian dissident and Putin public enemy No 1, it has all the drama of a spy novel. Extraordinary footage of the events surrounding his poisoning and the investigation are cut together with a long interview with Navalny, who now languishes in a Russian jail. For producers and directors operating in the documentary space it is an undoubtedly fertile time.

Whatever the subject, 72 Films’ ambition is to make documentaries that feel and can be watched like a drama box set. “You can go into a story in a lot more detail than previously,” says Glover. Back in the day, the Assad documentary might have been commissioned as a one off. But being able to tell it over several hours allowed 72 Films to explore the subject in much more detail – giving greater depth and insight to what otherwise might have been a quite ordinary single doc. “If you have the support of the broadcasters and the right budget, then it’s possible to make factual television in a different way than has been done before,” says Glover. He cites 72 Films’ 9/11: One Day in America, which has performed particularly well in the US. The seven-hour series, all about one momentous day in history, was researched and produced over several years, and involved trawling through over 600 hours of footage. “We watched it all. If “LOTS OF DIFFERENT someone walks past the BROADCASTERS AND camera, we pretty much STREAMERS ARE know who they are. It’s that level of a deep dive. AFTER THE VERY BEST, It’s now possible to MOST INTERESTING make a series which is AND MOST EXCITING almost like a big novel, FACTUAL CONTENT.” where you follow one person across all the hours of TV,” says Glover. “But unlike drama, it is all true. And often, the truth is stranger than fiction.” Before you rush to set up as a factual indie and push into the documentary genre, Smithson offers some words of warning.

Take, for example, 72 Films which was launched back in 2016. In just over five years, the production company set up by former Channel 4 commissioners David Glover and Mark Raphael has earned a formidable reputation for its ambitious, impactful and stylish documentaries.

“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.”

They include BBC2’s The Trump Show, The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty and A Dangerous Dynasty: The House of Assad, Amazon Prime Video’s All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur and Nat Geo’s 9/11: One Day in America.

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,” says Smithson.

Glover says 72 Films was fortunate to launch when it did. “Our interest is in really high-end television, and that has coincided with a real boom time in the genre. It just feels like a time when lots of different broadcasters and streamers are after the very best, most interesting and most exciting factual content.”

Still, he says, there has never been a better time to be making documentaries. More money is going into the genre as demand ramps up – and for documentary-makers money buys time to research and edit. Smithson says that episode one of I, Sniper spent “20-odd weeks in the edit, which is what a really classy documentary will take.” “You can’t do things like this in six or eight weeks and just knock them out.”




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NFTs: Are they really worth the hype?

In December, Warner Bros sold 100,000 unique NFTs of Matrix inspired avatars for USD50 each on the Nifty’s marketplace, causing the site to crash as hundreds of thousands of fans lined up to buy them. Matrix Revolutions © 2021 Warner Bros / Entertainment / Village Roadshow Films North America.


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hen auctioneer Christie’s sold an NFT by the artist Beeple for USD69.3 million, the worlds of film and TV sat up and took notice. Since then, media companies have been actively exploring how to tap into the NFT phenomenon – and are asking if NFTs will become a long-term revenue generator. Among them are Warner Bros, Disney, Lionsgate, Fox, ViacomCBS, WWE, the UFC and CNN. In December, for example, Warner Bros sold 100,000 unique NFTs of Matrix inspired avatars for USD50 each on the Nifty’s marketplace, causing the site to crash as hundreds of thousands of fans lined up to buy them. Disney sold a series of Golden Moments NFTs on VeVe, a mobile-first digital collectible platform, allowing fans to collect digital golden statues inspired by stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and the Simpsons.

“We’re treating NFTs like a brand-new commercial category,” says Banijay chief commercial officer Owain Walbyoff. “Any content creator, or anyone with as much content as Banijay, needs to be looking into this and taking it seriously.” Global production and distribution giant Banijay’s programme brands include MasterChef, Peaky Blinders, Survivor and Temptation Island. This year Banijay will sell NFTs based on the Mr Bean animation series, which is produced through subsidiary Tiger Aspect and is the number one TV brand on Facebook with 129 million followers. Rights holders like Banijay can licence their content to NFT specialists to create NFT products to launch into the market, receiving a percentage of sales.


Meanwhile, the United Talent Agency has signed up Larva Labs, the creators of the popular CryptoPunks NFT projects, as a new client with the ambition of taking its original properties into film, TV, video games, and beyond. Bored Ape Yacht Club creators Yuga Labs have signed veteran music manager Guy Oseary to expand the brand into other entertainment formats.

Elsewhere, German production and distribution giant Beta Film is also actively exploring the NFT market.

The Financial Times estimated that the NFT market was worth USD41 billion in 2021, making it almost as valuable as the global art market.

At the time of writing, around 1,400 NFTs from the film are being sold by MovieShots in mid-April at a price of approximately EUR200, which would generate EUR280,000 if it sold out.

However, the market seems to have cooled off this year, with the Ukraine war and a broader tech and cryptocurrency slump abating 2021’s trading frenzy. According to the Financial Times, daily trading volumes on OpenSea, the biggest marketplace for NFTs, fell 80% to roughly USD50 million in March after reaching a record peak of USD248 million in February. This has not put off the media industry though, where many are convinced of the long-term potential of NFTs.

It is partnering with Austrian NFT specialists MovieShots to offer NFTs from the cult German film Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt), starring Franka Potente.

Each of the NFTs are stills representing a specific clip from the film – complete with its own individual timecode, showing which section it represents. Beta Film’s Alexander Wolffersdorff says NFTs are particularly interesting as a commercial proposition because they are tradeable on secondary markets, thanks to the blockchain technology that provides proof of ownership. This allows rights holder to automatically earn a share of revenue from each trade, typically around 3-5% of the selling price but up to 10%. “There is a constant revenue stream if an item should be successful,” says Wolffersdorff.


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Beta Film is now thinking about which of its titles might be suitable for NFTs next and plans to offer tokens for a black and white comedy classic from its library. RIGHTS HOLDERS LIKE BANIJAY CAN LICENSE THEIR CONTENT TO NFT SPECIALISTS TO CREATE NFT PRODUCTS TO LAUNCH INTO THE MARKET, RECEIVING A PERCENTAGE OF SALES.

Elsewhere, independent studio and financier Goldfinch recently launched FF3, a platform where filmmakers can raise crowdfunding and leverage new technologies like NFTs to help fund their projects. It recently raised money for short film The Dead of Winter, with NFTs featuring scene stamps, film posters, director’s notes, scripts, the score and exclusive community access to director and producer Q&As being used to help fund the film. Phil McKenzie, chief operating officer of Goldfinch, says NFTs can “better connect” content creators with patrons, investors and fans. He says many crowdfunding platforms have not taken off because, in the past, in exchange for funding an investor might only receive a DVD or T-shirt. He adds that investors have been put off backing film projects because the sector is renowned for being murky and opaque. “But with the technology we have now, we can give them a meaningful ownership of things and proper value,” says McKenzie, who points out that the blockchain technology underpinning NFTs allow investors to trade in and out of projects in a transparent way. “Say some huge director signed on to help a project, you could use that moment to cash in your position,” he says. “Somebody else might think it is an amazing time to buy.” Whether this takes off in the long-term remains to be seen. But there is little doubt that, for now, all eyes are on NFTs.

WHAT IS A NON-FUNGIBLE TOKEN (NFT)? An NFT is a digital asset that is provably unique. They have many uses, including artwork, digital collectibles, music, and items in video games. NFTs contain identifying information recorded in smart contracts on a blockchain, a public digital ledger that allows anyone to verify the NFT's authenticity and who owns it. Unlike most digital items which can be easily reproduced, each NFT has a unique digital signature, meaning it is one of a kind. This makes them valuable to collectors, who prize them for their exclusivity and the status they confer. NFTs can be traded on secondary markets, like OpenSea, Rarible, and SuperRare, where their prices rise and fall according to demand. They are usually bought with cryptocurrencies or in dollars and the blockchain keeps a record of transactions. Popular NFTs include CryptoPunks, which date back to 2017. CryptoPunks are a series of 10,000 images depicting punks with different attributes, from headgear to eyewear. Originally released for free, they now command six-figure sums. The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a series of NFT avatars – in this case, taking the form of disinterested-looking apes. Like CryptoPunks, there are 10,000 of them. Owning a Bored Ape NFT makes buyers eligible for drops of additional NFTs, such as Bored Ape Kennel Club (a series of dog NFTs), and Mutant Ape Yacht Club (mutant apes). It’s like an exclusive club that offers perks for members. Elsewhere, sports bodies such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the National Basketball Association and the National Football League have teamed up with Canadian NFT company DapperLabs to launch popular NFT marketplaces, offering iconic sporting moments and highlights as NFTs.





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GEORGIA gorgeous sights

Positioned at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Georgia is a mountainous country characterised by stunning views atop soaring heights. The nation’s geography includes swamplands and marsh­forests, eternal snows and glacier formations, and even a small section of semi­arid plains.


n 2016, Enterprise Georgia introduced a programme titled: Film in Georgia. This joint initiative is orchestrated by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and the Ministry of Culture and Monuments Protection of Georgia. The scheme offers filmmakers a 20% cash rebate on qualified expenses incurred in the country. Film in Georgia aims to support the development of Georgia’s film industry, encouraging international filmmakers to shoot in the region.

“From snowy mountains to the sea shores, everything is close together, which makes filmmaking so much easier for new producers,” explains Tatia Bidzinashvili, the head of Film in Georgia. “We have a mixture of Asian and European cultures, so there will always be a lot of exciting options.” An additional rebate of up to 5% is available if a production passes a cultural test by promoting Georgia as a prime destination to visit. In order to get the rebate, beneficiaries must provide an official independent audit conclusion document within one year of production. In turn, the rebate will be provided between ten days and up to a maximum of one year after the document has been received. The digital application processes are designed to be as smooth and flexible as possible when foreign filmmakers apply.


Taxes on incoming companies are generally very low in Georgia, meaning that it is one of the most cost-effective places to shoot in Europe. Film


The ancient riverside city Kutaisi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Often considered the country’s second capital after Tbilisi, it is Georgia’s third most populous city with good transport links for incoming producers. Alexandre Koberidze’s German-Georgian feature film What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? is in many ways a poignant tribute to the city. The project follows the daily traditions that encapsulate Kutaisi’s essence, from reunited friends sharing freshly-baked cheese-bread Khachapuri to the slow, gentle pouring of fresh coffee in one of the location’s many quirky cafés. The first edition of the Kutaisi International Short Film Festival ran in May 2021. Originally scheduled for 2020 before the pandemic struck, the event aims to diversify the Georgian film scene by showcasing how – beyond the capital city – Kutaisi is itself a cultural hub. The second edition will be held in October 2022.


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producers who use the cash rebate can save even more money than they would in other parts of the continent, where film incentives are high yet typical business taxes are even higher. AN ADDITIONAL REBATE OF UP TO 5% IS AVAILABLE IF A PRODUCTION PASSES A CULTURAL TEST BY PROMOTING GEORGIA AS A PRIME DESTINATION TO VISIT.

Fast and Furious 9 was shot in Georgia over five weeks. Filming for the Hollywood action movie took place on the streets of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Approximately 4,000 local citizens were hired to work on the project, and numerous key positions within the production were filled by the country’s filmmaking specialists. “We worked on the feature film Fast and Furious 9, the first major studio production in Georgia,” details Sophio Bendiashvili, line producer and co-founder at Enkeny Films. “We also work on all kinds of commercials – a really interesting one was the winter campaign for one of the largest banks in Georgia that we did on 8mm film. A mixture of incredible locations and cost-effectiveness create a very film-friendly environment in this country.”


Lasha Talakhadze is a Georgian weightlifter known as the Thoughtful Champion. The three-time winner of the IWF Male Lifter of the Year is widely considered one of – if not the – greatest of all time. Regardless of weight category, since 2021 he has held the all-time world records in the snatch (225kg), the clean and jerk (267kg) and the total (492kg). On several occasions the Georgian behemoth has arrived on stage for his first set of weights when other competitors have finished lifting. After emphatically defeating his opponents and claiming gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, Lasha now aims to reach a grand total of 500kg at the Paris Olympics. At 6’ 6” and 390 pounds, Georgia’s Thoughtful Champion epitomises strength and power.

Edgard Garrido / Reuters –


Ample support is available for incoming productions. A props rental company called Props Box is based in Tbilisi, offering an extensive catalogue of useful items for film production teams. The capital also hosts 1991 Productions, a business run by two friends from high school that can assist with location scouting, equipment hire and much more. The Martini Shot is an international production service company who was forced to move its main offices from Ukraine to Georgia. The company has been collecting and sending humanitarian aid from Georgia to Poland, with its contacts then sending these resources into Ukraine. “By chance, we had a large team working in Georgia when the conflict started,” details Valeria Berezhna, the company’s head of new business, “so we have decided to use our favourable position to do some good. We have been reaching out to lots of our international friends and potential clients, because most of Europe service work has been done in Ukraine rather than Georgia. We are trying to spread the word about getting projects here. Georgia is an amazing country, and we are inviting others to work with us so that we can stay afloat and, at the same time, support our team members who are trapped in bomb shelters in Ukraine.”

Q: Why should producers consider filming

in Georgia? A: There are three key points that make our country a prime destination for filmmakers. Firstly, our locations are stunning and situated close together. We have six different climate zones, so you could film in freezing mountains and then visit the beach for a sun tan. Secondly, we have a really effective and efficient cash rebate system. The procedures are designed to ensure things are very flexible, so getting that 20% rebate is easy. The third and main point is that our government is dedicated to attracting filmmakers and production companies to Georgia. Q: What else makes filmmaking in the

country special? A: I think it is important to mention Georgia’s crew. They have gained lots of valuable experience and have taken massive steps forward recently. They are operating at a really high international standard and we are very proud of their work. Georgia’s cost-effectiveness is also important. Our service prices are very competitive, and our low tax rates work together with our cash rebate system to facilitate large savings. Q: How do local Georgian people regard

the film industry? A: Our society loves cinema. It helps to create a

really warm and film-friendly environment, as illustrated when Fast and Furious 9 came to Tbilisi. Our communities were excited to host a Hollywood blockbuster. Q: Any final comments for incoming

producers? A: Come and experience our culture, our lifestyle and our wine. When all of Georgia’s different cultural traits work together, nothing beats filming in this country.

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Lions Return to Cannes

The advertising industry’s biggest shindig returns as an in-person event after a two-year Covid enforced break, with a digital offer running alongside. makers looks at what to expect from this year’s festival.


fter a two-year hiatus due to Covid, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity will be back in person this June to celebrate and debate all things advertising. 2020’s event was cancelled due to Covid, and the 2021 edition pivoted to online-only despite initial plans for it to go ahead in person. So, there are great hopes for this year’s edition, which comes at a time when many in the advertising industry are keen to travel and meet up in person once again. That said, Cannes Lions will still run as a hybrid event, mixing in person with digital access. This reflects the fact that travel to and from certain countries, such as China, is still restricted by the

pandemic. In fact, at the time of writing, only 32 countries are fully open for travel, while 160 are open but with restrictions such as the need to quarantine or to provide negative test results. 34 countries remain closed. Cannes Lions chairman Philip Thomas said: “As the world continues to shift and change, we know that our role as conveners needs to evolve. Building Cannes Lions as a hybrid festival will allow us to continue to reach our expanded creative community who we have welcomed through our digital initiatives over the last 18 months. It provides us with an opportunity to democratise, innovate and reinvent the Festival for the future.” Plans for the festival, which will build on Lions Membership, the subscription-based, digital offering


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launched in March 2020 and which now has more than 10,000 members, are being developed to offer the global marketing community flexibility and easier access to the event. Separately, Cannes Lions has announced changes to the 2022 awards which include the launch of the Creative B2B Lion and an evolved Creative Commerce Lion. The newly launched Creative B2B Lion will celebrate game-changing creativity and effectiveness in work for products and services that are purchased by professionals on behalf of businesses. The Creative Commerce Lions have been evolved from the Creative eCommerce Lions to celebrate the innovative and creative approach to online and offline commerce, payment solutions and transactional journeys. SUSTAINABILITY IS TOP OF MIND FOR US – AS IT IS FOR THE INDUSTRY – AND WE’VE COMMITTED TO PUTTING A SUSTAINABILITY AGENDA IN PLACE.

The Lions will be judged by over 400 global experts who will complete initial judging remotely before being brought together in Cannes to discuss and award the Lions. The jury presidents for this year’s event include Yasuharu Sasaki, chief creative officer of Dentsu Inc, Japan, who heads the Brand Experience & Activation Lions Jury; Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing & communications officer, Mastercard, Global, leading the Creative Effectiveness Lions Jury; Maria Garrido, global CMO, formerly Vivendi, France, in charge of the Entertainment Lions Jury; David Lubars, chief creative officer, BBDO Worldwide, Global, who presides over the Film Lions; and Patrick Milling-Smith, co-founder and global CEO, Smuggler, USA, who leads the Film Craft Lions Jury. Rob Reilly, the chief creative officer of WPP, is the Titanium Lions jury president. Lions CEO Simon Cook said: “Our presidents are essential in maintaining the integrity of the Lions, and having won hundreds between them, this is a role that I have no doubt they will perform exceptionally well.” Meanwhile, Cannes Lions has announced Colleen DeCourcy as the recipient of this year’s Lion of St. Mark. The award will be presented to DeCourcy for a lifetime of service to creativity in communications. DeCourcy is the former chief creative officer and president of Wieden+Kennedy. Alongside receiving the Lion of St. Mark in 2022, DeCourcy will act as Jury President for Glass: The Lion for Change, the award that celebrates culture-shifting creativity.





Cannes Lions has also announced that it will honour Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) as this year’s Creative Marketer of the Year. The honorary accolade is presented to a marketer that has amassed a body of Lion-winning work over a sustained period of time and has established a reputation for producing brave creative and innovative marketing solutions. Last year’s Cannes Lions awards, which were given for work from 2020/2021, saw AB InBev amass a haul of 40 Lions; two Grands Prix, two Titanium, nine Gold, 10 Silver and 17 Bronze Lions in total. Meanwhile, this year’s Lions is boycotting work from Russia. “Despite our desire to celebrate creativity from wherever it comes, we have made the decision not to accept submissions or delegations from Russian organisations into Cannes Lions or its associated awards programmes,” said the Cannes Lions in a statement (see our wider Ukraine report on page 14). Cannes Lions will also welcome free of charge any and all Ukraine creatives who are able to attend the festival. Refunds on awards submissions for Ukraine agencies will also be honoured. Elsewhere, sustainability will be a key theme at this year’s festival. Simon Cook said: “Sustainability is top of mind for us – as it is for the industry – and we’ve committed to putting a sustainability agenda in place. Together with a number of partners, we are striving to deliver our most sustainable Festival in history.”

CANNES LIONS AND COVID The French Government has relaxed its Covid-19 safety measures. From 14 March, masks are not mandatory in France anywhere inside, except for hospitals, care homes and public transport. From this date, a Vaccine Pass is not required in restaurants, bars, cafés, museums, cinemas and other cultural venues and theme parks. This means that delegates will not need a Vaccine Pass to attend the Festival this year. Neither will they have to wear masks. Travel to France remains subject to Covid-19 entry requirements, which vary depending on your country of origin and whether you are fully vaccinated. Cannes Lions says the Palais des Festivals has been awarded the Global Biorisk Advisory Council GBAC STAR™ certification by ISSA. This accreditation means they are using cleaning protocols and working practices to minimise risks associated with infectious disease.

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Putting The Climate Into Content

Behind the Scenes of Our Planet © Jeff Hester / Silverback / Netflix.

Many broadcasters, filmmakers and advertisers have pledged to help audiences reduce their carbon footprint by producing content that inspires them to make greener choices. But what is the best way to do this without alienating audiences?



ith awareness of climate change at an all-time high, many broadcasters, filmmakers and advertisers have pledged to do more to help audiences reduce their carbon footprint and inform sustainable choices. Their reasons for doing so are two-fold. Primarily, they are aware of television, film and advertising’s power to effect societal change and help navigate the path to net zero. But they are also aware that they must keep up with changing attitudes – just as films that feature smoking now look out of date, so eventually will programmes that encourage a high-carbon lifestyle.

The thinking is not new: a 2018 US report by the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Green Production Guide, a project of the Producers Guild of America, titled Lights! Camera! Clean Energy! addressed the fact that clean energy is underrepresented in popular television and film productions. It offered a guide for television and film production companies to integrate clean energy themes and ideas into on-screen content. “There is an opportunity for television and film productions to better represent and normalise clean energy across society by integrating the topic into the storylines, character roles and identities, and visual imagery of popular content,” said the report.

A key turning point came at November’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, where albert, the screen industry organisation for environmental sustainability, brought together 12 broadcasters and streamers to announce The Climate Content Pledge – a commitment to include more climate storytelling on screen, across all genres.

The advertising industry is taking action too. Last July, Havas and Omnicom – two of the world’s biggest advertising groups – became founding members of the #ChangeTheBrief Alliance, an industry initiative aimed at addressing the climate crisis by changing the type of client work made by agencies.

The broadcasters – including the BBC, ITV, Sky and Discovery – pledged to commission more content that helps their audiences understand and navigate the climate crisis and that inspires them to make greener choices.

The Alliance was set up to help deliver on Action 5 of the Advertising Association’s Ad Net Zero initiative. Action 5 calls for the agencies and clients to harness the power of their advertising to promote sustainable consumer choices and behaviours.

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Nicki Hare, chief development officer at Omnicom Media Group, says: “We are witnessing an environmental crisis and it is incumbent on us all to bring about behaviour change.” In practice, this means doing so both overtly, by commissioning specific programmes or commercials about climate change, and more subtly, by weaving sustainability thinking into shows and ads. 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 drama Emmerdale as 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.” McCall 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. It's about time TV took climate change seriously, says Silverback Films co-founder Keith Scholey, producer of Our Planet and director of David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. “You can’t just leave a subject as crucial as climate change to


wildlife filmmakers and science producers. I want the likes of drama and entertainment to embrace it as well.” Many producers, however, echo Mahon’s point that too much preachy climate content would risk putting audiences off. Around the Word in 80 Days and Mystic executive producer Simon Crawford Collins of Slim Film + Television says: “I’m a great fan of trying to tell serious messages in an entertaining way. If I’m sat down for a lecture, I either switch off or fight it. But if I’m entertained, I listen.” Many hope initiatives like The Climate Content Pledge and #ChangeTheBrief will lead to greater ambition by producers, broadcasters “I’M A GREAT FAN OF and filmmakers. After TRYING TO TELL all, the transitions SERIOUS MESSAGES IN required for societies AN ENTERTAINING WAY. to reach net zero by IF I’M SAT DOWN FOR A 2050 – such as replacing LECTURE, I EITHER all our gas boilers SWITCH OFF OR FIGHT and banning the sale IT. BUT IF I’M of petrol and diesel ENTERTAINED, I LISTEN.” cars – are significant. “Recycling is important and great to feature on screen,” says one exec. “But we need TV programmes to explore some of the bigger issues and solutions as well.” Clearly more needs to be done. Currently there are few ways to measure how broadcasters are meeting – or will meet – the Climate Change Pledge. One way is through albert’s Subtitles to Save the World report, which analyses how frequently particular words are used on British television. It found that cake appeared 133,437 times – over 10 times more than climate change.




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interview lou withderspicipatel L

ou Patel won the Shaker of the Year prize at the makers & shakers Awards, which recognises professionals within the creative screen industries who really make a long-lasting impact. A freelance producer director, edit producer and gallery director on shows such as Big Brother, she is also the founder of Share My Telly Job which she set up in 2015 to champion job-sharing. Having just become a mother, she recognised that full-time, full-on freelance television jobs are almost impossible to maintain when lives outside of work become more complicated. This year Patel, with SMTJ colleagues Michelle James Reynolds, Natalie Grant and Rowan Aust, created and launched, a web-based app that records the working hours for everyone working off-screen in British TV and film. MAKERS

Why did you launch The Time Project? LOU PATEL

The Film and TV Charity’s Looking Glass report in early 2020 had shown that the industry was in the grips of a mental health crisis and linked this to excessive working hours among other factors. This needed further dissecting; we knew it wasn’t as simple as ‘we work too much’ and wasn’t just about our workplace culture. Grassroots organisations across television and film were talking about issues affecting the workforce including bullying, and the inclusion of disabled people and those with caring

commitments. We felt that we had to examine the root causes more closely; otherwise, we’d all just carry on reading the reports and blaming the culture and not making change. Through these discussions we realised it was time that underpinned every barrier. MAKERS

Why is time a problem in the industry? LOU PATEL

Last minute commissioning means there is never enough time to recruit fairly, sustaining the informal, nepotistic networks so characteristic of television. Ever-tightening schedules passes pressure on to workers to work longer and longer hours, threatening their mental and physical health and excluding anyone with caring responsibilities. Contracts also normalise this overwork through buy-out clauses. Rates, especially for new entrants, when calculated hourly, barely make minimum wage and have the additional effect of excluding anyone who can’t afford to work in television. Stressed and stretched management resort to bullying because they themselves are under intolerable pressure. Workers are leaving, and there is little time for training and or progressing with diversity. MAKERS

What did the figures you collected tell you? LOU PATEL

We collected information from hundreds of people who entered working time data for at least one contract. On average, we found that a television worker works an

extra 14 hours more than the general population, the equivalent of an extra two days per week. The average working hours are 10 hours per day, versus the national average of 7.2. Workers in craft and tech roles are putting in the longest hours with hair and makeup artists doing an average of 11.8 hours a day. The average daily break was 30 minutes but 20% of workers reported not getting any breaks at all. The longest working day recorded in the app was 21 hours.

asked to sign these contracts which effectively oblige you to work as many hours as is necessary to get the job done. It’s ridiculous – it means employers can call on you at weekends and in the evenings without paying extra. In Australia, their model is for freelancers to be on contracts which state working hours and they are paid for the overtime they work. We need to adopt something like the Australian model.


What’s next for The Time Project?


Any other figures that shocked you? LOU PATEL

There are huge problems with inequality. Women are paid less than men at every level and every age range. The gender pay gap is 17.6% for those on day rates and 16.6% for those on weekly rates, with, shockingly, the greatest gender pay disparity occurring among women aged between 20 and 29, who earn 39% less than their male counterparts. Long hours also disproportionately affect people with childcare responsibilities. They are either unable to work longer hours or they require additional caring support. This problem was made worse during the Covid-19 pandemic when schools were closed, or bubbles of children sent home. MAKERS

Any specific recommendations you would make following the report? LOU PATEL


We are now approaching production companies to help them understand the benefits the app can bring to their organisation, rather than be fearful of it. The data can help them to ask commissioning broadcasters for more money – and therefore more time – to make shows. We’re trying to build a relationship with [producers alliance] Pact too. We’re working hard to secure more funding for future development and the sustainability of the app. We’ve had support from the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN), Bectu, Directors UK and Sara Putt Associates. But, ironically, we’ve had to do a huge amount of work for free to develop the app. We want to keep it going and free for freelancers – we have a huge task ahead of us but support for The Time Project is certainly growing and now is the time to capitalise on this interest.

An initial priority is to get rid of buy-out contracts. Television and Film workers are commonly


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The Future of Cinemas

The Batman © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Cinemas have struggled in the wake of the pandemic and the streamer boom. Are key western markets oversaturated? And what about the rest of the world? makers investigates the future of the exhibition sector.



However, this is still 35% (or USD2.56 billion) behind the average of the last three pre-pandemic years (2017-2019).

Gower Street Analytics estimated that global box office in February was USD4.78 billion, 46% ahead of 2021 at the same stage.

The impact of Covid-19 continues, though not with the same severity or consistency as in previous years. Even so, the ebb and flow of cases is still causing consternation among distributors, resulting in cinema closures and changes to release calendars. At the time of writing, Shanghai has just imposed a lockdown as China struggles to contain a Covid-19 outbreak. As a result, many exhibitors are struggling to maintain consistent levels of business.

ore than two years since the pandemic began, the cinema sector is still struggling to adjust. On the plus side, total global box office is up compared to 2021, bolstered by hits such as The Batman and Chinese sequel The Battle At Lake Changjin II.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home © ©2021 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.


“There are just so many unknowns right now,” says Andrew Lowe, joint managing director of producer, distributor and exhibitor Element Pictures, which owns and runs two of Ireland’s leading independent art house cinemas, Light House in Dublin and Pálás in Galway. Until a few weeks ago, Ireland was still subject to an 8pm curfew as well as social distancing rules which meant its cinemas could only operate at 50% capacity. “From a business perspective, it absolutely scuppered exhibition,” says Lowe. With restrictions easing, Lowe says Element’s cinemas are now in reopening mode. “We’re seeing very encouraging signs of our customers returning. We haven’t hit 2019 numbers yet, but for certain titles, like Belfast, we’re seeing very good figures.” This echoes the experience of debt-laden exhibition giant Cineworld, whose 2021 results showed vastly improved revenues versus 2020. The world’s second-largest exhibitor, which also owns Regal in the US, predicted that domestic admissions in 2022 could reach 85% of the record-breaking levels seen in 2019 and as much as 95% in international markets including the UK and Central Europe where Cineworld operates. As well as the uncertainty from Covid-19, cinemas are now operating in a drastically altered marketplace. Not only did their audiences pivot towards streaming services during lockdown, but many of the big studios also announced cuts to the traditional 60–90-day cinema window. The period fluctuated during the pandemic, but now seem to have stabilised at approximately 45 days. That said, most big films are still being earmarked for cinema release, emphasising the importance that box office revenues still have for major studios and independents. Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar 2 and


Mission Impossible 7 are among many films that have delayed their opening dates to try to score the biggest box office possible. However, all this adds up to very different operating environment for cinemas compared to the prepandemic era. For many, the big question is how the exhibition sector will adapt to the new landscape. Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, expects UK cinemas to diversify their offer so they reduce their reliance on content from US studios and serve up a broader array of films. Clapp also predicts greater investment in the cinema-going experience to lure in audiences, with a focus on higher quality seating as well as food and drink. In a similar vein Element Pictures is making significant investments in its two cinemas in Ireland, says Lowe. For example, Element is planning to “WE’RE SEEING convert the café in its VERY ENCOURAGING Dublin cinema into a SIGNS OF OUR cocktail bar. “It’ll just CUSTOMERS have a slightly more RETURNING.” going out for the night feel about it,” says Lowe. “To compete now for customers’ attention, you really have to put something together that incentivises people to leave their couch and to spend the night in your venue.” Element is also investing in a new ticketing platform with an effective CRM system so it can communicate better with its customers. “We recognise that it is going to be increasingly important to know your customers and serve them what they want,” says Lowe.



Belfast © TKBC 2021.


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Element’s programming team has always worked hard to attract customers, whether through curated film seasons or events around new movies. Lowe wonders if some of the bigger chains will follow suit to attract audiences, or if they will be more ambitious in terms of programming – perhaps screening more foreign language fare in recognition that viewers are increasingly happy to watch hours of subtitled drama on streaming platforms like Netflix.

Parallel Mothers © Pathé Productions Limited.


Certainly, the cinema sector is set for significant change. But what kind of change depends very much on individual markets. With leading chains grappling with significant debts (over USD5 billion for AMC and USD8.9 billion for Cineworld), major investments or expansion in mature markets like the United States, Europe and the UK seem unlikely. Given the uncertainties thrown up by Covid and the streaming revolution, it would be a brave new investor who wanted to enter what seems to be a saturated cinema market there. That said, there are variations of performance in different Western markets. Take the United States. There, certain films like Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman will attract big audiences (Spider-Man overtook Avatar in February to become the third highest grossing movie at the domestic box office). “But the week-to-week business in the US is not sustaining at the same level it was before the pandemic,” says Rob Mitchell, director of theatrical insights at Gower Street Analytics, which reported in February that the domestic market is tracking 57% behind its three-year average. By comparison, other Western markets like the UK, France, Germany and Italy are recovering in a more consistent fashion, says Mitchell, whereas Spain is “more up and down.” In the UK, for example, audiences are coming back for different kinds of films. With the exception of Oscar-winning phenomenon Parasite, Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers this year became the highestgrossing non-English-language film in the UK and Ireland since Almodóvar’s last release Pain & Glory in 2019. Other key markets, such as South Korea and South Africa, have also struggled to return to pre-Covid levels. It's a different story elsewhere. China’s box office in the first two months of this year was running at 35% ahead of its three-year average, according to Gower

PANDEMIC SAUDI ARABIA Pain and Glory © Pathé Productions Limited.



Street (in figures published before lockdowns were introduced in March). Cinema building has been running at pace in China for years. The number of screens passed the 80,000 mark for the first time in 2021 (China boasted 14,235 cinemas and 80,743 screens as of September 2021, an increase of 861 and 4862 respectively compared with the end of 2020, according to China Film News). This milestone achievement despite the pandemic shows the future potential of China's film industry. “I don’t see cinema building in China slowing any time soon,” says Mitchell. “There is a lot more potential in China because their per capita cinema going is quite low.” For the second year in a row, China ended 2021 as the world’s largest theatrical film market, with total ticket revenues of USD7.3 billion (RMB47.3 billion), buoyed by local hits like The Battle at “SAUDI ARABIA Lake Changjin (USSD HAS EMERGED AS 899 million), Hi, Mom ARGUABLY THE (USD822 million) and HOTTEST CINEMA Detective Chinatown MARKET.” 3 (USD686 million). It’s debatable whether China will retain its crown as the biggest theatrical market this year, given that pandemic restrictions have eased in the United States. However, in the long term, China’s large population means that it is likely to overtake the domestic market. Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has emerged as arguably the hottest cinema market. Cinema was banned in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, under pressure from religious conservatives. But now cinemas are opening in every town. The first was in Riyadh in 2018, an AMC multiplex that was inaugurated with Marvel’s Black Panther. Around 500 more screens have since opened. By 2030 it aims to quadruple its number of screens, to 2,000, and have a box office worth USD1 billion. It should have no problem hitting this target. Last year, the Saudi box office was worth USD238 million, according to Mitchell. The country overtook Italy to become the sixth biggest market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa – behind only the UK, France, Russia, Germany and Spain. Little wonder that Saudi Arabia – and the Middle East in general – is now a key focus for exhibitors. It’s proof that while challenges remain for the exhibition sector in the years ahead, there are pockets of real opportunity.

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Spotlight on FOCUS

FOCUS, the Meeting Place for International Production, offered a hybrid physical and digital experience for its seventh edition, held in December.


“Focus 2021 has shown us how a hybrid event should be run in the future,” said Adrienne Kuster of Focal International. “No matter where you are in the world, you can tune in and attend.”

Over 3,000 professionals from all sectors of the creative screen industries, and from a record 118 countries, participated online and in-person.

Attendees were able to meet both live and virtually with 187 exhibiting companies, including international film commissions, agencies, film-friendly locations and production service companies, offering filming incentives and production solutions for all types and sizes of project.

OCUS presented a new hybrid format for its seventh year – an expanded digital offering and a return to in-person activity at the Business Design Centre London – resulting in a record number of participating countries for the 2021 edition.

Two days of conference and meetings at the Business Design Centre in London (7-8 December) ran alongside an extended digital platform (7-10 December), which built on 2020’s successful virtual edition.

Among those attendees who made the journey to the Business Design Centre, there was a palpable sense of excitement at being able to attend a physical event and connect with their peers once


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again. “To have the chance to meet face-to-face in a safe, productive manner just made 2021 end perfectly,” said John Rakich, president of the Location Mangers Guild. “I came back to London from Bali for this and it was worth totally the long ride there and the 10 days in quarantine when I returned. Absolutely eye opening insights for me,” said Martin East, director and producer at Indonesia’s Atomik Film.

should be approaching the metaverse to gain a stake in its potential future (see our metaverse feature on page 159).

Those who could not get to London, though, rated the digital FOCUS experience highly. “A fantastic event to attend online if you are not able to travel,” said Joseph Peters, producer and director at Renaissance Productions. “Highly recommended for speed networking opportunities for production companies, production services, or the independent filmmaker.”

Practical sessions such as That’s a Relief!: Making the Most of British Tax Breaks saw members of the BFI Certification Team and key figures from the television and video games sectors discuss the importance of the creative sector tax reliefs.

54 conference sessions and exhibitor presentations featured over 150 industry leaders. For the first time the programme was simultaneously presented live at The Business Design Centre and streamed on the digital platform. Topics at the conference programme addressed the fast pace of change in the creative industries, ranging from film financing, co-production, diversity and inclusion, the metaverse, NFTs, sustainability, virtual production, Christmas advertising campaigns, training for the production boom and much more. For example, The Metaverse: What it is and how to use it, saw speakers debate how media companies

Elsewhere, the session Non-Fungible Tokens: Power to the People, asked if NFTs could really tip the balance of power in favour of the content creation community (see our NFT feature on page 40).


Meanwhile, Licence to Film: An International Location Filming Masterclass featuring James Bond heard first-hand insights from 007 associate producer Gregg Wilson and Spectre location manager Ali James about what the filmmakers look for when choosing global locations. A Fistful of Finance – Funding your Project Now saw expert speakers unpack the journey a project goes through in securing funding such as how to navigate multi-country co-productions, the specifics of UK co-production rules and other finance structuring tools available to a producer. Speakers at FOCUS included: Trevor Robinson OBE Founder, Quiet Storm; John Corser SVP, Production & Production Technology Universal Studio Group; Nicky Bentham, Producer, Neon Films; Seetha Kumar, CEO, ScreenSkills; Ita O’Brien, Intimacy Coordinator; Neil Graham, Director of Virtual Production, Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden; Tim O’Shea, Commercial Director, Pulse Films; Judith Chan, Executive Director Media Banking, Coutts; Amy Smith Head of Talent, Framestore; Helene Lenszner, Supervising


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Location Manager; Tracey Cooper Executive Producer, Riff Raff Films; Dan Bernado, Co-Founder Playtra Games & TheGameHouse; Chris Watling UK Managing Director, Somesuch; Karen Boswell, Chief Experience Officer, EMEA, VMLY&R; and Michael McKenna CEO, Final Pixel.


A new strand for 2021 was The Practical Pop-Up, in association with FilmFixer, offering a wealth of physical production tips, including filming on the streets, with drones and remotely. The Conference programme was presented in association with media partner Variety. Global Production network (GPN) was a new sponsor for the 2021 edition. The Conference programme was developed in consultation with a FOCUS Content Advisory Board featuring representatives from leading industry bodies. Members include Dawn McCarthy-Simpson, MBE (Director of International Strategy at Pact UK); Dr Gina Jackson OBE (GameDev Bootcamps); Lyndsay Duthie (CEO, The Production Guild); Anna Mansi (Head of Certification, BFI); Samantha Perahia MBE (Head of Production UK, British Film Commission); Steve Davies (CEO, Advertising Producers Association); Kaye Elliott (Director HETV Screen Skills; Sara Putt (Managing Director, Sara Putt Associates); Neil Hatton (CEO, UK Screen Alliance) and Andrea Corbett (Skills and Career Development Manager, Directors UK). The Green Zone once again had a prominent presence at FOCUS and featured a presentation area within the Sustainable Lounge built by the Centre For Sustainable Production. Over 1500 Speed Networking meetings took place on the digital platform. Networking partners at the Business Design Centre included Producers Without Borders, Women in Advertising Production, Fresco Film Services, LMGI and Variety.


FOCUS culminated with a special event at BAFTA for the second makers & shakers Awards celebrating excellence in global production, presented by makers magazine, The Location Guide and FOCUS (see page 89 for our makers & shakers Award report). FOCUS Managing Director Jean-Frédéric Garcia said: “This was the most challenging year to plan and deliver FOCUS, but we were determined “THE GREEN ZONE to maximise the ONCE AGAIN HAD A opportunities presented PROMINENT by the hybrid format.


The whole team was delighted to be able to return to the Business Design Centre for a live conference and meetings. The digital platform enabled us to extend the unique FOCUS experience to a record number of countries. In these fast-changing times for the creative industries FOCUS remains a vital space to catch up with trends and connect with old and new industry friends.”

FOCUS 2022 FOCUS, The Meeting Place for International Production, returns in a hybrid format once again for its eighth edition in 2022. The physical event will return to the Business Design Centre London on 6/7 December while the digital edition will run on 8/9 December More info at

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Netflix’s new interactive series You vs Wild © Netflix.

From advertisements and music videos to films and video games, rigid definitions of media forms are being challenged. Savvy businesses and creatives are now tapping into multiple markets as the barriers that traditionally compartmentalise media formats quickly erode.



The BBC project’s courses span different topics and disciplines, and, behind-the-scenes its producers must likewise adopt a range of interdisciplinary skills in order to bring these classes to life.

BBC Maestro, for example, is an e-learning service granting access to some of the world’s leading creatives, from Helena Bonham Carter and Gary Barlow to Marco Pierre White and Sir Tim Rice.

“With the majority of campaigns being entirely multi-platform, a producer needs to understand the intricacies of a whole range content production from video to print, and from large scale technical builds to singular one-off comms,” says Nick Guyan, creative studio lead at BBC Maestro. “A producer really is required to dip a toe into every skillset in the team.”

he enhanced interconnectivity provided by the internet means that content creation is entering a new golden era. Media formats across film, television, games, online learning, music videos and commercials are increasingly interacting and converging – allowing brands and businesses to amplify their messages across more platforms and channels than ever before.

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Secret Magic Control Agency © Netflix.


Beyond the digital learning sphere, the film sector is being drastically affected by media convergence too. “The film industry used to be very compartmentalised, with creatives working in very specific job roles,” explains Sefi Carmel, an award-winning composer and sound designer. “Today, it is very much the opposite where film (and sound) professionals in general need to have much wider skillsets.” Carmel runs a company called Soundtrack Creation, working on Hollywood projects with Ridley Scott and Chris Columbus, as well as mixing and mastering music for David Bowie, Phil Collins and Bruno Mars. His advertising clients include agencies Publicis and M&C Saatchi as well as Mercedes, BMW and Samsung, and recently the company worked on action film Legacy of Lies and animated feature Secret Magic Control Agency. “The gap between the film, television and video games industry is becoming ever smaller,” notes Carmel. “Myself and the team take great pleasure working on projects across these mediums and in particular have found the gaming and online industry to be thriving in 2022. The video games industry now often surpasses traditional cinema in sales, due to the nature of such highly appealing, thrilling interactive experiences. Take Black Mirror: Bandersnatch for example and you’ll see the clear ‘game-like’ nature the format of the programme follows.” Netflix’s experimental show Black Mirror: Bandersnatch from December 2018 allows viewers to determine the protagonist’s destiny, controlling the character’s reactions to different scenarios. In response to the programme’s popularity, Netflix announced plans to create more interactive content, such as You vs Wild with survival expert Bear Grylls.


The incorporation of gamification distinguishes You vs. Wild from Grylls’s popular Discovery Channel series Man vs Wild. Viewers can control how the host responds to harsh environments, guiding Grylls to safety or placing him in unusual, risky situations. Such convergence between the film and video game industries is opening up many more options for creatives. Over the last decade, video game experiences have become increasingly cinematic. Last of Us: Part 2 and “THE FILM INDUSTRY Ghost of Tshushima USED TO BE VERY openly draw inspiration COMPARTMENTALISED, from the film industry WITH CREATIVES through their carefullyWORKING IN VERY constructed storylines and emotive soundtracks. SPECIFIC JOB ROLES.” Game designer and producer Hideo Kojima is considered a video gaming auteur, using early forays into filmmaking at the start of his career to shape his gaming work today. Kojima released a director’s cut to accompany the Death Stranding project. His merging of media forms has been praised by Hollywood A-listers, such as Academy Award-winning director Guillermo Del Toro. In recent times a collection of high-end film projects have been directly inspired by video games. The Assassin’s Creed, Super Mario Bros and Minecraft video games are hugely popular across the world, and each franchise is currently working on a film adaptation for 2022 or later. Former pro-wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is rumoured to be starring in the forthcoming Call of Duty film adaptation. In the same manner, films such as Uncharted, Werewolves Within, Detective Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City tap into the global reach of their franchises’ respective gaming communities.



Black Mirror: Bandersnatch © Netflix.


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The Witcher © Netflix.


The technology used to create audiovisual works during this period of convergence is fast developing too. Digic Pictures is a Hungarian 3D animation studio based in Budapest, celebrated for its work with gaming franchises Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and The Witcher. "We are best known for creating fine details and realistic characters as well as world-class rendering in the animated shorts we produce,” details Digic CEO Alex S Rabb. As well as attracting high-profile attention for its work in the gaming industry, film studios are now turning to Digic for production assistance. The company’s high-quality motion capture studio is equipped with world-class T160 cameras. The T160 camera’s custom-built motion sensors can capture 16 megapixels of data at a rate of 120 frames-per-second, offering four times the resolution of any other motion capture camera on the market. This technology allows Digic to produce cuttingedge visual effects for film projects alongside their work in games industry. “We partnered with some of the biggest Hungarian movie production studios,” Rabb highlights. “We provide motion capture and 3D photoscan services for movies that are shot in Hungary, such as Dune, Halo, Terminator Dark Fate, The Witcher and Shadow and Bone." Besides tapping into the gaming industry for its photorealistic visual effects, Dune won numerous awards for its soundtrack, including Best Sound at the 94th Academy Awards. The film’s composer Hans Zimmer has picked up many accolades thanks to his involvement with the soundtracks for Inception, Gladiator, The Lion King and 12 Years A Slave. Zimmer’s film score work is readily available on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, illustrating how creative industry business leaders can grow their profits if they expand into markets like music and games. 2021 saw global





music industry revenues surge at their fastest rate in more than two decades. As streaming subscriber numbers rise, the USD25.9 billion revenue total for the sector is the highest figure since records began in 1990s. The international video game industry is bigger still, with estimated revenues of USD180 billion in 2021. These financial incentives are strengthened by the practical advantages of possessing interdisciplinary knowledge over different media formats. “Before and during a shoot, it is very useful to have a shorthand with the composer or the art director, communicating your ideas clearly and quickly,” emphasises filmmaker, painter and musician Emile Rafael. “Being able to describe a mood “THESE FINANCIAL you want to convey – INCENTIVES ARE whether a chord change STRENGTHENED BY or a specific key switch – THE PRACTICAL helps in a practical sense ADVANTAGES OF as well as an artistic POSSESSING sense.”


KNOWLEDGE OVER Rafael has a background in music video creation. DIFFERENT MEDIA He currently operates as FORMATS.” a commercial director, creating atmospheric advertisements for brands such as Audi, Coutts, Hennessy and Jaguar. If harnessed correctly, media convergence allows ambitious creatives to amplify their voices across different platforms, giving new potential to their work as they reach multiple audiences.

“At one point while working for Coutts, we needed these huge canvases, so I painted them myself,” Rafael elaborates. “Being able to synergise the artistic sides with the practical benefits is vital. When working in the commercial industry, I think people sometimes tend to forget that we are creating forms of art. That’s what stands out – that’s what lasts in our memories.”

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GREECE endless possibilities

Director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino & John David Washington on location in Athens for Beckett © Yannis Drakoulidis & Netflix.

There are 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites across Greece. Sunkissed islands and ancient ruins mark the country as a prime destination for filmmaking in Europe. If production teams spend a minimum of EUR100,000 then they could qualify for a healthy cash rebate of 40%.


Millennium Media – the American production company behind The Expendables – is scheduled to shoot action-thriller The Bricklayer at its Nu Boyana Film Studios across Greece and Bulgaria in March 2022. Filming will take place in Northern Greece’s Thessaloniki, where the Greek section of the Nu Boyana project is currently under construction. In 2022 Millennium Media is set to build Greece’s first Hollywood-standard studio. First announced in 2019, the investment is worth EUR20 million, signalling the company’s intentions to revamp Greek filmmaking. MBC Group from Saudi Arabia acquired a 30% stake in Greece’s Antenna Group. According to the announcement, the funds will be dedicated to the creation of state-of-the-art studios and infrastructure at an international standard, aiming to attract television and film producers from all over the world to Greece. Disney’s Rise was shot between May and July, exploring the story of Giannis Antetokoumpo and his family before the talented basketballer shot to NBA stardom. The project was filmed at Kapa Studios, a leading production company for film and television in Greece. The company’s modern, state-of-the-art complex is spread across 10 sound stages. As well as feature films such as The Jackals and Turning Point, Kapa Studio has also hosted a range of television series, from Big Brother, X Factor and Dancing With The Stars to The Weakest Link and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.




Delphi On the slopes of Mount Parnassus – high above the Gulf of Corinth – lies Delphi, one of Greece’s most famous historic sites. This location was known throughout the ancient Greek world as the sanctuary of the god Apollo, and it was here that the shrine of his oracle stood. Delphi is a film star in its own right, having featured in My Life in Ruins, High Priestess, A Woman at Her Window and many others. Three of the last remaining pillars of the area’s Tholos Temple were used in the background for the end credits of the James Bond classic For Your Eyes Only. Parts of Netflix’s recent film Beckett (main image) were shot among the ruins of Delphi. The project tells the story of an American tourist who becomes the target of a manhunt after a devastating accident while on vacation. It is the first Netflix movie filmed entirely in Greece.

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Q: What project did you work on in Greece,

and who was involved? A: The latest documentary I worked on was about the Battle of Lepanto, which took place off the Echinades isles of the Ionian Islands region. It was a co-production with the Ionian islands Regional Unit, directed by Antonis Glaros. Q: Why are the Ionian Islands so special as

a filming destination? A: The natural beauty and the history of the islands is on its own a great incentive for choosing the area as a film location. Together with the help of Angela Krokidi from the Ionian Film Office, the whole experience was very pleasant and as stress free as a shoot can be. Q: What makes Greece on a more broader

level stand out for incoming productions? A: There is one element that makes Greece particularly excel as a location choice. That is none other than the unlimited variety of locations and seasons. You can find nearly every type of landscape you have in mind, in some corner of the country – whether that is a picturesque village, an underwater cave or a desert – with the advantage that throughout the year you also get all seasons from hot sun to heavy snow storms. Q: What advice would you give to anyone

considering shooting in Greece? A: Be well prepared for all the bureaucratic procedures that will be needed, but know that you will be well rewarded with incredible cinematography and a friendly environment to work in. Q: What projects are you working on next? A: I am currently working on my Youtube series

Ancient Greece Revisited, and in the early stages of another documentary on the Ionian Islands.

Filmed over 29 days in late spring, Mihai Mincan’s To The North is a co-production between Greece, Romania, France, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, traversing a range of European regions. Exodus – the debut feature film from Lebanese director Abbe Hassan – is a Swedish project filmed in Attica, a part of Greece that recently hosted David Cronenberg’s film Crimes of the Future. Kate Hudson, Daniel Craig and Dave Bautista have been spotted in the country filming the sequel to Knives Out 2, with new acting additions including Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr as well as musician Janelle Monaé. Among Greece’s English-speaking workforce, a range of production service companies are on hand to assist incoming producers operating across film, television and advertising. “Our company has shot commercials for some of the top companies – such as Samsung, Johnny Walker, Coca Cola, and L’Oreal – and worked with the top advertisers and producers in the industry,” details Andreas Tsilifonis, executive producer at Central Athens Film Productions. “We cover long format productions alongside advertising too, providing full production services for international clients.” “We have serviced a variety of projects, from commercials (most recently for Toyota, directed by Jake Scott for RSA Films) to the livestreaming of the iconic Christian Dior Cruise 2022 at the Panhellenic Stadium for Tendernight Paris, to feature films such as Exodus for BRF Films in Sweden, due for release this year,” says Maria Kopanou, executive producer at Green Olive Films. “Green Olive Films is known for being highly skilled in service production, with internationally experienced producers both in commercials and feature films. Our company has worked with some of the world’s leading creative talent, understanding their vision and providing the resources through our offices in both Greece and Cyprus.” The country’s very competitive 40% cash rebate and 30% tax relief scheme are available for incoming filmmakers through a digital procedure that is simple, fast and transparent. A major selling point for the cash rebate programme concerns high budget productions. Eligible expenses in Greece over EUR8 million permit subsidies on non-resident labour (such as scriptwriter and director’s fees, salaries of crew and cast for feature films and TV series). Between April 2018 and February 2022, 204 projects were accepted to the cash rebate programme. 92 projects were international productions or co-productions with Greek production companies and foreign companies from Europe, Asia, United States, Canada and Australia. Nearly EUR316 million was invested in Greece for the production of audiovisual projects. Filming took place in more than 140 different locations across Greece, with more than 49,000 jobs created for production needs. "In recent years, Greece has become a centrepiece for foreign audiovisual productions regardless of their size, format or genre,” details Moris


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Gkormezanos, founder and head of productions at M21 Films. “Equipped with multiple National Network Film Offices throughout the country providing productions with free, step-by-step support, a 40% cash rebate programme and a 30% tax relief incentive, a diverse portfolio of outstanding locations, great weather conditions and highlyskilled crews offering quality production services, Greece offers filmmakers an unmatched experience.”


expect sun and mild weather throughout the year. This makes the country ideal for exterior shots. There is a good selection of standard and specialised equipment, and art departments and set construction units are of a high standard. All of the standard post-production facilities are in Athens, though new investments could shake things up over the next few years.

EKOME (National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication) set up the National Film Offices Network across 13 regions and the two major municipalities of Athens and Thessaloniki. The Film Offices Network acts as one-stop shop for international and local productions, providing help for permits and crew as well as promoting the advantages of the local communities.



A promising 40% cash rebate is available on production costs spent in Greece. The maximum cash rebate per project is capped at EUR12 million. Maximum eligible productions costs must consist of 80% of the total project budget. For projects with eligible expenses over EUR8 million, special provisions for scriptwriter and director’s fees are available for high-budget productions. Salaries of crew and cast for feature films may also qualify in these circumstances. TIME ZONE


The country is divided into three core geographical regions: the mainland, the islands, and the Peloponnese. Mountains, forests and lakes give the mainland a wild energy. Vikos Gorge, one of the world’s deepest gorges, is located in the mainland’s Pindus mountain range. Meteora is a stunning formation of gravity-defying rocks with monasteries precariously perched on top situated near the town of Kalabaka. Greece typically enjoys a Mediterranean climate, though mountains are usually snow-covered. Dry hot days in the summer are cooled by seasonal winds known as the meltemi. Meanwhile, mountainous regions have generally lower temperatures and the winters are mild in lowland areas, with a minimum amount of snow and ice. A common phenomenon is the occurrence of different climactic conditions during the same season, meaning that mild heat manifests in coastal areas as cooler temperatures permeate the mountainous regions.


Greek-American John Kalafatis – CEO & co-founder of New York City’s York Films – is developing state-of-the-art soundstages & film studios on the outskirts of Thessaloniki. A joint venture with Millenium Media & Nu Boyana Studios Bulgaria, this colossal project is attracting major Hollywood production into Greece. ATA CARNET


Disney’s Rise, The Enforcer & The Expendables 4 from Millennium Films, Netflix’s Knives Out 2 and Apple TV’s Tehran 2 were filmed in the country. Foreign productions shooting in Greece include The Bricklayer from Millennium Films, Amazon Prime’s Greek Salad, documentary Future Tenses and animation The Adventure of the Universe.


The Greek National Tourism Organisation recently created a campaign with advertising agency Ogilvy. The tongue-in-cheek commercial references the lesser-known snowy elements of the country’s climate, announcing ‘Greece has a winter too.’ While incomers may expect slight showers in their winter months, for the majority of the time one can


The footballing world was stunned when underdogs Greece defied expectation to win the UEFA European Football Championship in 2004. With German manager Otto Rehhagel at the helm, Greek fans were treated to a magical summer as the national team slayed giants, forever placing themselves among the Sporting Gods of Greece. Hosts Portugal were defeated 2-1 by Greece in the opening match of the competition, with Giorgos Karagounis and Angelos Basinas on the scoresheet to render Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike obsolete. After battling through the group stages, Greece beat defending champions France in the last eight of the competition. The Czech Republic were defeated in the semi-final thanks to Greek defender Trainos Dellas scoring in extra-time. Portugal had a chance to avenge their opening game defeat and win the competition on home soil, yet the Greek battlers had not read this script. Winning 1-0 with an emphatic header from Angelos Charisteas, Greece were crowned European champions. The bookies had given the country a slim 150-1 chance of winning the tournament, marking a truly remarkable campaign from the legendary group of players.

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With acclaimed TV dramas such as The Man in the High Castle, Medici: The Magnificent and Leonardo to its name, Big Light Productions is about to launch its first podcast, Radioman. Big Light’s CEO Frank Spotnitz and creative director Emily Feller explain why they’ve devoted time to the medium.



hy make a podcast? It’s a fair question to ask television producers who have spent their careers obsessing not just about the spoken word, but faces and images. The economics are completely different, too. Both the budget to produce and the money you’re paid are far less. So why devote time – a producer’s most precious resource – to making one? The first answer is simple: We love podcasts. Everything we do is driven by passion, and podcasts are no exception. We’ve both been fans of spoken

word radio for most of our lives, from Radio Four to NPR, but it was Serial back in 2014 that turned us into rabid podcast fans. Nowadays, you’ll find on our daily playlists all kinds of podcasts, from true crime to political deep dives and news analysis, and from drama to thrillers to comedy. A few years ago we were introduced to Johnny Galvin and Daniel Turcan, whose company the Vespucci Group discovers and funds incredible journalism from around the world. With their

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resources and our storytelling skills, they suggested it might make sense for us to partner to produce podcasts. Frank is an ex-reporter himself and both of us are avid news readers, so Vespucci struck us as a natural fit for Big Light. Audible agreed, and became our exclusive partner last year. WE WOULD RECOMMEND MAKING A PODCAST TO ANYONE CONSIDERING IT, BUT DON’T JUMP IN WITH FALSE EXPECTATIONS.

Our first scripted collaboration is Radioman, written by Joe Derrick and starring and produced with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Radioman is fiction, but inspired by a true-crime story that Johnny and Daniel uncovered. Not surprisingly, we discovered that storytelling for the ear is quite different than for the eye. But it turned out that both Nikolaj and Joe were masters at it. We were also incredibly fortunate to collaborate with the Peabody Award-winning Benbrick, whose has a gift for shaping music, dialogue and sound in rich and unexpected ways.

Frank Spotnitz was a writer and executive producer of The X-Files television series and both feature films, and set up Big Light in 2013. Emily Feller joined Big Light in 2017 as an executive producer and became creative director a year later, having previously worked on British television shows such as Scott and Bailey, Last Tango In Halifax, Ordinary Lies, Banana and Trust Me. Big Light’s drama credits include The Man in the High Castle, Medici: The Magnificent, Medici: Masters of Florence, Ransom and The Indian Detective. Radioman is available on Audible on 12th May.

Working with Audible has been a great experience, too – a lot of trust is given to producers in this space and it allows for a kind of risk-taking that’s rare in television. We believe the result is a podcast that tells a story as powerful as any television drama could. If Radioman had ended there, then the journey would have been well worth it. But of course podcasts remain one medium, and television another. Which leads us to the second answer to the question. A great podcast can serve as an incubator for a great drama series. Whether it’s inspired by, like Radioman, or a true story (like Killer Book Club, our first podcast, and another we’re working on now), podcasts give us the chance to try out a story, to see how much narrative there is to uncover, and to identify all the twists and turns it has to offer.

Frank Spotnitz.

We would recommend making a podcast to anyone considering it, but don’t jump in with false expectations. Just because you don’t have images doesn’t mean it’s any quicker or easier. We obsessed and sweated over every detail of Radioman just as much as we would any television series. Great storytelling has its own demands, after all. And its own rewards, too. Emily Feller.




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Changing Times In Saudi Arabia

Behind the scenes of Kandahar © @FilmAlUla.

The Saudi Arabian media industries are undergoing a major period of change with huge sums being invested into the region’s production infrastructure. Will the new investments be enough to make creatives forget about the country’s complicated human rights record?


n recent years, Saudi Arabia has unveiled a number of eye-catching initiatives to revitalise its media industries.

The country is investing USD64 billion in its nascent entertainment industry as part of a broader effort to wean the economy off oil and transform itself into the Middle East’s premiere audiovisual production hub. In December, the Saudi Film Commission announced that it will offer a new tax rebate scheme.


The incentives are set to cover up to 40% of the qualifying costs for documentaries, animations and feature length projects filmed in the kingdom, creating one of the world’s most competitive packages. The Saudi Film Commission also intends to build a new Saudi Film Institute, dedicated to film production and professional training. Film AlUla – the organisational body for AlUla County in the northwest part of the country – has also begun a new phase of studio development, with construction

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Behind the scenes of Desert Warrior © NEOM.


underway for two film stages alongside support offices, dressing rooms, green rooms, a warehouse and workshops to meet the demands of local and international production. Radical investment opportunities are also available in the country’s Tabuk Province. NEOM is the new name of a futuristic smart city being built in north-western Saudi Arabia. As well as transforming the ways that urban development is understood, NEOM is planning to become a world-class media hub for film, television, games and digital publishing. It is estimated that the NEOM project will cost in the region of USD500 billion. “The NEOM proposition has certainly resonated with the regional and international industry,” says Wayne Borg, managing director for media, entertainment and culture at NEOM. “Through the course of 2021 NEOM hosted more than 20 productions despite all the challenges created by Covid-19, particularly when it came to logistics. The productions ranged from documentaries, natural history, international commercials and regional and international fashion shoots as well as feature films of course.” Saudi funding for its media industries has caused international investors and producers to take notice. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the Arabian Peninsula’s largest country. Its population stands at approximately 35 million, with nearly 11 million foreign residents. The population is predicted to approach nearly 40 million by 2030. These population figures suggest that Saudi Arabia could require around 370 cinema sites and some 2,600 screens during this period of population growth, quadrupling the current total of screens. Depending on how rapidly the kingdom’s market evolves, it is predicted that the country could


potentially generate 60 to 70 million admissions by 2030. 70% of the kingdom’s population is under the age of 30. Since this was one of the few cinema markets growing amid the pandemic, chains such as AMC and VOX are eager to invest in Saudi Arabia. Restricted supply and high-spec theatres mean that operators can charge some of the highest prices in the world. At an average of USD18 per ticket, VOX offers guests truffled hot dogs and popcorn “THE SAUDI FILM sprinkled with gold COMMISSION dust. Tech research INTENDS TO BUILD group Omdia predict A NEW SAUDI FILM that the country’s box INSTITUTE, DEDICATED office will be the tenth TO FILM PRODUCTION largest in the world by 2025, eight years after AND PROFESSIONAL having no cinema TRAINING.” infrastructure at all. Cinema attendance was prohibited in Saudi Arabia back in the 1980s as result of ongoing pressure from religious conservatives. The decades-long ban on cinemas only came to an end in 2018. Coinciding with this shift, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman lifted the ban on women car drivers while also ensuring that restaurants are not segregated by gender. However, big cultural and political obstacles remain a challenge in the country’s ability to revitalise its media industry. Attracting international filmmaking talent is an uphill struggle in a country where homosexuality is a crime and the abaya is still the norm for women. The controversy surrounding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi resulted in British cinema chain Vue cancelling plans to build 30 multiplexes in the country.





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Gerard Butler, filmed in Saudi Arabia, while Desert Warrior, starring Anthony Mackie and Aiysha Hart, has been shooting in the country since September. Kandahar is a coproduction between Santa Monica’s Thunder Road Films and Saudi-owned broadcaster MBC. MBC are also working on Desert Warrior with Hollywood’s AGC Studios. Building infrastructure for filmmaking from nothing is no simple task. Over 600 crew from 45 countries worked on Desert Warrior. While Saudi crews do have experience working across television and commercials, films are a different beast.


Whether or not the kingdom will continue to support and sustain its new set of liberal values remains to be seen. For now, however, officials are set on transforming Saudi Arabia into an entertainment hub for the rest of the world to enjoy. Part of the push for improving Saudi Arabia’s media industries stems from the desire to improve the country’s reputation on the world stage. The Red Sea Film Festival is one of the new initiatives designed to do this, while promoting a new wave of filmmaking in the country. The port city of Jeddah hosted the Saudi Arabian kingdom’s inaugural film festival in early December 2021. As part of the festival, a new USD14 million production scheme, the Red Sea Fund, announced that it would back 90 projects out of 650 submissions from Saudi Arabia, the Arab World and Africa. “Cinema, film, entertainment, gaming – these forms of communication are at the forefront of any cultural shift,” explains Film AlUla commissioner Stephen Strachan. When the cinema ban was in place, film fans settled for renting videos of their favourite Arabic, Asian and Western movies. Then, an increasing number of free-to-air satellite channels enforced the closure of most video rental stores. While a solitary IMAX theatre was built in Khobar, no cinemas were open in the country between 1983 and 2018. And then, on 18 April 2018, the first cinema to emerge since the ban was opened in Riyadh. Many aspiring Saudi Arabian filmmakers had experienced the ban throughout their entire lifetime. Now, AMC Theatre has expressed plans to create 40 cinemas across 15 cities over the next few years. Big Hollywood productions are being tempted to the country. Thunder Road’s Kandahar starring





Saudi Arabia’s scenery is an attractive component that could entice producers to the region. In physical terms, the country has a lot to offer for incoming filmmakers. Located in the centre of the an-Nafud desert, the capital Riyadh is the country’s most-populous city, attracting around 5 “WHILE SAUDI CREWS million tourists each DO HAVE EXPERIENCE year. Meanwhile, the WORKING ACROSS Arabian Peninsula is TELEVISION AND flanked by two major COMMERCIALS, FILMS bodies of water: the ARE A DIFFERENT Persian Gulf sits on the East, the Red Sea is BEAST.” positioned to the West. Several major cities – such as Jeddah – line the Red Sea coast, offering direct access to a coral reef and waves of blue water, as well as desert spots and oasis settings. “Saudi Arabia has many varied and diverse filming locations,” says Borg. “At NEOM uniquely you will find hundreds of kilometres of untouched beaches and coastline, snow-capped mountains (in the winter), sand dunes and desertscapes, pristine towering rock formations, and lush wadis all within two hours easy reach of each other, supported by global standard infrastructure.” “You could be surrounded by purple and pink rock features that feel like Morocco,” Strachan explains. “And then suddenly you might find yourself in grey, rubbly areas that feel like Afghanistan or Iraq, immersed in palm trees and luscious farms, or standing on the edge of a volcanic plateau.” Opportunities are emerging in Saudi Arabia – and the filmmaking community should keep a watchful eye as new investments continue to shift and transform the region, hopefully for the better.

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The secrets of South Korean success

All of Us Our Dead © Yang Hae-sung / Netflix.


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n 2020, the Best Picture Oscar was awarded for the first time to a non-English language film, Parasite. It was a landmark moment for the South Korean film industry and an international breakthrough that will forever live in the history of the awards. The global success of Parasite couldn’t have come at a better time for South Korea, helping as it did with the industry’s recovery from their fall out with China a few years before. The South Korean television and film industry was severely hit after the Government decided to allow the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to be based on Korean soil. China argued that the missile system’s radar could allow spying into Chinese territory. During this sensitive time South Korean producers – one of the biggest suppliers of entertainment formats to China – saw their content disappear from the view of Chinese audiences. Deals that were midway through were halted, and on-screen Korean talent had their faces blurred or pixelated out. There were even reports that Korean names were replaced with Chinese names in credits. When the THAAD decision was taken, Korean film and television rights sales to China simply collapsed. But the popular Korean formats didn’t disappear completely from Chinese screens. In October 2018 the South Korean newspaper, JoongAng Daily published an article which reported that China had 34 reality shows that bore resemblances to Korean programmes. The report identified the copying of graphic designs right through to the straight ripping off of formats. Only three of the 34 shows reached agreements with the creators of the originals, but the vast majority of the shows never responded to the claims and faced no serious consequences for their infringements. When China cut ties with production companies, South Korea was left in an uncomfortable position. The country's export business had been vital for many years and without it there would be no way to maintain their high levels of productivity or make ends meet; overnight producers found themselves struggling to survive. The cut-off from China had thrown South Korea's export business into chaos. During this chaotic time I was receiving lots of frantic calls from Korean producers and broadcasters, many of them who only produced for the Chinese market. I was flown over to meet with industry leaders and Korean government officials for crisis talks, and to help them to identify their options and put in place plans for recovery – or survival, at least.

It was a strange experience; a once bold and confident sector was now showing its vulnerability. There was a genuine fear that the whole of South Korea’s television and film industry was poised on a knife edge. I was slightly more optimistic, because what I had learnt about South Korean content over the many years of visiting is that what they produce is good. Their storytelling, innovation and creativity was very much aligned with the West. If anything, the fall out with China could be a wakeup call that was long overdue. For far too long South Korea had put all their eggs in one (admittedly big) Chinese basket, and for many years they did very well. But everyone knows that a single market focused strategy will never have a happy ending, particularly if that one market is a forceful and unpredictable power-house like China. South Korea had to face up to the fact that it was time to adapt their export strategy “FOR FAR TOO LONG and think beyond their SOUTH KOREA HAD Asian neighbourhood.


It's not the first time that South Korea has risen again. When the Korean war broke out in 1950 (which lasted until 1953), it seemed to take everything away from Korea. But during this tumultuous time of war and destruction, the determination of the broadcast industry in South Korea meant it was able to continue with a limited broadcasting service, despite now being under United Nations supervision. But by 1955 the broadcaster service also became full members within the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) where they had been allowed since 1952.

It was during the 1950s that television sets were introduced in Korea as part of a marketing scheme by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). The campaign saw the RCA strategically set up televisions at Pagoda Park and other locations around Seoul during this time. But broadcasting was still controlled by the Korean Government, restricting the type of programming that was aired across the nation. However, young professionals in Korea had continued to fight for democracy and freedom since the country was divided after World War II. When HLKZ-TV went live on 15 June 1956, there were only three other stations that broadcast throughout all of South East Asia: MBC (Menier Broadcasting Company), ABC Network Kuala Lumpur and Radio Television Malaysia. These four broadcasting companies would go on to become some of the most popular music channels during this period.


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creating a vibrant market with more opportunity to grow. The introduction of cable television was originally a government initiative that launched as an experimental multi-channel and multi-purpose cable television service. My Name © Min Jeehee / Netflix.

South Korea was still a developing country in the 1960s. With insufficient infrastructure and few opportunities beyond their villages or towns, many people were stuck and business owners struggled to build the economy. But despite the underdeveloped landscape the 1960s saw the rise of television broadcasting in South Korea. On 1 October 1961, HLKA-TV (now known as KBS1) made its debut with a full-scale operation under the Ministry Of Culture and Public Information. IN THE EARLY 1990S, SOUTH KOREA WAS STILL ONE OF A FEW COUNTRIES WITH ONLY THREE NETWORK CHANNELS.

In those days there were only three national channels – KBS, TBC-TV and MBC-TV – available to watch; however, by 1970 this number had increased significantly, due largely to foreign influence and coverage from NASA space missions, which would broadcast dramatic footage live on television during prime time hours. The 1970s was also impacted by government intervention into the media system in Korea when, in 1972, President Park Chung-Hee’s government imposed censorship upon media through the Martial Law Decree. The government continued to expand its control over media content, demanding that it review all television and radio station programming before transmission. They said these controls were put in place to improve the quality of viewing experiences for the audiences. However, there was growing concern from the public, who criticised the government saying that it was a ploy to establish a monopoly over television and that creating an autocratic society would offer less freedom than ever before. Despite on-going government intervention, the 1980s proved to be the golden years for South Korea's television industry. Programming hours were up, more television stations launched, and even the number of television sets grew rapidly – from 4 million to 6 million. In the early 1990s, South Korea was still one of a few countries with only three network channels. But as its population grew and an export market for K-drama developed, the Korean government saw this as an opportunity to build more infrastructure which would trigger more growth on both sides: promoting itself internationally while also boosting domestic production capabilities through increased competition among media companies who were able to produce content faster than ever before. The market continued to grow throughout the 1990s starting with the launch of SBS in 1991, and continued with multiple cable networks by the mid-nineties, with more broadcasters setting up

Hellbound © Jung Jaegu / Netflix


It was during this decade that South Korea elected its first civilian president in over 30 years, President Kim Young Sam. When his administration came into power, it was a milestone that many saw as a chance at finally living freely without censorship from military rule. A new group of young people took jobs within the film and television industry to take advantage of the new opportunities available. Globalisation was also encouraged under the reign of their new president. He supported travel abroad for his citizens to seek inspiration and bring back ideas to help shape modern day society throughout South Korea. It particularly helped inspire those who were working in television and film. It is hard to say when the craze around K-dramas began to generate interest outside of Korea, but in the late 1990’s there was a succession of hits that gained popularity and loyal audiences in China, such as the family drama What Is Love? and the romance “IT IS HARD TO SAY Star in My Heart. WHEN THE CRAZE But by the turn of the AROUND K-DRAMAS millennium, K-dramas were popular around the BEGAN TO GAIN whole of Asia. INTEREST OUTSIDE OF KOREA, BUT IN THE

Since then, the Korean LATE 1990’S THERE drama wave has been WAS A SUCCESSION expanding at an incredible speed, with OF HITS THAT GAINED 2003's Jewel in the POPULARITY AND Palace being one of its LOYAL AUDIENCES IN first global hits. This CHINA.” historical medical drama about a hardworking woman who becomes royalty during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty captivated audiences around the world and seemed to resonate on some level with people everywhere – it quickly became popular beyond Asia and eventually aired in 91 countries. Finally, on 22 July 2009, after heated political debates, the amendment of the media law was passed, seeing the South Korean national assembly deregulate the media market. By the end of 2010, four general cable television networks were licensed. South Korea has gone from strength to strength over the years. The country’s troubles with China and its fallout in 2018 are becoming a distant memory as it continues to build reputation around the world. Recent hits such as the Netflix series Squid Game, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, prove that South Korea has more to give. The show became a global sensation within a month of its release, and quickly became the most-watched show to date on the streaming giant.

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North Korea

Just 121 miles north of Seoul, Pyongyang watches with interest at the growing success of its neighbour. North Korea has always had a passion for films and cinema, and it too has on-going aspirations of becoming a vibrant hub for film and television.

Over the last decade, North Korea's population has been experiencing a television revolution, with more channels being introduced into homes across the country. People now have an array of choices.

Squid Game © Noh Juhan / Netflix.

It is one of the last remaining countries that still uses analogue broadcasting, but this too is changing. Digital television services are on the increase with more people having access to channels from around Asia and beyond. In 2012 North Pyongan province became home to the first experimental broadcasts using Digital Broadcast Systems (DVS) technology which later expanded nationally after being successfully deployed across all areas under development by 2017.


State television is becoming more competitive with the spread of digital broadcasting and streaming. It's not just the Korean Central Television (KCTV) that has been changing. As additional channels are now available, viewers have something they've never had before – choices. The channels, available by digital broadcast and streaming, can be seen as an effort on the part of the KCTV to make their state media more attractive in contrast with foreign content that is illicitly available.

Current leader Kim Jong-un's administration’s ambition is to make more TV dramas that focus on youth and technology to appeal to the next generation of North Korean citizens. This is in stark contrast with previous incumbents of the Kim dynasty who deployed films featuring military life. This time around they are focusing more heavily on appealing through entertainment for those who want something other than just loyalty or dedication from their countrymen when watching these movies. Initially, North Korea was not very conducive to film production. This all changed when former leader Kim Jong-il decided he wanted his country involved with Hollywood films too. Kim's obsession with the film industry is evident in his 1978 abductions of Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-hee, which took place six months apart. Choi, a famous director, and Shin, a famous actress from South Korea, had previously married and divorced. They were held captive until they had completed a total of 17 feature films. They were finally released in 1986. Now almost 70 years after the conflict in Korea ended, South and North Korea, China and the US recently agreed in principle to declare a formal end to the Korean war. But what will come next for these neighbours as they compete to create the best in Korean content? Will the South continue its rise to Hollywood-level success, or is there an emerging sensation ready to launch from the North? Whilst we watch this new, friendlier competition brewing between the two sides, fans are eagerly awaiting series two of Squid Game.

North Korea is rolling out set-top boxes for its citizens, with annual subscriptions of around 6,000 Won. The spread of digital television to the provinces is a clear message that the state wants to demonstrate technological progress. This is a transformational move by the North Korean Government, and a strategy taken to help strengthen ties between Kim Jong Un's regime and its people. But offering diverse broadcasting and choice, and digital capabilities, comes at the risk of dampening their central propaganda voice and ideological way of life, ultimately weakening its hold on its citizens. From March 1963, the KCTV was the only access most citizens had to television. The channel fed with news, propaganda and ideology to the entire nation. The Korean Peninsula was blanketed in propaganda from early morning to night. The people were nothing more than cattle being herded around by an unseen hand, awaiting their next instructions while they watched television screens fill up with government sponsored content that would brainwash anyone who viewed them into believing how happy and prosperous life actually is under this regime.

Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE is managing director of business development & global strategy at UK producers’ alliance Pact, where she is responsible for developing opportunities for international, IP exploitation and markets.


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NORWAY collaborative force

Dune © 2021 Legendary & Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Outstanding natural beauty underpins a large part of Norway’s appeal for incoming production teams. Moreover, a healthy 25% incentive scheme means that the Scandinavian nation is an especially attractive option for filmmakers arriving from different parts of the world.


he natural landscapes in Norway are mesmerising, with its fjords attracting visitors from all over the globe. Filmmakers who have a taste for adventure might chose to shoot at the famous Geirangerfjord, one of Norway’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“Our terrain is rugged, unique and wonderfully accessible to the largest global production hubs,” says Meghan Beaton, film commissioner for Norway. “Beyond stunning mountains and staggering fjords, we can guarantee snow and ice year-round. Norway is a lean, efficient and highly modern society, an ideal combination as host of large-scale, prestigious productions.”

As well as offering city spaces shaped by vibrant modern architecture, one of the major appeals of the country lies in its proximity to the Arctic Circle. Arctic Locations, a destination management company based in “NORWAY IS A LEAN, Northern Norway, organised a EFFICIENT AND familiarisation trip for a group of HIGHLY MODERN UK-based location managers at the SOCIETY, AN IDEAL start of 2022. COMBINATION AS HOST OF LARGE SCALE, PRESTIGIOUS PRODUCTIONS.”

“The most special thing about this trip to me, as a Norwegian and host, was watching very seasoned location managers truly appreciate what we always knew: that the landscape and architecture of Northern Norway as a location is truly spectacular and a fairly undiscovered place for film and stills,” reflects Arctic Locations founder Eiril Skarbek.


North of the Arctic Circle, the subpolar archipelago of Svalbard is at once remote and accessible. The name of this territory derives from the Old Norse words svalr (cold) and barð (edge or beard), capturing the wild, icy character of this famous region. 60% of the area is covered in glaciers, offering a taste of the polar north amid staggering fjords and Arctic wildlife. Walruses, reindeer, the Arctic fox and approximately one-sixth of the world’s polar bears call Svalbard home. Counterintuitively, the area experiences midnight sun in summer and polar night in winter. A succession of ice ages created the landforms of Svalbard, when glaciers sliced and chiselled the former plateau into valleys and and mountains. The first recorded landing on its islands of Svalbard dates back to 1604. An English ship landed at Bjørnøya, or Bear Island, in order to hunt walrus. The largest island is Spitsbergen, and the largest settlement is Longyearbyen.

The Lofoten Islands – an archipelago that is home to one of the largest coral reefs in the world – offer locations loaded with potential, especially for those


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in search of the Northern Lights. Lofoten Film Collective – the leading production company operating across the islands – helped create the music video for Michael Bolton’s seasonal hit It’s Christmas Time. “When Scream Media came here and wanted a special shot for a music video it sounded far-fetched at first,” detail producers Yngvar Christensen and Inge Wegge. “Matoma and Michael Bolton on top of a mountain – with a piano – in the sunset with nice weather. And a pretty short deadline! But with help from the local helicopter crew, great local mountain guides, and fast cooperation with the municipality, we managed to set it up in just a few days and get some great shots with camera and drone.” Black Widow © Disney Enterprises, Inc.



The national incentive offers up to 25% reimbursement on costs spent in Norway – as long as the production is produced partly or entirely in Norway, and intended for international distribution. Looking back at the previous five years, the main collaborator must have produced a film, drama series or documentary series that was widely distributed. TIME ZONE


Norway is a member of the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production. An audiovisual co-production agreement is in place between Canada and Norway, offering access to the world-leading Canadian infrastructure. The Norwegian Film Institute is a member of several international partnership efforts, such as: Creative Europe, European Film Promotion, Filmkontakt European Film Academy and Scandinavian Films. ATA CARNET


Make-up artists Ana Oria, Maria Bjørnnes Hermansen & Rita Synnøve Sharma. Actors Kristofer Hivju, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Natassia Malthe & Aksel Hennie.


Productions produced partly or entirely in Norway can qualify for grants of up to 25% on costs spent in the country. The minimum required for eligible costs spent in Norway is NOK4 million, and the minimum total production sums are: NOK25 million (around EUR2.6 million) for feature films, NOK10 million (approximately EUR1.04 million) for documentaries and per episode for drama series, and NOK5 million (nearly EUR521,600) per episode for documentary series. Countries from the Nordic region have strong collaborative ties – especially in terms of media production. The Nordisk Film & TV Fond was established in 1990 by interparliamentary cooperative group the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM), aiming to promote the region as a whole by emphasising the possibilities engendered by cross-cultural collaboration. The core film commissions in the country are the Norwegian Film Commission, Northern Norway Film Commission, Western Norway Film Commission, Midgard Film Commission Norway and Oslo Film Commission, and the key regional funds are Zefyr Media Fund, Filminvest and Filmfond Nord. Again, taking the time to compare what these bodies offer and promote is an important way of ensuring your production makes the most out of the Norwegian film industry. Norway had a strong year as a filming location in 2021, being featured in major projects such as the Bond movie No Time to Die as well as blockbusters Dune and Black Widow. Norway’s advertising sector is also advanced and focused on digital outputs. According to Statista’s forecasts, spending in Norway’s digital advertising market is projected to reach EUR1.3 billion in 2022, with 52% of total ad spending generated through mobile and 83% through programmatic advertising by 2026. The market's largest segment is expected to be banner advertising with a market volume of EUR557 million in 2022. The region’s top performing advertising agencies in recent times include: TRY, Los&Co, ANTI, JCP, Anorak and POL.



The Norwegian King’s Guard visited Edinburgh Zoo in 1961, and lieutenant Nils Egelien was fascinated by its penguin colony. The King’s Guard returned in 1972 and arranged to adopt one of the penguins. The chosen penguin was named Nils Olav (in joint-honour of Nils Egelien and King Olav V of Norway) and given the rank of lance corporal. Nils Olav received a promotion every time the King’s Guard visited, advancing to corporal level in 1982 and then sergeant status in 1987. Nils Olav died shortly after this final promotion, and was replaced his penguin doppelgänger Nils Olav II. Nils Olav II continued to advance up the ranks until he received a knighthood in 2008. His replacement is now a brigadier, meaning that Nils Olav III officially outranks Nils Egelien.

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Entries open for makers & shakers Awards 2022

Lou Patel (centre), winner of the Shaker of the Year Award 2021.

The makers & shakers Awards are calling for entries from the commercial, TV, feature film, animation and gaming sectors.

he makers & shakers Awards celebrate excellence in global production, and were launched at BAFTA in December 2019 by The Location Guide, makers magazine and the FOCUS show.


The third annual makers & shakers Awards will once again place a spotlight on innovative and impactful contributions made by production professionals, freelancers, film commissions, government film liaison offices, studios, production service companies, facilities and support businesses. The deadline for submissions is 1 July 2022. Professionals from across the world’s advertising, television, film, animation, and gaming sectors are encouraged to enter.

Our jury of leading international professionals are ready to judge entries across six categories: Outstanding Creative Use of a Location, Film Commission Initiative of the Year, Production Tech Innovation of the Year, Initiative to Grow Local Industry, the Sustainability Award, and Shaker of the Year. The judges confirmed so far for this year’s Awards come from organisations including Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, LMGI, PACT, Lower Austrian Film Commission and Green Film Shooting. The winners will be unveiled at the awards ceremony on 7 December.


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CAMA ASSETSTORE won the Sustainability Award, providing an innovative solution to combat a production’s carbon footprint while also demonstrating exciting potential to grow and expand into a widely-adopted industry resource (see their Profile, page 153).

CAMA ASSETSTORE, winner of the Sustainability Award 2021.


makers & shakers Awards provides a chance to celebrate the exceptional work done by those pioneering change within the global industry. You can enter yourself or nominate a colleague for trailblazing work in each of the categories using the online submission form. To enter go to Last’s year’s ceremony took place at BAFTA Piccadilly on the final night of FOCUS London and was kindly supported by Neom, Cinema Tech, Maui County Film Office and Ouarzazate Film Commission from Morocco. The event was hosted by comedian Chloe Petts. Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission won Film Commission Initiative of the Year for supporting production, communities and businesses on a local scale while, at the same time, promoting diverse yet important stories. The Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media were highly commended for going the extra mile to support local filmmakers and businesses.

Lou Patel’s pioneering work for The Time Project and Share My Telly Job ensured that the producer won Shaker of the Year sponsored by Ouarzazate Film Commission. The Time Project offers an industry-wide method for recording “THE MAKERS & working hours in British SHAKERS AWARDS television and film, addressing how long RECOGNISE SUCCESS working hours are AND DILIGENCE linked to burnout. It ACROSS THE SCREEN also highlights failures INDUSTRIES, AND in diversity, the loss CELEBRATE of women to other CREATIVITY FROM industries, and key ALL OF THE issues connected to INTERNATIONAL career stagnation and PRODUCTION por mental health (see her interview, page 54). COMMUNITY.” The Location Guide’s managing director, Jean-Frédéric Garcia said:. “The makers & shakers Awards recognise success and diligence across the screen industries, and celebrate creativity from all of the international production community.” To enter the 2022 awards go to

The Initiative to Grow Local Industry Award was won by Film Bay of Plenty for engaging new talent and providing new job opportunities to the local economy, supporting and mentoring participants after placing them on a job within professional production (see their Briefing, page 129). The Outstanding Creative Use of a Location Award sponsored by NEOM was won by Naomi Liston for feature film The Northman, shot in Northern Ireland (see its Making Of, page 18). In this instance, judges admired the creativity, technical prowess and problem-solving on display. TheGreenShot were victors in the Production Tech Innovation category, presenting an excellent organisational tool with efficient resource management. Circus were highly commended in this category, inspiring a sizeable quantity of people to adopt the product (see Disruptive Tech, page 133).

GLOBAL TheGreenShot’s Max Hermans, winner of the Production Tech Innovation Award 2021.




KEY DATES May – open for entries 1 July – Entry deadline 7 December – Awards Ceremony

SIX CATEGORIES TO ENTER – Film Commission Initiative of the Year – Initiative to Grow Local Industry – Outstanding Creative Use of a Location – Production Tech Innovation of the Year – Sustainability Award – Shaker of the Year

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Advertisers flock to big sport events because they guarantee large audiences. But brands need to strategise wisely and work hard in order to make a lasting, meaningful impact on consumers.


head of the World Cup in Qatar, there are many advertising opportunities around major sporting events this year. From the SuperBowl and Winter Olympic competitions to NBA Playoffs and UEFA Champions League finals, these events guarantee attention for businesses and their products. But what kinds of work best stands out at sporting events, and how can brands effectively monetise investment in advertising when the competitions take place? Executive producer Michal Skop recently worked on a Superbowl 2022 commercial for Bud Light with production company Park Pictures. Titled Zero In The Way Of Possibility, this spot was directed by Georgia Hudson and serviced by Stillking Films. Although the project was filmed in Europe, the producers created an ‘international’ feel that could not be isolated to a specific region. “The shooting was a combination of locations and stage build,” explains Skop. “We shot in the castle and residential area about 50km from Prague, and the concert scene was shot in an old stage with dressing. We all agreed that the final look of the spot looks very international – you really do not see that all scenes were shot in the Czech Republic.”

This sense of global interconnectivity underpinning Zero In The Way Of Possibility captures the scale of today’s Superbowl. The event is highly attractive for any form of advertising – across all kinds of global brands – because it is one of the most watched sporting events in the world, let alone the USA. The figures speak for themselves. The most watched NFL Final – the New England Patriots versus the Seattle Seahawks in 2015 – attracted roughly 114 million viewers. In turn, Superbowl 2015 generated TV advertising revenue worth USD268 million in the United States. In 2022, the numbers were similarly staggering. Approximately 99.18 million viewers tuned in to see the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals. While this total did not break the records set in 2015, the commercial industry still thrived. Broadcaster NBC reportedly sold 30-second advertising slots at an average price of USD6.5 million. 18 new first-time advertisers joined the affair. What made this year’s Superbowl especially interesting was the prevalence of cryptocurrency advertisements. The event has become colloquially


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known as Cryptobowl 2022 in response to the number of cryptocurrency exchange companies who decided to purchase advertising slots. Businesses such as Coinbase,, eToro and FT Trading were all involved at the 56th edition of the Superbowl. Coinbase’s Windows 90-style campaign was one of the highlights of the event’s advertising side. It generated 117 million impressions with a bouncing QR code, reporting that 20 million people visited their website in a single minute. The reactions to the Superbowl’s large number of cryptocurrency advertisements were mixed. While many voices applauded these alternative currency platforms for breaking into the mainstream on a massive scale, critics derided them for jumping on the Superbowl bandwagon, only engaging with the sport on a superficial level. SPORT IS A MICROCOSM OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE ­ IT’S HARD NOT TO FIND AN ANGLE THAT WILL RESONATE WITH PEOPLE.

“Your brand needs to have a credible role in sport: if you don’t have it, you need to find one, with time, investments, and passion,” observes Carlo Cavallone, global co-chief creative officer and partner at New York-based creative agency 72andSunny. “Authentic-to-sport brands of course have a much easier life. The NFLs, the Nikes, the Gatorades, even the betting companies… they all naturally belong, and audiences expect them to have something to say. But brands that are not on the field or court have to work harder.” A lack of direct relevance to sport does not preclude businesses such as the cryptocurrency platforms from advertising at a large-scale sporting event. However, it does frequently mean that these particular brands must strategise very carefully in order to both fit in and stand out. “Sport is a microcosm of human experience – it’s hard not to find an angle that will resonate with people,” adds Cavallone. “Starting from the truth is always the best idea. As it is counting on the fact that real fans appreciate authenticity.” Stamp Productions is a modern-day studio which worked on a successful campaign with Olympic athletes for Japanese tyre manufacturer Bridgestone. In collaboration with creative agency WeAreFearless, the production team created a project called Chase Your Dream, No Matter What. The commercial showcased the unbreakable spirit of the athletes and related it to the Bridgestone tyre. While the company does produce content for brands and partners who are directly connected to the sports industry, Stamp Productions also aims to apply sporting stories to other types of brands. “Viewers connect with stories through people and the situations they can relate to,” explains Stamp Production founder Ben Uttley. “Comedy, a quest, and overcoming the seemingly impossible are all well-trodden archetypes. For instance, using a strong, deadpan, tough athlete can be used to good effect, as Samsung did with Martin Johnson and Jack Whitehall for the Rugby World Cup in 2015.”


The Samsung School of Rugby with Jack Whitehall campaign was the brand’s first multiplatform effort to “demystify the game” in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup. While the sport is commonly associated with brutal physical action with little room for nonsense, Samsung cleverly juxtaposed the quick-witted, lighthearted and perhaps above all skinny comedian against six rugby legends who, conversely, epitomise strength, power and discipline. At the time, Samsung was on a mission to become a “meaningful brand.” In the mock behind the scenes training videos of an out-of-depth Whitehall being mauled and battered by top athletes, the campaign struck a chord with fans and consumers alike. The popularity of the School of Rugby commercials managed to uncover the lighter side of sport, showcasing the camaraderie of the rugby players as well as their elite physical condition and world-class skills. With the FIFA World “YOUR BRAND NEEDS Cup being hosted in TO HAVE A CREDIBLE Qatar this summer, ROLE IN SPORT: IF brands will need to tread YOU DON’T HAVE IT, very carefully. The choice YOU NEED TO FIND of host country was met ONE, WITH TIME, with disapproval as a INVESTMENTS, AND result of the country’s PASSION.” poor human rights record. Homosexuality is banned in Qatar, and thousands of migrants have been killed or injured during a nationwide construction drive largely orchestrated in preparation for the World Cup. Allegations of bribery among the World Cup’s organisers – as well as unanswered questions surrounding the region’s staggering heat and difficult playing conditions – have further mired the event in controversy before a single ball has been kicked. Advertisers have an excellent opportunity to reach new global audiences this summer – but how will they choose to engage with customers as the rest of the world watches on? “When you look at sports-related campaigns around the [Football] World Cup, more than half of them have no insight, or idea – they just show screaming people on couches with national colours, getting excited for football,” says Cavallone. “That’s not good, or interesting, or stand-out. The best brands not only have POV in sport, but they also contribute to it. Just think, again, about brands like Beats, Coke or State Farm… they put the work (and money) in, and they found their place.” “The critical element in any campaign is that you have to spark the imagination of your audience in some way,” Uttley emphasises. “Reflect in your content something that inspires them or gives them something authentically. Make them feel, and they will love you for it.”

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Filmmaking Across the USA

Behind the Scenes of Stranger Things © Tina Rowden / Netflix.

The USA is a filmmaking powerhouse with different regions offering different opportunities. Alongside stunning landscapes and impressive coastlines, there are a range of incentive programmes for incoming production teams. How can creatives make the most of the American industry?


hen you think about the USA’s film industry, Hollywood will always spring to mind. However, the country offers many different regional filmmaking hubs beyond California. Navigating these production environments requires taking time to recognise what each part of the USA can offer for incoming producers and their crew. It is vital to consider how each production area differs, evaluating the myriad options available across parts of country.

In the South-East of the country, a major film-making hub can be found in the USA’s oldest city: Savannah, Georgia. While the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act grants an income tax credit of “IT IS VITAL TO 30% to qualified productions, the Savannah Regional Film CONSIDER HOW Commission offers a USD25,000 EACH PRODUCTION bonus to qualifying productions AREA DIFFERS, that hire 50% or more local EVALUATING THE crew. Producers can save MYRIAD OPTIONS money by merging the Savannah Entertainment Production AVAILABLE ACROSS Incentives with the state of PARTS OF COUNTRY.” Georgia’s separate tax credit programme.

“The Georgia tax credit brings producers to the state, and the local incentive encourages them to consider Savannah,” explains Beth Nelson, film commissioner and executive director of the Savannah Regional Film Commission. “And beyond these competitive financial incentives, we offer the largest historic district in the country, beach communities on the coastline and huge rural areas which have remained untouched over time. After all, people have been drawn here to make films for over 100 years!” New Mexico similarly boasts a strong track record for filmmaking. Production spending in Albuquerque city reached a grand total of USD500 million during the 2021 fiscal year, surpassing spending in the fiscal year of 2019 by USD100 million. Television hits such as Breaking Bad and Stranger Things have prompted investment from Netflix. The streamer bought ABQ Studios in 2018, committing USD1 billion towards production spend at the site while aiming to generate 1,000 new production jobs in New Mexico over the next ten years. A 25-35% refundable tax credit makes the state a prime filmmaking destination.


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“New Mexico beckons filmmakers working in all genres with our competitive film incentive, diverse landscapes, deep and skilled crew base, wide network of businesses, stages, and infrastructure – along with some of the most unique beauty and cinematic light you’ll find anywhere in the world,” emphasises Amber Dodson, deputy director at the New Mexico Film Office.


The state of Mississippi, meanwhile, hosts white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, as well as river communities, antebellum homes and railroad cities. A strong 25-35% cash rebate on spend and all payroll is bolstered by practical support from the Mississippi Film Office. The organisation helps with location scouting and research at pre-production stages, as well as troubleshooting during production and wrap, which in turn emphasises the underlying sense of community that characterises its film scene. “Beyond our very competitive cash rebate incentive programme and a diversity of locations, Mississippians love to host film productions in their communities,” says Nina Parikh, director of the Mississippi Film Office. “We are named the Hospitality State after all, so you can expect good food, drinks, music, and conversations as you bring your story to the screen.” A similarly open-armed ethos of collaboration is fostered in other ways in the state of Colorado. The region’s Film Crew and Support Services Directory provides producers with extensive listings of experienced film professionals throughout the state, from gear rental houses and camera operators to accountants and grips. A performance-based rebate for up to 20% of qualified expenses is available for feature films, documentaries, television pilots and series, and video games. “I’ve lived in different parts of America, and as a movie producer I’ve worked in lots of states and even a couple countries,” says film commissioner Donald Zuckerman. “Yet one of the things that I find most unique about Colorado is its people. The film industry here is all about team work. Some places are cutthroat competitive – there is competition in the local industry but it is very friendly, healthy


competition. When someone is working on a particular job, they can call on other professionals among their networks to help out, and everyone finds a way to work together.” In California, an organisation called FLICS (Film Liaisons in California Statewide) aims to facilitate efficient and effective location shooting throughout the state. The group helps filmmakers negotiate permits and access resources, sharing local knowledge with incoming production teams. “FLICS works with filmmakers and content producers across 42 different offices,” explains Sabrina Jurisich, vice president at FLICS and regional film commissioner for UpState California. “When a production has a location need in a particular jurisdiction, we can connect producers with neighbouring jurisdictions or refer them to a different film commission office in order to find an appropriate solution.” The state offers a 25% “SOME PLACES ARE transferable tax credit CUTTHROAT for independent films, COMPETITIVE – THERE a 20% non-transferable IS COMPETITION IN tax credit for feature films, new TV series, THE LOCAL INDUSTRY mini-series and pilots, BUT IT IS VERY and a 5-10% credit FRIENDLY, HEALTHY uplift for out-of-zone COMPETITION.” filming, visual effects and local hire labour. “Our robust incentive system is complimented by the depth of our talented workforce, forming a dynamic, film-friendly environment,” details Colleen Bell, executive director of the California Film Commission. “We are known as the entertainment and production capital of the world, and visually our topography creates such a beautiful state for filming.” Across the country in Florida, there is a state-wide sales tax exemption programme for the industry, allowing projects to save up 7.5% on sales tax for selected expenses related to production. However, as producers dig a little deeper, different parts of the state come with their own distinguishable filmmaking characteristics. For example, while most people associate Miami-Dade County with the stunning coastline of Miami Beach, this is just one of the many facets that has nurtured a thriving filmmaking scene in the region.




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Better Call Saul © Michele K.Short / Netflix.


“Over time, there was a realisation throughout the industry that Miami offered many more opportunities than people thought,” observes Bruce Orosz, CEO and president of ACT Productions and chairman of the board at GMVCB (Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau). “It wasn’t just the beach, it has an interesting urban downtown, there are fascinating outlying municipalities like Little Haiti, Little Havana and Overtown.” Further up the coast, the newly-appointed Broward County film commissioner Sandy Lighterman arrives from Miami-Dade County's Office of Film and Entertainment. Before joining Miami-Dade County, she had a 30-year career as a film and television producer. Lighterman is now drawn to Broward County by the determination of new Mayor Michael Udine to revamp the county’s filmmaking infrastructure through new funding opportunities and investment in state-of-the-art sound and production studios. “Broward County are putting a lot of resources towards the film industry, making it a cornerstone of their overall economic plan,” she explains, “and that was very attractive to me, being able to develop new policies that are extremely film-friendly at county-level as well as on a municipal-level. We have 31 municipalities, and one of our biggest goals is to streamline processes and make things even easier for incoming productions.” From Miami to Savannah by way of Colorado, the possibilities for production across the USA are charged with potential. It really helps to get assistance in unpicking what the country might offer. This is why Film USA was established by Katie Patton Pryor and Tony Armer, film commissioners for Louisiana’s Baton Rouge and Florida’s St Pete-Clearwater, respectively.




“At Cannes 2021’s Marché du Film, we noticed that there was no film industry representation for the USA as a whole,” Armer states. “The UK, for example, has a pavilion that represents its films, film commissions, tax credits and many key bits of “FROM MIAMI TO information. So we SAVANNAH BY WAY thought: why couldn’t OF COLORADO, THE we do something POSSIBILITIES FOR similar? Why not pool PRODUCTION ACROSS our resources together?” THE USA ARE CHARGED

“We started with this WITH POTENTIAL. idea that we would IT REALLY HELPS TO provide international GET ASSISTANCE IN marketing opportunities UNPICKING WHAT for American film commissions,” recalls THE COUNTRY MIGHT Pryor. “And when OFFER.” we began talking to everybody about this global marketing opportunity – starting at Cannes and growing from there – the reception was unbelievable.” While almost all US states have a film commission office alongside several regional film commissions, there has never been an alliance of film commissions and filmmakers to represent the country as a unified whole. The new national, non-profit trade organisation is designed to offer representation for all film commissions across the USA, presenting a singular voice for the multi-billion dollar USA film industry. Film USA’s first physical event will take place at Cannes Film Festival 2022’s Cannes’s Marché du Film, with the aim of expanding across other important industry events over the coming years. Further information about filming in the USA can be found at the organisation’s newly-launched website, or Film USA’s Marché du Film pavilion.

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PERU picture perfect

A campaign for Opi shot in Chinchero Town © Bruno Canale.

The third largest country in South America, Peru’s megadiverse status means excellent opportunities for filmmakers. Productions will also be immersed in a range of cultures when they set foot on Peruvian soil.


eru has a wide array of unique looking locations within the country,” says Bruno Canale, executive producer at APU Productions. “It is like a hidden jewel full of surprises that is yet to be discovered by international filmmakers. Peruvian crew has gained experience in the past year though projects such as Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Ines del Alma Mia and Transformers 7. On all of these projects the crew's friendly, open attitude and experience has worked very well with big foreign crews.”

“Peru has a great diversity of locations in a relatively small area, including mountains, jungle and historical cities” adds Transformers 7 executive producer Duncan Henderson. “And I’d definitely recommend talking with other production companies that have shot in Peru – there is a lot to learn.” There are three distinct geographical zones in Peru: coast, highlands and the jungle. Each zone has its own set of characteristics, and there are always site-specific outcomes to consider: heavy rain and consequent landslides in the jungle zones can delay filming, and acclimatation periods are required for film crew as they ascend parts of the Andes. Peru’s tropical climate means that sunlight hours vary minimally from summer to winter, though incoming production teams should always check weekly and monthly weather statistics when planning their trip.


While there are no tax incentives for feature films or commercial projects, in certain situations foreign crews are exempt from sales tax on hotel


The Sacred Valley Under an hour’s drive from Cusco, the Sacred Valley is a captivating location. Maras, Moray, Pisac, Chinchero, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo are situated in this Andean valley. The Salinas are man-made salt evaporation ponds found near Maras, used to extract salt since the time of the Incas. The town of Moray boasts circular terracing that was used by resident’s ancestors for agricultural. Picturesque Ollantaytambo is known for its massive Inca fortress with large stone terraces. The Pisac Ruins (above) are must-see elements of the Sacred Valley. Today, the Sunday Market in Pisac captures the vibrant culture of the area, with smaller market days held on Tuesday and Thursdays. As part of Gordon Ramsay’s Uncharted series, the swearing Scottish chef embarks on a motorcycle through this region, hoping to learn the secrets of high-altitude cooking.


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logistics, locations, national supply, access and permits. Carbajal says: “We anticipate great cinematography accomplishments made in our country and look forward with optimism to be able to tell more stories with our beautiful landscapes along with the great Peruvian talent. Peru is a country with much to discover, with great opportunities and particularly with an unparalleled friendliness.”

On set of Brazilian TV’s Amor A Vida © Bruno Canale.


Although there are no official government incentives or tax breaks, international filmmakers can take advantage of low cost of services, locations & crew in Peru. As well as being more affordable than Europe & North America, Peruvian costs can be lower than in other countries in South America – so it is worth producers taking their time to do some research. ATA CARNET



Highlights include: Don’t Look Up, Convergence: Courage in a Crisis, Down to Earth with Zac Efron, Chocolate Road, Song without a Name, The Last Tourist, & The Jungle Demon. Amazon Prime Series Ines del Alma Mia is a story based in the 1500s at the time of the conquest of the Incas. It was shot in Chinchero & Ollantaytambo (Cusco). TIME ZONE


Production teams looking for a specialist Director of Photography can reach out to a wealth of talent, such as: Miguel Valencia, Julian Amaru Estrada, Christian Valera, Fergan Chavez, Fernando Cobian, Paco Femenía, Carlos Catalán, Marc Miró, Marcus Hastrup, Natasha Brier, Eloi Moli, Javier Juliá, Juanmi Azpiroz, Borja Lopez or Jorge Roig.

accommodation, so it always helps to check for these opportunities with local fixers and production teams. Although locations and talent are inexpensive, the relatively small Peruvian media infrastructure means that key crew members and equipment may need to be exported into the country from abroad. There is also a new Artistic Production visa, which was established for the Transformers 7 project to be able to have a specific visa for foreign paid crew. This visa costs around USD50. A press visa is recommended for any crew entering Peru with filmmaking equipment, since these visas are free (and easily obtained after a minimum two-week processing period) through the appropriate international embassy. Presently there are no major studios or backlots in Peru. There is a standard processing and transfer facility in Lima, though most recommend shopping around and finalising postproduction abroad once footage is captured in Peruvian territory. “We are very excited about the exposure our country is getting in film and TV productions,” explains Amora Carbajal, executive president of PROMPERÚ, the government agency that champions foreign trade and tourism in Peru. “We have been working for several years through Film in Peru, a strategy to promote our impressive locations to the world. In this way we try to boost and position the Peruvian identity in the world, attract private investment to the country and collaborate with its economic reactivation. In recent years we have been part of major film productions such as Transformers 7: Rise of the Beasts, La Reina del Sur Season 3, and Dora and the Lost City of Gold, among others.” In order to film at key archaeological locations, permissions and entrance fees are required from the relevant government ministry. The pricing depends on the type of project. Documentary permit fees offer a day-rate of around USD375 per location, whereas commercial project fees can cost up to USD1500 for a two-day shoot per location. Machu Picchu is the most expensive, costing around USD2100 per day. Applications should take place at least 15 days prior to filming. In the case of Machu Pichu, allowing up to a month before shooting is probably a safer option. Some special sites require permission from the local indigenous community, so it is important to check in with local production service companies when navigating access. PROMPERÚ also provides advice services to those interested in filming in the country in terms of


The US Embassy in Lima funded USD25,000 to support women from the Peruvian film industry in the aftermath of the pandemic. PROMPERÚ recently has been attempting to nurture ties between the Spanish and Peruvian animation sectors. Peru’s Maneki Studio - specialising in 2D and 3D animation - has partnered with international agencies such as Ogilvy and Circus Grey, and is planning to branch out to Chile and Spain. “Our efforts, together with those of other institutions, generate more and more opportunities and accessibilities for international productions,” says Carbajal.



The national animal of Peru is a relative of the llama family: the vicuña. Prized for the quality of its warm, comfortable wool, in the ancient era only the most royal lineages could wear the vicuña’s produce. Their hypoallergenic coat grows very slowly, sometimes taking as long as three years to grow back once the vicuña is sheared, and it estimated to be 10% lighter than cashmere. Conquistadors hunted the vicuña after discovering “the silk of the new world” or, in other words, its luxurious wool. This herbivore has adapted to its habitat: since plains and semi-arid grasslands dominate the creature’s land in Peru, it predominantly eats grass. It is the smallest camelid and became an endangered species in the mid-twentieth century. Around 350,000 roam free today.

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On set of Netflix’s Glória © Paulo Goulart Photography.

Portugal has experienced an influx of international productions in recent years. The country’s talent pool is growing as its infrastructure expands. When creatives examine the filmmaking possibilities within the country, it’s little wonder that Portugal has become an industry favourite.


hen producers consider working in the Iberian Peninsula, the strength of Spain’s filmmaking infrastructure can often dominate the conversation. However, in recent years Portugal has proved itself as a promising option for foreign creatives. “The internationalisation of our industry is growing, and our crews are improving and adapting,” explains Sofia Noronha, founder of Lisbon-based production company Sagesse Productions. “As well as having great experience partnering with Fresco Film in Spain for the Portuguese parts of House of the Dragon, we were working with Sky for a show titled A Town Called Malice and a series with ITV called

The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe. Portugal has been a relatively unknown territory, but tourists and filmmakers alike are realising that we are here, understanding what our industry can offer.” America is showing interest in the region. Filmmaker Ira Sachs selected the foothills of a picturesque town named Sintra for American-French co-production Frankie, a family drama starring Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson and Jérémie Renier. Parts of rural Sintra (as well as sections of urban Lisbon) were also used in Nicolas Cage’s sci-fi horror film Color Out of Space, replacing territory in New England.


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India entered the fray when Siddharth Anand chose Portugal for his action epic War, featuring Bollywood superstars Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff and Vaani Kapoor. These Indian and American projects benefitted from cash rebates ranging from EUR631,000 to EUR1.9 million. The country has attracted British investment from the MovieBox Group, a collection of companies that cover the development, production and distribution of films. Alongside investors Landsdowne Capital Partners, MovieBox pumped EUR60 million into a cutting-edge film studio production complex in Loulé. The 15,000sqm site will feature three indoor soundstages, two outside water stages, a green screen, and a specialist TV studio with a technology hub. The construction is less than twenty minutes from Faro International Airport, and it is anticipated that the project will initially create around 300 high-quality jobs. Portugal launched its incentive programme in 2018, the same year that Millennium Films set up in the country. The organisation established a post-production hub in Braga, near Porto. From this site, company has been involved with VFX work for Hollywood projects Angel Has Fallen, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and Rambo: Last Blood. Millennium Film emphasised that the development of the incentive programme had a direct impact on its growth. Portugal provides visiting productions with tax rebates between 25% and 30%, depending on eligible local spend. The programme shifts to the 30% bracket if producers shoot in economically disadvantaged rural areas or employ staff (from actors to technicians) with disabilities. This rebate scheme is capped at a maximum of EUR4 million per project, as well as a maximum total annual spend of EUR12 million. “Portugal is looking at having a booming film production year for 2022 thanks to the Film


Incentive Programme, with cash rebates of up to 30%,” says Staffan Tranæus, founder of production service company Southwest Productions. “Various series and feature films are in production making use of this programme. Combined with a flood of commercials being shot here, the prospects for 2022 are very promising. Portugal is solidly on the map as a film destination like never before.” The country is certainly proving to be a popular destination among commercial producers. An advertisement for Unilever’s Magnum ice cream company was shot at the historic Palace Hotel Do Bussaco during the height of the pandemic.


Travel restrictions meant that the production team needed to rely on the filmmaking infrastructure and talent offered in Portugal. “For Magnum, we normally work with an international casting and crew – but during this time we did not want our people travelling from different countries due to Covid-19,” recalls producer Pablo Martínez. The project was created by Madrid-based production company Proppa (Propaganda Producciones) and Portuguese production service providers Ready to Shoot (RTS). RTS found a range of inspiring locations for Proppa, before settling on Bussaco’s Palace Hotel. Following the trend, production company and set builders The ATS Team recently expanded its activities into Portugal. The ATS Team specialises in competition series and events, offering development, format and challenge producing, as well as design, fabrication, set construction, special effects and full line productions.




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“We needed a hub in the EU for design and fabrication as well as storage for all the obstacles and materials for our international projects,” explains Shayna Waldman, development and production executive at The ATS Team. The company has recently worked on different incarnations of the Ninja Warrior franchise, including Germany Ninja Warrior All Stars – Series 2, France Ninja Warrior – Series 7, Germany Top Dog – Series 2, and Germany Ninja Warrior – Series 7.


“Our project management team was already based in Portugal and spoke the language so they were able scout for the best location, negotiate a space, establish local relationships and oversee the operation,” adds Waldman. “We utilise a lot of local labour and services. Additionally, we are rapidly growing our fabrication team and operations, so these local relationships are crucial, especially in a part of the country where English is spoken less frequently.” In order to generate meaningful relationships with local Portuguese businesses, organisations such as the Portugal Film Commission are on hand to connect producers with the country’s different commissions. The organisation is designed to support international work with foreign producers. “The Portugal Film Commission has been very much committed to its mission, highlighting the many options that the country has to offer as well as the financial instruments available, from which the 30% cash rebate stands out,” emphasises film commissioner Manuel Clara. “The great results we now witness are a consequence of this national strategy that aims to place Portugal as a top tier destination for international producers.” At present, the country has 12 bilateral film co-production treaties, encompassing Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, France, Germany, India, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and Israel. Negotiations are underway with China too. Alongside these co-production agreements, the country is a key part of the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production, Eurimages, Ibermedia and the Ibero-American Cinematographic Co-production Agreement, allowing possible co-production projects with over 60 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. While the ICA (Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual) manages national funding opportunities for productions, supranational financial support is available from Creative Europe, the Eurimages Fund and the Ibermedia Fund. Netflix is one of the major players to take advantage of such opportunities by heading to Portugal. The





streamer filmed parts of the fifth season for the hit Spanish production Money Heist in Portugal. Towards the end of 2021, Netflix released its first Portuguese local-language original series. Glória is co-produced by the SPi production company of Grupo SP Televisão as well as RTP (Rádio e Televisão de Portugal). Set in a small Portuguese village from the 1960s, the ten-part series as follows Miguel Nunes’s character João Vidal, a young man with family connections to the authoritarian regime Estado Novo. According to The Portugal News, the project is the highest budget series in the history of Portuguese production, highlighting Netflix’s intention to tap into the country’s potential. Meanwhile, RTP has recently shifted from creating telenovelas to generating series and documentaries aimed at the international market. Beautiful scenery, relatively low costs and strong transport links frame Portugal as a prime destination for incoming shoots. “You have this amazing breadth of geographical options: from the sea to the mountains, along with deserts, forests and lakes,” emphasises Compass Rose executive producer Amy Kaemon. “Folded into this are perhaps some of the strongest North “NETFLIX IS ONE American looks available OF THE MAJOR in Europe. And PLAYERS TO TAKE considering Lisbon is ADVANTAGE OF SUCH either home to, or a hop, OPPORTUNITIES skip and a jump away BY HEADING TO from, a long list of premium crew, filming PORTUGAL.” in Portugal is even more compelling." “Portugal has it all,” points out Margarida Adónis, producer and managing director at RTS. “There are breath-taking sites for filming almost any scenario: from vibrant downtown spaces and paradisiac beaches to rural areas and mountains, world-heritage monuments, parks and towns. The short distances everywhere are served by premium motorway infrastructure, and there are friendly public policies for the movie industry, as well as many other attractions.” Portugal is in fact one of the greenest countries in Europe, using renewable sources for 60% of its electricity production and aiming to reach 80% by the year 2030. The Portugal Film Commission has launched a guidance project titled Greenshooting Portugal, offering advice and guidelines for visiting crews to ensure that productions are sustainable. Perhaps more so than ever, the country’s audiovisual industry is proving itself as an ideal environment for international partnerships.

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Making of Suspicion



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ased on the Israeli series False Flag, the Uma Thurman-starring thriller Suspicion is produced out of the UK by Keshet Productions for Apple TV+. Suspicion is about the kidnapping of the son of a prominent American businesswoman (Thurman) from a New York hotel, with suspicion quickly falling on four seemingly ordinary British citizens who find themselves in a trans-Atlantic cat

and mouse race to evade the combined forces of the National Crime Agency and the FBI to prove their innocence. Set between the UK and the USA, the production hit problems with the pandemic, halting shooting in March 2020 before resuming again in November.

Rob Williams serves as showrunner and executive producer, while Chris Long directs and executive produces. Other executive producers include Howard Burch for Keshet Productions, Avi Nir for Keshet Media Group and Anna Winger, alongside Alon Shtruzman (Keshet International), Karni Ziv (Keshet Broadcasting), Amit Cohen, Maria Feldman and Liat Benasuly. The series is produced by Darin McLeod.

Suspicion filmed in locations including New York, London, Oxford, the Chilterns, Brixham in Devon and Ireland.


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he traditional divides between advertising and broadcasting no longer exist in the way they used to. Now more than ever, creative companies need to be nimble and ready to adapt. Our world is vastly different from two years ago, and at Bullion Productions we are multifaceted, working across everything from the most popular music videos, branded content, television commercials, longform comedy and factual for traditional television broadcasters. We are keenly aware of the opportunities to be captured by working in an agile, flexible way. Being open to new ways of working creates possibilities. When traditional advertising agencies started to create their own production units, it prompted production companies to go directly to brands. Thinking flexibly is crucial to adapt to changing models. Brands increasingly want to connect with younger audiences via social platforms, with branded content gaining their trust more than a traditional advertisement. You can see why brands are engaging influencers to make their own films and connect with their followers on their phones. Why not give influencers GBP50,000 plus to create films which will get great engagement, rather than paying a production company to create content that needs large spend on media distribution and doesn’t necessarily chime with the audience? Of course, there will always be a place for premium advertising, whether that’s on TikTok or the big screen. As an industry we are still storytellers and

creators, we just need to adapt, skill up, making the most of the opportunities. Brands have asked us to work with influencers to bring the professional approach we have learned through our experience of producing large scale television advertising and this kind of work is growing. On the other side of the industry, within television broadcast commissioning, there is always talk of championing small indies but there is huge pressure on commissioners and I can see why they often go back to their trusted circle of companies rather than try something unknown. We found that one way to get a project commissioned is to do a co-production with a bigger outfit. However, if broadcasters want to attract younger audiences, they risk being left behind by prioritising only traditional partners. Our outlook at Bullion is to see each opportunity equally no matter the platform, audience or budget. Adaptability, knowledge and experience in different ways of working is definitely an advantage and soon it will be crucial to success and survival in our new world. Jack Newman is a co-founder of Bullion Productions, a multidiscipline indie which produces commercials and music videos through to TV comedy and documentaries. The companies credits include Alll4 doc series Gaming Changed My Life and BBC3 comedy Wannabe, while it has created music videos for Stormzy, Aurora and Royal Blood, and commercials for clients including Nike, McDonalds, Budweiser and Jaguar. Bullion in part of the All3Media group.


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Behind the Scenes of Squid Game © Noh Juhan / Netflix.

The international production community can make drastic savings if they turn to East and South East Asian options for 2022. Established and emerging incentive schemes work in tandem with the continent’s low general costs and an abundance of skilled, hardworking crew.


s emphasised by the popularity of Netflix’s record-breaking series Squid Game, media content created in East Asia continues to thrive. Powerhouses such as South Korea, China, and Japan have traditionally led the way internationally. However, recent investments in infrastructure and emerging production talent in the South Eastern regions of Asia mean that other nations – from Thailand and Vietnam all the way to Taiwan – offer promising prospects for incoming film collaborators.

One of the big advantages of shooting across the continent is the ease with which filmmakers can access an array of disparate cultures and settings at fair, affordable rates. In Taiwan, any foreign project that shoots at least 25% of its scenes in Taipei City (or has post-production at least partially done in the capital) is eligible for funding if it includes a Taiwanese production partner. “The 2021 Taipei Film Fund selected projects were Be with Me from the United States, For the Country from France, Snow in Midsummer from Malaysia, A Year of Cold from Nepal, France,


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Turkey and Norway, and Moving Bangladesh from France and Bangladesh,” explains Taipei film commissioner Tzu-Ting Hsu. “As of late January, we have had 27 foreign productions, including six feature films, six music videos, eight web series, three short films, three commercials, and three TV programmes. Dead and Beautiful (Limelight, IFFR 2021) and Moneyboys (Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2021) were among the first international projects to receive investment from the inaugural Taipei Film Fund in 2018, both were filmed entirely in Taiwan before the coronavirus outbreak.” When filmmakers consider Asia as a filmmaking destination, it is important to research the different opportunities across the continent. “Highly trained crews and production services such as post production can be commissioned for a fraction of the price compared to non-Asian countries,” explains Phil Choy, managing director of AFCNet. “Recent Korean streaming hit Squid Game was produced with less than a quarter of a Hollywood producer’s normal budget. This is why Netflix invests more money in Korea and Asian territories.” The Malaysian Minister of Communications recently announced that the Film in Malaysia Incentive (FIMI) had increased from 30% to 35% for eligible production and post-production activities in Malaysia, making the country an even more attractive option for filmmakers. “With international borders now reopened and improvements to the Film in Malaysia Incentive allowing up to a 35% cash rebate, Malaysia is now one of the most accessible and competitive production hubs globally,” says Rashid Karim, CEO of Iskandar Malaysia Studios. “In anticipation of increased demand, we have invested heavily on new facility offerings including permanent period sets of Penang and Singapore which we completed in 2021, and are planning further set additions and new stages in the coming years.” “Our talented English-speaking crews have years of experience in international productions and are supported by a local film infrastructure that has grown exponentially over the last ten years,” says producer Bill Donovan of Biscuit Films, a leading production service company in Malaysia. The team provides support across all of South East Asia, and were the first company to successfully access the Film in Malaysia Incentive.

Across the sea, the newly-launched Vietnam Association of Film Production and Development (VFDA) serves as the country’s film commission. While there are no readily available tax breaks at present, the VFDA is working towards uniting and promoting the creative capacity of Vietnamese filmmaking. It connects and supports “HIGHLY TRAINED foreign film producers CREWS AND working in Vietnam, PRODUCTION and champions the SERVICES SUCH AS nation’s scenery.


“In the old days, there were many films about or set in Vietnam, but not actually filmed here,” explains Othello Khanh, founder and managing director of The CREATV Company. “After the country opened in 1994, we had productions like L’Oriana and others that finally anchored stories about Vietnam with Vietnamese locations. Now, our clients are becoming increasingly interested in locales here doubling for other exotic locations. With the mangroves of Can Gio, near Ho Chi Minh City, standing in for Sundarbans Mangroves in Bangladesh and the white sand dunes of Mui Ne playing as desert landscapes, Vietnam offers untapped opportunities for both large and small screen productions.”

Towards the East, the Philippines offers an International Co-Production Fund alongside its ASEAN Co-Production Fund. The country’s ASEAN scheme offers between PHP2.5 million (USD50,000) and PHP7.5 million (USD150,000) for co-producers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Brunei Darussalam, whereas the International Fund offers up to PHP10 million (USD195,120) for co-productions with the rest of the world. The Film Location Incentive Programme (FLIP)


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the Southern parts of Asia. “Thanks to a highly advanced IT infrastructure and experienced technicians, its digital post production and VFX houses boast world class services at competitive rates,” observes Seo Sumin, senior manager of the international affairs team at the Korea Film Commissions and Industry Network (KFCIN). “Since Korea is easy to access, productions come to Korea for more flexible and cheaper production costs compared to other East Asian countries,” adds Nine Tailed Fox, a leading South Korean production company.

also grants eligible international projects a 20% cash rebate on their qualified spend in the Philippines if they work with a Filipino line producer, post-production company or an animation studio. DISNEY UNVEILED 27 SERIES AND FILMS IN LOCAL ASIAN LANGUAGES, HIGHLIGHTING THE ORGANISATION’S INTENT TO CRACK THE REGION.

Thailand is a similarly cost-effect place to shoot, and there are very few types of landscapes that cannot be found in the country. “It’s cheap to house and feed crew and there are a tonne of locations in Thailand that would suit nearly any sort of production,” explains Luke Cameron, director of Taipei-based Stone Soup Production Company, whose credits include feature Burapa: Bikers of the East, which shot mainly in Pattaya but also in Bangkok, and Outlaw Land, directed by Reza Sholeh. “We worked with a local fixer in Pattaya for Outlaw Land and also shot a few days in Bangkok as well. Highlights of filming there would be how easy it is to get from A to B and to source things quite quickly and easily.” The current rebate scheme in Thailand offers 15% on projects spending a minimum of THB50 million on services in the country. An additional rebate of 5% is available for shoots taking place before 31 December 2022. Pace Studio Bangkok presents various pre-built sets, and Studio Park in Samutprakan Province has a variety of world-class features, such as five sound stages and a water tank. “Thailand’s infrastructure is a key element that makes it really attractive for incoming production teams,” Kulthep Narula, the COO of Benetone Films, explains. “And in today’s climate, people are mainly concerned about safety measures. Thanks to the health and safety protocols in place in the country – as well as its effective production infrastructure offering a range of options for incoming clientele – Thailand remains one of the best production centres around Asia, not just South East Asia.” Big filmmaking nations such as South Korea have traditionally dominated the production landscape in


Japan has likewise maintained a strong filmmaking identity on the international circuit, yet the country launched its first ever production incentives scheme in 2019 with very little fanfare. Now, a new incentive programme from the Tokyo Film Commission is being set up across two branches: Location Scouting and Shooting. For Location Scouting, the Tokyo Film Commission covers up to 50% of the flight ticket, accommodation, vehicle and coordination costs for a maximum of three people, with a maximum amount of JPY1 million. “THE CURRENT Meanwhile, they will REBATE SCHEME IN cover up to 50% of THAILAND OFFERS the production expenses 15% ON PROJECTS for shooting in Tokyo, SPENDING A at a maximum of MINIMUM OF THB50 JPY5 million (around MILLION ON SERVICES USD40,709.25) for the IN THE COUNTRY.” Shooting Strand. Beyond the film scenes in South Korea and Japan, countries across the rest of Asia are currently building a promising array of opportunities for foreign production teams. Notably, there is mounting interest from the world’s top streaming companies. Netflix recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Taiwan, and Amazon Prime Video announced ambitious plans to make a big push into South East Asia for 2022. Disney unveiled twenty-seven series and films in local Asian languages, highlighting the organisation’s intent to crack the region. “Streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV, Disney+ and Amazon have been building subscribers in Asian countries,” says Choy. “During the pandemic, more global streaming productions were made locally and consumed widely. Streaming giants are investing more money to Asian local contents because they are heavily consumed by the viewer worldwide. And right now, there are many Western filmmakers running local location service companies in South Asian regions. So I’d say choose wisely, embrace the adventure and have fun.”

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POLAND dependable wonder

Poland’s concoction of fascinating locations – as well as its surging economy – make it a very tempting proposition for 2022. Producers can shoot in busy urban centres loaded with history as well as low­lying mountain terrains, zig­zagging woodlands and imposing castles.


here are an array of production service companies in Poland who can cater for different forms of audiovisual production. In Kraków, Pigeon Studio creates engaging 2D animation for world-leading brands such as Microsoft and Ikea, and NeonCup Studio has worked on campaigns for Mercedes Benz and Adidas. Tango Production is a key production service company in Warsaw. With more offices in Bangkok, Beirut, Dubai and Lisbon, the group has produced over 3,000 commercials since 1993. A recent project for VISA – coordinated with Saatchi & Saatchi – was shot between Warsaw and Vienna.


“Poland has become a very popular production destination thanks to its professional and experienced film crews, a variety of diverse filming locations in close proximity to each other, and much lower production costs compared to the US or Western European countries,” explains Gosia Zatorska Trojanowska, CEO and managing partner of Tango Production. “Poland offers a wide range of locations from wild mountains in the south, over 2,000 lakes in the middle regions, and breath-taking wide sandy beaches of the Polish sea side in the north – which always surprises people!” Production reimbursements of 30% are available thanks to a support system funded by the government and operated by the Polish Film Institute. These funds are distributed throughout the year until completely used up. Applications are


The Dunajec River Gorge runs through South Poland’s Pieniny Mountains. Steep limestone cliffs, thick woodland and meandering waters make the area a cinematographer’s dream. The gorge forms part of the border between Poland and Slovakia, meaning that it is easily accessible via other European countries. Producers who choose to work in this vibrant natural location are also a short distance away from Niedzica Castle and a large water dam. The gorge was used as a filming location in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The magic of Narnia – a mythical realm housing wicked spellcasters and fantastical beasts – is represented by the untouched rivers and woods that spread across the region. While the majority of the film was shot in New Zealand, the Dunajec River Gorge features in The Chronicles of Narnia along with Poland’s Siemianówka Lake, Tatra Mountains, and Stołowe Mountain National Park.


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processed in order of submission and there are no deadlines. Incoming filmmakers should contact the Polish Film Institute, Film Commission Poland or a specific regional film commission before shooting. From sorting out working permits to clarifying key rules and regulations, these organisations are available to guide foreign production teams who wish to shoot in the country. “At Arbor Films and Warrior Bear Productions, we have worked mostly on series and films through the 30% cash rebate system,” says producer Krysztof Sołek. “In 2021, we serviced the second season of the Barbarians series, produced by Gaumont. This was Poland’s biggest project to date realised using the rebate system, and one of the biggest projects ever shot in Poland. And we are ready for more.”



The government offers 30% reimbursement on eligible production costs incurred in Poland. Administered by the Polish Film Institute, the funds are allocated to support audiovisual production and come directly from the state’s budget. They are distributed throughout the year until depleted. ATA CARNET


Alvernia is the nation’s largest & most modern film studio complex with post-production services. WFDiF has two soundstages both measuring 600sqm and ATM Studios has seven studio spaces, the largest of which measures 1500sqm. Opus Film has two locations: their headquarters in Lodz, as well as an office in Warsaw at the heart of old Mokotow. TIME ZONE


Janusz Kaminski, Dariusz Wolski & Sławomir Idziak are some of the finest cinematographers in the world. While Kaminski’s credits include Saving Private & Ryan Schindler’s List, Wolski has worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean series and Idziak’s work includes Black Hawk Down & Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix.


Alongside generous incentive schemes, there are several valuable components which constitute the Polish film and media scene thanks to the recent boom in streaming and postproduction requirements. “While the introduction of tax incentives in 2019 was the first big gamechanger for our industry, another major factor that makes Poland stand out is the development of VOD platforms,” says Anna E. Dziedzic, former film commissioner for Poland who currently operates as the new business manager for Fixafilm. “Netflix and HBO were present here but other companies weren’t so active, they weren’t demanding new business ideas in quite the same way that they are now. Especially at the postproduction level, many external clients are now turning to the talents of Polish creatives.” Poland’s versatility means that it can play an affordable double for most destinations in both Central and Eastern Europe. Foreign producers who wish to work in Poland are entitled to support of up to PLN20 million per calendar year, with the limit for a single audiovisual venture set at PLN5 million. It is also worth remembering that at least 10% of the yearly cash rebate budget is designated to animation projects, which can help to support external applications for reimbursement. “Lower Silesia (with Wroclaw as its capital) is a beautiful and diverse province with a rich film tradition,” explains Wroclaw Film Commission’s CEO Jarosław Perduta. “Andrzej Wajda, Paweł Pawlikowski and Steven Spielberg made their films here. If you look for unique places representing many architectural styles and eras, wonderful nature and film professionals, this is the right place to make your movie.” “We can boast of a whole range of natural and architectural phenomena – lots of mountain ranges, the Baltic Sea, forests, the land of lakes and rivers, even a desert,” emphasises Radoslaw Smigulski, general director of the Polish Film Institute. “Any style of any era – from Romanesque to postmodern – will find its representation in Polish architecture.”



One of the first 12 sites in the world to receive UNESCO World Heritage status was Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mines. The first mine shafts were dug in the town of Wieliczka in the 13th century, just under ten miles away the city of Krakow. In the depths of the mines, winding shafts and crisscrossing labyrinths will lead adventurers to an underground lake, statues carved out of rock salt, and four chapels. Known as the Underground Salt Cathedral, the lowest part of the mine is 1073ft below ground, marginally more than the Eiffel Tower’s total height. The mines were administratively run from the neighbouring Wieliczka Saltworks Castle, which was constructed in the medieval period and has been rebuilt several times over the years.

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Training local talent I

mproving diversity and training a new generation of talent are among some of the biggest challenges facing the screen industries. One model for tackling these issues could be offered by New Zealand regional film commission Film Bay Of Plenty.

based production company Greenstone TV proposed to shoot a large-scale indigenous drama series, Vegas, in the region over a four-year period they were faced with an immediate shortage of crew. Film Bay of Plenty responded by launching the TOHEA programme. MAKERS

Based in New Zealand’s north island, the commission’s indigenous screen industry training and apprenticeship programme TOHEA won the ‘initiative to grow local industry’ category at last year’s makers & shakers Awards. TOHEA means ‘to grow or strengthen.’ The name belongs to Te Arawa, the tribe of New Zealand's Rotorua Region – a region at the very heart of Maoridom that’s renowned for its thermal activity, with an economy built on tourism. But when Covid-19 struck, the tourism industry collapsed, Maori youth unemployment rates, already the highest in the country, skyrocketed and the regional economy slumped. Rotorua has a small Maori production industry known as The Steambox Collective, on the cusp of transitioning to large scale productions. In mid 2020 they partnered with Film Bay of Plenty to form Waiariki Films Studios, with a goal to develop the regional screen industry. When Auckland


Tell us about the programme? TOHEA was a six-week, fully paid, intensive, training programme for unemployed young Maori (rangatahi) followed by twelveweek apprenticeships on the production. Its primary aim was to provide previously unemployed rangatahi with the confidence to succeed along with the attitude, knowledge and skills to be immediately effective on set or be set ready. Participants were aged between 18 and 28.


How has it gone so far? Two TOHEA programmes have taken place in the region with completion ratios of 80% each. A total of 25 unemployed young Maori have been successfully apprenticed into the industry. Film Bay of Plenty anticipates an employment rate of 80% across both programmes – well above the Ministry of Social Development's expectations of 60%. Greenstone TV plans also to re-employ the apprentices and up-skill them over the next three years, depending on their availability. Several are already working on large scale international productions. The future looks bright for them too. There is a shortage of crew across the board in the area, while negotiations are currently underway to build a permanent studio in the area to house local and international productions.



How did it get off the ground?

Any tips for running a successful training scheme?

TOHEA was a factor in Greenstone TV's decision to bring the series to the region. Greenstone’s commitment led to the support of regional stakeholders to fund the lease on a refurbished 'studio' warehouse and convinced government stakeholders to fund the training programme as a trial. TOHEA was devised, developed and implemented by the then chair of Film Bay of Plenty, Paula Jones.

Jones offers the following advice. Firstly, align the training programme to the needs of the production company and get their input into the outcomes prior to putting the programme together. Ensure the production company, its employees and contractors are all on board with the programme and that mentors, in particular, are prepared to put in the extra time and attention. Don’t rely on

the production company to do this – arrange a meeting with crew to go through the programme and what they can expect and give them a copy of the programme or a simple hand out they can refer to. Identify one member of the production crew with overall responsibility for the welfare of the trainees once they begin their apprenticeships. Generally, this is the production manager. If working with a specific cultural group use the appropriate methodologies, and tutors and build in a strong cultural element. Keep any on set assessments observational with competency outcomes and easy to fill tick boxes – don't’ make extra work for a busy crew – an honest and positive reference is just as good. Maintain an open-door policy during the training period so that production crew and stakeholders can feel part of the programme and vice versa. Ensure you have sufficient public liability insurance during the training period. Make sure you have wellconstructed apprenticeship, employment agreements that provide for the legitimate, early release and replacement of an apprentice who is performing poorly on set. A production cannot afford the time.




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The Gaming Rush

What do the likes of Netflix, Meta, TikTok, Amazon, Google, and Apple all have in common? None of them are gaming-first companies, but all are deep-pocketed players who are desperate to crack the gaming market. makers examines why more and more entertainment companies are looking to enter gaming in 2022.


e’re not even half-way through 2022 but it is already the biggest ever year for video game M&A announcements in terms of gross transaction value, according to analysts. Three major deals alone – Microsoft's mammoth USD68.7 billion acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard, Take-Two buying social game developer Zynga for USD12.7 billion, and Sony's deal to buy Halo and Destiny creator Bungie for USD3.6 billion – amounted to USD85 billion. In March, Netflix announced that it had acquired its third video game developer in the last six months: Texas-based Boss Fight Studios. It joins California’s Night School Studio and Finland’s Next Games in the Netflix gaming stable. The rationale for each acquisition varies with each deal but is underpinned by a single fact: the gaming industry is fast growing, profitable and plays to the strengths of companies that can build and manage huge online businesses.


The videogame industry received a massive fillip from the Covid-19 pandemic as people increasingly turned to digital entertainment during lockdowns. The global games market in 2021 generated total revenues of USD180.3 billion and it is expected to generate revenues of USD218.8 billion by 2024, according to data analytics firm Newzoo. Videogame companies have also sharpened their focus on mobile games. The mobile gaming market is likely to reach a size of USD116.4 billion by 2024, according to Newzoo. Elsewhere, big tech companies Amazon, Facebookowner Meta, and Apple all have significant stakes in the gaming world, even if they haven’t pushed far into trying to produce games themselves. Apple and Google’s mobile app stores act as the main shop front for the largest segment of the gaming market. Amazon’s Twitch and Google’s YouTube

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attract mass audiences for viewing video games. And Facebook holds the lion’s share of the nascent virtual reality market. Other key players include TikTok Chinese owner Bytedance, which last year snaped up Moonton, the maker of the biggest mobile game in Southeast Asia. China’s Tencent is the world’s biggest game company, with a portfolio of international game studios including Riot Games and a 40% stake in Epic Games. Microsoft billed its acquisition of Activision Blizzard – its largest ever deal – as a step towards the metaverse which some tech companies believe represents the future of the internet. Video games have come to be seen as one path towards the metaverse’s more immersive online worlds. Some see games expanding to become venues where players can live out their lives virtually, making purchases or watching movies. If that is the case, gaming is set to become a key battleground for tech companies that want to maintain their key role in the digital lives of billions of users. “Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft, announcing the deal. Some three billion people actively play games today, Microsoft noted, describing gaming as “the largest and fastest-growing form of entertainment.” The deal makes Microsoft the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. Meanwhile, the rationale for Netflix’s foray into gaming comes as its subscriber growth appears to have slowed, at least in North America, and the company looks to turn its fortunes around through new offerings. But it may also be painting a picture of what’s to come for other streaming services when they hit maturity. A recent Deloitte report – the 2022 Digital Media Trends Survey – showed that watching television and movies at home remains people’s favourite entertainment activity – but this trend skews significantly toward older generations. Across all five countries surveyed – the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, and Japan – Gen Z respondents cited playing video games as their favourite entertainment activity.

More generations may catch up. For UK Millennials, gaming is a close second to watching television and movies at home, and Japanese Millennials rank playing video games as second to browsing the internet. Gaming, of course, competes with screen time. About half of all US gamers say that playing video games has taken time away from other entertainment activities, according to Deloitte. The success of games may be due, in part, to the network effects enjoyed by social games. “People play with friends, against strangers, and in front of audiences on social streaming services, reinforcing engagement while also satisfying more emotional needs,” notes the Deloitte report.


About half of US gamer respondents say that playing video games helps them stay connected to other people. Overall, more than three-quarters of US gamers surveyed also say that gaming helps them relax, while nearly 60% report that gaming helped them through a difficult time. And these games are supporting identity: 61% of US gamers say that personalising their game character or avatar helps them express themselves. Advertisers have taken notice. As game worlds become more dynamic and customisable, in-game advertising and branding opportunities have become more creative. Top social games support greater personalisation by offering digital clothing, skins, and gestures that increasingly include branded virtual goods. Louis Vuitton, for example, has already launched a skins collection for Riot Games’ League of Legends, while Marc Jacobs, Valentino and Anna Sui have created exclusive collections for Animal Crossing. “As consolidation heats up in the games industry, streaming video providers may face even greater competition for younger audiences who have grown up with smartphones, social media, and video games,” says Deloitte. “Will Millennial and Gen Z consumers and those that follow move away from entertainment that isn’t social or interactive in some way?”


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John Chrisian Rosenlund.

New apps and digital platforms are emerging across the audiovisual sectors, seeking to challenge the traditional ways of doing things. Can these technological advancements change the industry for the better?


e live in an age where technology can quickly challenge and subvert what constitutes the norm.

Within the media industry, there are a swathe of new apps and digital platforms that are designed to help organisations to forge more efficient, safer and greener media environments. makers selects a number of technology tools that have caught our eye, and that promise to improve the television, film and commercials industries.

Emerging voices frequently struggle to break through and sustain a career in the entertainment industry. In response, Smash ( was founded. Smash is a suite of free digital tools that helps build pitch presentations. It offers sales estimates, protects intellectual property, and gives users access to the Getty Images Easy Access library of high-resolution images and HD-quality video without charge. Smash is also developing a matchmaking platform that connects creators and decision-makers. The platform’s network will encompass streamers,


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broadcasters, financiers and service providers, acting as a bridge between content producers with ideas and the people who can make these ideas a reality. “We are trying to lower the barriers for entry, so new and emerging talent can come into our sector and share their ideas,” explains Fiona Gillies, CEO and co-founder at Smash. “Our platform helps new writers articulate their stories and pitches in a way that the industry understands easily. And we have received some really promising feedback from our users, who say our app is simple, intuitive and easy to use.” Technologies such as Smash aim to break or ‘smash’ down the traditional barriers which prevent newcomers from getting a foothold into the industry. However, when new writers do manage to break into the business, another key problem – which is especially prevalent among younger members of the industry – is harassment. The University of Sheffield calculated that workplace conflict costs the UK economy around GBP28 billion per year, while an analysis from Deloitte estimates that poor mental health in the workplace costs Britain GBP45 billion. The Call It! app was founded by three film and TV freelancers to help monitor and prevent bullying in the workplace. Call It! allows employees to record incidents of harassment and discrimination quickly and anonymously, enabling companies and productions to monitor the safety and wellbeing of their staff. The app asks staff: “How were you treated at work today?” and then gather anonymous data regarding experiences of bullying and harassment. The technology facilitates easy access to company well-being policies and procedures for formal reporting, while also signposting confidential mental health support. “It’s all there in their pockets, ready if they need it,” explains Kate Wilson, the project’s co-founder. “Users are able to access third party information

including their employers’ relevant policies and procedures, the name, role and contact details for a person with whom to start a confidential conversation about any issues arising at work, and third party resources supporting mental health and workers’ rights.” The Time Project is another disruptive technology protecting the rights of film and television workers. This anonymous data collection tool tracks the amount of hours that people work. “WE ARE TRYING TO These records are sent LOWER THE BARRIERS to the University of FOR ENTRY, SO NEW York, where the data is AND EMERGING used to calculate which TALENT CAN COME sections of the industry INTO OUR SECTOR are the most pressurised and overworked. The AND SHARE THEIR project was celebrated at IDEAS.” the makers & shakers awards ceremony at the end of 2021, and founder Lou Patel is interviewed in this edition of makers magazine (see page 54). Alongside workplace harassment and overworking, sustainability is a hot topic in the media industries. According to BAFTA, a single hour of television produced in the UK – fiction or nonfiction – produces 13 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, nearly as much CO2 as an average American citizen generates in a year. In Hollywood, the environmental damage scales up with a project’s budget. The average film is estimated to produce 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions (equivalent to running 108 cars for a year) while a USD50 million film can produce 4,000 tonnes. TheGreenShot ( represents an attempt to make productions more sustainable, providing a tracker for costs and carbon output on set. The solution is hosted in the cloud, available through a secure web interface for computers and mobile devices. It is billed as the first real-time solution that connects operational costs to carbon emissions. The company was applauded alongside The Time Project at the makers & shakers awards ceremony, winning the Production Tech Innovation of Year Award. “Connecting costs and carbon footprint as well as involving every crew member is


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“We want to take Drylab from the pond into the ocean,” emphasises MTS CEO John Mahtani. “The team who developed this technology are filmmakers, and they really understand the problems that need to be solved.”

essential to reduce productions’ carbon footprint,” explains COO Max Hermans. “Making sustainable choices can reduce production’s budget; TheGreenShot proves it daily whatever your production size.” THE TEAM WHO DEVELOPED THIS TECHNOLOGY ARE FILMMAKERS, AND THEY REALLY UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEMS THAT NEED TO BE SOLVED.

A company called Drylab is similarly disrupting the industry’s reliance on paper. Used in over 90% of productions in Norway and Sweden, Drylab was created by filmmakers John-Christian Rosenlund, Audun Vaaler and Stein Kvae to provide a full digital suite of functionality. The shift away from paper is important for the industry. The average number of documents generated on an individual production is around 5,000, and on large productions can oftentimes exceed 10,000. 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for the production of paper, according to the Green Production Guide, and Asian paper brand Double A estimates that 30 million acres of forest are destroyed annually as a result of the industry. “At the end of every shoot you had this ream of paperwork that you had to fill out – but now it’s all digital,” observes LMGI president and location manager John Rakich. “An unforeseen by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic was the shift where everything went paperless. A large amount of paper used to go to waste.”


The most successful disruptive technology companies identify key issues and proactively seek innovative ways to address them. For example, post-production scripts are typically produced as Word documents, offering limited re-purposing capability for use in other areas. If companies produce the post-production script in XML, they gain the ability to re-purpose the original data into the various scripts and reports needed throughout the entire content supply chain. To this end, transcription company Take 1 has developed a metadata harvesting platform named Liberty. This platform supports the production of XML-based postproduction scripts and “MAKING SUSTAINABLE TTML (Timed Text CHOICES CAN REDUCE Markup Language) for A PRODUCTION’S captioning, as well as the BUDGET; re-purposing of this data THEGREENSHOT into various documents, PROVES IT DAILY files and reports needed throughout the global WHATEVER YOUR content production PRODUCTION SIZE.” workflow. “By combining the talents of multiskilled teams to create high-value content, AI to streamline processes, and interchangeable data to create efficiencies across the content supply chain, Take 1 is uniquely able to deliver transcriptions, access and localisation services at scale while providing the personalised service of a boutique supplier,” says Claire Brown, the company’s vice president of global sales.

Alongside the wide variety of paperless processes that Drylab offers, a key element that sets the technology apart from its competitors is the fact that it is the only product to combine an on set production tool with a digital dailies platform. For filmmakers who crave fast, effective solutions, Drylab’s amalgamation of technologies and services offers an industry-leading edge.

The group plans to virtualise Liberty in the cloud, open up their API gateway, and in turn allow clients to access these services. The move will provide new opportunities to integrate with partners’ and customers’ existing technology stacks (including their preferred programming languages and digital tools), thereby allowing the entire industry to extract value from this data.

This was a major reason why Media Tech SPAC (MTS) purchased the business in 2022. MTS was formed to undertake acquisitions of other businesses in the media and technology sectors. The rationale behind the acquisition of Drylab is to use MTS’s network to expand the Drylab platform, moving it into the global marketplace.

From sustainability hacks thanks to TheGreenShot and Drylab through to Call It! and The Time Project counteracting toxic workplace cultures, disruptive technologies within the media industries are fast emerging. By challenging existing protocols and practices, these innovations can help businesses function more smoothly and efficiently than ever before. At the same time, they offer the building blocks for creating healthier, more inclusive workplace environments – for everyone.

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interview untold withderspici studios U

ntold Studios has grown from six people to over 200 since the self-styled creative studio and community launched in London in 2018, producing work across three divisions: original content; music and advertising; and VFX. In the music world, the studio has worked with artists such as Adele, Sam Fender, Kylie, Placebo and Kojey Radical. Its roster of commercials directors work with brands such as Adidas, New Balance, Guinness and MoneySuperMarket. Untold has also produced branded content: for Beats by Dr. Dre, Untold Studios created YouTube series Informal. Untold’s originals team is behind E4 mini series, Once Upon a What?! and has projects in development with the likes of Channel 4, Netflix and HBO. The Untold Studios VFX team, meanwhile, is BAFTA and Emmy nominated for its work on The Crown, and won acclaim for Super Bowl hit Push It for Frito-Lay. Untold’s backers include Dorfman Media Holdings, with CEO Charles Dorfman on the board. In addition Pat Joseph, co-founder of The Mill, is a non-executive director. Untold has just opened a new Los Angles office. makers caught up with co-founders Darren O’Kelly, former COO of The Mill, and Rochelle Palmer to talk about the company and its ethos.


How did you come together to launch Untold Studios? DARREN O’KELLY

We felt there was an opportunity just to go back to basics. Lots of companies talk about creativity, and say it’s right at the heart of everything they do – but it gets lost somewhere in the mix. We felt there was an opportunity to build a company that’s all about creativity and making great work.

areas of activity: our original content team, which is principally focused around unscripted content; our production team, which produces music and advertising content; and then our visual effects team which produces advertising, film and television content. And they all interconnect. But it was important to us that we had real discipline, expertise and knowledge leading each of those areas. MAKERS

The secret to making great work, in our experience, is great talent. There's no magic recipe, it's just about really good people. We describe ourselves as a creative studio and community. We accept that's a bit ambiguous – but it allows us to exercise ourselves creatively, in lots of different arenas. We are fortunate to be in a phenomenal space on the 14th floor of the White Collar Factory in Old Street - we designed it so there is always space for people to come in and spend time together, to share ideas and collaborate. We end up having designers, art directors, photographers, directors, visual artists and VFX artists all hanging out in the same spaces. At the very beginning, we built the first cloud-based studio which completely prepared us for the future. It meant from day one, everybody was working remotely. Importantly, it shifted the focus from spending money on technology to being able to hire great talent. MAKERS

How do you organise the company, and how does everyone work together? ROCHELLE PALMER

Internally, we largely organise the company around three distinct

How does each part of the company work with each other? DARREN O’KELLY

The different parts of the company are inspired by each other, and find opportunities to work together. So when we're developing our original concepts, we're thinking about what's happening in real time technology, and how can you use that in television? Or, what would be a super interesting docu series around the music industry? There are really nice, natural interplays that happen.


People thought we were bonkers when we started and told them that we want to be a creative studio and to build these three disciplines. DARREN O’KELLY

I think part of it comes down to the people you hire. We talk a lot about hiring people for competency and character. By no means do we want lots of the same character – we want diversity of voice, opinion and background. But I think perhaps one enduring characteristic is the degree of humility around where their creativity is at – the idea that by working with other people, they can make better work. We have teams of people who are open to learning from other disciplines and other experiences. ROCHELLE PALMER

We're really committed to collaboration. We spent a long time thinking about culture, and how we wanted to create the right culture. DARREN O’KELLY


But we don't force it. We would never mandate that teams have to work together. The production team is welcome to go out for their post, if that works for the project. The VFX team works with other production companies that aren't Untold directors. The originals team take their inspiration wherever they want. Maybe it's just human psychology, but if you don't tell people they have to do something, everybody works together much better somehow. MAKERS

There are very few companies that truly work across multiple disciplines with any success. Why is that – is it a difficult thing to do?

We thought about all of the small things that get in the way of creativity. We banned all internal email from the outset… everything's on Slack. MAKERS

What are the next steps for Untold? ROCHELLE PALMER

We're very excited about the future, we're not scared of scale. But we don't want to grow for the sake of it. At the moment, our growth has been driven by demand of work. We’re excited about our new LA office, which opened in January.


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Studios: build it and they will come?

Dozens of studios are being built worldwide; barely a week passes without a major studio development being announced to the world.


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arlier this year, a news story appeared about Space Entertainment Enterprise (SSE), a UK based media company that is planning to build “world’s first content and entertainment studios and multi-purpose arena in space.”

Understandably, some readers might have done a double take at news of a film and television studio being built in space. But it is a legitimate story. SSE is backed by credible executives with plenty of television and film industry experience. Space, it seems, really is the new frontier for studios. In some ways it is hardly surprising. Studios have emerged as one of the hottest property investments of recent years. Dozens of studios are being built worldwide; barely a week passes without a major studio development being announced to the world. The studio frenzy comes as Disney, WarnerMedia, Netflix and Amazon and others invest tens of billions to attract subscribers to their streaming platforms and are scrambling to churn out shows. A parallel race has emerged for studios to shoot in, luring private equity groups into what has previously been a niche market. Demand for studio space is red hot, and currently outstripping supply. Sound stages that have historically been occupied 70% of the time are now running close to 100%. The growth of high-end television production is having a profound effect on the sector. “Productions are not going into a studio for two or three months, and then leaving – they are in there for years if a show is successful,” says Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission and Film London. A long-running series, like Bridgerton or The Crown, might occupy space at a studio for years, taking it off the market for use by other producers. As a result, many content creators are taking long-term leases at sound stages to ensure a consistent supply of studio space. These leases initially began in Los Angeles with Netflix renting out space at Sunset Bronson in 2016, followed by Amazon Studios renting out space at Culver Studios in 2018. This long-term lease trend has expanded globally. Netflix, for example, now has long term leases at the likes of Shepperton Studios and Longcross Studios in the UK, Canadian Motion Picture Park in

Vancouver, Ciudad de la Tele in Madrid, ABQ Studios in Alburquerque, Samsung Studio in Seoul and Toho Studio in Tokyo. Others have followed suit. Disney struck a long-term deal with Pinewood Studios in the UK to rent out nearly all their studios from 2020, the same year that Apple TV+ signed a long-term deal with at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York. This February, Amazon Prime Video signed a multi-million-pound long-term deal to take nine stages at Shepperton Studios. These kinds of long-term deals “have stimulated the private investment market” into studios says Wotton. For many years, private investors largely avoided the studio sector. They were seen as white elephants, empty for significant periods of time and delivering unpredictable returns on investment.


Instead, investors preferred property sectors such as shopping centres, offices or industrial warehouses where tenants would lease space for the long-term – sectors which are now under pressure due to the rise of home-working and internet shopping. The dynamics of the studio business “have just completely transformed in the past five years,” says Nick Smith, managing director of Shinfield Studios, a new studio complex being built near Reading in the UK. Shinfield is being developed by Blackhall Global Partners, which owns Blackhall Studios in Atlanta and is developing a 19-stage facility in Santa Clarita, in the Los Angeles metro area. Smith says long-term leases have made the studio sector more attractive to investors such as Blackhall’s principal shareholder Commonwealth Asset Management. It’s not alone. Last December, TPG Real Estate Partners acquired Cinespace Studios in Chicago and Toronto, the second largest independent sound stage platform in North America. The purchase came two months after TPG agreed to buy a large stake in Germany's Studio Babelsberg, where Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece Metropolis was shot. Hudson Pacific Properties and Blackstone, meanwhile, are developing a studio in Sun Valley, California to be known as Sunset Glenoaks Studios.


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It is billed as the first large-scale, purpose-built studio development in Los Angeles in decades. Hudson and Blackstone are also investing GBP700 million in a major studio facility in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire in the UK. Hackman Capital, a Los Angeles real estate investor, is one of the major players in the sector, having invested in Scotland’s largest studio Wardpark, Troy and Aardmore studios in Ireland, Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York and southern California's CBS Studio Center. Its developments include Eastbrook Studios in east London and Basin Media Studios in Toronto. These are just the big headline investments around the world. Martini Film Studios in Vancouver is expanding, Russell Crowe is backing a major studio facility in Coffs Harbour, Australia and Robert de Niro is backing Wildflower Studios in New York.


The UK, in particular, is seeing high levels of studio builds, expansions and conversions. Heritage studios such as Pinewood, Shepperton, Warner Bros. Leavesden and Elstree have all begun or completed major expansions. Legal & General, Comcast and NBCUniversal are building Sky Studios Elstree, which is set to open 13 stages this year. Meanwhile, many warehouses, factories or airfield buildings have been repurposed, like Arborfield Studios near Wokingham, or temporary stages have been created such as the newly opened Troubadour Meridian Water Studios in North London and The Depot in Liverpool. Smith says there are now six premium markets in the world where streamers and US studios are looking to make content – Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Toronto, Vancouver, and the UK. “If you rank all of those, the UK is probably top of the tree. Everybody is looking at the UK.” Looking ahead, the big question is how sustainable the studio building boom is going to be. For now, the current supply of studios appears to be insufficient to meet demand. Research conducted by PwC has estimated that the UK is missing out on as many as eight blockbuster films per year due to a lack of studio space. PwC says that this equates to unmet demand for 940,000 sqft of sound stages, and it means that the UK is losing out on nearly GBP1 billion of production expenditure each year. Property specialists Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), in a 2021 report on the UK and Ireland studio market titled Sites, Camera, Action! Take 2, estimated that 2.3 million sqft of new space is needed in the UK by 2033. LSH noted that planning permission has been granted for the construction of approximately 1.5 million sqft of new stages in new and existing studios, while projects at earlier phases of planning have the potential to provide more than 1.1m sq ft of stages.




“On the face of it, the size of the current pipeline is enough to satisfy the growth in demand,” said LSH. “However, it is very unlikely that all of the potential space will be built. Several pipeline projects are making slow progress, with funding and planning obstacles still to be overcome. Some planned schemes have been downscaled or have seen temporary stages built while developers work on their longer-term plans.” In the meantime, Adrian Wootton says he can’t see the production boom running out of steam any time soon. Enquiries about studio space are running at record highs, he says. “We see no diminution in demand in the short term in the next two to three years. And from everything we have forecast, and other people are forecasting, we’ve got at least another five years of this.” Certainly, the big streamers aren’t likely to cut spend anytime soon. The Walt Disney Co recently said it would spend $33 billion on content overall in the current financial year, up from USD25 billion in 2021. Analysts agree that the “DEMAND FOR STUDIO new influx of studios SPACE IS RED HOT, will simply keep up with AND CURRENTLY demand, rather than OUTSTRIPPING SUPPLY.” lead to a surplus. Take Toronto as an example. In a report on the studio business, Deloitte estimated that studio supply would almost double in Toronto from 2018 to 2021, citing openings such as CBS Stages Canada and new studios from William F. White. “Even with the 46% increase in supply, an additional 27% of existing supply would be needed to meet the growing demand for production space through 2025,” concluded Deloitte. In London, Deloitte predicted a 77% projected increase in production space through 2025 but concluded that “London’s supply will pace with the growing demand.” In Los Angeles, meanwhile, Deloitte anticipates that “demand for soundstage space will significantly outpace supply in LA through 2025.” That’s partly due to space constraints limiting the opportunity for developing large purpose-built studio complexes. For Wootton, the bigger question is whether a country like the UK can train and deliver enough skilled people to meet the demand. “The amount of people who will be employed in these spaces is a once in generation thing – everytime you build a studio, you suddenly need 1000s of extra people. We have to train a lot more people.” Nick Smith takes a similar view. He reckons Shinfield could handle four large productions at any one time. “If you think each production is going to bring in about 600 crew, it’s the best part of 2,500 people that we could attract to Shinfield… I don’t think we’re going to get to oversaturation with everything that is on the drawing board in terms of stages. It’s the crew where we have a problem.”

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Comment: The Rise of FAST & AVOD



ith cord-shaving continuing to put pressure on traditional pay-TV, free-ad supported television streaming (FAST) and ad-based video on demand (AVOD) services are booming.

Research from Roku shows that one in three US consumers added at least one free AVOD service to their subscription stack in the last year, with the UK showing a similar move with two in three people willing to pay for an ad-supported service at a lower cost than a monthly subscription. Additionally, ad-supported streamers are the most engaged audience, with more content than ever to choose from compared with subscription-based models. What makes a successful service? Consumers are willing to accept advertising in return for the right content and a superior user experience. For FAST and AVOD services to compete they must make the streaming experience as simple as possible. Platforms need to demonstrate their ability to provide innovative content experiences and ad formats. They also need to highlight the benefits of personalisation which is only achievable through the direct relationship that AVOD platforms have with their users - making TV a convenience model based on the user’s needs, rather than traditional services that force you watch what the network decides should be on. By providing easy access to content with broad appeal, platforms can attract a large volume of viewers, including audiences that advertisers can no longer reach on traditional television. Additionally, platforms and services need to get smart with how they use advertising, ensuring that it is targeted and a positive experience for users. In doing so, platforms will be able to entice advertisers and ad spend which can in turn be reinvested into more content for their users. This creates a flywheel effect allowing AVOD and FAST services to continually level up the experience. The more positive an advertising experience that these services can create, the more audiences they can unlock for advertisers thus attracting increased revenue.

How will AVOD and FAST play out in the coming years? Streaming viewers want choice on how and where they watch content, and ad-supported options make it easier for them to get access to great shows and movies for a fraction of the cost – free can be a great price. Consumers value ad-supported streaming, with one in three choosing a service because they are willing to watch ads as part of their entertainment, a figure we only expect to grow as more services come online. And, with the research showing 70% will stream over 10 hours per week, versus only 63% who watch SVOD content, it’s clear that AVOD and FAST platforms can and will continue to offer a television service that consumers enjoy. The next step in that roadmap is further personalisation and optimisation to create the best possible experience and drive further revenue opportunities in a way that only FAST and AVOD can deliver. As consumers have shifted to streaming, marketers are following to reach the audiences they can’t access on pay-TV. And, with streaming audiences being open to advertising, it’s a huge opportunity to serve them with more relevant marketing that can grow brand awareness driving sales growth. Ashley Hovey is senior director, AVOD, The Roku Channel at Roku Inc. Roku streaming devices are used by millions of consumers in North America, Latin America and in parts of Europe including the UK, Ireland, and France. The Roku Channel is available in the US, Canada, and the UK for free on Roku streaming devices, the web and on mobile devices. Roku works with studio and content providers to provide audiences with a large selection of free ad-supported video on demand, live television, and premium subscriptions.


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SPAIN a hotbed of talent

EUR1.6 billion is set to be invested in Spain’s media sectors through a new government initiative. And, with around 7,500km of coastline, a plethora of iconic filming locations as well as world­renowned film festivals, Spain is loaded with opportunity.


his is a historic time for Spain, which has the opportunity to establish itself worldwide as the leading destination for the domestic and international film industry,” says Spain Film Commission’s president Carlos Rosado. “For the first time, all the agents in the sector, public and private, are aligned behind a common strategy: to make Spain a global set to attract and manage film shoots, business and investments, which will drive economic recovery and the creation of skilled jobs.” A government initiative titled Spain: Europe’s Audiovisual Hub will invest EUR1.6 billion into the country’s media sector between the years 2021 and 2025. The Spanish Film Commission has developed a five-point action plan, split into the following categories: Spain Film Talent Network, Spain Film Friendly Land, Spain Film Transmedia Platform, Spain Film Virtual Locations, and Shooting in Spain.


The Talent Network is a social network that will bring together Spain’s audiovisual talent, encompassing companies and professionals operating in all areas of the industry. The Friendly Land strand will continue to strengthen the Spain Film Commission’s territorial network, including the Spain Green shooting project to promote sustainable shoots across the country.

The Transmedia Platform plan aims to make technological leaps in terms of content and format, such as a developing a new website alongside fresh social media strategies and mobile applications. Shooting in Spain intends to build on the activities


The Plaza de España The plaza is situated in Seville’s Maria Luisa Park. This location was used as a set for Simply Red’s Something Got Me Started music video. In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, exterior shots of the City of Theed on Planet Naboo were shot across the Plaza. The location reappears in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and was included in scenes for David Lean’s classic Lawrence of Arabia as well as Larry Charles’s The Dictator. The Plaza was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, and today remains loaded with potential for producers. The construction has a semi-elliptical shape, with a fountain in its central area and several towers at each end. There 48 benches decorated with tiles, each symbolising the 48 provinces of Spain. Every colourful bench has its own map, shield and special tile. Money Heist © Tamara Arranz / Netflix.


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of the Spain Film Commission, promoting the country as a prime destination for shoots and investment. The Virtual Locations category consists of creating three-dimensional models of the most outstanding monuments, buildings and urban spaces of Spanish architecture and urban planning. “The opportunities and infrastructure are in place in Spain,” emphasises Teresa Azcona, Spain Film Commission’s vice-president. “We can connect you with everybody, and we can find creative solutions for everything. If you want to shoot to Spain, we are here to help you make magic.” “We have lots of clients from Italy and France because we try to make the budget fair for everybody,” explains Mario Reinach, executive producer at Mendips Productions. “Spain is of course a big stage with all kinds of situations and locations - and we want act as a service company as well as partner company.” Within the framework of the Spain Audiovisual Hub, ICEX-Invest in Spain has just backed Spain Audiovisual Bureau with EUR20 million. This scheme is billed as a one-stop shop for the internationalisation of the country’s audiovisual sector, presenting a team of consultants on hand to answer queries about creating films and commercials in Spain. “The Spanish Government has chosen the audiovisual sector as a strategic one,” says Elisa García, executive director of ICEX - Invest in Spain. “The aim is to turn Spain into a leading country in audiovisual production in the digital era, a magnet for international investment and talent with a reinforced ecosystem for exporting and competing in international markets.” It is worthwhile taking some time to consider what the different parts of Spain offer for production teams. The main rebate for international shoots stands at 30% across the majority of Spain, whereas the Navarre region offers 35% through tax credits. Meanwhile, the Canary Islands offer a sizeable 50% tax rebate. Production spending must normally equate to at least EUR1 million in order to qualify for such filmmaking incentives. It is also worth considering that the sum of the incentives plus other additional grants must not total more than the equivalent of 50% of the total production costs. “We shot in Tenerife for Burberry, and that was a great job to do,” reminisces Ivo van Vollenhoven, founder and CEO of 24/7 Productions. “Jonathan Glazer was the director, and it starred Adam Driver. Shooting on a beach, the story followed Adam chasing after a horse into the sea! We were looking for the perfect sunrise, and we found a private beach where we could film the horse and the star uninterrupted. Tenerife is a really film-friendly island, and they do lots of beach-related projects out there.” Major productions from Jason Bourne and Foundation to Wonder Woman 1984, Dr Who and Money Heist have all shot in the region, which is just hours away from the main European capitals. Top brands such as Audi, Louis Vuitton and Hermes have also chosen Tenerife as their backdrop for their TV commercials or photoshoots. “Tenerife



Fresco Film

Q: What projects have you been working on? A: This is a busy time for us, we’re currently working on Guy Ritchie’s The Interpreter, we have just shot House of Dragons for HBO and we have the premiere of Uncharted for Sony. Q: Why was Spain chosen for Uncharted? A: Part of it was filmed in Barcelona. It was one

of the factual settings of the film. Madrid and its Naval Museum was also a primary location for the development of the story. Other locations such as Lloret de Mar and Alicante doubled for Thailand. Q: What makes Spain stand out for

incoming production teams? A: One of the main attractions, in addition to the locations, are the tax incentives for foreign productions. From our 2021 productions, Fresco is administrating the return of more than EUR19 million in tax incentives to our clients. There is great fiscal security and specialised management teams. Q: What advice would you give to

filmmakers considering shooting Spain? A: Spain offers civil and legal security, and we provide many years of experience in supporting international productions along with professional qualified bilingual technical teams who are used to working to international standards, both at the SET level, as well as in production and accounting workflows. "Our work is a way of life" is one of our mottos, and we say to visiting clients: "May the shoot be a positive life experience."

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has such a wide range of locations that it has doubled for deserts, jungles, colonial towns, modern cities, and Caribbean beaches in the many film, series, TV, and commercial productions it has hosted throughout the years,” explains Ricardo Martínez, director of the Tenerife Film Commission.

Wonder Woman 1984 © TM & DC Comics / 2020 WBEI.



Spain offers attractive tax incentives for international shoots. A tax rebate of up to 30% is available, except for in the Canary Islands, where it stands at 50%. Navarre offers 35% via tax credits. In order to qualify for these incentives, the production company must spend a minimum of EUR1 million in the country. The company must also employ a percentage of local staff. The incentives plus grants can never be higher than the equivalent of 50% of the total production costs. ATA CARNET


Spain has multilateral agreements with Latin America (Co-Production Filming Agreement), Ibero-America (Agreement for the Integration of Ibero-American Filming) & the European Union (European Agreement on Bilateral Film Co-Production). Bilateral agreements are in place with: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Tunisia & Venezuela. TIME ZONE


The Interpreter, Money Heist, Wonder Woman 1984, House of Dragons, Uncharted & Eternals. INTERNATIONAL TALENT

Costume designer Paco Delgado, makeup & special effects artists Davoid Marti & Montse Ribe, composer Alberto Iglesias, production designer Pilar Revuelta, directors Pedro Almodovar & Alejandro Amenabar, animator Sergio Pablos, actors Javier Bardem & Penelope Cruz.


Netflix opened a film and television studio in Tres Cantos’s Ciudad de la Tele (TV City) in 2018. Situated on the outskirts of Madrid, the studio’s construction marked the establishment of Netflix’s first European production hub. The streaming conglomerate’s facility has since housed 35 productions and the series The Money Heist – Álex Pina’s record-breaking heist drama – is one of its most popular recent projects. “The Spanish audiovisual industry has been really gaining weight in the rest of the world in recent years,” elaborates García, “as evidenced by the filming in this country of international blockbusters such as HBO's Game of Thrones or the success of national fictions such as Money Heist on Netflix.” Plans are in place to further develop the Tres Cantos site. The production base is currently spread over 20,000sqm, with the largest of its five sound stages covering an estimated 1,500sqm. A new post-production facility and five additional sound stages are currently being built, illustrating Netflix’s belief in Spanish media production. Although the new hub seems likely to stay committed to Netflix originals, it will continue collaborating with international partners, shooting aspects of Spanish-language projects at Ciudad de la Tele and in other instances shooting these productions on location in different parts of the globe. International collaboration is a key component of Spanish filmmaking culture. Britain and Spain’s respective film commissions recently ensured the smooth passage of production for two high-budget US films. Based at Pinewood Studios, Disney and Marvel’s Eternals was shot on location in England’s London and Oxford as well as Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman: 1984 was based at its Leavesden Studios and filmed on location in London and Cambridgeshire as well as Andalucía and the Canary Islands.


Las Falles is a traditional celebration held every year to commemorate Saint Joseph. Occurring in the city of Valencia, five main days of celebration take place from March 15 to 19. The Mascletà, a wild spectacle of pyrotechnics, occurs every day from March 1 to 19. The name of this celebratory festival refers to the monuments – a Falle, or in plural form Falles – which are burnt in ritualistic fashion. Each part of the city has its own Comissió Fallera, a group of people who work all year raising funds (mainly through food-selling and special dinners) that contribute towards building the neighbourhood’s very own Falle. Paella parties often fund the construction of these Falles, which are ceremonially set alight during the excitement as fireworks and firecrackers explode. Around 400 Comissió Falleras are registered in the city. At 8:00am each day, the festival begins with La Despertà, or The Wake-Up Call. Brass bands march down the streets playing loud music. The Falles festival was added to UNESCO’s cultural heritage list in 2016.

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PROFILE CAMA AssetStore Its software is a secure online portal that allows clients to monitor and retrieve items in real time. CAMA’s warehouse team collect and itemise all physical assets from a production, including taking photos. This is then uploaded to the software, so production teams can see what they have in store, and can decide to retrieve, deliver, reuse or recycle without ever having to visit the warehouse.

Winner of the Sustainability Award at the makers & shakers Awards, CAMA AssetStore helps productions to adopt a lifecycle approach to their assets, allowing them to redistribute props, costumes and furniture in storage to other productions, the wider creative industry and charities.



This is where the family run company CAMA Assetstore comes in. CAMA has a 100-year history of providing storage and recycling to corporate clients – and recently branched out to service the creative industries.


ne of the key challenges that many productions have to contend with when trying to behave sustainably is how to dispose of their physical assets.

When a production finishes and the crew disperses, there is often limited time to resell or recondition sets, props and costumes for future use. As disposal becomes more expensive and as crews – and studios – become increasingly more aware of the need to reduce their carbon footprint, they are looking for alternative options.

Run by managing director Michaele Apostolides and his wife and business partner Michelle French, the company had developed a bespoke digital inventory software to make storage and retrieval more efficient and cost effective for its customers. In 2018, by chance, French heard that the production team working on the Mission: Impossible franchise was looking for storage. “Through talking to them and other studio productions Michelle and I quickly discovered that there was a big problem in the film and television industry with physical assets and storage,” recalls Apostolides. “If you needed to retrieve something you had to search for it physically and crew members could search for hours looking for assets for reshoots. This old way of storing assets led to a lot of waste in terms of assets being destroyed.” Apostolides says CAMA’s digital inventory software is key to helping productions improve efficiency and reduce waste, and that it can provide ESG reporting.

CAMA works with companies including Netflix, Disney, Miramax, Apple, Amazon, Sky and Sister. Recent Netflix credits include Jingle Jangle and Eurovision. “We managed to get most of the props and costumes that were in storage back into the industry through our network of prop houses and costumiers,” says Apostolides. This included SuperHire, CosProp and Angels. Items that were not wanted by the industry were then donated to the London Screen Academy and CAMA’s network of charities and social enterprises. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

Currently we’re redistributing items from No One Gets Out Alive. We have physical assets that we hope to donate to the London Screen Academy and we have some regular clothes that would be great for the Single Homeless Project. We are planning redistribution for a few shows with Netflix. Our number one focus is getting items back into the film industry. Through the digital platform, studios and productions can share their inventory with photos to other productions before they ask us to help with reuse. If another production would like to take some assets they simply order from the portal. HOW DO YOU HELP PRODUCTIONS REDUCE THEIR CARBON FOOTPRINT?

We started effectively tracking the sustainability service in 2020/1 and in our first year (which was also during lockdown) we redistributed over 7,000 assets for productions and saved them over 160,929 kgCO2e in carbon emissions – equivalent to 12 average britons for a year or powering the average house in the UK for 44 years. In 2022 we have already far surpassed this figure. WHAT IS THE MARKET LIKE TO WORK IN AT THE MOMENT?

Like all suppliers to the industry, it is incredibly busy. We are expanding, and our challenge is finding the right premises for new storage facilities. We have recently secured new premises in Reading, are opening a site in Suffolk and also developing a warehouse in Southend.


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All Eyes on Virtual Production

Slowly but surely virtual production is growing in popularity, with a raft of studios installing LED volume stages. Five years from now, virtual production methods, tools, and pipelines are likely to be completely normalised across the industry.


very few years, a new tech trend comes along that gets everybody in production talking. Some of these trends, like digital filmmaking or streaming, transform the way content is made and delivered. Others, like 3D, generate a lot of hot air and then fade away. So, what is it to be for virtual production, one of the biggest buzzwords in content creation right now? Virtual productions use camera tracking technology and game engines to allow programme makers to mix live footage with 3D digital images at once on a set. The term encompasses green screen-based virtual studios as well as LED volume stages.


Virtual productions that use LED volumes have grown in popularity in recent years, with The Mandalorian the most famous example. Actors perform on a physical set in a studio in front of a giant array of LED screens which feature images of real-world or computer-generated environments. The set-up is not unlike the projected backgrounds filmmakers have been using since the silent era. The difference is that it’s smart. Harnessing a real-time engine, it responds to the movement of the on-set camera by adjusting the perspective, lighting, and other elements within the panels. The technology

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1899 © Rasmus Vos / Netflix.


allows filmmakers to capture effects in-camera and real-time and lends itself best to single camera shoots – such as film, drama and commercials. LED screens are now being used as impressive replacements for traditional green screens, enabling filmmakers to capture both live action and CGI in-camera together. For many, virtual production is considered the most significant technological advance since green screen. Little wonder, then, that LED volume stages are starting to pop up in key filmmaking locations around the world. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), for example, is soon to open its fifth permanent StageCraft LED volume stage near its Vancouver facility. ILM also has two virtual production stages in Manhattan Beach, one at The Walt Disney Studios, and one at Pinewood Studios in London. Samsung Electronics, meanwhile, has partnered with CJ ENM, the South Korean entertainment and media giant behind the Oscar-winning film Parasite to build a virtual production stage at its television and film production studio complex in Paju, Korea. VFX firm Pixomondo and Canadian studio William F. White last year opened a second virtual production studio in Toronto. "We are dedicated to virtual production and see it as an integral part of the future of filmmaking," says Garin Josey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of William White. In Germany, Studio Babelsberg hosted Netflix period mystery 1899 at its Dark Bay virtual production stage which opened last year and is billed as one of Europe's largest, permanently installed LED studios. 1899 was meant to film in


Spain, Poland and Scotland, but pivoted wholesale last year to virtual production techniques at Studio Babelsberg after the Covid-19 pandemic made locations shoots problematic. In the UK, Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden launched V Stage last year with a 7,100 sqft wraparound virtual production environment using a matrix of more than 2,600 LED panels. The V Stage is currently home to Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon. Mars Volume, a permanent virtual production facility, opened its doors in Ruislip, West London. Camera specialist Arri also launched its own “FOR MANY, VIRTUAL LED volume stage in PRODUCTION IS Uxbridge, while Garden CONSIDERED THE Studios installed a MOST SIGNIFICANT virtual production stage TECHNOLOGICAL as part of an expansion ADVANCE SINCE of its Park Royal site. GREEN SCREEN.” “Our virtual production stage allows you to shoot anywhere in the world all from the comfort of our studio,” says Garden Studios manager Marnie Keeling. 80six, which operates its own virtual production studio from its base in Slough and custom builds temporary, semi-permanent or long-term virtual production studios offsite or at other studio locations, has also emerged as a prominent player in the market. The company has just doubled the size of its LED volume stage in Slough. Christina Nowak, director of film and TV at 80six, thinks it will be around five years before virtual production becomes standard within the industry. That echoes the thinking of many within the industry. A recent report from the Gotenberg Film



The Mandalorian © Lucasfilm / Disney.


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Festival – titled Nostradamus Report: Transforming Storytelling Together – canvased industry experts who predicted that, five years from now, virtual production methods, tools, and pipelines will have been completely normalised across the industry. “Production pipelines will have shifted to emphasise pre-production, and re-empower artistic collaboration across departments,” said the report. “At the highest end, installations that currently require a significant initial investment will also lower in price.”

Westworld © 2020 Home Box Office, Inc.


Ryan Beagan, Warner Bros’s VP of virtual production, admits the cost of creating an LED virtual production stage is “still very high.” So too is renting an LED stage for a production. Beagan says that Warner Bros took the decision to create the V Stage at Warner Bros. Leavesden because the company realised it could make it available to several productions over time, spreading the cost. “Getting in early [means that] over time it’s going to pay dividends.”

“It’s important for us a manufacturer, as a rental house, as a solutions provider, that we really understand this technology in a detailed way so that we can also develop our products to be better integrated into these types of systems,” says Levy. Most projects using the Arri mixed reality studio in Uxbridge have been from high-end television and film.

For Beagan, virtual production represents “another tool in the box” for filmmakers, rather than necessarily the way all films will be shot in the future. “It solves some really difficult problems, but in and of itself it is a very difficult challenge.”

Levy says LED volumes “really suit car work very well” as they allow filmmakers to control the environment effectively and safely. “You can just shoot for 12 hours a day or more, without any interruption or worrying that your permit is going to run out or the weather is going to go terribly “LED VOLUME STAGES wrong. So, it’s really ARE STARTING TO POP about risk mitigation UP IN KEY FILMMAKING and getting that realistic LOCATIONS AROUND performance as well,” THE WORLD.” says Levy.

He says it particularly suits fantasy and sci-fi dramas, where imagined worlds are at the heart of the production. Shooting “impossible locations” also makes sense on an LED stage.

Advocates of virtual production also stress other benefits. It has partly exploded in popularity because it allows filmmakers to see visual effects in real-time, rather than having to wait for post-production.

“Taking your crew and shooting in a location in London like Piccadilly might be incredibly difficult. This might be a great solution for some of your medium and close shots you might spend time [shooting] there,” says Beagan. He cites Westworld season three which filmed its establishing and wide shots on location, then used LED screens “for everything else they needed to cover so that they didn’t have to be at a location for so long.”

Notably, it also offers a far greater range of lighting than green screens. It’s almost impossible to film dim, moody scenes on a green screen. With virtual production, the ambient light from the LED screens means the correct light is created automatically, giving the scene a natural feel and eliminating extra work in post-production.

Beagan says that shooting on LED stages will be a process of “gradual adoption” as more DoPs and filmmakers get involved with the technology. (Notably, he says that location scouting via a virtual reality headset is going to grow “really, really fast. The gradual adoption is partially explained by the fact that many studios are taking a wait and see approach to virtual production, fearful of leaping in when the technology is still at an early stage and when prices are still high. Training is also an issue: the adoption of virtual production technology is creating a huge demand for skilled and specialised talent. Arri, meanwhile, built its mixed reality stage in Uxbridge because the company identified virtual





production as “a megatrend” within the industry, says David Levy, director of business development, global solutions. Arri also helped to create the virtual production stage at Studio Babelsberg, alongside other industry partners such as Framestore, Faber AV, Nvidia, Roe and Vicon.

Actors tend to prefer an LED volume stage to green screens too. When actors perform against an LED screen that’s displaying an entire virtual world, they can respond to their surroundings more intuitively. They also have natural sightlines to objects, scenery and events within the set, allowing performers to react instinctively to their surroundings rather than by what they’ve been told will be happening on the set. Asked for his advice for those who are considering shooting on an LED volume stage, Warner Bros’ Beagan says: “The most valuable thing is to start early, and to lean into the idea that you’re going to achieve your shots in camera… you can’t make up that time when you’re only a little way out from shooting. You will get the highest value out of [virtual production] by bringing all your creative heads of department together earlier.”

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Across the media industries, businesses are starting to invest in the metaverse. If harnessed carefully and cleverly, this next step in the internet’s evolution is loaded with potential. What opportunities could the metaverse pose for the global production community?


he metaverse refers to immersive digital worlds in which people will gather for work, play and much more. It is widely considered a new major phase for the internet’s development. “Taking into account the shifts between print and radio, television and film, or the internet and social media, I would argue that the metaverse (however you choose to define it) will be the next big evolution for communications,” says writer, director and producer Jeff Norton. “And, as with previous media forms, I don’t see it as an ‘Either-Or’ question – the metaverse will just offer new ways of engaging with people.”

Norton is the author of the MetaWars series, a young adult collection that depicts two warring factions (the Millennials and the Guardians) duelling for control over an online virtual world known as the Metasphere. A full-fledged, operational metaverse akin to Norton’s fictional Metasphere might be years – if not decades – away from the present. However, the emergence of this new digital environment has inspired investors to prepare for seismic shifts within the entertainment and media industries.


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Last year Facebook rebranded itself as Meta in anticipation of the technology sector’s leap towards the metaverse. As well as establishing a sophisticated network of real-time 3D virtual worlds that maintain one’s identity and payment history, Meta is developing a supercomputer to power the metaverse. Despite ongoing disputes with the European Union over data breaches, the company also revealed plans to create 10,000 new high-skilled, metaverse-related tech jobs within Europe over the next five years. Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for almost USD70billion earlier in 2022 stems from the company’s desire to expand into the metaverse. The tech giant’s CEO Satya Nadella announced that the deal would “provide building blocks for the metaverse” by creating new spaces where virtual meeting opportunities coincide with existing video game technologies. Today’s gaming franchises rely on state-of-the-art graphics engines, organising how avatars, places and objects relate to each other in hyper-realistic fashion. Activision Blizzard and other leading gaming companies predict that cutting-edge video game technologies will be located at the heart of the forthcoming metaverse shift. “In a sense we have been building towards the concept of a metaverse for a long time,” details executive producer Jane Skullman on behalf of digital adventure game Star Stable Online. “We have seen the power of the community that has grown up inside the Star Stable Online universe and so we understand the attraction of a hyper-real alternative world and also understand the potential it has.” Star Stable Online is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) available in 14 languages across 180 countries. Since its launch from Stockholm in 2011, the business has become


the fastest-growing online horse adventure game in the world. The organisation also has product lines spanning books, animations and music, extending its franchise beyond the game’s core cyber universe. In a similar fashion, the metaverse could offer such franchises myriad new avenues for growth and development. “The opportunities are endless,” adds Skullman. “We are at the very beginning of this journey, and the effects on these industries are “AS WITH PREVIOUS hard to predict and MEDIA FORMS, I will take time to DON’T SEE IT AS develop. With any new AN ‘EITHER-OR’ emerging concepts and QUESTION – THE technologies there is always a period of trial METAVERSE WILL and error, such as those JUST OFFER NEW we discovered when WAYS OF ENGAGING making a VR prototype WITH PEOPLE.” for the game in 2016. In 2020 we enabled AR on our Instagram, where players could use our horses to take immersive photos. We still have a lot to learn before we can harness the power of the metaverse correctly.” While businesses are open to interacting with the metaverse, speculation surrounding what the metaverse might actually look and feel like will undoubtedly affect how the industry chooses to approach the new digital space. Some assume that the metaverse’s online environments will be three-dimensional experiences transporting users to different digital worlds. Others suggest that most of the new action will predominantly play out on two-dimensional computer screens without drastically changing our daily lives. Perhaps the only thing certain about the metaverse is that its proponents are trying to provide users with new possibilities for immersion and interaction.




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John Rakich, president of Location Managers Guild International (LMGI). “The only worry I have is that things could become a possession as opposed to something that everyone can see. As long as we figure out ways to keep things accessible and not exclusive, then it’ll be interesting to see where this could go within our industry.”


“While some things are not clear at this early stage, what we can say is that the metaverse will be shaped by immersivity,” elaborates Norton. “These immersive qualities are what sets the metaverse apart from its predecessors, this is what makes it different. And, in the worlds of entertainment and storytelling, this is where the excitement is focused. We are only just seeing what the intersection between old and new forms of communication and expression in the metaverse might look like.” Music artists such as Ariana Grande and Travis Scott have performed live concerts in popular digital game Fortnite thanks to VR headgear. Fortnite and Coca-Cola recently collaborated with the launch of a new pixel-flavoured drink, where glimpses of this metaverse-inspired beverage first appeared within Fortnite’s digital universe rather than the world beyond the screen. ViacomCBS is examining the ways in which its intellectual property can be reimagined in the metaverse. The company’s futurist-in-residence Ted Schilowitz delivered a keynote speech titled Why the Metaverse Matters To Hollywood at an event with MESA (Media & Entertainment Services Alliance). The event signified the launch of the MESAverse, MESA’s own take on the metaverse where delegates could interact in an exclusive virtual work environment. Disney’s animation house Pixar has created an open-source language called Universal Scene Description (USD). USD was originally developed as a way for Pixar’s artists to work together using film-quality virtual assets. A designated VR space full of 3D graphics data is reachable if a member of the team has access to the internet. This readily-accessible coding language might offer ground-breaking possibilities for collaborative editing and filmic co-creation if it becomes widely-adopted across the metaverse. “The film industry is all about content creation… If something like the metaverse offers another avenue for content creation then it’s good for us all,” muses





Virtual production was brought to the production community’s attention by Disney+’s The Mandalorian. This relatively new filmmaking technique harnesses game engine technology, merging live-action and postproduction into a single, streamlined process. Rather than shooting against a green screen and then turning to post-production and VFX at a later point, filmmakers can now visualise an entire scene ‘live,’ incorporating screen backdrops powered and rendered in real-time. Real-time 3D – or real“THE FILM INDUSTRY time rendering – is a IS ALL ABOUT new form of computer CONTENT CREATION… graphics that enables IF SOMETHING LIKE photo-realistic graphics THE METAVERSE and animation to be OFFERS ANOTHER rendered instantly. Once AVENUE FOR again, this technology CONTENT CREATION was pioneered by the gaming industry. THEN IT’S GOOD FOR Organisations such as US ALL.” Epic Games and Unity Technologies have adopted this process to create increasingly real forms of architectural visualisation in their games while, at the same time, enhancing the productivity of their workflows. By shortening production time and cutting long waiting periods for rendering, the metaverse could unlock a new era of collaborative productivity among the international filmmaking community. However, the industry must approach the metaverse carefully, separating the developments which are obsolete or convoluted from the advancements which could change media production for the better. “The joke has always been that the motion picture business is recession-proof because we create content,” observes Rakich. “That’s all we do – we create content for people to sit back and enjoy. Everyone wants escapism. No matter who you are in the world, you will always want entertainment, you will always want content. That’s what makes the film industry so special – being able to bring introduce something into someone’s life that they really care about, that they look forward to experiencing. And as the times rapidly change and evolve, we need to make sure that we don’t forget that.”

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