makers - Real insight Into Global Production #10

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How AI is changing content creation for good

FOCUS 2022 #10 RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

RISING COSTS

The impact of inflation and what to do about it

REAL INSIGHT INTO GLOBAL PRODUCTION 01−12−2022−10

EDITOR

Adrian Pennington

LOCATIONS EDITOR

Kianna Best

ART DIRECTION & COVER IMAGE

Les éditions du bois du Marquis

HEAD OF PRODUCTION

David Lewis

INTERNATIONAL SALES MANAGER

Rodrigo Carrasco

COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR

Clara Lé

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

Chloe Lai

DATA & MARKETING EXECUTIVE

Daniele Antonini

Hello and welcome to the tenth issue of makers, the biannual magazine for the global production community.

The Covid-19 pandemic may be over but its effects continue to amplify media creation and consumption. In particular, global user familiarity with virtual communication technology has helped catalyse the nascent metaverse. While Mark Zuckerberg has placed a multi-billion dollar bet on his company Meta creating the 3D internet, the building blocks are happening elsewhere.

They include content creators live streaming using avatars, a phenomenon which brands have cottoned onto with varying results on page 112; and the use of AI tools to create images and even video from simple text prompts. There is a huge debate raging about the extent to which generative AI will eliminate or uplift roles in crafts from animation to feature film, but what is in no doubt is that there are not enough person hours in the universe to build the multivarious immersive worlds of the metaverse. AI tools will be essential to landscape the 3D internet. On page 26, makers explores some of the latest practical examples benefitting production.

FINANCE

Desmond Kroats, Farhana Anjum

CONTRIBUTORS

Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE, Rebecca Stagg, Sami Khan, Zachary Quemore, Michael Burns

MANAGING DIRECTOR

Jean-Frédéric Garcia

CONSULTANT Ben Greenish

FOUNDER

Murray Ashton

IN MEMORY OF Sue Hayes

PRINTERS

Barley Print, UK

Meanwhile the Web3 tech that some hope will underpin both the metaverse and a vastly more egalitarian creator economy, is being built on the blockchain, not least by Neal Stephenson who coined the original metaverse in his 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash, which we discuss on page 159.

Elsewhere, the rise in cost of living cannot be ignored. The impact on television producers is outlined starkly by Banijay on page 79. We find out how Canada’s indie community is tackling budget and crew shortage by tapping into local talent on page 70; while our feature on page 88 considers potential economies using Virtual Production. Belt tightening has also forced Netflix to introduce ads – for the industry’s thoughts on that see page 52.

All this and more is rounded out by makers’ regular suite of reports from the hottest film locations and candid interviews with the likes of George Michael’s former manager Simon Napier-Bell and agent Mylen Yamamoto Tansingco who had the foresight to spot that digital and diverse talent is the future of the entertainment industry.

If you have any feedback, or would like to get in touch, drop us a line at info@thelocationguide.com

Enjoy! Adrian Pennington, 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 info@thelocationguide.com W www.thelocationguide.com

2022 © The Location Guide Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced in any form whatsoever, by photocopying, electronic or mechanical means without prior written consent of the publisher. The publisher has taken all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information presented is accurate and correct, but cannot take responsibility for any omissions or errors, nor take any liability for any misuse of images or of the information.

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THERE IS A HUGE DEBATE RAGING ABOUT THE EXTENT TO WHICH GENERATIVE AI WILL ELIMINATE OR UPLIFT ROLES IN CRAFTS FROM ANIMATION TO FEATURE FILM.
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Are games
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After Covid,
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The logistics of location
be expensive but how
>FEATURES 026 Ready
your
HAL? AI is already embedded
the creative arts. What are you
it? 038
Bust Can ITVX become a portal for live viewing rather than just a catch-up service? 047 Wales: Boom Time for Production How is the nation keeping up momentum? 052 Netflix & Chill Ads Will the streamer’s new ad-led tier deliver for advertisers? 067 159 >NEWS 008 News in Brief Production news from around the world 010 The World at a Glance Mapping global production trends 012 Tech & Facilities News From cameras to studios, the latest in production technology news >CLOSE UP 015 Report FOCUS 2022 Meet the makers 020 Around the World WHERE THE MONSTERS ROAM With location manager Zachary Quemore 022 Making of LADBROKES ROCKY Replacing hundreds of people in Rocky II’s iconic 1979 run 033 Report MAKERS & SHAKERS AWARDS The finalists have been announced >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 Austria Smooth drama 056 Belgium Rich in talent 6
In Game Advertising
just vessels for ad campaigns?
Strength in Diversity Canada’s indie producers speak out
Is the Next Generation ready?
training inclusive enough for the next generation of filmmakers to make it through the ranks?
New Zealand is Back
has it returned to full strength?
The True Cost of Virtual Production
shooting can
does virtual compare?
for
cl ose-up
in
going to do about
Digital or

Making of SHANTARAM

1980’s Bombay is the setting for Apple TV+’s sweeping romantic epic

Making of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON Fantasy drama sequel mixes extensive studio & location shoots

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105 Iceland
production
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112 Are
Brands
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067 Brazil Grit meets elegance 093 Canada Endless possibilities 117 Dominican Republic Green filming 135 Italy Classic charm 153 Nordics Force of nature 060 Interview
One
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Indie
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Interview with JAMEE RANTA Executive producer of some of today’s most iconic music videos
Report IBC IS BACK After three years, the European media & tech community has reconvened
ups its
game what will be the likely impact of its increased incentive?
True Crime in the Dock Are lines being crossed as filmmakers try to make their stories stand out
VTubers the future of content creation?
are taking note but what do they need to learn?
Disability Representation in Production What is the current reality of the forgotten diversity?
Amsterdam: the creative hub What’s next for its creative sector?
Music & Movement Repurposed soundtracks vs original scores
The Ukraine Effect As their film industry continues to reach out for support how is Central Europe helping?
Behind the Animation Boom Soaring demand has changed the economy of animation
Blockchain for Creators Web3 is broken. Can Neal Stephenson’s Blockchain for Creators fix it?
with SIMON NAPIER BELL
of the UK’s most successful pop managers
HOW TO TIGHTEN BELTS
film & telelvision makers are struggling with a significant cost inflation
Making of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT Recreating the horrors of World War I
WANTED: METAVERSE BRAND MANAGER Sami Khan, co-founder & CEO of Atlas Reality, discusses the future of the internet
THE HISTORY OF UK TV PLC Dawn McCarthy-Simpson charts the growth of a global cultural powerhouse
Interview with MYLEN YAMAMOTO TANSINGCO Founder of talent management company Clique-Now
ADAPTIVE PODCASTING Rebecca Stagg discusses the future of personalised podcast experiences
THE BOTTLE YARD STUDIOS The largest dedicated film & television studio facility in the West of England

NEWS in brief

PRODUCTION NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

MOVIES AND SCRIPTED TV: NO LONGER DIFFERENTIATORS FOR STREAMERS

The winners in the streaming wars will be those companies that diversify into news or sports or video games or preferably a mix of the lot, according to a survey from Consumer Insights, the research division of Publisher’s Clearing House. It polled 15,000 Americans and teamed with consultant Evan Shapiro to analyse the results.

“What is glaringly clear is that having movies and TV shows are now, simply, table stakes,” said Shapiro. “They are not at all a differentiator. In streaming TV, scripted and non-fiction TV are an expensive, hitdriven, share-shift model. Consumers of all ages and incomes will sign up for them, to binge something. But if that is all you have, they will not stick around.”

Trends increasingly favour the tech giants – Apple and Amazon – which are both heavily invested in bundling numerous genres of services. It makes perfect sense that Microsoft, which already offers gaming and business products is getting into business with Netflix.

While Disney+ only has movies and TV, a Disney Bundle offers sports, news, and even local content. “This is why their bundle churn is now lower than Netflix’s, and how they surpassed Netflix for subscribers worldwide,” Shapiro thinks.

Shapiro thinks there’s hope for the paid content business model yet – among youth. Two hundred million mostly young people are paying for Spotify and another 90 million pay Apple Music. Hundreds of millions of paying users play Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft.

“We have trained three generations (Millennials, Gen Z and Gen A) that (despite social media) great content is often what you pay for it. Despite their addiction to free video on TikTok two thirds of America’s young people are ready to pay for what they feel they need.”

BANIJAY LAUNCHES

OWN BRAND FAST CHANNEL

Distributor Banijay Rights has launched its first Banijay-branded general entertainment FAST (Free Ad-Supported Television) channel, called Horizons: Powered By Banijay.

SAUDI STUDIO OFFERS

PRODUCTION INCENTIVE

Saudi Arabian region NEOM has opened NEOM Media Village and Bajdah Desert Studios, the country’s largest sound stages and film production support facilities.

NEOM also announced a 40% plus cash rebate production incentive scheme.

“Clearly production incentives play a vital role in terms of attracting productions but are best leveraged when the entire package is in place: infrastructure, on-the-ground international production expertise, crew depth and ease of doing business,” commented Wayne Borg, MD for Media Industries, Entertainment and Culture at NEOM. “NEOM is now in the position to offer this competitive package.”

The first three sound stages across the two locations are already operational. A further seven, including a Volume, are set to open early 2023.

The channel boast s more than 200 hours of UK content including 8 Out of 10 Cats and Pointless (pictured above), as well as drama series Gunpowder and The Woman in White.

Shaun Keeble, VP Digital, Banijay Rights, said: “Launching our own, dedicated, Banijay-branded FAST channel in the UK is the perfect way to attract new viewers to some of our leading global IP. It’s a

fantastic time to expand on our already burgeoning suite of channels and continue to lead the market in this space.”

The channel is available on Samsung TV Plus UK and LG Channels. The launch comes amid rapid growth for the FAST market, with analysts predicting it could be worth USD4 billion this year. FAST leaders include Pluto TV, Tubi and Roku.

The peaks of Al-Lawz Mountain, NEOM's highest mountain.

“This is an important milestone in realising our aim of becoming the epicenter of the region’s media industr y,” added Borg. “Our team, facilities and diverse filming locations mean we can provide world-class production experience and use our capabilities to become the focal point of collaboration within the global media industry.”

There are also 350 dedicated accommodation units for cast and crew, “supported by a great offering of lifestyle facilities.”

The facilities have housed fantasy-adventure Rise of The Witches and reality show Million Dollar Island.

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WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT IS SETTING A NEW BAR FOR INNOVATION IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF HOME MOVIES BY DEMONSTRATING THE POTENTIAL OF WEB3.

DISNEY RULES NORTH AMERICA SCRIPTED COMMISSIONING

Disney has taken a firm lead for scripted content in North America, having ordered more new scripted content by the end of September than it took in the whole of 2021. Ampere’s figures reveal Netflix has focused more on international with its scripted output falling by 15% in North America across the first three quarters, vs Disney’s growth of 61%.

Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount have also reduced US commissioning. Mid-size players have shown the greatest development in North America in 2022. Apple, which is steadily evolving into a serious scripted player is the fourth largest commissioner of scripted content in North America with 32 new series ordered, making it one of the global top 10 commissioners of scripted for the first time.

In Western Europe, traditionally led by PSBs, France TV is currently the largest commissioner of new scripted content with 40 titles, per Ampere stats. Netflix has matched this also with 40, four more titles than this time last year. The biggest reduction in scripted commissioning has come from the BBC, which has fallen to third having been the biggest commissioner in 2021, with a 37% reduction in scripted output.

C4’S WARP DRIVE

Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund has invested in Warp Films, the Sheffield-based indie producer behind film and television shows such as This Is England, Four Lions, The Virtues and Little Birds.

Warp is known for working with an array of talent including Shane Meadows, Chris Morris, Idris Elba and Stephen Graham.

The minorit y shareholding takes the current portfolio of companies in the Channel 4 Indie Growth Fund to 19 with 11 companies having joined since 2020.

NOVA SCOTIA ADDS TAX BREAK

The Nova Scotia government has a new tax break to attract and retain film and video workers aged under 30.It's an expansion of the More Opportunity for Skilled Trades (MOST) programme. Those eligible for this programme will get a tax rebate on their first USD50,000 of income earned. It will allow a maximum USD2,700-tax refund for those eligible.

Laura MacKenzie, executive director of Screen Nova Scotia, said there are only about 650 people in the province working in the industry and the incentive could help address that labour shortage.

"The film industry lost many film and television graduates to greener pastures over the past years," MacKenzie said. “We're rebuilding the reputation and vitality of the cultural economy as one that has incredible untapped potential to grow this province's tax base."

The film industry pumped USD180 million into Nova Scotia's economy over the past fiscal year more than double its value from two years ago.

The Lord of the Rings released as a multimedia NFT

Peter Jackson’s 2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is the first major studio film to be released as a Digital Movie NFT. It also the first in an anticipated series of Web3 movie offerings from Warner Bros, and it marks the launch of the WB Movieverse.

This is being billed as an “exciting new way for fans to engage with the film” through two new “experience options” called The Mystery Edition and The Epic Edition. Both allow owners to watch the extended version of the film in 4K UHD, access more than eight hours of special features, view image galleries, discover hidden AR collectibles, and explore themed navigation menus based on iconic locations, as well as own and trade the experience in a community marketplace.

“Fans of The Lord of the Rings can now acquire, participate, and trade in an epic living media experience that will undoubtedly surprise and delight them,” said Michelle Munson, CEO of blockchain specialists Eluvio which partnered Warner Bros on the project. “It’s truly designed for a mass consumer audience, not just Web3 enthusiasts, which is why it should, and does, feel so remarkable and engaging.”

Fred Black, Research Manager at Ampere said: “With public service broadcasters increasingly pulling back due to budget constraints, SVOD platforms and studios are ramping up scripted output. If Disney can successfully position its global portfolio of streaming services and cable channels in a way that suits consumers, it can claim Original content supremacy over incumbent market leader Netflix.”

FINANCIAL TOOLS FOR FREELANCERS

The Film and TV Charity with MoneyHelper launched a range of digital financial tools to increase practical support for freelancers facing uncertainty due to the ongoing cost-ofliving crisis.

CEO Alex Pumfrey, said: “With inflation and rising energy bills causing grave concern, we want to ensure that everyone in the TV and film industry has access to the best advice and guidance possible. Our new financial tools aren’t a magic bullet to the cost-of-living crisis, but they do offer a greater ability to plan and manage finances and ultimately strengthen resilience.”

She added, “Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is setting a new bar for innovation in the distribution of home movies by demonstrating the potential of Web3 for consumer engagement, digital supply chain transformation, and new business opportunities.”

To participate fans must create a secure media wallet that acts as a digital vault to enable them to stream and purchase the content via credit cards or crypto wallets.

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“IT’S TRULY DESIGNED FOR A MASS CONSUMER AUDIENCE, NOT JUST WEB3 ENTHUSIASTS, WHICH IS WHY IT SHOULD, AND DOES, FEEL SO REMARKABLE AND ENGAGING.”
© Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
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Andor © The Walt Disney Studios.
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SCANDINAVIA 13 FRANCE 8 NEW MEXICO 6 FLORIDA 7 DACH 14 TEXAS 3 WALES 2 NORTHERN IRELAND 5 CANADA 1 BALKANS 4 ITALY 10
The world at a glance

CANADA

Animation and VFX studio Cinesite has acquired both Montreal’s L’Atelier Animation and a majority stake in the city’s animation and mocap studio Squeeze, the creator of TV series Cracké.

WALES

Aria Studios a GBP2 million facility, offering 20,000 sqft of filming space has opened in Anglesey, North Wales. It was developed by Rondo Media and the commercial arm of Welsh broadcaster S4C with the support of the Welsh Government.

TEXAS

Hill Country Studios has announced plans to build two LED stages. Construction by the Houston-based video production company Vision begins in 2023.

BALKANS

Cinesite now owns a majority stake in FX3X, a Balkans-based visual effects studio with offices in Skopje and Belgrade. Founded in 1997, FX3X claims to be one of the largest VFX houses in Eastern Europe and boasts a fully equipped motion capture stage.

NORTHERN IRELAND Blade Runner 2099, the Amazon Prime TV series based on the iconic Blade Runner films, begins filming in Northern Ireland in the spring. Ridley Scott, who directed the original movie, is executive producer.

NEW MEXICO

Alec Baldwin said he is ‘grateful’ after reaching a settlement with the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, allowing production on his movie Rust to resume next year.

FLORIDA

The Fort Lauderdale City Commission has approved a plan to build a USD164 million film studio on a 61 acre plot. Construction will start in 2024.

FRANCE

World cinema mourned the passing of cinema iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard who died in September aged 91. Godard’s debut masterpiece did indeed leave one breathless.

THAILAND

Netflix has unveiled its first ever slate in Thailand with six titles. The films include The Murderer, directed by Wisit Sasanatieng, which marks the streaming platform’s first feature in the northeastern Thai dialect.

ITALY

Kenneth Branagh's latest Agatha Christie whodunit A Haunting in Venice starring Tina Fey, Michelle Yeoh, and Jamie Dornan began filming in Venice and Pinewood Studios, targeting a Christmas 2023 release.

NEW ZEALAND

Apple TV’s production of Time Bandits will shoot in Wellington for writer, director and executive producer Taika Waititi. It is based on 1981's Terry Gilliam-directed movie.

HONG KONG

Filmmaker Peter Ho-Sun Chan has launched the production company Changin’ Pictures with an initial slate of five titles that includes stars Donnie Yen and Zhang Ziyi.

SCANDINAVIA

Thomas Vinterberg’s debut TV project Families Like Ours for Canal+ and TV2 Denmark commenced principal photography on location in Copenhagen, Sweden, the Czech Republic, France and Romania.

DACH

NBC Universal will close its TV channel E! Entertainment in Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the end of 2022.

CINESITE
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tech & facilities

FROM CAMERAS TO STUDIOS, THE LATEST IN PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY NEWS

STREAMLAND BUYS SOUND HOUSE SONOROUS TRIDENT

London-based sound facility Sonorous Trident has become part of Streamland Media’s sound division, Formosa Group. The Trident studio at St. Anne’s Court is where The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, and The Rolling Stones recorded albums from 1968 to 1981. The acquisition means that Sonorous Trident founders Mike Prestwood Smith and Howard Bargroff join Formosa Group.

Prestwood Smith’s credits as re-recording mixer include Rocket Man, Aladdin, and multiple films in the Mission Impossible franchise. He won a BAFTA Award for Best Sound for Casino Royale (2007) and has earned Oscar nominations for his contributions on News of the World (2021) and Captain Phillips (2014). Bargroff has mixed high-profile features such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, for which he received a BAFTA Film Award (2012) nomination.

Streamland Media’s picture division, Picture Shop, has appointed Adam Morris as new managing director in the UK; Paul Austin remains as MD for Unscripted; Todd Kleparski manages Scripted in the UK and Duncan Armstrong is the new MD, Business Operations.

Meanwhile, Ghost VFX, Streamland Media’s VFX division, will open a new 32,000 square-feet studio in Pune, Maharashtra, India, early next year.

“Ghost VFX India is a critical part of expanding our worldwide services,” says company President Patrick Davenport (pictured left). “Ghost India will offer clients a full range of high-end visual effects through cloud-based technology and an industryleading talent roster that will function as a hybrid of work-from-home and in-studio.”

Warner Bros De Lane Lea (WBDLL) has relocated from London’s Dean Street to three floors of a building on Greek Street. The new HQ claims the UK’s largest mixing stage. Kim Waugh, EVP worldwide post production creative services, WBDLL, said: “This new home for our team of multi-award winning talent will bring another level of service to post in London. The size and quality of the stages are exceptional. I’m delighted we are remaining within the heart of Soho’s vibrant and creative community.”

WBDLL’s credits include Wonder Woman, Gravity AND the Harry Potter (2001-2011) film series).

CHEROKEE FILM STUDIOS OPENS

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the largest of three Cherokee federally recognised tribes in the United States, opened its first production facility.

Cherokee Film Studios (pictured right) is a 27,000 sqft facility located within the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

It includes a virtual production LED volume studio and accompanying edit suites, control room, pro-grade audio booth, crew and client lounges, as well as hair and makeup facilities for the state’s emerging film industry.

“The rate at which Oklahoma’s film and television industry is evolving is nothing short of astounding,

DRAMA OUT OF A CRISIS

An aircraft hangar in Norfolk housed the set build for the inside of number 10 Downing Street (pictured) for This England, Revolution Films’ dramatisation of the Government’s early path through Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospit als and care homes featured in the drama were either real working locations or closed disused wings of hospitals.

DoP James Clarke selected to shoot on ARRI Alexa Mini with Angénieux Optimo zoom lenses and ARRI Master Primes with kit supplied and tested at Verve. Michael Winterbottom directed Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson in the Sky Original Production.

and the Cherokee Nation is committed to serving our role in helping drive that growth,” said Jennifer Loren, director of Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content. “This facility and its incredible capabilities are just the beginning.”

The LED wall is to be expanded to more than double its current size to 80 ft long by 17 ft high with a ceiling 18 ft deep. The expansion will include fixed and mobile set lighting options and portable LED wall panels, allowing for reverse shot capabilities. CNFO will also double the size of it s motion capture volume and offer 12 additional cameras to increase the possibilities for creativity as Cherokee Film Studios enter the metaverse.

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NEWS

MOLINARE INVESTS IN PICTURE SERVICES

Molinare has expanded its Picture Department with new hires and substantial investment. After doubling its Flame capacity, the facility is bolstered by three new senior editors working across both unscripted and scripted.

Ben North joins from Lipsync Post, where he has spent the past eight years working on the likes of the BBC’s Ghosts and Steve McQueen’s Small Axe Fellow senior online editor, Scott Hinchcliffe’s credits include Sherlock and Spooks. Also joining is Dan Preston, former head of picture at Clear-Cut Pictures.

Further investment has been made to the company’s colour department, including a new grading suite and hire of senior colourist Lee Clappison, whose credits include Toast of Tinsel Town.

Tom Emptage joins from Envy as Molinare’s new head of picture finishing. The new head of picture operations is Hannah Mason. Finally, QC and mastering supervisor, Diogo Oliveira boards from Picture Shop Post.

“The team we’ve assembled, will drive the company to its next stage in growth strategy,” said Nigel Bennett, CEO. “More importantly, they all show a passion and love for the craft that makes them the perfect fit for Molinare.”

MILK ACQUIRES LOLA

Coppola’s Megalopolis shoots Virtual Production

Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis began production using a LED volume on the Prysm stage (pictured below) at Trilith Studios, Georgia.

Lola’s recent work includes Universe (BBC); Dangerous Liaisons (Starz/Lionsgate) and Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough (BBC).

Milk work includes Sony’s The Woman King (pictured above) and Netflix feature The Swimmers. It is currently in production on the second series of Good Omens (Amazon/BBC) and eight-part NBC series Surviving Earth (NBC/Loud Minds).

Jag Mundi, Milk Executive Chairman said: “We are thrilled to welcome Rob and the Lola team to the Milk family. This enables us to expand our scale and capabilities both creatively and commercially. Bringing Rob and the Lola team’s award-winning expertise and reputation, especially in the factual market, into one group with a shared vision, positions us well to help our clients bring their projects to life.”

“Shooting in an LED volume opens up new ways to create our stories in film,” said the film’s producer, Michael Bederman. “What’s exciting about shooting Megalopolis at Prysm is that we can marry traditional filmmaking experiences, techniques and crew with the most advanced virtual production capabilities in the same space, accessing the best of both the physical and digital options.”

With a Georgia base, productions at Prysm can benefit from up to 30% credits with no annual cap on tax credits. The new facility is led by Virtual Production Supervisor, Jason Davis in partnership with Trilith Studios Director of Creative Technologies, Barry Williams.

ZINC MEDIA LAUNCHES BUMBLEBEE

Factual superindie Zinc Media Group has launched post production division, Bumblebee. Initially based London, the aim is to scale across the Nations and Regions.

Olly Strous, CTO, Zinc Media Group, says, “Bumblebee is a response to the changing production landscape that has emerged since the start of the pandemic. It has created demand for the flexibility to work anywhere, maintaining the highest levels of collaboration and in the face of significantly increasing costs, to produce the best content possible without destroying our climate or our budgets. Our ambition is to meet that demand – and more.”

MALTA GREENLIGHTS SOUND STAGE

Malta’s planning authority has approved plans for the construction of the Mediterranean island country’s first interior sound stage to complement its existing exterior tank shooting facilities.

The new studio space will be built on 4,000 sqm at the Malta Film Studios at Kalkara. A highlight of the facility will be an environment-controlled, indoor 2,000 sqm water tank overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, giving the same infinite horizon effect as the existing exterior deep-water tank.

The project is part of a EUR35 million masterplan for the regeneration of Malta Film Studios. Productions to have filmed on the island recently include Jurassic World Dominion, Shark Bait and Ridley Scott’s biopic of Napoleon.

Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Megalopolis stars Adam Driver, Forest Whittaker, and Laurence Fishburne. The independently produced feature tells how the fate of Rome haunts the modern world.

Trilith Studios has previously hosted Avengers: Endgame, WandaVision and The Suicide Squad.

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WE CAN MARRY TRADITIONAL FILMMAKING EXPERIENCES, TECHNIQUES AND CREW WITH THE MOST ADVANCED VIRTUAL PRODUCTION CAPABILITIES IN THE SAME SPACE.
“THE INDEPENDENTLY PRODUCED FEATURE TELLS HOW THE FATE OF ROME HAUNTS THE MODERN WORLD.”
London VFX studio Milk has bought fellow VFX shop Lola Post Production although the brands will remain separate. Lola’s founder and creative director Rob Harvey will continue to lead the Lola team.
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FOCUS 2022 meet the makers

THE MEETING PLACE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTION COMMUNITY IS BACK IN FULL FORCE

The traditional two-day in-person event takes place at the Business Design Centre London on 6/7 December, offering a packed programme of conference sessions, networking events, facilitated meetings and exhibition zones. FOCUS Virtual will run 8/9 December enabling delegates from across the globe to engage online.

The eighth annual edition of FOCUS remains free to attend for industry professionals and embraces the increasing convergence of all audiovisual disciplines, attracting thousands of attendees from across the creative screen industries – including film, television, advertising, animation, games and XR. It is the only UK trade event where attendees can meet with content makers and facilitators from over 100 countries.

Delegates will be able to attend over 60 in-person panel discussions, workshops and presentations featuring more than 150 leading industry experts. With so many sessions running during the event, FOCUS also offers the opportunity for delegates

to catch up with on demand access to the full conference after the show, by purchasing a digital conference pass.

The event offers production intelligence and filming solutions for all types of projects and all levels of budget, from pre- through to post-production. Delegates can discover millions of dollars of filming incentives and find the most up-to-date advice on the current filming situation around the world. Attendees can pre-schedule in person and virtual 1-2-1 meetings with film agencies, production service companies and location providers from every continent. Over 200 companies are exhibiting at the Business Design Centre this year, with an A-Z of stands from APU Productions Peru right through to the Zagreb Film Office.

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© Elliot Waloschek.
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There are a plethora of in-person networking events taking place throughout this year’s event, including the FOCUS Welcome Drinks sponsored by NEOM, Producers’ Brunch with Variety & PACT sponsored by CCS Rights Management, David Reviews Reception sponsored by Invest Cyprus, Location Managers’ Breakfast with Sao Paulo Film Commission & LMGI, Producers without Borders Lunch in partnership with Quebec Film & Television Council & SOS Event Logistics, Location Managers’ Xmas Drinks with Location One & LMGI. The FOCUS digital platform extends the networking experience with AI-powered matchmaking and pre-scheduling of meetings.

CONFERENCE PROGRAMME

One of the centrepieces of FOCUS is its conference programme, presented in association with media partner Variety and sponsored by CCS Rights Management. It is developed in consultation with a Content Advisory Board featuring representatives from leading industry bodies including Pact, The Production Guild, British Film Institute, British Film Commission, UK Screen Alliance, ScreenSkills, Directors UK, Advertising Producers Association and Games London.

The conference programme at FOCUS will reflect key industry talking points of 2022, from the challenges of financing and crewing projects in turbulent times, through to boosting diversity, making best use of new production technology, creating content sustainably and improving training.

Here’s a hot topic: A Guide to Immigration for the UK Film and TV industry presented by the British Film Commission’s Head of Production UK Samantha Perahia MBE. Perahia recently won a Production Guild of Great Britain Award for the continuous guidance, advice and support she has provided to the production sector, particularly throughout the pandemic. She is joined by Victoria Stone, Founder/MD, Cosmopolitan Production Services.

The Role of the Showrunner in association with MediaXchange will offer an overview of current showrunner styles in the UK and Europe in comparison with US practices. Speakers include Willem Bosch (Showrunner/Creator/Screenwriter, Pupkin), Pedro Lopes (General Content Director, SP Televisão & Spi/Screenwriter), writer/producer Sumerah Srivastav (Lupin, Manifest), Sydney Gallonde (CEO/Executive Producer, Make It Happen Studio)

This Just In: The Future of Global Content will look at the trends for both scripted and unscripted content and the challenges that this rapidly evolving industry is facing with Marc Lorber (SVP, International TV Acquisitions and Co-Productions, Lionsgate), David Cornwall (Managing Director, Scorpion TV), Maartje Horchner (EVP Content, All3media International), Karen Young (Founder/ Managing Director, Orange Smarty)

The new CEO of BAFTA joins us In Conversation with Jane Millichip as she reflects on her first weeks in the role and looks forward to leading BAFTA through its next chapter. Having most recently served as Sky Studios’ Chief Content Officer and prior to that as its COO, Millichip brings with her a unique and impressive combination of top-level commercial and creative expertise.

In Conversation with Col Needham, the CEO & Founder of the industry’s most popular resource, IMDb, will discuss how the business grew out of his lifelong interest in film and technology. Pact’s Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE will talk with Needham about how IMDb, which was acquired by Amazon in 1998, continues to innovate and evolve, helping hundreds of millions of customers all over the world discover and decide what to watch.

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NETWORKING INSPIRATION KNOWLEDGE IN THESE VERY FAST-CHANGING TIMES FOR THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES, FOCUS PROVIDES A CRUCIAL SPACE TO CATCH UP WITH TRENDS, CONNECT WITH OLD AND NEW INDUSTRY FRIENDS AND ACCESS THE RIGHT INFORMATION TO HELP PROJECTS MOVE FORWARD
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Supervising Location Manager Leann Emmert will speak at High Flyers: Learning from LA Location Pros

Another session in our In Conversation series will include founder of Good Chaos Mike Goodridge (Triangle Of Sadness, Quo Vadis, Aida).

In his Meet the Producer Podcast, in association with The Production Guild of Great Britain, presenter/producer Jason Solomons will talk to inspirational producers of film and television to find out the many ways to do this most mysterious of jobs, featuring Roopesh Parekh (Willow, His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife).

In High Flyers: Learning from Location Pros of LA Location Scout Lori Balton (Argo, Being the Ricardos, Maverick: Top Gun 2), Location Consultant/ Producer Becky Brake (Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission: Impossible III, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol) and Supervising Location Manager Leann Emmert (The Fabelmans, Rebel, Moon), will share their experiences in problem-solving, negotiating and navigating cultural and legal nuances.

David Reviews Shoptalk Around the World in 80 Shoots, sponsored by Invest Cyprus, brings together a stellar advertising panel including Anna Murray (Head of Production, Mother London), Daniel Kleinman, (Director, Rattling Stick) Fran Thompson, (Managing Director, Park Pictures) and Simon Cooper (Co-Managing Director at Academy Films).

ScreenSkills will convene the session The UK Production Boom How the Nations and Regions are the UK's Superpower, in which leading indies and producers will discuss how working collaboratively can build the skills needed to cement future success. The panel includes producers Louise Gallagher and Suzanne Reid, Llyr Morus (Head of Production/Producer, Vox Pictures) and Niall Shamma (COO/CFO, Warp Films).

In a special screening session Straight 8 Shootout will premiere at FOCUS. The the global one-super8-cartridge-no-editing film challenge is a unique opportunity for companies worldwide to showcase their creativity and compete for charity with a new super 8 short film.

Sustainable Film: Reducing our Emissions in association with Film London explores the challenges, new developments and future opportunities, of addressing both air quality and greenhouse gas emissions from our sector. Roxy Erickson (Co-founder, Creative Zero), Lola Legros (International Promotion Manager, Film Paris Region) and Amelia Price (Co-Director, Sustainable Film) engage in conversation.

Learn what it takes to Become a Self-Shooting PD with Andrea Corbett (Head of Career Development and Skills at Directors UK), Nic Guttridge, Story Consultant/Executive Producer (Netflix feature doc The Spy Who Fell to Earth), filmmaker JIJO, producer Rebecca Murden and documentary filmmaker Annika Hagemann.

Immersive technology and virtual production filmmaking go under the spotlight in sessions including The In-Camera VFX Hype Cycle with Giacomo Talamini, a director and producer whose company Onextra is a joint venture between Hive Division and the videogame company Centounopercento. Also programmed is a close look at the making of The Gallery in The Convergence of Film & Games with Michael French (Head of Games, Games London). Nicole Stewart Rushworth takes us through XR The Business Model for Immersive.

Don’t miss the future of our industry in AI Your New BFF for Storytelling. Johnny Johnson (StoryFutures Academy & NFTS technologist) and Peter Richardson (Head of Virtual Production, Story Futures) will guide you through what is to come. They are, among other things, bringing to life digital humans for the metaverse and entertainment industries using advanced Artificial Intelligence.

Many more FOCUS sessions will be announced leading up to the event. For up to the minute details on FOCUS, see focus2022.com

Jean-Frédéric Garcia, FOCUS Managing Director, said, “For FOCUS 2022 we are planning an ambitious live event, with lots of new features. In addition, the FOCUS digital platform, which has enabled us to greatly extend the reach of FOCUS over the past two years, will continue to take networking to the next level.

In these very fast-changing times for the creative industries, FOCUS provides a crucial space to catch up with trends, connect with old and new industry friends and access the right information to help projects move forward.”

FOCUS is produced by the team behind The Location Guide, whose brands include the makers & shakers Awards, makers magazine and the online portal thelocationguide.com

For the lastest details on FOCUS, see focus2022.com

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CONFERENCE TRAINING FOCUS BACK TO CONTENTS
THE ROLE OF THE SHOWRUNNER CONFERENCE SESSION WILL OFFER AN OVERVIEW OF CURRENT SHOWRUNNER STYLES IN THE UK AND EUROPE IN COMPARISON WITH US PRACTICES.

Around the world

Where the Monsters Roam

FOUR LOCATIONS CHOSEN BY LOCATION MANAGER ZACHARY QUEMORE

1 HONG KONG

Epic battles, fought across decades of large blockbuster films, require production teams to bring new and exciting locations to life as the backdrop to familiar characters. Godzilla had destroyed Tokyo time and time again. For Godzilla vs Kong they wanted something a little different. Hong Kong gave Godzilla an epic entrance, swimming right through the city, lighting up the water and knocking over dragon boats. When Godzilla made landfall, he found a city full of great architectural geometry, where he was able to battle Kong in between the neon emblazed skyscrapers before teaming up to fight the true enemy, Mechagodzilla.

2 VIETNAM

Identifying the right origin location for the new King Kong productions was critical to maintaining the integrity of the storyline. The team needed a tropical

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location that immediately conveyed the magical lush nature of an untouched island. In the rural jungles and large caves of Vietnam, Legendary Films found what they needed. However, accessing the ideal tropical location proved to be difficult for the needs of a large blockbuster film. Working with local authorities and community members, we built a road out to the jungle location to transport shooting equipment. It ultimately proved a valuable resource to the community and remains in use to this day.

3 SOUTH KOREA

Filming Pacific Rim: Uprising in Korea was an amazing experience. The production selected Seoul and Busan as the two primary locations for the film because of the sprawling skylines, mountainous backdrops, and open city squares

Zachary Quemore began his locations career in Philadelphia before moving to LA in 2013. He has worked on movies such as T he Revenant, Dark Knight Rises, Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Matrix Resurrections and Silver Linings Playbook.

Quemore is a licensed UAS Pilot with unique experience scouting and figuring out the logistics of working with virtual productions. Bringing additional flexibility to the industry through innovative uses of technology, he created a programme that leverages the power of virtual reality into his scouting which enables productions to walk around and scout locations from anywhere in the world.

that were ideal for inner city combat. During production, we used a drone to create plate shots that would act as the POVs of the Jaegers, while fighting the Kaiju. The local film crews offered great insight and new techniques that I continue to implement in my teams to this day.

4 HAWAII

While working in Hawaii on Kong: Skull Island and on Godzilla vs Kong, we were in search of areas that showed the might of man and also areas untouched by man. Hawaii’s houses all branches of the US Military and so is the perfect place to find the might of man. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the beauty of the islands with their pristine protected areas is hard to match elsewhere.

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Making of

Ladbrokes’ Rocky

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LADBROKES REPLACES HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE IN ROCKY II’S ICONIC 1979 RUN

Ladbrokes’ Rocky claimed to achieve the biggest character replacement in Hollywood history by digitally replacing the original cast of the iconic montage from Rocky II

The campaign is the latest work for the heritage betting brand by creative agency Neverland, and follows, Balloon and Drummers

The project involved mapping the locations and camera movements of the 1979 film and using motion capture to film a new set of 250

characters which were then inserted into the original film.

The new cast were filmed in a 95m by 50m studio at Budapest’s Origo Studios against grey screen. They ran across 1:1 scale sets that were built to exactly match the locations Rocky runs through including the famous steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The 90-second spot was directed by Nicolai Fuglsig (Guinness Sapeurs) for production outfit MJZ. Director of photography George

Richmond BSC (Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore) shot on Steadicam and spoke to Steadicam inventor, Garrett Brown (who filmed the original Rocky II sequence) to help match up his filming as closely as possible.

Further campaign developments saw ‘Rockys Gonna Fly Now’ theme song from the original film recomposed by The English Session Orchestra and sung by the London Voices Choir.

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Images courtesy of Ladbrokes.
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AUSTRIA smooth drama

locations – from a wide range of natural landscapes, to historic religious buildings, castles and palaces, not to mention industrial complexes and modern architecture in both urban and rural contexts.”

One natural feature this landlocked nation is not blessed with is a coastline – but it does possess the stunning Lake Altaussee a huge, mirror-like lake in the heart of the Alps. If you recognise it that would most likely be from Spectre and the scene in which Daniel Craig rowed out into its middle.

From the scenic landscapes of lake Altaussee to the Vienna opera house, Austria offers filming locations that capture the essence of the country, all the while catering to the production needs of international filmmakers.

Productions shooting in Austria will get a notable fillip when the Austrian government introduces their 35% incentive for film and TV production.

Starting 1 January 2023, the automatic, non-repayable subsidy will contribute EUR5 million per film and EUR7.5 million per series. Applications will need to be made by a production service company based in Austria. There’s a 30% cash rebate for each project, plus an additional 5% green bonus, dependent on implementation of environmental sustainability criteria.

Film in Austria, the film commission for the country, told Variety: “The previous lack of an effective instrument to attract foreign production and to create qualified jobs has so far caused film productions to migrate to neighbouring countries and thus the loss of know-how and skilled workers at home.”

Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu, chairman of Film and Music Austria, said: “The fact that the funding system itself is not capped is a real sensation. This means that there will no longer be a race to submit funding applications. Instead, you release the brakes on creative potential.”

The Lower Austrian Film Commission, drawing attention to the glories of the south commented: “[It] offers a truly rich and diverse palette of

Acclaimed Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner recently shot drama Club Zero in the country. The pan-European co-production stars Mia Wasikowska and was part financed by the Austrian Film Institute, Vienna Film Fund and Film Industry Support Austria. Another recent Austrian production is Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage for which Vicky Krieps won the Best Performance prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard as Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

LOCATION HIGHLIGHT

Salzburg is the quintessential Austrian city, home to some of the most identifiable locations from the 1965 film classic, The Sound of Music. Famous sites around the area include Leopoldskron Palace (pictured above), Frohnburg Palace, the Mirabell Palace Gardens, the old town of Salzburg, and the basilica in Mondsee. Salzburg, the fourth largest city in Austria, sits on the border with Germany enjoying a direct view of the Eastern Alps and surrounded by picturesque mountainous peaks, floral open fields, and baroque architecture. Also known for being the birthplace of Mozart, Salzburg boasts a wealth of culture. Known as the stage of the world it offers 4,500 different cultural events every year, housed at internationally recognised venues like the Salzburg marionette theatre which has been entertaining the public since 1913 with musicals.

Images: © Cine Tirol Film Commission, & Paul Sprinz.

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PROVIDES A NEW 35% STATE BACKED INCENTIVE TO SHOOT AMONG ITS BEAUTIFUL CITIES AND ALPINE PEAKS
“AUSTRIA
.”
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Ready for your close-up HAL?

AI IS ALREADY EMBEDDED IN THE CREATIVE ARTS. WHAT

As artificial intelligence gets more and more sophisticated to produce longer-form narrative video, including deepfake or CG actors, the dividing lines will increasingly blur. makers explores some of the latest practical examples benefitting production and addresses the concern it might automate some, or even all, creative roles.

The latest season of America’s Got Talent presented Elvis singing live in the final. Meanwhile the second series finale of BBC /Peacock drama The Capture reached its altogether more sinister conclusion. What they have in common, aside from NBC Universal as producer, is the use of deepfakes and video manipulation to twist the truth.

While America’s Got Talent ’s was an entertaining gimmick and The Capture’s was a compelling hook on which to hang conspiracy theories, they both prompt questions about the use of AI as a means to unlock creative opportunities and about the ethics of doing so.

“It’s too late to be worried about AI,” says Sami Arp, Founder and CEO of Largo.AI. “AI is already here and companies should be open to embracing it, looking to redesign roles and to create with it.”

Many media companies are indeed adopting AI tools for everything from storyboarding in preproduction to powering search and recommendation engines for service subscribers.

Largo, a Swiss-based company, provides data-assisted intelligence to the film and television industry. Its algorithm will analyse all the main ingredients of a proposed piece of content including the script to identify important patterns related to demographics, actors and other key talent, and estimated box office return.

“The aim is to give producers more information and insights to help them make the best final product,” says Arp. “Our system predicts the potential revenue of your film at each step of the development from script, rough-cut, and fine cut. Our accuracies are

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ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

over 80%. After making any decision during the development process, you can easily see its impact on the resulting revenue of the film.”

Among benefits to indie producers who are using the technology is a reduction in the time taken to go through this process manually and an increase in the chance of getting a project off the ground.

“Producers have much better understanding of the potential of their film – especially small producers which have limited access to market data compared to streamers. It also creates much more confidence among distributors, investors and funding bodies if you provide analysis like this to overcome their scepticism.”

Arrow International Media is extending the integration of AI services into its production workflows to assist in managing the ever increasing amounts of data generated on a shoot. A recent production was shooting upwards of 20 hours per day in the US. Overnight the rushes were uploaded, processed for edit and transcoded to web proxy. This triggered an automatic transcription service, and the content analysis of the footage. Within 24 hours of being shot in the US, the footage was available in the edit with a transcription and was searchable in the cloud.

“Mist akes are to be expected and the results still require human interpretation, but the material to interpret is reduced to a realistic and manageable level,” says Arrow’s post production consultant Dan Carew-Jones. “It is a triage process, not microsurgery.”

Arrow continues to embrace the possibilities of AI and ML. Footage restoration, colourisation, and categorisation, facial recognition, metadata enhancement and integration are all areas that it is studying.

AI is already proficient at tackling time consuming tasks like de-noising, rotoscoping, and motion capture tracking removal. As Pete Divers, Co-Founder and Head of VFX, Fika Entertainment says, “If an AI can knock-off the facial animation of 20 background characters that would leave your team more time to concentrate on the hero characters and the parts of the frame where viewers are drawn to.”

AI can also mimic speech and has been used in document aries. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain used synthetic audio to have the late chef and traveller say things he didn't, while

Andy Warhol was voiced by an AI and used extensively to narrate the Netflix documentary The Andy Warhol Diaries. While Roadrunner producer/director Morgan Neville was criticised for not being up front about the dupe, the makers of Warhol’s diaries ensured they put in a disclaimer up front and won plaudits for its storytelling nous.

AI is increasingly used to generate CG performances from motion capture and to automate and animate face replacement.

A version of this technique was used by document ary Welcome to Chechnya (2021) in which director David France protected the identity of witnesses but retained more of the power of their testimony on screen.

“DALL-E 2 WILL CHANGE THE INDUSTRY RIGHT ACROSS THE BOARD. NEW JOBS WILL BE CREATED SUCH AS PROMPT ENGINEER, WHO WRITES THE PROMPT INTO THE AI TO GENERATE VERY SPECIFIC OUTPUTS.”

“There’s now this AI tool for filmmakers to tell their stories in ways that haven’t been done before,” says France. “It also provides some additional security for witnesses to tell their stories and do it in a human way. They can have a voice and have their story translated effectively and truthfully.”

Face replacement is now possible in a live broadcast. Metaphysic, the company behind the America’s Got Talent Elvis deepfake, did the same to judges Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Simon Cowell on the show. They are also behind the viral internet sensation DeepTomCruise.

Co-founder Chris Umé describes what they do as creating Synthetic Media. This is the rapidly-expanding world of digital experiences and objects generated with input from artificial intelligence.

It requires training an AI model on images and videos of one person (dead in the case of Elvis), capturing them from multiple angles and in a variety of lighting conditions. They then shoot base videos using a body double, before generating a deepfake by combining the body double footage with video of the other person’s face.

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The Andy Warhol Diaries ©Andy Warhol Foundation/Netflix. The Capture © BBC/Heyday/Universal International Studios.
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AI IS INCREASINGLY USED TO GENERATE CG PERFORMANCES FROM MOTION
CAPTURE AND TO AUTOMATE AND ANIMATE FACE REPLACEMENT.

ART IS AN ACCIDENT AND MACHINES PRODUCE LOGIC. MACHINES DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRODUCE ACCIDENTS.

In an illustration of how this technology is bleeding into the mainstream, the same process was used by state security services in The Capture to fake CCTV footage.

Metaphysic plan to commercialise their technology in the belief that as much as 80% of the time we spend online in future will be spent interacting with each other’s avatars.

“Soon, studios will simply need to rent Brad Pitt’s face value rights for him to appear in the upcoming blockbuster film without having to leave the comfort of his couch,” says Pinar Seyhan Demirdag, co-founder of Seyhan Lee which offers creative AI solutions to the movie industry.

“I predict that letting AI recreate your footage in a style of your choice will be one of the first AI art tools that studios will adopt. Give it a couple of years, and you’ll be able to film a scene of four random people walking down an aisle, and you will be able to turn them into Dorothy and the gang in The Wizard of Oz.”

It’s only a short hop to being able to generate coherent and screen-ready feature length content that are entirely AI generated.

In fact, a step closer to that inevitable day has been provided by Irish computer artist Glenn Marshall. In 2008 he won the prestigious Prix Ars Electronica for a music video he created for Peter Gabriel unique in that it was created entirely out of programming and algorithms. He also created an AI-generated Daft Punk video. His new short The Crow is a finalist for The Lumen Prize, considered to be two of the most prestigious digital arts awards in the world, and is also eligible for submission to the BAFTA Awards.

Marshall fed video frames of a short live-action dance film called Painted into CLIP, a neural network created by OpenAI. He then prompted the system to generate a video of “a painting of a crow in a desolate landscape.”

Marshall says the AI is trying to make every live action frame look like a painting with a crow in it. “I’m meeting it half way, and the film becomes kind of a battle between the human and the AI with all the suggestive symbolism.”

He’s exploring CLIP-guided video generation, which can add detailed text-based directions, such as specific camera movements. That could lead to entire feature films produced by text-to-video systems.

Johnny Johnson, who teaches immersive production at the UK’s National Film and TV School’s (NFTS) StoryFutures Academy thinks future versions of AI tools like text to image engine DALL-E 2 will be capable of making entire feature films with AI-generated scripts and AI generated audio performances alongside the images.

“DALL-E 2 will change the industry from production design and concept art right across the board,” he says. “New jobs will be created such as Prompt Engineer, who writes the prompt into the AI to generate very specific outputs.”

There are two main concerns to the creative industries. One is that AI will automate the job of any creative. The other is a potential copyright black hole.

Small-scale content creators or artists just starting out are most under threat of an AI stunting their career.

Video game artist RJ Palmer envisions a scenario where using AI a single art director could take the place of five to ten artists. “The unfortunate reality of this industry is that speed is favoured over quality so often that a cleaned up, ‘good enough’ AI-generated image could suffice for a lot of needs,” he told gaming site Kotaku.

This would affect illustrators, photographers, graphic designers, models, pretty much any job that requires visuals all potentially outsourced to AI.

However, those makers spoke to were not convinced this will happen.

“AI can spawn a huge amount of images at concept stage but creative leads will always want to take over and refine those ideas,” says Divers.

“IT’S TOO LATE TO BE WORRIED ABOUT AI. AI IS ALREADY HERE.”

“The industry is driven by creativity and for that reason I don’t think human creators will ever accept AI [dominion],” says Arp. “What’s more if you replace actors with deepfakes and writers with AI you will lose a big part of the audience in the process.”

Marc du Pontavice, CEO of animation studio Xilam agrees. “Art is an accident and machines produce logic,” he says. “Machines don’t know how to produce accidents.

“Maybe I’m old fashioned but I am very sceptical about AI. When it comes to technology I’m interested in whatever will help creators get their imagination to the screen. But consider that it takes as many people if not more to create a Pixar movie today as it took to make The Lion King 28 years ago.”

On the copyright front, AI is already so proficient at copying a particular artist’s work that it won’t be long before filmmakers need to protect themselves from plagiarism.

There’s an argument that right now camera moves, editing choices, colour palettes or lighting schemes, should be copyrighted because there is nothing to prevent an AI from entirely generating a new gangster movie in the style of Scorsese or a sci-fi that looks and feels like it has come from Stanley Kubrick.

There will be some Hollywood execs no doubt calculating that if an AI could perfect a hit movie without having to pay for the risk and fuss that human talent brings it’s a price worth paying.

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The Year of Greece

Greece is an incomparable natural set, diverse, accessible, and above all friendly.

It offers a variety of options that serve your story. Magnificent coastlines, sand dunes, waterfalls, snow capped mountains, tropical forests, ancient sites, historical monuments, industrial buildings, urban, rural, ancient, medieval, classical, modern: one of the richest cultural heritages in the world! All easy to reach within one hour drive from coast to mountain. Add to all the above the well-known traditional Greek hospitality and one of the best financing schemes in Europe administered by EKOME, and you have your perfect location!

During the last two years, the successful management of the pandemic crisis by the Greek government and the ongoing improvements in legislation helped the country soar to one of the top filming destinations not only in Europe but worldwide. Major studios (Universal, Disney, Amazon, Paramount, Warner, Netflix, Apple TV, Millenium Media) with high-end productions now systematically choose Greece to film their projects.

With foreign production booming, Greece is also famous for its highly qualified experienced film professionals and state of the art facilities in all the stages of film production (crew, talentactors/dancers/extras, PSCs, soundstages, VFX, post-production companies, sound design, dubbing/subtitling, equipment rental, etc.).

One of the major selling points of the Greek incentives, concerns productions with over EUR8 million in local spend, providing for subsidies on non-resident labour (e.g., for scriptwriter and director fees), making the country a top destination for high-end projects. Latest data provided by EKOME (running the 40% cash rebate, 30% tax relief incentives and the National Network of Film Offices across Greece show a record EUR500 million in investments, and over

EUR80 million returned to productions, in the past four years. As a result, major investors are eyeing Greece for a permanent presence, namely for the development of sound stages across the country.

In fact, David Cronenberg’s Cannes nominated Crimes of the Future, Ruben Östlund’s Palme D’ Or winner Triangle of Sadness, Netflix’s Knives Out sequel Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery, Disney+’s Rise, Millennium’s Expendables 4, Bricklayer and The Enforcer, Apple TV+’s Tehran series (S1-S2) are amongst the 300 projects that have chosen Greece as their destination for production.

The inflow of foreign capital has a huge positive impact not only on the domestic sector (production companies, actors, Greek workshop workers) but also on other sectors of the Greek economy (tourism, accommodation, catering, transport, banking, insurance services). It is noteworthy that European cinema and in particular European co-productions have largely benefited through the Greek audiovisual investment incentives.

With such an impressive track record, it is easy to assume that we are looking at 2023 as the year of Greece for all things audiovisual production.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Vasiliki Diagouma, Head Communication & International Relations EKOME vdiagouma@ekome.media www.ekome.media

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“GREECE IS AN INCOMPARABLE NATURAL AND DIVERSE SET: UNIQUE, ACCESSIBLE, AND FRIENDLY. IT OFFERS A VARIETY OF OPTIONS THAT SERVE YOUR STORY.”
GREECE HAS BECOME A TOP GLOBAL FILMING DESTINATION IN A VERY SHORT TIME, THANKS TO ITS UNIQUE LOCATIONS, COMPETITIVE INCENTIVES, SKILLED PROFESSIONALS AND NETWORK OF FILM OFFICES.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Crowd scene from Smyrna, by Grigoris Karantinakis. Attica, Greece. © Tanweer Productions. Kathryn Hahn, Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr, Madelyn Cline (l to r) in Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery, by Rian Johnson. Spetses, Greece. © Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery.
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Camera view from first day of filming Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery, by Rian Johnson. Spetses, Greece. © Rian Johnson.

AHEAD OF THE THIRD ANNUAL MAKERS & SHAKERS AWARDS ON 7 DECEMBER, WE

RUN THROUGH THIS YEAR’S CATEGORIES AND SHORTLISTED NOMINEES.

The finalists have been announced for this year’s makers & shakers Awards, in partnership with Radisson Hotels. They represent trailblazers from all over the world who are pushing the boundaries of the global screen industries through innovation, sustainability, diversity and technology.

The response to this year’s awards has been fantastic, with some truly inspirational projects and nominees in every category and from all corners of the creative universe.

“The 2022 shortlist reflects the creativity and innovation that the makers & shakers Awards hopes to champion, with a trending focus on ensuring the sustainability of our industry’s workforce,” said Jean-Frédéric Garcia, Events Director for the awards.

“With an overwhelming number of submissions, it has been wonderful to witness the passion and undeniable talent of entrants from across the globe. We look forward to welcoming you all to our best show yet this December, uniting the global screen sector and celebrating the most innovative contributions to the industry.”

The winners will be announced on 7 December in London at BAFTA and will be the closing event to FOCUS 2022. For more information about the makers & shakers Awards finalists, and for other awards news, go to:

makersandshakersawards.com

OF THE YEAR

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to
The makers & shakers
communication
H Film in Hospital H CallIt! App H Copenhagen Industries H Decentralized Pictures Foundation H Drylab Media Tech H My SMASH Media
PRODUCTION TECH INNOVATION
Awarded
an individual, a tech start-up or a tech company.
judges were looking for the creation of a game-changer in the way the industry produces using new technology applied to workflow,
or distribution. SHORTLIST 2022
Decentralised Pictures Foundation Shortlisted for Production Tech Innovation of the Year. The Ukrainian Content Global Cooperation Initiative – shortlisted for Film Commission Initiative of the Year.

WITH AN OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF SUBMISSIONS, IT HAS BEEN WONDERFUL TO WITNESS THE PASSION AND UNDENIABLE TALENT OF ENTRANTS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE.

FILM COMMISSION INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR

Awarded to a Film Commission, Film Office, Film Commissioner and their team, or a government organisation.

Excluding official cash or tax rebates or credit schemes, makers & shakers were looking for an initiative which has made a significant impact on their territories and created an interesting proposition for a film, television movie, television series, episode, advertisement or short form project.

OUTSTANDING CREATIVE USE OF A LOCATION

SPONSORED BY

SHORTLIST 2022 H

Cherokee Nation Film Office H Dominican Republic Film Commission H

Film Queenstown Lakes H

The National Film Authority of Ghana H Roma Lazio Film Commission H

Trentino Film Commission Green Film Documentaries H

The Ukrainian Content Global Cooperation Initiative

Awarded to a Location Manager or Supervising Location Manager and their team.

The makers & shakers judges were looking to award a location professional for the creative use and management of a single location in a film, television movie, television series, episode, advertisement or short form which has created an on-screen memorable impact while inspiring peers.

Judges were looking for evidence of creative skills in taking a director's brief and finding a truly outstanding location as well as for the location professionals individual skillset in making that particular location work for the production

SHORTLIST 2022 H

Cuando llegue la tormenta Trex Exploring H Disenchanted Disney Maria O'Connor Supervising Location Manager & Team H Drive My Car, C & I Entertainment H

Freedom by Jon Batiste Wandering Cameras Vinay Chand, Location Manager H

We Might As Well Be Dead, Heartwake Films GmbH Filmuniversity Babelsberg Konrad Wolf

INNOVATION CREATIVITY

SUSTAINABILITY

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We Might As Well Be Dead – shortlisted for Outstanding Creative Use of a Location. Trentino Fim Commission Shortlisted for Film Commission Initiative of the Year.

JUDGES WERE LOOKING FOR EVIDENCE OF CREATIVE SKILLS IN TAKING A DIRECTOR'S BRIEF AND FINDING A TRULY OUTSTANDING LOCATION AS WELL AS FOR THE LOCATION PROFESSIONALS INDIVIDUAL SKILLSET.

INITIATIVE TO GROW LOCAL INDUSTRY

Awarded to a Trade Association, Member Organisation or a Private company.

The makers & shakers judges were looking for a new and unique initiative from a local, regional or national organisation which was introduced to benefit the community and expand the local talent and skills pool of the creative screen industries.

SHORTLIST 2022 H

Create Central H

Dominican Republic Film Commission H

Mayotte Film Office H Mediaversity Reviews H

North East International Film Festival H

Producers Without Borders Kayvan Mashayekh H

Samuh Mediatech H Screen Alliance Wales H

Women in Film Paraguay

SUSTAINABILITY AWARD

makers & shakers were looking to recognise significant achievement in enabling a shift towards creating content with a smaller carbon footprint. Be it on the entrants' own production (if a production company), on those of their customers/audience (if a supplier or association of professionals), or in helping the transition to a more sustainable model.

Entrants needed to show details of how their product, service or initiative has resulted in a reduced carbon impact in a particular area of production or the whole production. Entrants needed to provide data to quantify the carbon reductions which are being detailed wherever possible .

The makers & shakers judges looked to rank and award the entries which have demonstrably enabled the most significant reductions.

SHORTLIST 2022 H 2Valleys H albert H Circular Arts Network H Creative Zero H Green Screen Partnership Lead Partner Film London H Remote Filming H Sway Location Services H Vectar Project

A description for each of the shortlisted entries for the makers & shakers Awards 2022 can be found in the finalist section of makersandshakersawards.com

albert Shortlisted for the Sustainability Award. Mediadiversity Reviews Shortlisted for Initiative to Grow Local Industry.
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Co Production Team, Factory 42, EE Superglue & Canagan – shortlisted for Shaker of the Year.

THE MAKER AWARD

Awarded to Producers, Executive Producers or Co-Production Teams that go above and beyond the expectations of their role.

The makers & shakers judges were looking to recognise a producer or executive producer that has gone above and beyond the expectations of their role. This new category will celebrate producers from all the creative screen industries whose exceptionally high standards have impressed their colleagues and collaborators on and off set.

Nominees must have demonstrated a genuine passion for the business, inspiring those around them with their ingenuity, while championing inclusivity and diversity. They will have dramatically raised the bar for behaviour and professional conduct, contributing to and impacting the industry in a variety of meaningful ways such as the use of new technologies.

SHORTLIST 2022 H

Amber Woodcock Senior VFX Producer H

Anissa Payne Producer H

Benjamin Field Senior Producer, The Format Factory H

Co Production Team

Think-Film Impact Production H

Jules Hussey Producer H Kim Rowell Producer H Sebastien Galina Producer

SHAKER OF THE YEAR

The makers & shakers judges were looking to give this prestigious award to any professional within the creative screen industries who really made an impact, a long-lasting change to the industry.

This creativity can be applied to the processes of production, distribution, facilitation or financing and funding of a film, television movie, television series, episode, advertisement, branded content or short form.

SHORTLIST 2022 H

6ft From the Spotlight H

Co Production Team Factory 42, EE Superglue and Canagan H Deborah Doherty Windmill Lane H Jeanette Volturno Crewvie H Meriel Beale freelance producer and campaigner H

Natalie Edwards-Yesufu Transition Stage Company H Richard Botto Stage 32 H Mariana Pineda Women in Film Paraguay

A description for each of the shortlisted entries for the makers & shakers Awards 2022 can be found in the finalist section of makersandshakersawards.com

Anissa Payne – shortlisted for the Maker Award.
NOMINEES MUST HAVE DEMONSTRATED A GENUINE PASSION FOR THE BUSINESS, INSPIRING THOSE AROUND THEM WITH THEIR INGENUITY, WHILE CHAMPIONING INCLUSIVITY AND DIVERSITY.
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Digital or Bust

ITV’s new two-tier free ad-supported and subscription streaming service

ITVX has launched with ITV executives hoping it becomes a portal for live viewing, rather than a catch-up service. How will it compete in a saturated streaming market against new AVOD platforms including Netflix and Disney+?

Announced last spring and launched on schedule last month, ITVX is seen as the cornerstone of ITV’s digital acceleration. The replacement for ITV Hub combines SVOD and AVOD in two tiers and arrives just ahead of Netflix and Disney’s new ad-supported service. It represents a GBP160 million investment and quite simply has to work if the commercial broadcaster is to thrive.

Yet, with the cost of living biting, advertising expected to take a down turn and consumers seemingly cutting back on streaming subscriptions, the new platform could face an uphill battle in a competitive market.

“As we head into difficult times, being free ad-supported has got to be a compelling reason to watch,” ITV Chief Product Officer, Deep Bagchee told the IBC conference in September. “The interesting thing is that live is still quite strong. That’s how we landed on ITVX, into which we will all of our services into a brand new content proposition, a new brand and a new content offering.”

ITVX launches with a library of 9,000 hours of content, including 300 blockbuster movies. ITV signed deals with Glaswegian-based Anime Ltd, the largest independent anime licensor in the UK; and CBS Reality for a raft of true crime factual. The

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A Spy Among Friends © 2021 Sony Pictures Television.

paid-for tier offers an additional 6,000 hours including exclusive dramas that will premiere nine months before running on the broadcast ITV channel. These include A Spy Among Friends, about Kim Philby starring Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce, and Litvinenko, with David Tennant. ITVX will also provide British boxsets from BritBox.

However, ITV intend ITVX to become the portal for live viewing. It will be the home of Big Brother, when ITV brings back the reality show in 2023 in a bid to reach a younger audience.

“We want to move from being a catch-up service to becoming a destination for discovery and a true streamer,” Bagchee said. “Our goal is to double our monthly active users to 20 million; to double the number of streaming hours on our streaming services to two billion; and double subscribers over the next five years.”

Bagchee also highlighted the role of FAST in the linear space.

“FAST gives us the opportunity to experiment with channels and see how they’re doing on streaming platforms, which gives us a lot more flexibility when it comes to learning about user behaviour,” he said. “We need to establish how we carry out audience development, and potentially how we can bring the ITVX experience for audiences and brands into the metaverse.”

Sport will be a key attraction to the platform which launched just ahead of the World Cup. Sports are considered the perfect introduction for a service designed to bring casual television viewers to ITV content and then persuade them to stay.

Some comment ators judge it risky to launch alongside such a high profile event given that ITV Hub crashed during the 2021 run of Love Island and froze for half an hour during one Euro 2020 football game.

ITV executives are bullish about its prospects. “ITVX will provide a simplified and seamless experience,” Carolyn McCall, ITV’s CEO, said when ITVX was first announced. “We are supercharging our streaming business, fundamentally shifting our focus to think digital first,

as well as optimising our broadcast channels, by continuing to attract unrivalled mass audiences. In doing so we are responding to changing viewing habits, but also the evolving needs from our advertisers. This will enable ITV to continue to be both commercial viewers’ and advertisers’ first choice.”

Rhys McLachlan, ITV’s director of advanced advertising, told The Drum: “It’s not a lipstick-ona-pig, ITV Hub 2.0 job – it’s a proper transformative experience. It’s like going from a Nokia brick to an iPhone.”

“We are going to come from being average in the field to leagues ahead – it’s going to be way better than [BBC] iPlayer,” he predicted.

ITVX also boast s a wealth of consumer data gleaned from the broadcaster’s 35 million registered users. Adverts will be personalised, with viewers’ gender, date of birth and postcode matched with content consumption and social media usage harvested from consumer data firm, Experian.

A free content proposition is being added by all major SVODs are they look to stem churn. It is not clear to what extent viewers of the ad-supported service can be upsold to a premium tier. On the other hand, aggregating content including live and sports in one app, is increasingly seen as attractive.

A recent survey (of US consumers by marketers Publisher’s Clearing House) concluded that the winners in the streaming wars will be those companies that diversify into news or sports or video games or preferably a mix of the lot.

“It is glaringly clear is that having movies and television shows are now, simply, table stakes,” said analyst Evan Shapiro. “They are not at all a differentiator: Every service has them. In streaming TV, scripted and non-fiction television are an expensive, hit-driven, share-shift model. Consumers of all ages and incomes will sign up for them, to binge something. But if that is all you have, they will not stick around.”

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Riches © 2022 Amazon Content Services LLC.
“WE WANT TO MOVE FROM BEING A CATCH-UP SERVICE TO BECOMING A DESTINATION FOR DISCOVERY AND A TRUE STREAMER.”
TO DOUBLE OUR MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS TO 20 MILLION; TO DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF STREAMING HOURS ON OUR STREAMING SERVICES TO TWO
DOUBLE SUBSCRIBERS
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Without Sin © Mark Bourdillon.
OUR GOAL IS
BILLION; AND
OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

The History of UK TV plc

Dawn McCarthy-Simpson, MBE, has been fascinated with UK TV for decades, partly because it’s her job, but mostly because it has never ceased to amaze her. In a two part special for makers, Dawn charts the growth of a global cultural powerhouse.

On 2 June, 1953, the world watched as Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey. It was the first time that a British monarch's coronation had been broadcast live on television, and it was an event of seismic importance. Not only did it allow millions of people to witness the grandeur of the occasion, but it also marked a major milestone in the history of broadcasting. The BBC’s live broadcast was a triumph of logistics and planning, and it set a new

standard for royal events. In the years since, the coronation has been cited as an important moment in the history of television and as a defining moment in British culture.

In fact, it’s hard to comprehend how such a relatively small island has achieved so much dominance and respect with programming that sells to every corner of the world. And, although UK TV plc is far more than the BBC, the story starts with the venerable institution 100 years ago.

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Frozen Planet Season 2 © BBC Studios & Alex Board.

THE BROADCASTER’S STORY

It was Scottish engineer and inventor, John Logie Baird, who is widely credited with being the first to develop the concept of the television. In October 1925, Baird gave the first public demonstration of his televisor system, which used a mechanical technique to scan and reproduce images. While Baird's system was limited in both range and quality, it paved the way for future advances in television technology. In the years that followed, a number of different inventors and engineers built upon Baird's work, gradually improving-upon the design and functionality of the television.

The British Broadcasting Company was founded on the 18 October 1922, by a group of leading wireless manufacturers including Marconi. It was three years prior to Baird’s demonstration of the television, so their broadcasting focus was radio transmissions. By the end of 1922 the BBC appointed its first General Manager, 33 year-old John Reith, another Scottish engineer accredited for the pioneering of British television. Reith moved to London in 1922, and on his arrival saw a newspaper advert for a General Manager for the planned launch of the British Broadcasting Company. Despite a lack of any obviously relevant experience, Reith got the job.

Reith, a young enthusiastic, with no boundaries or ties to rules or existing policies, was encouraged to innovate and experiment with the organisation. And that is exactly what he did. However, during the 1926 General Strike he struggled to ensure editorial independence for the BBC, so in 1927 the organisation, under Royal Charter, became the British Broadcasting Corporation with Reith at the helm becoming the first Director General. He was also knighted the same year.

Maybe it was the bond between two fellow Scots, but it was under Reith’s reign that inventor John Logie Baird was allowed to use BBC frequencies to test and broadcast some of his first experimental television imagery from studios near Covent Garden in London 1929.

Despite the lack of quality of the black and white images on 14 July 1930 the BBC was confident enough to transmit its first ever drama, T he Man With the Flower in His Mouth, a production by Luigi Pirandello, an Italian dramatist, and directed by British born Val Gielgud. It was aired from Baird’s studios in Long Acre, London. This was a turning point for the BBC which encouraged them to continue to experiment with its programming right up to 1940 when the TV service was shut down until 1945 due to the Second World War.

The BBC was funded by a license fee, which was introduced in 1923, initially costing 10 shillings per household (today’s value GBP100). The charge steadily increased after the Second World War to a current GBP159 per household.

1946 arrived and the country began its post-war life and the BBC was able to commence its television broadcasting again, continuing to monopolise television viewing for another decade. However, when the results of the Television Act 1954 came into force, this paved the way for commercial television to enter the market under the introduction of the‘Independent Television Authority (ITA).

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“IT WAS UNDER REITH’S REIGN THAT INVENTOR JOHN LOGIE BAIRD WAS ALLOWED TO USE BBC FREQUENCIES TO TEST AND BROADCAST SOME OF HIS FIRST EXPERIMENTAL TELEVISION.”
CORONATION PIONEERS BBC
Strictly Come Dancing 2022 © BBC & Guy Levy.
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REITH, A YOUNG ENTHUSIASTIC, WITH NO BOUNDARIES OR TIES TO RULES OR EXISTING POLICIES, WAS ENCOURAGED TO INNOVATE AND EXPERIMENT WITH THE ORGANISATION.

WHEN THE BBC AND ITV WERE ALL THAT MATTERED IN BRITISH BROADCASTING, PROGRAMME MAKERS WERE SHACKLED BY THEIR DUOPOLY.

The act itself was not without controversy, and much debate ensued both in the British Parliament and press. The fear was that the service would replicate, what they thought vulgar advertising methods that were used by the American networks. Those in charge were able to convince Parliament that audiences would be protected and so the Act was finally passed, on the basis that the ITA had clearly distinguished separation between advertising and programming content.

This new Independent Television network, named due to its independence from the BBC, was made up of six regional franchises and run by four companies who were both broadcasters and programme makers. The idea was to give small stations regional power, enabling them to show more local news, programming and to attract local advertisers. Audiences didn’t miss out on the big shows as these regional channels were able to share prime time programming across the whole network.

The first full day of transmissions for ITN was 23 September 1955, and was launched with Britain's first female newsreader Barbara Mandell. This was a moment that changed television as we know itnot just in Great Britain but worldwide. By 1962 the regional network model had grown to 17 stations across 14 regions, and later renamed as ITV, the UK’s most successful commercial network.

THE INDIES STORY

When the BBC and ITV were all that mattered in British broadcasting, programme-makers were shackled by their duopoly. The world of independent television production in the UK was widely seen as a cottage industry, with a handful of companies and hundreds of freelance producers that were simply service companies commissioned on a work for hire basis.

The revolution of the independent production sector started with a small television station and enthusiasm to change the system. In 1982, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher approved a new

channel licence to create an independent commercial channel whose ownership remained with the government, whilst giving complete freedom over programming decisions.

The new model for this broadcasting company, to be called Channel 4, would be as a publisher and managed without any in-house production studios; instead it would rely on outsourcing/commissioning independent production companies.

To ensure that the launch of Channel 4 was a real opportunity for new production businesses to flourish, then Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw, set out his plans for the new fourth channel at the 1979 Cambridge Royal Television Society. He made it clear that the broadcaster should provide adequate financing for productions, and more importantly that the majority of the programming spend should go to independent producers and not be dominated by the ITV regional network.

Prior to the Whitelaw speech many producers had been skeptical about the real opportunities that the launch of a new channel would bring. Many assumed that the production would merely feed the regional studio hubs of ITV. However, now there was a sense of hope amongst the freelance community and producers quickly began to set up their own indies.

18 months after the Whitelaw speech, Channel 4’s founding chief executive, Jeremy Isaacs, held an open meeting for would-be programme-makers at the Royal Institution in London. More than 600 independent producers turned up, spilling out of the hall into the lobby outside the lecture theatre. Isaacs was shocked by the attendance. He had not envisaged so many independents playing such a major role in the new channel. This meeting was to set the tone and ambition for a new style of channel, one that could dare to be different, more creative and innovative because its supply chain was bigger and more diverse.

The broadcaster’s launch in November 1982 was a historic moment for British broadcasting. In the months leading up to the launch, they had already commissioned 61% of their programming from independent producers an unprecedented share at this time.

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“THE NEW MODEL FOR THIS BROADCASTING COMPANY, TO BE CALLED CHANNEL 4, WOULD BE AS A PUBLISHER AND MANAGED WITHOUT ANY IN-HOUSE PRODUCTION STUDIOS.”
INDEPENDENTS COMMERCIAL CHANNEL 4 Gogglebox © Channel 4. Countdown © Channel 4. BACK TO CONTENTS
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THE TENDERING PROCESS DID NOT GO SMOOTHLY, EVEN THOUGH THE INITIAL INTEREST WAS FROM MORE THAN 70 ORGANISATIONS, SOME WITH VERY DEEP POCKETS.

Several years after this the independent community made another successful breakthrough after lobbying for a production quota of 25%, allowing them to make programming for both the BBC and ITV.

Channel 4 proved popular, so shortly after its launch the government carried out a further feasibility study of a potential fifth terrestrial channel. The aim was to help reduce the cost of advertising and offer more choice for the viewers. In 1990 The Broadcasting Act was passed and announced that the license for the fifth terrestrial channel would be a competitive tender, with a focus on the strength of the programming quality.

The tendering process did not go smoothly, even though the initial interest was from more than 70 organisations, some with very deep pockets. Finally in May 1995 the ITC received bids from the final contenders for the Channel 5 license, announcing in October that the winning bid came from Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd.

David Elstein, head of this newly formed Channel 5, made sure to bring in key talent that would help ensure its success. One such person was Dawn Airey who left Channel 4 for the opportunity to help shape a new innovative programming strategy. Channel 5’s low-cost programming strategy was backed up with an ambitious promise that more series could be produced by a greater diversity of suppliers.

Finally, in March 1997 at 6:00 pm Channel 5 was launched by the Spice Girls and introduced by Tim Vine and Julia Bradbury. Overnight ratings showed that the opening night gained more viewers than Channel 4. This was good news for the indie sector as it meant that they had another outlet for their content, which in-turn incentivised more production companies to set up around the UK.

Although more content was being produced by independents in the UK, there was little sign of growth, producers were still working as a supply sector. However, in 2003 this all changed and the UK television industry was revolutionised when the Terms of Trade were introduced.

The Terms of Trade were based on a new IP ownership model, that was protected as part of legislation, and which gave production companies

This triggered a chain reaction, enabling companies to attract investment, creating new models involving mergers, acquisitions and consolidations to create media production power houses or super indies as they were called. It was these terms that also saw the launch of several UK independent distribution companies eager to take advantage and help indies exploit their content around the world.

TRIGGERED A CHAIN REACTION, ENABLING COMPANIES TO ATTRACT INVESTMENT, CREATING NEW MODELS INVOLVING MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND CONSOLIDATIONS.”

This in turn created thousands of new jobs in the television industry, catalyzing Britain onto the world stage as a leader in television production.

Part II of this special will look at UK television through the careers and influence of Beryl Vertue, David Frank, Donald Taffner and John McVay and brings us up to date on the challenges facing the industry in the digital streaming era.

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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. ownership of their IP and the freedom to exploit their programmes across multiple platforms all around the world thus maximising its value.
“THIS
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The Masked Dancer © Bandicoot TV & ITV.

Wales: Boom Time for Production

With the growing levels of high profile work in Wales in recent years, its new film fund has just added fuel to the production fire. There are globally acclaimed projects filming there as well as accelerated studio development so how is the nation keeping up momentum?

With Welsh-based success stories such as Doctor Who, Sex Education and His Dark Materials, the country’s production prowess is unquestionable. The local industry is now putting further structures in place to make sure this continues.

“Since Creative Wales was established in January 2020, GBP14.2 million of production funding has been successfully awarded to 22 film and television projects, generating over GBP155.6 million of production spend for the Welsh Economy,” commented Penny Skuse of Creative Wales. “Between 2020 and 2021, the screen sector had the highest annual increase in turnover across the creative industries subsectors at an increase of 36%.”

Creative Wales and Ffilm Cymru have also joined forces to create a new fund. Launched in July 2022, the Welsh Film Fund offers a total of GBP1 million per year for the first two years of the programme.

Up to GBP600,000 is available per project for eligible films. GBP400,000 is grant funding from Creative Wales and up to GBP200,000 comes via Ffilm Cymru lottery funds which they administer on behalf of the Arts Council of Wales.

This new approach to film will boost film production in Wales, stimulating growth in the number and variety of productions whilst also maximising the economic impact on the local

economy. It will improve employment opportunities, further support the development of a skilled workforce, and demonstrate the excellence of Wales on screen through its world-class talent, crews, facilities and locations.

BBC One’s new drama Wolf will show just what the Welsh Film Fund can do. Supported by Creative Wales and BBC Wales’ MOU, the show’s global reach will undoubtedly showcase the country’s television industry.

“The crews, locations, talent and facilities are world class,” commented by Dan Cheesbrough, managing director of the series production home Hartswood. “We’re delighted to continue building on that with a show as significant and as exciting as Wolf. We are incredibly grateful for the support that the Creative Wales team continue to provide.”

Due for release in 2023, the six part-part series is set to deliver a strong Welsh identity to a global audience generating over GBP6 million in direct economic benefit.

A staple of the Welsh industry, Doctor Who, returned home for filming in November. Taking on the role of the 14th doctor, Ncuti Gatwa will take a turn in Tardis for the 2023 revival.

“2021 was one of the busiest periods of production activity on record in Wales, with a turnover of GBP575 million,” added Skuse. “Creative Wales supported a number of high profile productions during this period including Willow from Lucasfilm

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“THIS NEW APPROACH TO FILM WILL BOOST FILM PRODUCTION IN WALES, STIMULATING GROWTH IN THE NUMBER AND VARIETY OF PRODUCTIONS.”
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Sex Education © Sam Taylor & Netflix.

POSSIBILITIES TO MORE THAN JUST THE COUNTRY’S NATURAL OFFERINGS.

for Disney +, Havoc, a Severn Screen production for Netflix and His Dark Materials season three from Bad Wolf for BBC and HBO. Other significant productions supported recently include Sex Education from Eleven Film for Netflix, plus a second series of The Pact, a Little Door production for BBC.”

Beyond the rugged coastlines of Barafundle Bay and Rhossili Beach, and mountainous national parks like Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia, Wales filming spaces expand to more than just natural offerings. South Wales based studio spaces including Great Point Seren Studios, Dragon Studios and Wolf Studios Wales have led the way in showing the location and production possibilities that filming in Wales can offer.

“Demand for studio space is at an all-time high and this facility will put the north of Wales on the map, providing much-needed space for local and incoming productions,” stated Wales’ deputy minister for arts and sport, Dawn Bowden.

Bad Wolf Studios’ 125,000 sqft of stage space continues to draw in globally renowned actors, producers and directors to its state of the art facilities. Contributing to productions from broadcasters including Sky, HBO, BBC and AMC, Bad Wolf champions Wales’ creative excellence and vibrant production industry. With the 2021 Sony Pictures Television acquisition of a major stake in Bad Wolf, the company has set a path for its international growth.

“The series we shoot here in Wales His Dark Materials, Industry, A Discovery of Witches and now Doctor Who – all put Wales on the map in terms of the range of locations and the ambition of the creative talent to create incredible new worlds for the screen,” commented Hannah Raybould of Wolf Studios. “Due to the epic storylines these shows have garnered international interest and multiple awards for the cast and behind-the-scenes talent.”

As demand grows for space resulting from the production boom, Wales is well ahead of the curve. Opening the North Wales based Aria Studios, the

country has opened in a way like never before, becoming hard to ignore in the global industry. With an investment of GBP1.6 million for development, the film and television studio the way in providing quality facilities for the demand of a global industry.

With the support of the Welsh Government through Creative Wales, the 20,000 sqft of filming and production space was established by Rondo Media and S4C’s commercial arm, S4C Digital Media Limited.

“This investment will be a major boost for the industry in North Wales,“ said Rondo Media’s chief executive Gareth Williams.

Wales’ goal to assert its international reputation is unachievable without the people who make it happen. With initiatives set up to support emerging talents in the industry and the film fund’s expectations for training to be provided by grant recipients, incoming productions form across the globe have the guarantee of a well-equipped creative workforce.

With more than 150 trainees benefitting from paid placements on Creative Wales supported productions in the past two years, the development of the local workforce is still a priority following the fund launch. The requirements for Creative Wales funding recipients ensures that local talent, crew, facilities and locations are invested in. In addition to a portion of the budget assigned to local spending, trainee opportunities are also required to be included in the form of paid placements.

“PROVING TO BE A WELL-STRUCTURED FORCE, THE WELSH FILM INDUSTRY SHOWS NO SIGNS OF FALTERING FOLLOWING ITS BURST INTO 2022.

“Our Economic Impact review for 2015 to 2020 showed that we added GBP114 million for the Welsh Economy and over GBP121 million was spent on crew and suppliers in Wales,” added Raynould. “We have had a significant involvement in developing a robust supply chain, in identifying and nurturing talent both internally in the company and through the amazing work of Screen Alliance Wales since 2017.”

Proving to be a well-structured force, the Welsh film industry shows no signs of faltering following its burst into 2022. From state of the art production hubs, an attentive approach to workforce training, and a perseverance towards bringing the local identity to the forefront of the global stage, Wales’ production boom is evidently just the beginning.

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BEYOND THE PICTURESQUE LANDSCAPES FOUND ACROSS WALES, THE DEVELOPMENT AND EQUIPPING OF STUDIOS ARE EXPANDING FILMING SPACE
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Doctor Who © Sarah Weal & BBC Studios.

interview withderspici mylen yamamoto tansingco

Mylen launched talent management company Clique-Now a decade ago on her foresight that digital and diverse talent is the future of the entertainment industry.

Back in 2009, traditional talent managers were not only turning a blind eye to digital and social media creators, but mainstream media were only scratching the surface of highlighting Asian and diverse talent. Mylen, at the time a University professor, identified a gap in the market and as her relationships with YouTubers began to grow so too did her burgeoning career.

Her company, Clique-Now, has arranged hundreds of brand deals and live events connecting the digital talent pool with brands and agencies. Clients include Google, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Toyota.

Among the talent she reps is Steven Lim: Creator of Buzzfeed’s Worth It series which has generated 740 million views; the Fung Bros, who have over 2.17 million YouTube subscribers; and Jason Y. Lee, whose series Middle Ground, Spectrum and Odd Man Out have garnered a combined one billion views.

MAKERS

What were you teaching a decade ago at University?

MYLEN YAMAMOTO TANSINGCO

Comms and entrepreneurship, and all set to achieve my lifelong goal of being a PhD.

How did you make the leap from teaching to YouTube talent?

In 2009 seeing information being disseminated on YouTube was a relatively new concept. I was a huge fan of these digital creators and invited some to speak to my class. We remained friends and they began asking me for help with their careers. One of them, Kevin Wu, aka Kevjumba, wanted me to help him make a movie, Hang Loose, in Hawaii. I did so and it was the catalyst to leapfrog my career.

Who was your most successful early collaboration?

With musician David Choi. Back in 2013 a million YouTube subs was huge. I wanted him to do a concert in Hawaii and cold called The Face Shop, a Korean skin care company. This was before anyone knew what influencer marketing was. They gave us USD20,000 and with that we organised a sell-out concert, a music video, and a meet & greet. David is still huge, that video is still online and The Face Shop are still getting brand publicity.

A quarter of Gen Z in the USA aspire to be social media influencers as a career –does that surprise you?

Not any more. I still teach and I ask my Gen Z students how many are interested in being a digital content creator. At least a third raise their hands. For many of them, it’s what they grew up with. For me it was Nickelodeon, Disney, Selena Gomez. For Gen Z, it’s celebrities on YouTube and TikTok.

Why do social influencers need a manager?

So they can see the full landscape of the industry. We can match different categories – fashion, tech, photography with demographics or location that a brand’s audience are targeting. That dictates a lot of rates. Just because you have 10,000-20,000 followers doesn’t mean you can’t get a USD20,000 brand deal. Some influencers are more brand friendly than others and could easily get USD50,000 for a single post.

Most content creators average USD50,000 in a year, though, right?

Yes, that sounds about right. Would you encourage creators to seek renumeration in NFTs or cryptocurrency?

We are definitely observing rather than participating at this stage. There are some really lucrative NFT and Web3 deals being offered but many creators are reluctant to take a risk while this technology is still formulating. That said, some of our creators are part of the metaverse programme run by Meta. It’s in beta and a chance for this group to learn about the metaverse.

Is Clique-Now solely focused on the US market?

No, we have creators based in Canada, Singapore and the UK (The Jolly Guy) among other places. But we want to work with talent that is interested in bridging into the US market. That’s where

a lot of our networks are. We do work with European ad agencies and they want to reach out to US based content creators, so it works both ways.

How have the opportunities for Asian and diverse talent changed?

In many ways. First, there are more opportunities for diverse creators to use their platform as a gateway into Hollywood. We help our talent partner with the main Hollywood agencies whereas 10 years ago they weren’t interested in digital creators.

Second, it’s a lot more lucrative now. One of our first brand deals for which we did a music video publicised in the Wall Street Journal was paid in gift cards. To do the same today we would try to negotiate a six figure deal. There’s also more proportionality in how brands divvy up their dollars. Whereas white creators had a bigger portion of the budget, we’re starting to see that more evenly distributed.

What do you feel about Vtubers in which creators live stream as animated characters?

We’re trying to wrap our heads around it. Every creator has their unique artistic style to be out in the world and if it’s authentic and connects with people then more power to them.

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Netflix and Chill Ads

Netflix’s new ad-led tier will attract viewers but will it also deliver for advertisers?

Having long resisted ads and closely guarded its subscriber data the SVOD must change tack to provide the transparency, tracking and targeting expected by TV ad agencies.

Netflix expects to have 4.4 million unique viewers for its new advertising-supported platform by the end of the year after launching in a dozen markets, including the UK, France, Australia and the US. It also estimates that this tier could generate USD1.9 billion in ad revenues by 2027 in Western Europe alone.

Virtually everyone agrees Netflix’s ad play will be successful. The question is whether getting into advertising changes a company which has closely guarded its own data and prided itself on forging a distinct path in the cutthroat world of entertainment. “[Netflix boss] Reed Hastings once characterised Netflix as an ad-free zone that allows viewers to relax without being exploited,” says David Cloudsdale,

founder at TV ad platform Adalyser. “If the man at the top considers advertising to be a form of exploitation, then he must hope his subscribers have not been paying much attention to him.”

All major SVODs are set to offer a cheaper ad-supported tier to tap into a market of people who do not mind advertising but see existing subscription costs as excessively exorbitant. The goal is to reduce churn and increase revenues to sustain multi-billion content costs without cannibalising the existing subs base.

“The user experience can’t be radically different to that which subscribers have come to expect,” says Lindsey Clay, CEO, Thinkbox. “Netflix has a very

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The Sandman © Laurence Cendrowicz & Netflix 2022.

steep learning curve in understanding what works best for viewers and advertisers.”

It’s a big cultural shift, she says, for a company that had explicitly set its face against the ad model.

“Advertisers expect the same standards set by the rest of the television industry a high level of transparency, targeting and being able to track what happens plus a regulated, trusted environment in which ads are pre-cleared in the knowledge they will be aired in brand safe content.”

To shore up credibility with advertisers Netflix had little choice but to join the established currencies in major markets. In the UK, measurement body Barb report Netflix Basic with Ads views every day at both a service and a programme level. Netflix will also join Nielsen's digital ad ratings in the US and will eventually be part of Nielsen's rebranded measurement tool Nielsen One. Netflix has also partnered with DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science to measure its views and traffic beginning Q1 2023.

“Disney+, and Netflix’ decisions to join Barb should be seen as an encouraging first step towards the collaboration that advertisers and media agencies would like to see from the video industry,” says Kieren Mills, Head of Broadcast at planning agency Total Media. “For years the ad industry grew used to and was frustrated by data protectionism from large media owners, which only added complexity to the overall media evaluation process.”

However, Netflix will only allow marketers to target by genre or by viewers of its most popular shows. There will be limited geographic targeting and no ability to target by gender or age or by time of day the very metrics that television advertisers expect.

There are other challenges too. Those popular series for example are going to need to be edited for ad break insertion which, Clay points out, can be a destructive experience for the viewer if it lands at the wrong point in the drama.

While Netflix is the poster child for using customer data to build a service (for recommendations, marketing, commissions) in a sense it needs to start again and gain permission to use data to pass to advertisers. In contrast, the main commercial and pay television broadcasters have well established video players in the market with built in permissions and high quality third party data.

The streamer will be exposed to comparison across the connected television market. According to Barb, broadcast television is watched in the average home for three hours and three minutes a day. SVOD / AVOD are viewed about 35 minutes in a day and 58% of that is Netflix. Extrapolating that means Netflix is watched 20 minutes a day in UK homes –decent but not huge.

The plus side is that Netflix has considerable brand cachet as the must-have streaming television service. It is using this to lever up its price. It’s charging USD65 CPM (cost per thousand views), way above the average of linear television ads (USD8-9 CPM) and double that of broadcaster VOD (i.e ITV Hub).

“Netflix will have very unique content consumption data, and the advertising industry is very conservative,” says Oscar Wall, GM at subscription and billing platform Recurly. “As such, it'll be important for Netflix to efficiently package data in buckets the ad industry understands (especially for programmatic channels). At the same time, with a global giant making its inventory available for the first time, it'll be highly sought after. Netflix has a great opportunity to charge premium rates for exclusivity.”

In ThinkBox modelling: If the ad tier adds five million homes to Netflix’s current 15 million UK subs this would only account for 1.6% of total television ad plans.

“Advertisers will want to experiment but it’s not going to be a massive scale player,” says Clay. “Netflix means high quality professionally made television. Its launch is only positive in that it will grow the whole television advertising market.”

Netflix partner in the venture is Microsoft. With Netflix’ USD105 billion valuation of September 2022 way south of its USD300 billion market cap a year earlier some analysts expect this foot in the door to blossom into full acquisition of the streamer. Unlike Google, Amazon and Apple, Microsoft does not have a video content service and after buying gaming company Activision could turn to Netflix next.

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“THERE WILL BE LIMITED GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING AND NO ABILITY TO TARGET BY GENDER OR AGE OR BY TIME OF DAY THE VERY METRICS THAT TV ADVERTISERS EXPECT.”
The Umbrella Academy © Christos Kalohoridis & Netflix 2022. The Midnight Club © Eike Schroter & Netflix 2022.
TELEVISION.
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NETFLIX MEANS HIGH QUALITY PROFESSIONALLY MADE
ITS LAUNCH IS ONLY POSITIVE IN THAT IT WILL GROW THE WHOLE TELEVISION ADVERTISING MARKET.
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Adaptive Podcasting: the Future of Personalised Podcast Experiences

ADAPTIVE PODCASTING IS AN EMERGING PODCAST FORMAT THAT ENABLES PRODUCERS TO MAKE PARTS OF THEIR AUDIO PERSONALISED TO EACH LISTENER. THE FIRST TOOLS DEVELOPED BY BBC RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT (R&D) ARE AVAILABLE NOW AND OPEN-SOURCED FOR ANYONE TO USE, EXPLAINS REBECCA STAGG.

Wmagine if the stories you listen to could adapt to your surroundings. To the time of day you’re listening to them, whether it’s light or dark outside; or if they could stretch or contract in length to fit with how long you’ve got to listen. That’s exactly what podcast listeners can experience with adaptive podcasting, a new podcast format that enables producers to make parts of their audio flexible personalised to each listener, using data from listeners’ devices.

Adaptive podcasting is a key example of object-based media (OBM), an approach to media development pioneered by BBC R&D. OBM puts personalisation at the heart of content creation. By producing media made up of many small, interchangeable assets or objects creators can tell stories that flex and adapt to their respective audiences. Adaptive podcasting is an application of this, envisioning a future where podcasts can be shaped by information about each individual listener, as they are listening.

We envisage that, in the future, adaptive podcasting could be used by all sorts of content creators: sleepcast or children's bedtime story writers making their content adaptable in length, news or information sharers making their content specific to location or knowledge of their listeners. There are so many possibilities for how this technology could benefit podcast listeners' experiences.

Prototype editor on Maker Box

The team worked with freelance developer Rebecca Saw to produce a web-based editor which can create adaptive podcasts, with no coding experience.

The experimental editor provides podcasters with a platform to compile and organise their audio objects, setting various parameters, or switches to control the changes to their content dependent on data available on the listener's device.

The player app

To sit alongside the editor and to give producers using it somewhere to showcase their podcasts the team developed a player app, collaborating on this with a series of developers and completed by Manchester-based agency Trunk.

This works by interacting with personal data and sensors on a user's device, as programmed by the podcast creator. As long as the requested data is available and the user has granted permission, the app can then change a podcast's content and length using this information to provide a unique personalised version.

As a prototype intended to demonstrate the technology, rather than a finished product, the team decided to release the app as an Early Access application. This means producers and listeners can find it if they have the link to the listing (available on the BBC R&D website).

Keeping data privacy front and centre

The only data accessed on a listener's device will be that which is requested by the particular podcast being played by the listener. For example, if you picked a podcast which varies in length dependent on the time of day, the app would be able to access the time on your device. The app only has access to this data during playback, and that information would never leave your device.

Using a combination of SMIL, JSON, and audio objects means it's not difficult to start building your own podcasts and even host them yourself, completely independently of the BBC.

This is a deliberate position on our part, in keeping with our ethical data principles, and at the same time encouraging the building of a sustainable community of practice beyond our research.

A project centred around collaboration Open sourcing our code so others can build, extend and even commercialise this approach in OBM without locking anyone out. Everybody gets to play, remix and build.

As the BBC look s to the future of media production, personalisation, and maximising the opportunities that come with such rich data on audiences, Adaptive Podcasting is an exciting experiment into the personalised but ethical data space.

Rebecca Stagg is a project manager working on the BBC’s R&D team. She has led multidisciplinary teams to success for eight years, and has a track record in delivering complex digital projects. Since joining the BBC in 2020, she has delivered a research shoot to support machine learning production exploration, a prototype AR crime scene investigation game app, amongst several audience-focussed tech research projects.

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BELGIUM rich in talent

the friendship between two men who spend their childhood together in a remote Alpine village and reconnect later as adults.

This success followed the organisation’s May 2021 announcement of its EUR1.975 million investment in 11 audio-visual projects, with a second call budget of EUR1.5 million announced in September. With a keen interest in the integrity of locally filmed Belgian productions, Screen Flanders has supported an array of filmed projects. These include animated project Ridder Muis 2 from director Ton Van Gestel as well as fiction series Alter Ego from directors Mathieu Mortelmans and Frederike Migom.

With elaborate Romanesque architecture, cobbled streets and seaports, Belgium is a distinctive filming location. Divided into three regions, the country possesses a range of backdrops from the coastal plains of the north west to the south eastern Ardennes uplands.

With Tori and Lokita, The Eight Mountains and Close bringing local Belgian talent to the forefront at Cannes Film Festival 2022, the call for an increase of international production activity, and industry investments from regional funds, the Belgian screen sector is intricately structured to support filmmaking.

“The combination of attractive financing incentives, authentic locations, experienced multilingual crew and state-of-the art studio infrastructure makes Flanders a preferred partner on international co-productions,” commented Screen Flanders film commissioner Katrien de Hauwere.

The Belgian Tax Shelter can finance up to 42% of Belgian eligible audiovisual expenses. Both local productions as well as international co-productions meeting specific criteria can access the system.

Thanks to the Federal Tax Shelter and the regional funds, Wallimage, Screen Flanders, Screen Brussels and Wallonia-Brussels Federation Film Centre, international producers can find very attractive incentives to shoot or postproduce their films in Belgium.

Screen Flanders supported the Cannes 2022 Jury Prize winners The Eight Mountains. The Italian language film, directed by Belgian’s Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch follows

Head of international co-productions at Caviar Robin Kerremans served as a producer for Cannes 2022 recognised feature Rebel. Known for their internationally regarded co-produced projects such as Tabula Rasa and The Sound of Metal, as well as their extensive local production roster, Kerremans noted the use of the tax shelter and Screen Flanders film fund.

LOCATION HIGHLIGHT

Le Forum de Liège, with its art deco gem encrusted interiors, is home to many spectacular events in Wallonia. A historical focal point, the theatre was first opened in 1922, offering its stage to musical titans such as Edith Piaf, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. As a theatrical hub for many Parisian performers, the architectural landmark has also featured in international productions. The theatre offered its backdrop to Leos Carax’s musical drama Annette (2021). Carax’s first English-speaking film, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, follows a comedian who falls in love with opera singer Ann, and their whirlwind love story and complex parenthood. Doused in glitz and glamour, Le Forum de Liège is a fitting home to much of the film’s drama, notably providing the splendour for the opera house style interiors.

Image: Annette © 2021 MUBI.

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“SCREEN FLANDERS IS PROMISING A FORTUITOUS FUTURE WITH A EUR 1.5 MILLION SUPPLEMENT TO THE ALMOST EUR 2 MILLION CONTRIBUTION OF LAST YEAR.”
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PROFILE

The Bottle Yard Studios

What’s more, transport around the Studios’ expanded footprint will be carbon neutral, with EV points and ample cycling provision supporting low carbon movement. Earlier this year, Eco Shoots, a local specialist in delivering sustainability solutions for the industry, set up shop at The Bottle Yard. It supplies a wide range of sustainable hire equipment as well as services including waste and recycling, diesel-free generators, reusable floor protection and compostable catering packaging.

Two of the biggest issues impacting film and television production are the unrelenting demand for space and the urgent need to address sustainability. Both challenges are being met head on at The Bottle Yard, the largest dedicated film and television studio facility in the West of England.

KEY STAFF

SENIOR FILM MANAGER

LAURA AVILES BUSINESS OPERATIONS MANAGER KATHERINE NASH BUILDING MANAGER DAN WATSON STUDIO MANAGER EMMA REID

TARA MILNE

JOHN HYNAN

STUDIO COORDINATOR

REBECCA OLD

JONATHAN WORSLEY

STUDIO MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT JONATHAN WORSLEY

KICKSTART SCHEME STUDIOS RUNNER

WILLIAM ROBERTS

That ethos began at inception 13 years ago when owner Bristol City Council began transforming a disused bottling factory into a buzzing film and television hub.

“Our roots lie in repurposing,” says Laura Aviles, Senior Film Manager. “We’ve created continued use for buildings spanning a site the size of three football pitches. We’re committed to reducing the carbon output generated by filming at the Studios and on location around the city.”

These goals were at the heart of a major GBP12 million expansion to the studios which opened this autumn. The Bottle Yard 2 (TBY2) is less than half a mile from the main site in South Bristol and offers three fully sound insulated and acoustically treated stages at 20,000 sqft, 16,500 sqft and 7,000sqft with maximum heights of 34ft.

The facility is powered by a giant 1MWp solar array, the biggest community-owned solar rooftop array in the West of England and one of the biggest of its kind in the UK. Consisting of more than 2,000 panels, the solar array is funded by the Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC), the community-owned energy cooperative. Over time, surplus energy produced at the facility will be used to connect buildings and reduce energy consumption from non-renewables across Bristol.

Will Houghton, Bristol Energy Cooperative Project Developer, explains, “Solar arrays are often designed to cover just a small part of a roof, to reduce costs. But we’re in a climate crisis, and in order to meet Bristol’s climate goals we’re aiming much higher than that. TBY2 is a massive site, with loads of opportunity for energy generation and CO2 reduction. To put it into context, the amount of energy this array is capable of generating could power more than 250 average Bristol households per year.”

“TBY2 has been designed and built with sustainability in mind at every stage, with premium insulation throughout and a sophisticated building management system to ensure optimal energy conservation,” says Aviles. “We’re hugely proud that the exterior of the building is being put to such valuable use, hosting a community-owned PV array of this size which will generate a huge amount of clean energy to power the site, with surplus energy benefitting the city of Bristol.”

GREEN SCREEN BOUNDARIES

Netflix Original sci-fi family series The Last Bus, produced by Wildseed Studios, broke green screen boundaries whilst filming at The Bottle Yard Studios, according to producer Andy Mosse.

“Filming on location is expensive so we had to find a way of getting the bus scenes filmed in the studio at The Bottle Yard. Traditionally this is done with a green screen, but we developed a way to use LED screens as a full 360 degree wrap around the bus so that we could shoot in any direction with any backdrop, which hadn’t been done before.”

The panoramic 360 images Wildseed projected were captured with 12 x 4K cameras built on a bespoke rigged car we called the ‘hotdog’. Combine this with some hydraulic Wallace and Gromit type levers plugged into the suspension of the bus, “and you’ve got a moving bus interior that bumps and weaves with the road and can be shot in camera with no digital effects needed,” Mosse says.

Wildseed MD, Miles Bullough added: "The Studios gave us space and freedom to push the boundaries of what we could do on its 5000 sqft green screen using LED, which was a real gamechanger. Adding in bespoke hydraulic systems on set broke new ground in terms of what could be achieved in the studio without the need for digital effects.”

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PR & MARKETING CONSULTANT
SITE ELECTRICIAN
SENIOR BUSINESS SUPPORT OFFICER
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interview withderspici simon napier-bell

Simon Napier-Bell is one of the UK’s most successful pop managers; his acts have included The Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, Ultravox, Marc Bolan, and Wham!

In the 60s he co-wrote the song You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, a number one for Dusty Springfield, later for Elvis Presley.

He's written four best-selling books including Black Vinyl White Powder, about the postwar British record industry; and directed four documentaries including To Be Frank, about Frank Sinatra.

His latest George Michael: Portrait of an Artist currently on Amazon, Apple and iTunes gives us a taste of the breathless rise to fame of Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, and the grim, often self-destructive lows.

MAKERS Why make a documentary about George Michael now?

SIMON NAPIER BELL

It was unfinished business. When I stopped managing George [in 1985] I still followed his progress as you would a brother and when he died I saw a host of really dismal docs about him. Most were American style with brash commentary, so completely against his music. I decided to make something truthful.

What made your approach to his story different?

One of the weaknesses of biographical film is you’ve got to tell every meaningful event in someone’s life. I decided to divide it into 12 chapters. Each had to convey a feeling of what was happening at the time then you turn the page. You didn’t

have to have all the detail. The chapters are headed by quotes from music icons or philosophers. If you’re going to aim at a more sophisticated audience you need to have a little artistic technique to set it apart.

Why was the original title Artist Vs the music business Vs himself?

Many artists are conflicted between wanting their art to change the world versus simple commercial reality. Many also fight internally to beat their demons. The script I wrote could apply to Bowie, Prince or Lennon.

You include interviews with many who knew him – but not yourself?

If I talk then the film ceases to be everyone’s point of view because I’d be continually guiding it my way. From the beginning I wanted George to discuss his life with talking heads. I also wanted to present it as a talk show where George was a big screen and every time someone said something we’d zoom into him. But it was technically too difficult.

How was the film financed?

We optimistically budgeted for GBP100,000 of archive but to make it work we needed GBP300,000. Financiers were not keen to take a risk at a certain point as the amount kept going up. But we found it in the end.

How did you meet Wham!?

The rule was you’ve got three years from meeting an artist to making their first hit. Neither myself nor [business partner] Jazz Summers could be bothered to wait three years so we started looking at all

the groups who’d had one hit. Culture Club, the Eurythmics had good managers. Wham! was managed by their lawyer. That was the group we chose.

They wanted us to get them out of their existing record contract. As soon as the case settled I asked what have you got? George said he had Wake Me Up. We hadn’t heard it but we gave him the money to record it. He was somebody you could trust to get it right.

What were your first impressions?

Their image was fantastic. The classic Butch and Sundance. Two guys, who get the girls but go off together into the Hollywood sunset.

When they walked into our flat for the first time they were utterly different. Andrew was happy go lucky, put his feet on my coffee table without taking his shoes off. George was straight down to business. ‘Why have you got us here? How do we know you’re going to make us successful?’ He demanded two accountants so one could keep an eye on the other.

Do you think Michael should have been more candid about his sexuality from the start?

I use a clip from the rights campaigner Peter Tatchell saying he first met George at a gay club when George was 16. He was always out to himself and you can read it in some Wham! Lyrics. I don’t think you’d use Doris Day in a song if not you’re not gay.

I also include an interview near the start of his career where George is asked directly if he is gay and he said no. In retrospect, he realised he should have come out then. He’d just got big enough as a star

he could have survived. But then AIDS was upon us and made it a really bad time to come out.

Were you shocked by his death?

Most death is pretty bloody miserable. Mark Bolan had just made a come back when he died in car crash. In a second. Not a bad ending really. A good way to create a legacy, bad for those who wanted another song.

George died on Christmas Day, always special since the anniversary of his mum’s death. He’d written the incredible Last Christmas so there was a circularity of events.

Fans don’t want to hear that but when they realise by then he’d lost his voice, his teeth were bad, maybe not such a bad ending.

What has being a pop impresario meant to you?

I could have been a doctor, politician, pilot but I’ve been dealing with these jumped-up teenagers, so in some senses a wasted life. Then someone comes along and you realise pop is one of the great art forms in terms of conveying life back to the public. George was one of those characters. He was an ambitious, incredibly talented, aspiring pop star but I’ve seen dozens of those who didn’t go on to be successful. He still needed coaching and pushing toward right place.

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Simon Napier-Bell

In Game Advertising

As an economic shift has evoked panic across the globe, brands have shown little to no sign of taking their foot off the pedal when it comes to advertising. But as brands develop their marketing strategies through mobile games, are the trivial time fillers just becoming vessels for commercial campaigns?

Whether it be commuting to work or entertaining yourself on a long haul flight, mobile gaming is a perfect go to. Although experiencing a post-pandemic market fall, audiences are continuing to be captivated by new downloadable challenges such as Clawee and Clash of Clans, regardless of their affinity for the recreational genre.

With such an isolated audience, brands have not missed their opportunity to exploit the gaming sphere and directly approach their consumers.

In-game advertising, whilst reaching a new level of popularity during the pandemic, has been a familiar fixture in the world of gaming. As Fifa stadium banners flash with campaigns for sports channels and fast food brands, and Fortnite characters don Moncler jackets, marketing schemes have consistently been seamlessly inserted within the console game.

But, as the gaming community has expanded to more portable means, so have marketing approaches. Mobile in-game advertising allows gaming

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developers to monetise play through displaying marketing campaigns, all the while giving brands the exposure and ability to appeal directly to consumers. However, if you’ve ever found your Tetris game playing interrupted by a 30 second advert between levels, then you will understand the need to evolve the existing model.

“The name of the game (pun intended) is to make in-game ads less disruptive, more immersive and authentic to what gamers are already engaged in doing,” commented Dave Kersey, chief media officer at GSD&M advertising company. “They want to keep their heads in the game and we, as advertisers have to get used to that guiding principle.”

The mobile gaming platform has been a learning curve for many advertisers. Often a disruptive element that overtakes screens and interrupts game play, mobile in-game advertising is a constantly evolving process. From playable ads to reward videos, developers and brands have worked on how to preserve the enjoyability of game play all the while meeting their professional goals.

But, as your run with Jake in Subway Surfer is cut short, and the only way out of the officer’s grip is to purchase a lifeline bundle, a free escape may be more appealing. However, as some games take advantage of an audience in favour of their free treats, the experience can take a turn for the worse. Bombarded with banner ads and pop ups, games become overwhelmed with commercials that detract from the enjoyment of the simple pass time.

Whilst it is as simple as deleting the app for users, developers rate of retention for their games falls, and brands lose the ability to bring awareness to their products. In order to avoid this, a change must be made. With only 5% of women and 3.3% of men who play mobile games opting to pay for their virtual

lifelines or add-ons, as recorded by video game developer Playstack, developers and brands saw their opportunity to appeal to a cost-conscious audience.

Playstack, the London based developer, is home to games such as Too Many Cooks and Snipers vs Thieves. With a 4.3 rating on the Apple app store, most reviews of Too Many Cooks remark positively on the game’s limited ad-based content, and the rewards that come as a result of that do pop up. With their in-game advertising based extension Interact, Playstack is one company that have found a way to integrate advertised content that does not take away from the game play experience.

Through Data.ai and IDC’s 2022 gaming market report of consumers sentiment towards in-game advertising, the results showed that whilst it was not a desired feature in the gaming experience, 73% of sampled users were indifferent. Although the advertisements that do appear in games such as Too Many Cook s don’t directly relate to the theme, many of the videos appeal to the specific gaming audience that is attracted to the hypercasual genre. With intervals of interactive advertisements, players remain engaged during their period of waiting.

Whilst a high proportion were accepting of the format of advertising in games, the seeking out of agencies to better integrate marketing into gameplay suggests the desire for better participation in campaign initiatives. Beyond acceptance, brands and developers blurring of the lines between overt marketing and game play allows for both industries to benefit equally.

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MARKETING ADVERTISING GAMING
FIFA STADIUM BANNERS FLASH WITH CAMPAIGNS FOR SPORTS CHANNELS AND FAST FOOD BRANDS, AND FORTNITE CHARACTERS DON MONCLER JACKETS, MARKETING SCHEMES HAVE CONSISTENTLY BEEN SEAMLESSLY INSERTED WITHIN THE CONSOLE GAME. BACK TO CONTENTS
“THEY WANT TO KEEP THEIR HEADS IN THE GAME AND WE, AS ADVERTISERS HAVE TO GET USED TO THAT GUIDING PRINCIPLE.”
AS

“The solution is to make an SDK (software development kit) which enables the game developer to identify places within their game where they could display a brand or they could display something,” said Harriet Hughes, Chief Marketing Officer of Playstack. “Basically, how do you identify real estate within the game which could easily be branded, whether it be the avatar’s baseball hat or jacket?”

LevelUp OAC, powered by the Omnicom Advertising Collective, is an end to end gaming brand marketing solution. Launched in August 2022, the subsidiary company is another response to the need for better cohesion between advertising and gaming. In an effort to find a balance, game specific advertising companies have taken on the challenge of working with brands and games to find a more subtle approach for both industries to get the most out of their situation.

“When you’re looking to go in-game, the most important thing to consider is if what you are doing adds to or detracts from the gameplay experience,” stated Andrew Robinson Jr, group director of gaming at The Marketing Arm. “Once you know for sure your brand is going to be a good fit, the next step is developing creative that is going to resonate with the audience of the game.”

However, as brands do become more seamlessly integrated into gameplay, where is the point when players become more concerned with their advert related rewards and less so with the essence of the game?

The recent popularity of Clawee is an example of just how consumerism is subconsciously at the forefront of the new world of gameplay. From Israeli-based developer Gigantic, Clawee evokes a sense of nostalgia from its players. The virtual arcade claw machine game gives individuals the opportunity to either take their chance at grabbing a prize, or watching others try their luck. Winners are then able to have their prizes delivered directly to them.

“It closes the gap between reality and virtual reality,” Gigantic’s chief executive, Ron Brightman, told Israeli business publication Calcalist.

Whilst Hughes argues that the limit of in-game advertising only exists with the number of marketing schemes and brands that are used, and the inclusion of familiar franchises can actually be “a nice surprise”, is it possible that the gaming experience be lost in the pursuit for prizes?

With the growing exploration of the metaverse, immersive experiences are continuing to blur the lines between virtual worlds and authentic realities.

As players enter the limitless space to immerse themselves in their gaming experiences, there is the potential for confusion as to whether the advertising reward schemes are benefitting their virtual iterations or their reality based personas.

“Gamers are generally at the forefront, in terms of trying out new technology and experimenting with new platforms,” stated Hughes. “A lot begins within the games industry and then becomes mainstream after that.”

Roblox is the most recent gaming platform to adopt the system of in-game advertising. Plans were announced at the Roblox Developers Conference in September 2022 for the gaming universe’s evolution of traditional advertising, “a dream for 15 years” as stated by the platform’s founder and CEO David Baszucki. Having already existing partnerships with brands such as Ralph Lauren and Chipotle, plus allowing players to experience virtual concerts, Roblox is not new to combining advertising with gameplay.

“The brands we work with are fun and exciting ones,” stated Baszucki. “They’re brands that a lot of users want to engage with and interact with. So we’re creating a system where if you want you can put units in your experience. They can be portals, billboards, pictures, it’s up to you.”

With 58.5 million daily users worldwide, the gaming platform has transcended trivial play time. In creating this new approach to brand inclusion, Roblox have given their players free reign over how they interact with brands in the game. As a result they inadvertently encourage them to create worlds that reflect their realities, taking advantage of these virtual marketing schemes.

The identity of in-game advertising is evolving alongside the rapid pace of game development. As the approach to game play and creation changes and advertising within such follows suit, the traditional understanding of brand promotion is in the past. In the virtual world, as advertising shifts away from simple product placement and becomes more of an immersive brand experience, the inclusion of marketing in games is no longer just two industries finding ways to benefit from each other, but has become a whole product.

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“GAMERS ARE GENERALLY AT THE FOREFRONT, IN TERMS OF TRYING OUT NEW TECHNOLOGY AND EXPERIMENTING WITH NEW PLATFORMS.”
VIRTUAL
DEVELOPMENT
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HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY REAL ESTATE WITHIN THE GAME WHICH COULD EASILY BE BRANDED, WHETHER IT BE THE AVATAR’S BASEBALL HAT OR JACKET?
REALITY
BRANDING
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BRAZIL

grit meets elegance

Covering approximately 3.3 million square miles, the largest country in South America offers many landscapes, modern and colonial architecture and considerable support. From the Guiana Highlands in the north to the scenic coastal lowlands, foreign producers are spoilt for choice.

Agood example of Brazil’s prominence on the global production stage is Julia Murat’s Regra 34 which won the Golden Leopard at this year’s Locarno Film Festival. The drama follows 23-year old Simone, criminal law student and women’s rights advocate who finds herself in unexpected trouble after performing in a live sex cam. The gritty story benefits from Murat’s use of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas contrasted with its white wealthy neighbourhoods. “The contradictions, although they are terrible, also bring a feeling of being alive,” she said at Locarno.

In a further effort to attract local subscribers, and to find a break out internationally success, streaming giant Netflix is investing in up to 40 Brazilian based originals. O2 Filmes worked on the drama Brotherhood, for Netflix. Executive producer Luiz Braga stated that the cost effectiveness of filming in Brazil provides “the financial attraction” for international clients. Braga has seen a 10 to 15% increase in global attention since the pandemic.

The sequel to 2020 romantic comedy Ricos de Amor, directed by Bruno Garroti, travelled to the north of Brazil for filming. “The development process of Ricos de Amor 2 has been even more exciting because of the privilege of working with professionals from the North of the country and the diverse talents that bring personality and a freshness to the film,” commented Garotti.

LOCATION HIGHLIGHT

The lagoons and sand dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park offer otherworldly landscapes. Located in the northeastern region of Brazil, the sands of riverbeds have created the formation of crater-like indents in the land. As torrential rainfall occurs from January to June, by the summer months, the indents become crystal blue pools for visitors to swim.

While the dunes are as wide as 300 feet and 10 feet deep, waters can fall as low as 3 feet in the winter. Temperatures can also reach up to 31 degrees Celsius.

A distinctive site used for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the abstract pools have been used as the planet Vormir for Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Endgame (2019). It is located near São Luís, the largest city in the state of Maranhão, which retains a strong Spanish colonial flavour perfect for period narratives.

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“IN AN EFFORT TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF LOCAL SUBSCRIPTIONS, NETFLIX IS INVESTING IN UP TO 40 BRAZILIAN BASED ORIGINALS.”
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Brotherhood © Aline Arruda & Netflix.

Other productions include the second season of Invisible City, created by Carlos Salganha filming in Belém, new dramedy Maldivas centred around the mysteries in the lives of condo residents, and physcological thriller Olhar Indiscreto, produced by Mixer Films.

“Brazilians want more stories told by different voices that reflect their lives, their roots and ancestry... to find characters and plots with which to identify and to see the diversity of Brazil on screen,”

ESSENTIAL FACTS

TAX INCENTIVES

35%

Up to 35% cash rebate is available for eligible local & international productions. Total investment is BRL15 million. Special interest is considered for national productions and workforce, requiring applicants to use Brazilian based production proponent, as well as incorporating local skilled workers including technical & artistic team members.

commented Elisabetta Zenatti, vice president of Brazilian content for Netflix. “That's why our ambition is to make more stories made by us and for us, and our success will depend on the ability to deliver the best version of those stories so that they connect with more audiences across Brazil.”

Brazil is home to many organisations equipped with a wealth of information and resources to advise and guide foreign production teams. This year, the Rio Film Commission, launched its newest cash rebate system. The initiative reimburses productions with 30% of the amount spent by Brazilian or foreign audiovisual productions, in eligible expenses, in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

This year, São Paulo also announced it would extend its own production incentive. Spcine, São Paulo’s state-owned film and audiovisual company, offers a 30% cash rebate and a USD8 million production fund. With a 175% increase in streaming platform based productions from 2019 to 2021, Sao Paulo are currently hosting projects from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max , Paramount+ and Discovery+. In order to cater to the growth of industry activity, Spcine are also leading a number of initiatives that ensure the workforce is qualified to meet the growing demand.

The launch of the Sao Paulo cash rebate, first international production incentive in Brazil, was exhausted in 24 hours. “The second edition will be much bigger: the budget was increased fourfold in comparison with last year´s edition, to almost USD8 million,” commented Spcine president and director, Viviana Ferreira. “With the unprecedented partnership between the City of São Paulo and the State of São Paulo, it is the largest cash rebate in Brazil and is expected to open soon for public consultation."

BEYOND THE FINANCIAL DRAW OF PRODUCTION IN BRAZIL AND INVESTMENT INTO THE FLOURISHING SCREEN SECTOR, THE COUNTRY IS HOME TO IMMENSE LANDSCAPE AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY.

SOMETHING ELSE

Light Farm Studios has its largest branch in Rio de Janeiro. The production company opened a Sao Paulo branch in 2020, with a focus on XR.

Beyond the financial draw of production in Brazil and investment in the flourishing screen sector, the country is home to immense landscapes and cultural diversity. From the Amazon rainforest to the UNESCO World Heritage buildings of Salvador, and Rio’s Tavares Bastos Favela to the iconic Copacabana beach, Brazil offers an array of easily accessible backdrops. In addition, as a multicultural melting pot, residents offer some of the most diverse casting pools in the world.

“Talent and location diversity this combination makes Brazil a vast and very interesting country to film,” comments Ocean Films producer Cristian Marini. “Cities such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Brasilia brings different cultures, architecture, and diverse ethnicities, making it ideal to film different markets in one country.”

The São Paulo Grand Prix, formerly known as the Brazilian Grand Prix, took place on 14 November 2022. Covering 71 laps of the 4,309km track at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in the Interlagos neighbourhood.

RECENT PRODUCTIONS

Brazil served as the backdrop to Netflix’s Maldivas. The mystery drama follows Liz Lobato, who moves into a luxurious condominium to investigate the suspicious residents. The series pays homage to the telenovela, form of Latin American soap opera made famous by Brazilian national broadcaster Globo.

The first F1 GP was held in 1973 at Interlagos. With a brief relocation to Rio de Janeiro in 1978 due to a poor quality track surface, the competition returned to São Paulo shortly after. Regarded as one of the most intense courses, Interlagos has been the home to the grand prix since 1990. Brazilian hero Aryton Senna won twice there, in 1991 and 1993. Beyond racing, the lead up to the race has become a cultural spectacle. This year, the Grand Prix Week hosted performances from The Killers, Hot Chip, The Band Camino, Fresno and Twenty One Pilots.

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Invisible City © Alisson Louback & Netflix Maldivas © Lucas Cunha & Netflix.
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Strength in Diversity

Independent film is being squeezed on all sides, from Covid-19 to talent costs, but none more so than in the UK where the situation is dire. While such pressures are universal, Canada’s indie producers tell makers how diverse voices and hyperlocal stories are helping its sector survive

Last summer, the BFI laid out the challenges facing independent film in the UK in a major review of the sector, which it said was “inhibited to the point of market failure”.

Producers are struggling to raise money from investors who find it increasingly challenging to secure a financial return from independent films, it said. The review’s findings are that the speed and volume of this growth has exacerbated the strain on the sector which cannot compete with larger budget international productions on a variety of levels from accommodating the rising cost of production to securing cast and crew and ultimately to reaching audiences.

It underlined the role that indie films play as a “powerful and vibrant contributor to our cultural lives… often giving a voice to underrepresented people.”

Many of the issues identified in the BFI report resonate with indie producers in Canada where

production volume decreased 12 per cent in 2020/21, due at least in part to the pandemic.

Liz Shorten, Chief Operating Officer at Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), says, “We are seeing a post pandemic challenge in exhibition area and in terms of distribution with different business models. The whole value chain from development to exhibition is being disrupted.”

A lower Canadian to US dollar exchange rate has contributed to a booming service sector but, as in the UK, it is to the advantage of international productions out muscling indies for crew.

“Content demand from the new streamers like Apple TV plus traditional studios has stretched the talent pool to the extent that indies are battling for crew,” she says.

Independents had a hard time finding insurance to produce during Covid-19 and covid-related costs continue to knock-on. Inflation is not as high as the

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Brother © Guy Godfree.

UK, in part because Canada has cheaper gas reserves, but budgets have had to rise to cope. With a relatively small domestic market, the bottom line is that Canadian indies have always to punch above their weight to compete globally.

“One way we mitigate rising cost is through coproduction which we are very experienced at,” Shorten says. Canada has 59 co-production treaties, more than any other country.

That’s just as well since funding and distribution options have shrunk. Entertainment One (owned by Hasbro) ceased film distribution operations in Canada, a move that also includes the wind-down of theatrical operations for subsidiary Les Films Séville, one of the largest film distributors in Quebec.

Whereas eOne once distributed dozens of films a year in the country – including such independent Hollywood hits as If Beale Street Could Talk and Sicario, plus a reliable wave of Canadian cinema from such leading homegrown filmmakers as Philippe Falardeau, Xavier Dolan and Kim Nguyen –the company’s theatrical output has slowed to a trickle, even discounting the pandemic.

The Network of Independent Canadian Exhibitors (NICE) can attempt to plug the gap. This 150 member alliance of independent cinemas, festivals and professional programmers offers curated film programming to the public.

But there’s consolidation in television, too, with two of the country’s three largest commercial broadcasters, Rogers and Shaw, merging in a CAD20 billion deal.

“I wouldn’t say Canadian indie film is thriving but it is innovating and in particular embracing a number of new and diverse voices,” says Shorten. “This is the great opportunity.”

TIFF saw the debut of 25 Canadian indie projects among them Black Ice, Hubert Davis’ doc about racism in sport; Korean-language drama Riceboy Sleeps from Vancouver’s Anthony Shim and Viking by Montreal’s Stéphane Lafleur.

“Films from Asian and Black Canadians and queer Canadians are being made in a volume not seen before,” says Damon D'Oliveira, co-chair of the feature film committee at CMPA. “This multiplicity of voices is also what platform buyers are looking for.”

D'Oliveira produced Brother, a drama fully financed in Canada about Black Canadians growing up in the Scarborough district of Toronto. “We went to just about every source in town to raise financing and now we’re courted by a number of international buyers,” he says.

“Canadians have always made films with our eyes on selling into the US market but we’ve the platforms to thank for opening the market up to hyper local stories that resonate across the globe.”

Shorten agrees, “Amazon and other streamers have boots on the ground here and the networking and relationship building with indies is key to getting production off the ground.”

The Black Screen Office has produced a series of reports highlighting how Black, Indigenous and People of Colour audiences feel discounted or invisible to Canadian broadcasters and advertisers.

“Canada’s diverse audiences want to see themselves authentically represented on Canadian screens, and Canadian creators and producers from underrepresented communities want more opportunities to tell those stories,” urges Joan Jenkinson, Executive Director, BSO.

The CMPA believe advocacy like this is finally helping greater representation and that diverse storytelling is a key opportunity to help local indie film recover.

Among recommendations to stem decline in the UK is a call for additional film tax relief (of 20%) targeted at indie film and a proposal to increase the financial contribution from large streaming services to the indie film sector (either voluntary or legislated).

“A specific incentive for features is not something we’ve considered in Canada,” Shorten says – but the CMPA is pushing for the government’s implementation of new law which would bring streamers in line with regulations underpinning local broadcasters. Bill C-11 would increase access to Canadian content and its visibility, provide increased opportunities to produce programming in French and in Indigenous languages, and promote diversity and inclusion in the broadcasting sector.

“That is a huge step toward everyone paying their fair share to creating phenomenal content,” says D'Oliveira.

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If Beale Street Could Talk © 2018 Anna Purna Releasing LLC.
Brother © Guy Godfree.
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CANADIAN INDIE FILM IS INNOVATING AND EMBRACING A NUMBER OF NEW AND DIVERSE VOICES. THIS IS THE GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

Is the next generation of filmmakers ready?

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AS THE 50+ VANISH FROM THE WORKFORCE AND ARE REPLACED BY PREMATURE PROMOTIONS, THERE IS UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE INDUSTRYS’ STABILITY. IS THE INDUSTRY STUCK IN ITS WAYS? ARE TRAINEE SPACES INCLUSIVE ENOUGH FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF FILMMAKERS TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE RANKS?

The June 2022 Film and TV Charity Retention Report presented an overall consensus that the screen sector would be better off if older workers remained in the industry. Workers over 50 have fallen to a low of 20% and many credit their departure to the difficulty in balancing their professional and personal lives, or that they unable to keep up with the physical demands of the job.

“Labour shortages in the film and TV industry are occurring in the context of an overall UK workforce that has shrunk since the beginning of 2020,” stated the report. “So, without better retention, it may continue to be difficult to meet the staffing needs of the UK film and TV industry.”

Whilst those aged between 30 and 39 dominate the sampled workforce, with under 30s following closely behind, a new generation of workers is on the rise. There are concerns however about the speed at which the demographic is shifting, epecially because of the greater demand to fill more senior roles as those over 50 walk away.

But what is the reality for those who are having to step up to the plate? Camera trainees Isabella Thompson, Zoe Faynaud and Zaynah Javed, along with second AC and videographer Samara Addai, and first Ac Lou Macnamara, sat down with makers to let us know what is really going on.

“We are seeing lots of investment in studios and equipment rental companies but it’s not clear how sufficient crew are entering the industry and building the experience and training required to take up the increase in work this will bring,” commented Macnamara.

“Since the ease of the lockdown there has been a massive influx of shooting due to backlogged projects. Crew is needed more now than ever,” added Addai.

From 12 hour shoot days consisting of a range of responsibilities and sometimes trivial tasks, trainees are thrust into the thick of it. Whether freelance or as part of a programme, the journey to the top can be a slow burn.

“I feel like the film industry is a long game and you have to spend a lot of time learning about the craft and getting better at it,” commented Faynaud.

“Knowledge definitely gets passed down to everyone on the camera team and you’re always learning more about new situations the more you get on set. So if you are learning then you are equipped. But everything takes time.”

“Net working is definitely a skill that needs to be harnessed,” stated Zaynah. “The connections you make with people are very important.”

With a shared understanding amongst those in entry level roles, many pass along their experiences with one another to perform better and progress onto their next roles. However, with older white males dominating higher positions, the culture divide is contributing to less comfortable environments and entrants are more likely to create spaces of their own.

Whilst organisations are being set up to welcome new comers into the industry, the issue of diversity and lack of inclusion is still a hindrance. The issue for trainees is not the lack of teaching. In fact, many actually say that they are learning a lot on their jobs.

“Unfortunately the film and television industry is incredibly competitive and still runs by traditional ways of working, which is inspired by the military, commented Addai. “So in turn, a lot of the current ideas of the visual industry are dated. Don’t get me wrong, there is a wonderful community of older folks who want nothing more than to support the next round of industry people. However, a lot of people have spent years building a career to get where they want, and have had to fight for it, so a lot of these people tend to feel suspicious of helping the next generation of film lovers. That means new content, new traditions and a whole new generation, which I think for some is a big pill to swallow. There needs to be more support.”

“Expertise is handed down informally on the job, a bit like an old fashioned apprentice system” added Macnamara. “Freelance Camera Assistants teach trainees while they are at work, until they are deemed able to “step up” and cover the 2nd AC for short periods of time. After getting enough experience on “dailies” work or short films as a 2nd AC, trainees

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“WE ARE SEEING LOTS OF INVESTMENT IN STUDIOS AND EQUIPMENT RENTAL COMPANIES BUT IT’S NOT CLEAR HOW SUFFICIENT CREW ARE ENTERING THE INDUSTRY.”

THERE

ARE A FEW SPECIALISED SHORT COURSES AND SCHEMES

RUN BY GBCT, NFTS AND SCREENSKILLS, BUT THESE COURSES HAVE VERY HIGH DEMAND AND ARE EXPENSIVE FOR PARTICIPANTS.

progress to this next role when they feel ready to start pitching themselves as a professional 2nd AC and taking on jobs in this capacity. There is very little structure to this process or more formal education opportunities like workshops or courses. There are a few specialised short courses and schemes run by The Guild of British Camera Technicians (GBCT), The National Film and Television School (NFTS) and Screenskills, but these courses have very high demand and are mostly expensive for participants.”

The Creative Diversity Network’s fifth annual report saw 12.9% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups off screen, with those in higher positions performing even worse. Directors only include 9%, writers at 9.6%, producers at 10%, executive producers at 7.3%. and heads of production at 9.3%. Whilst making up 56.1% of non-senior roles, women only made up 33.4% of writers and 26% of directors in 2021, whilst offscreen representation from those identifying as transgender at 0.3%.

“A lot of people face personal attack on who they are, where they come from, and how they think, because this industry has not been inviting to a lot of people,” stated Addai. “I have seen and heard some people who dip their toe in, and then decide to leave because it is not what they expected it to be.”

“It can be hard to progress if you don’t fit a certain demographic in this industry”, added Macnamara. “A lot of the people with hiring power and management responsibilities have no training in doing this. Most hiring is very informal, based on word of mouth and in an department that is very dominated by cis white men from upper and middle class backgrounds. This often means unconscious bias leads to them hiring people who reflect their own identities.”

With a focus on finding the solutions to the base problem that is standing in the way of finding alternatives to the retention issue, a start has to be made. Addai and Macnamara are at the head for a series of workshops prioritising the voices of Black

and POC women, trans and non-binary folx, queer folx, and disabled folx. In partnership with video equipment service company, the free workshops, provide trainees with an accessible support system, sharing their insight on how to navigate the industry.

“Personal support and guidance is what retains people’s passion for the jobs,” concluded Addai.

Macnamara added: “Making sure the workplace is accessible, trainees are paid properly and barriers like transportation if someone doesn’t drive don’t prevent people starting out from getting to work. Changing the narrative around an unhealthy working patterns by decreasing work hours would benefit everyone by making the industry more accessible for more people.

Screen Skills, whilst continuing to make their spaces as accessible to new entrants to the industry, are tackling the demand for more trained crew by offering opportunities for all. With their Higher-End TV Fund (HETV), Screen Skills invested GBP 10 million to combat the skills gap concern, funding training for upcoming industry professionals.

Supporting 1,400 people in 2022 through this programme, Screen Skills with their trainee finder programme creates a direct line of communication between industry professionals and an eager workforce.

As the argument for retention and building back the experienced workforce rises, other industry issues are broken open. With the need for more diverse spaces across the board, and the consequential impact that would have on creative more inclusive and accessible spaces for newcomers, the solution to the depleting workforce may have been there all along.

DIVERSITY EDUCATION

OPPORTUNITIES

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“I HAVE SEEN AND HEARD SOME PEOPLE WHO DIP THEIR TOE IN, AND THEN DECIDE TO LEAVE BECAUSE IT IS NOT WHAT THEY EXPECTED IT TO BE.”
Zaynah Javed & Jarlenn Severino testing out lenses © Lou Macnamara.
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A workshop led by Lou Macanamara & Samara Addai © Lou Macnamara.
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How to Tighten Belts

Indie film and telelvision makers are struggling with critical pressures, notably a significant cost inflation in key areas of production, including cast, crew and studio space through to fuel, flights and food. Covid-19 protocols and contingencies are still considerable, adding 10 to 20% to a budget, even before the recent surge in inflation caused by geopolitical instability.

Long-running shows with two or three-year contracts are, for the first time ever, having to write inflation protection schemes into budgets.

The BFI’s summer economic review found that the speed and volume of demand for inward production has exacerbated the strain on the UK’s indie sector. It cannot compete with larger budget international productions on a variety of levels from accommodating the rising cost of production to securing cast and crew and ultimately to reaching audiences.

Crew shortages at all levels are especially threatening to the sector. Following a decade of extremely cheap money to borrow, the pressure on producers with already very stretched budgets is now acute.

MAKERS

How has recent global inflation exacerbated production costs?

“It has amplified the situation as a rise in the costs of necessities will have a detrimental effect on the budgets,” says Sandra Smith, Banijay UK’s Director of Production. “Talent and all supply chains are increasing their costs. All costs related to the cost-of-living crisis are rising and include accommodation, catering, travel, and fuel. Suppliers have increased their costs, some by 40%. In general, all direct production costs have been impacted to some extent as suppliers understandably, also need to cover their inflated costs and generate revenue to remain stable.”

MAKERS

How have rising interest rates affected funding?

The three key planks of indie film finance, senior debt, gap finance and equity, are impacted in varying ways by rising interest rates, according to Variety. Equity is the least affected, as it exists as hard cash and is left on the table meaning it’s last to recoup and then shares in net profit points with the producer and talent after the break-even point. While a premium of typically 10 to 25% may be added to the principal investment that pays out prior to any subsequent waterfall recipient, neither is typically interest bearing.

Senior debt, however, is more sensitive to interest rates, given the time that lending against collateral including tax incentives, rebates and pre-sales alongside other receivables can take to be paid back. Gap financing remains an excessively expensive tool for borrowing against unsold territories and future revenue streams (pegging it at 15 to 20% plus and now rising), and often used as a last resort by indie producers.

MAKERS

Can M&E continue to meet rising cost of talent?

“Keeping the best talent on board to maintain high production values is imperative and is the biggest challenge as it impacts the entire production process from development and pre-production to delivery,” reports Smith. “What we’re finding is that it is becoming harder to secure and retain talent and services at the rates agreed during the budgeting process. We are fortunate to have long-established relationships with talent and service providers across all sectors of production. People want to continue working with us project after project, but we have to remain competitive.”

MAKERS

How can producers mitigate rising costs without damaging their business?

One approach is to identify commercial opportunities from the development stage right

through to transmission and beyond. “As a Group we can work with our labels, identify synergies where possible, offer solutions to space and clever use of technology which should mitigate some additional cost and use of energy,” offers Smith. “All broadcasters are aware of the crisis. Programme budgets are negotiated and settled on a case-by-case basis.”

MAKERS

Should producers double down efforts to move towards green sustainable energy solutions?

Use of virtual production stages to shoot locally is one sustainable response, although studios are not immune from rising costs. Virtual production can mean less travel costs than a conventional shoot on multiple locations, as it is more of a controlled situation in terms of daylight, weather, sets and graphic environments. More government backed incentives to film in the UK would also help with sustainability.

“We are constantly looking at ways we can collaborate with our suppliers and work with companies who have a robust sustainability plan and pledge to be effective,” says Smith. “As an industry, we can drive positive change in terms of sustainable principles throughout the production process and our supply chains together.”

INDIE PRODUCTION INFLATION SUSTAINABILITY
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New Zealand is Back

makers explores how the location powerhouse has evolved within the screen sector since reopening its borders to the world. From Marvel’s slate of superhero classics, to The Lord of the Rings iconic franchise, New Zealand shows no signs of stopping.

Nothing says New Zealand and epic visual storytelling more than The Lord of the Rings. A decade after Peter Jackson based his trilogy of Tolkien features in his home country, Amazon Prime Productions returned with its own titanic series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Although the USD1 billion series is awash with CGI, arguably there is no visual effect that can match the grandeur of New Zealand’s primordial terrain.

Through New Zealand's Major Screen Production Grant, all film and television productions receive a 20% tax rebate, with those that offer significant

economic benefits able to negotiate for an additional 5%. To gain access to the latter, Amazon agreed to work with the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) to help grow the country's screen sector while Tourism New Zealand could promote the country using material from the series.

“The global success of The Power of the Rings has shone a light on what we can provide – all of the studio work was done in Auckland, and 15 of the 38 locations were in the region,” comments Screen Auckland Manager Matthew Horrocks. “Plus, 90 % of the crew were local.”

ITS POST-COVID REOPENING IN JULY HAS NEW ZEALAND’S INDUSTRY RETURNED TO FULL STRENGTH?
AFTER
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Sweet Tooth © Kirsty Griffin & Netflix.
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Filming was principally based at Auckland Film Studios because director James Cameron was filming Avatar: The Way of Water on sound (and tank) stages in Wellington. Disney’s long awaited sequel to 2009’s record-breaking blockbuster, Avatar continued to call New Zealand home throughout the pandemic, exemplifying the nation’s watertight Covid-19 safety procedures.

“While other territories around the world were forced to close completely, Auckland experienced growth in permit applications and shooting hours,” added Horrocks. “ That demand has continued, and is now serviced with additional infrastructure and enhanced high-speed connectivity. Production is supported by local people who not only love what they do, but that they get to do it in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

The long term residency of Avatar and The Rings of Power at two of the nation’s largest production hubs necessitated an expansion of space. New Zealand obliged with Wellington’s Lane Street Studios’ construction of new production offices and two new stages, Auckland’s Studio West opening a new 36,000 sqft soundstage and production offices, and the Auckland Film Studios itself completing a new stage extension.

However, with the loss of the Rings series to the UK and the next instalment of The Meg franchise to be shot at Leavesden studios, maybe elements of the New Zealand production standard can be matched, and even bettered, elsewhere. Quoted by Amazon to be a strategy that “aligns with the studio’s strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space across the UK,” the loss of these major productions has left many crew members without jobs. Although an opportunity that “opens the door wider to others to come in” as added by CEO of the NZFC, David Strong, the unexpected departure is a big hit to the industry.

Although most foreign activity was halted during the Covid-19 pandemic, Government support for the development of filmmakers through training programmes and project funding continued to strengthen the New Zealand screen sector for its return to normalcy. A number of programmes from the NZFC were put in place in November 2020 for the development of both individuals’ careers and projects, from a local and international standpoint. This has proven to be a continued interest from film industry professionals as investment in developing talent is supporting the influx of projects.

Philippa Mossman, Head of International Screen Attraction for the NZFC, says, “The country is full of untapped potential and our screen sector is incredibly resilient. The international interest in filming here and in the projects New Zealand makes continues to grow.”

Whilst international productions can bring a level of uncertainty, what remains true is the development of the local workforce and contributions made to ensure the sustainability of the local industry. With investment into the diversification of the industry and a spotlight being shone on locally based stories, the New Zealand industry provides a well-rounded base.

The NZFC has been at the forefront of offering training to budding film industry professionals, most recently with the Jul 2022 Gender Scholarship programme. With Four Wahine Maori drama

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THE RINGS OF POWER INCENTIVES COVID-19 Avatar ©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. AVATAR CONTINUED TO CALL NEW ZEALAND HOME THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC, EXEMPLIFYING THE NATION’S WATERTIGHT COVID 19 SAFETY PROCEDURES.
“GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF FILMMAKERS THROUGH TRAINING PROGRAMMES AND PROJECT FUNDING CONTINUED TO STRENGTHEN THE NEW ZEALAND SCREEN SECTOR FOR ITS RETURN TO NORMALCY.”
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© Film Construction.

QNZPE

producers and one Takatapui receiving the honour, the scholarship aims to not only monetarily support the female talent, but also provides mentoring with the two supporting patrons Ainsley Gardiner and Desray Armstrong. Awardees Angela Cudd and Nicole Horan were the recipients of NZD15,000 with Jaime Poipoi, Ruby Reihana-Wilson and Peata Melbourne receiving special recognition.

“Producers are an essential part of growing a sustainable industry and we don’t have enough Maori producers particularly in drama,” commented NZFC acting CEO Mladen Ivancic on the initiative

Local stories are not going without the international recognition they deserve either. This year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival saw the screening of four New Zealand feature films. Whina, directed by Paula Whetu Jones and James Napier Robertson, and Nude Tuesday, the Australian-New Zealand co-production directed by Armagan Ballantyne, both made their European premeire at the festival. Others included were Juniper, written and directed by Matthew Saville and Millie Lies Low directed by Michelle Savill and Eli Kent.

Continuing the awards run, New Zealand’s 2023 Oscar submission for the Academy Awards Best International Feature Film Category, Muru, made waves at the opening weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival and the prestigious Busan International Film Festival. The film brings the realities of a true local story to the front of the global stage.

On a local level, as individuals developed responses to the unexpected circumstances of the pandemic, so did industry processes concerning technologies and working habits. “During the pandemic, we concentrated on what we could do. In the early part, New Zealand was a safe haven for shooting, and we honed our remote shooting skills,” Belinda Bradley, executive producer of Film Construction, New Zealand commented. “It was an exciting time to refine these systems and invest in technologies.”

Both Avatar and The Rings of Power shared locations in around the Queenstown Lakes. “We’re more than just a pretty place – you can actually do what you need to do here, and the production value will speak for itself,” said Kahli Scott, Film Office Coordinator for Film Otago Southland and Film Queenstown Lakes. “Plus, people love coming here! It’s a place talent want to be and it really embeds itself in people’s hearts, which shows on the screen.”

More unusual picturesque landscapes include the secluded sandy coasts of Tasman and the otherworldly crevices of the Mangapohue Limestone Arch. Scott added: “When people think of the South Island of New Zealand, they know we have epic mountains, lakes and national parks; they might even be familiar with our charming small towns and historic architecture.”

In an effort to generate further momentum, the New Zealand Production Grant (NZPG), provided international industry professionals with 20% cash return in qualifying New Zealand production expenditure.

“Attracting international productions to base their film and TV projects here is increasingly a priority for NZFC” added Mossman. “These projects further contribute to the sustainability and vibrancy of the screen industry.”

The NZPG was the saving grace of the New Zealand screen sector offering a cash rebate equivalent to 40% of Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure for (QNZPE) for qualifying projects. In addition, the Post, Digital and Visual effects (PDV) Grant offers international productions the same percentage for applicable productions, with NZD25 million available. Recent recipients include Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Black Widow, and Amazon Prime Video’s The Tomorrow War.

Locally shot streaming platform features include projects such as Ti West’s X and Pearl, Hannah Mark’s Don’t Make Me Go, and Damien Power’s No Exit, plus series including Sweet Tooth, One of Us is Lying and Prehistoric Planet. Making use of New Zealand landscapes and production talents, services such as Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime Studios flocked to New Zealand when their demands could not be met in the Northern Hemisphere. The result is a slate of New Zealand co-productions with internationally based projects spanning across the globe.

With the acclaimed 2022 feature The Power of the Dog by Oscar winning New Zealand born filmmaker Jane Campion (using Maniototo in Central Otago as stand-in for Montana) and the recent rebirth of Middle Earth, the continued reimagining of New Zealand landscapes ensures its creative longevity.

VISUAL EFFECTS

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“MUCH OF NEW ZEALAND’S GRAND LANDSCAPE REMAINS UNEXPLORED BY PRODUCERS WITH UNDISCOVERED GEMS OFFERING NEW LOCATIONS.”
THE NZPG WAS THE SAVING GRACE OF THE NEW ZEALAND SCREEN SECTOR OFFERING A CASH REBATE EQUIVALENT TO 40% OF QUALIFYING NEW ZEALAND PRODUCTION EXPENDITURE FOR (
) FOR QUALIFYING PROJECTS.
LOCATIONS STREAMING
Millie Lies Low © Lie Low Limited 2021.
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The Power of the Dog © Netflix.

Making of All Quiet on the Western Front

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RECREATING THE HORRORS OF WORLD WAR I IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Filmed twice before in 1930 and 1979, the new Netflix version of All Quiet On The Western Front is arguably definitive. Director Edward Berger has gone back to the source novel by Erich Maria Remarque which was written based on his own experiences. In all areas, from the production design by Christian M Goldbeck to costume design by Lisy Christl, from weapons to props, they sought historical authenticity.

Extensive battlefield scenes were shot at a Soviet era airport in Milovice, Czech Republic. These days it’s a sports airport but temporarily closed operations for three months so the production could shoot there. They dug several hundred

metres of trenches for French and German lines and a hinterland battlefield the size of two soccer pitches. Since Berger and DP James Friend wanted to achieve many shots without cutting, the actors had to be able to move long distances. The trenches were connected to allow for this. They also searched for existing destroyed buildings and courtyard structures to redesign with newly constructed exterior parts and create an obliterated background.

The airfield was also chosen because it was completely South facing from its hero angle. The sun rose from the French side, and it set

perfectly on the German side enabling Friend to shoot all through the day against the light.

One challenge was to transform the Czech, largely Bohemian, architecture into Flemish or French-looking architecture. They created other backdrops at Barrandov Studio in Prague and recreated several train compartments as well as the lounge car of the Grands Express Européens used for scenes where German and French military leaders negotiate peace. They filmed in Spring 2021 in truly inhospitable temperatures during which snow thawed and turned the trenches to mud – exactly what the production needed.

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Images courtesy of Netflix & Reiner Bajo.
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The True Cost of Virtual Production

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THE LOGISTICS OF LOCATION SHOOTING CAN BE EXPENSIVE BUT HOW DOES VIRTUAL PRODUCTION COMPARE? A VOLUME STAGE PROMISES TO REVOLUTIONISE THE WAY CONTENT IS MADE, CREATIVELY, SUSTAINABLY AND COST EFFICIENTLY. MAKERS EXPLORES WHAT IS POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE IN VIRTUAL PRODUCTION RIGHT NOW – WEIGHING UP THE COST OF CREATING IN VIRTUAL PRODUCTION VERSUS THE SAVINGS THAT PRODUCERS CAN EXPECT FROM ADOPTING THE TECHNOLOGY.

Productions like The Mandalorian (Disney+) have championed the use of virtual production (VP), where computer-generated 3D environments rendered in real-time by game engine technology, tracked onto LED walls or enclosures (volumes) can create in-camera visual effects (ICVFX). Filmmakers are starting to opt for VP over the traditional location shoot, not just to forgo travelling to deserts to shoot sci-fi planets, but also to build interiors, whole cityscapes, and jungles.

Double Oscar-winning VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin from DNEG directed the thriller short Fireworks, (Wilder Films, with Dimension Studios and Lipsync Post Production) that uses extensive VP to tell its story.

“From the filmmaker’s point of view the key benefit of VP using an LED volume is the ability to effectively mount a location shoot in the controlled environment of a stage,” says Franklin. “This goes much further than just the elimination of unwanted interference from the outside world that so many of us know from location work. Because the environment is digitally controlled, you can maintain the same lighting setup all day. You are not governed by the movement of the sun in the sky or changing weather conditions.

“The creative possibilities with the volume are significant,” Franklin continues. “The immediacy of having the world right there with you on the stage can contribute to a synergistic meeting of minds on the set – everyone can see how the shot is shaping up without having to make the leap of imagination that large expanses of greenscreen usually demand. In particular, the cast can immerse themselves in the world of the film, giving them a bit more to work with.”

He continues: “The visual results can be quite spectacular there is an inherent integrity to be gained from capturing the image in one moment, and subtle photographic effects that can be nearimpossible to achieve in post come as a standard result from the process.”

On location, or not? Using VP de-risks the production process according to Michael McKenna, CEO of Final Pixel, a creative studio specialising in end-to-end VP for film, television and advertising.

“You are less at the whim of nature and unforeseen events related to travel, weather, logistics, political instability and so on, which can often occur on location shoots,” he says. “You can get all the dialogue just how you want it, and not have to reshoot later when you didn’t get what you need on location due to running out of time.”

It's a view shared by Chris Chaundler, Managing Director of Quite Brilliant, an on-site production partner for two big VP stages in London (Garden Studios and MARS Volume),

“There are obvious benefits when it comes to trying to shoot multiple environments – some of which might be hard to get to – in a short space of time, plus the bonus of having fully controllable lighting so you can have 10 hours of magic hour as opposed to 30 minutes on a location,” Chaundler says. “You also then own that location, so it becomes more cost-effective the next time you shoot there. We have a permanent beach and snow set up for 12 months a year, so there’s no reason to be crossing the equator when you’re out of season.

“Likewise, talent is always a factor; it’s much easier and cheaper to get your talent to one location than flying them around the world,” he adds.

Alexis Hagar, Effects Director for creative studio Lexhag, points out that this applies to crew costs as well. “You can achieve more with fewer people on a VP stage,” he says. “If you’re intending on shooting in-vehicle material, you can save time and money by not having a whole crew standing around watching a car on a low-loader driving around a location.

“You might also save on re-shoots,” he adds. “If you visit a location and capture the right imagery and then need to pick up material, instead of going back, you could re-shoot with a skeleton crew in a volume. And be aware that could be you shoot your major action and wides at the location and the more incidental shots on a volume.”.

So does this mean everyone will soon be shooting in LED volumes? It turns out there’s more to think about.

“Ultimately, one will need more planning to shoot on a VP stage than on location,” says Hagar. “If something unexpected happens on location, there will be several options [to handle] the issue. With a VP stage you’re limited, creatively, with what you have available on the day in terms of the media you can present on screen.”

“The systems used on the set are by necessity very complex and there are numerous potential points of failure,” says Franklin. “Anyone embarking on a

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“THERE ARE OBVIOUS BENEFITS IN HAVING FULLY CONTROLLABLE LIGHTING. YOU ALSO THEN OWN THAT LOCATION, SO IT BECOMES MORE COST EFFECTIVE THE NEXT TIME YOU SHOOT THERE.”
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Image © Quite Brilliant.

VP should always factor in enough testing time in pre-production to iron out the kinks in the process and to be sure that the filmmakers are going to get what they want on set.”

“It could be the difference between shooting something or not,” agrees Hagar. “If something fails, be prepared for a very rainy day.”

Show me the money

“Producers should always have a clear understanding of what it takes to create a scene for VP, and also the costs of the VP shoot themselves, whether in pre-production or through the production process itself,” says Janek Lender, Head of Visualisation at Nviz.

“I wouldn’t recommend people start with VP as a purely cost-saving tool,” warns McKenna. “Rather look at the benefits it can bring to the production and creative process – reaching inaccessible or difficult-to-shoot-in locations, shooting multiple locations in one day with talent, having full control over the environment you are shooting in and so on.”

Chaundler feels it’s impossible to say how much it all costs. “Every shoot is so different,” he says. “We’ve done VP shoots for as little as GBP25,000 for the day, but that’s pretty basic.

“The main cost will always be the cost of the LED volume itself,” he adds. “There’s also some additional prep time and optimisation for the assets, so you need to look at how you offset this cost against other factors, such as no travel, less post, fewer props and lighting.”

However, any good VP outfit can present different, often more cost-effective ways of approaching the production and especially the creation of the assets.

“Virtual sets, prepared panoramic photographic environments, and so on, all need to be prepared in advance of the shoot,” says Franklin. “In effect, a virtual art department, running in parallel to the physical art department, needs to be set up. Talented designers possessed of the skills needed to do this work can often be difficult to source.”

Other new roles may be required. Hagar suggests these include: “LED processor engineers, playback artists, VP Supervisor – although I believe this will become part of the VFX supervisors’ future role –digital art director, and camera tracking engineer. But they are not always necessary; it depends on the volume and the shot.”

However, you might not need to find the kit and operational crew yourself. “Any good stage will provide a means to playback the content and the crew to do so,” says Hagar. “Turnkey studios will enable you to walk in and shoot; all the special equipment will be there.”

Bear in mind that there still needs to be postproduction. “The amount of post needed to finish a LED volume VP project will depend entirely on the nature of the environments that the show is creating,” says Franklin. “If the world of the story requires lots of animated elements, such as traffic or background crowds, then a significant amount of

post work may be inevitable. But if the LED volume is being used to create something self-contained for example, a deserted desert, or the interior of a dark lonely cave then there is no reason that the shots can be completed without a lot of additional postproduction.”

“Hopefully [post] is in the world of clean-up and not in background replacement,” says Hagar. “But by the simple fact that you can see what you shot, editing can start immediately; there is no need to pre-comp anything. This can start the creative post process quickly.”

“Our typical response is VP is not cheaper in every case… yet,” says McKenna. “As workflows and systems develop it undoubtedly has potential to be, but it all depends on the alternatives available to achieve the same level of production value. Being able to achieve multiple locations, even in one day, is a very compelling factor however for reducing costs [that are] usually tied up in company moves and delays.”

VP visualisation

VP can also save time and money before shooting starts. The team at Nviz has been working in this field since its work on Hugo (2011) and has recently used VP tools for Morbius (Sony), and The Midnight Sky and The Irregulars for Netflix.

“Using VP tools for visualisation within the pre-production phase allows the director, DoP and VFX Supervisor [and other HODs] direct control of the visualisation process, by creating master action sequences which are then 'shot' using a virtual camera system,” says Janek Lender, Head of Visualisation at Nviz. “Primarily, it allows the director to iterate the animated action within the sequence to 'home in' on the story he/she is trying to tell, and allows them a sandbox within which they can test and refine their ideas. Secondly, the edit produced is the product of choices the filmmakers have made themselves, and is therefore a blueprint of the film itself, which can then be used for shoot planning, stunt planning, VFX shot breakdowns and accurate costing.”

Real-Time Supervisor, Filipe Magalhães adds, "It takes the pressure off and allows for critical analysis of their needs in a pragmatic way. We can help with decision making and in a lot of cases effect real significant change. Even simple things like on-the-fly measuring of bluescreens/set distances as well as camera lensing decisions can have a large impact on budget requirements on the day of the shoot. The communication is direct, oftentimes with the art department, at a stage that can help budgets across the production. Better decisions make for much more efficient budgets.”

“VP definitely allows us to get to the story faster, and by doing so, it saves time and money compared to traditional pre-production,” agrees Lender.

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“ANYONE EMBARKING ON A VIRTUAL PRODUCTION SHOULD ALWAYS FACTOR IN ENOUGH TESTING TIME IN PRE-PRODUCTION TO IRON OUT THE KINKS IN THE PROCESS.”
Images: Virtual production tools used by Nviz on The Midnight Sky for Netflix.
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Image © Final Pixel.

CANADA endless possibilities

From tree filled parks that mimic Scandinavian forests, cityscapes that stand in for the concrete jungle, to expansive studio spaces capturing everything in between, Canada has something to offer any production.

Spanning ten provinces and three territories, Canada’s regionally specific incentives are hard to pass up on. Alongside the country’s location diversity and recent investments in the development of their workforce, it’s no wonder that Canada is a production powerhouse. As foreign filmmakers explore Hollywood North, the savings on production are just the cherry on top of the experiences that are on offer.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

With a CAD3.8 billion spend recorded in 2021, the British Columbia film industry is roaring from the top. Offering four to six film permits per day, the number of productions is up at least a quarter on last year.

“We had expected the data to show a strong recovery given what we saw on the ground last year, but these numbers exceed all our expectations,” Geoff Teoli, acting Vancouver film commissioner, said in a statement.

A long standing go to for productions, the western-most province has not been untouched by the streaming platform heavyhitters with Disney + production

The Spiderwick Chronicles arrival in Vancouver in September 2022. With its fantasy plotlines and fantastical imagery, the series use of Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park is the perfect match.

Following a shift towards more studio based filming after post-pandemic control measures were put in place, the opening of Lake City Studios is taking

LOCATION HIGHLIGHT

As the Canadian Rockies tower over the low lying communities of British Columbia and Alberta, it’s hard not to take in the magnificent peaks that line their way along the province’s border.

Scraping the sky at 3,954 metres, the Rockies line Banff National Park, combining the mountainous wonder with crystal blue rivers and lush green tree covered lands.

The Rockies have offered its film worthy backdrop to a number of cinema spectacles. From painting the backdrop to the tumultuous love story of Brokeback Mountain, to the intimidatingly cold and daunting precipices in Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant (pictured above), whilst maintaining their staggering form, the mountains offer a blank canvas to bring film narratives to life.

Revenant © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

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“AS FOREIGN FILMMAKERS EXPLORE HOLLYWOOD NORTH, THE SAVINGS ON PRODUCTION ARE JUST THE CHERRY ON TOP OF THE EXPERIENCES THAT ARE ON OFFER.”
The
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Wedding Season © Ken Woroner & Netflix.
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Q&A

production to the next level. Stretching across 19 acres, the expansive facilities will consist of 21 sound stages and 150,000 sqft of production office space, ready for operation in 2025.

ONTARIO

Providing a 40% tax credit on labour expenditures up to CAD240,000 and 35% for the remainder of spending, the Ontario film industry is equipped to cater for its influx of production activity. From Marvel’s stint at Stratagem studios to series that have stood the test of time, the province is constantly developing.

With productions such as romantic comedy Wedding Season to the recently released thriller

Q: What productions brought you to Canada?

A: A Taylor Sheridan series, starring Jeremy Renner called Mayor of Kingstown, a Paramount+ and 101 Studiosproduction. We shot at Stratagem Studios, Toronto, plus surrounding areas in Hamilton and the Kingston Penitentiary.

Q: What was the experience like working in Canada?

A: Besides Covid-19. The main challenge our show faced, like many others during this time, were the multitude of productions shooting all at once averaging to over 30. It was often difficult finding the best crew as the city was abnormally busy after the Covid-19 lockdowns. Other than that, we were able to tap into to the local casting talent pool, which was a game changer for us. Stratagem were able to assist us with their industry connections and local knowledge.

Q: What can people look forward to if they choose to shoot in Canada?

A: A very deep crew base, industry standard equipment, versatile locations in and around Toronto. And everybody is so darn nice!

Q: From your experiences, what advice would you give to anyone coming to work in the visual sector in Canada?

A: Get in early and solidify a stage or production service company.

The Luckiest Girl Alive, Netflix has made Ontario it’s stomping ground. As streaming platforms continue to search for homes for their constantly growing roster of productions, Ontario’s multidimensional location offerings are a saving grace. Whilst the Wedding Season is set in New Jersey, production was in fact conducted in the Greater Toronto area. Cambium farms in the Ontario region of Peel were the setting for critical wedding scenes.

Longstanding Canadian television drama Murdoch Mysteries is currently in production for its sixteenth season, with completion scheduled for February 2023. Calling Ontario home since 2008, the local series is now licensed by broadcasters in 110 countries and territories worldwide.

“Our stories utilise the rich history of the province and we often film at living museums such as the Rockwood Pioneer Village, Glanmore National Historic Site, and Westfield Heritage Village,” commented Christina Jennings, Chairman and President of Shaftesbury Studios, and executive producer on Murdoch Mysteries. “The historic downtowns of Cambridge, Dundas, and Elora perfectly illustrate the Victorian setting, whilst historic sites like The Kingston Penitentiary, the mines of Cobalt, Dundurn Castle in Hamilton create great production values.

ALBERTA

Following the 2021 release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, shot in the cosmopolitan Calgary area, Alberta is continuing its development of the region as a contender against surrounding Canadian territories. Expecting to handout CAD225 million by 2025 in tax credit, the province has already attracted nearly CAD1billion worth of productions thanks to the program since launch in 2020.

HBO’s T he Last of Us series entered the local Calgary industry with a vengeance. With a minimum budget of USD10 million per episode, the 10 part first season, releasing in 2023, is set to be the most expensive televised production in Canada.

With CAD560 million worth of production activity recorded in 2021, Alberta have put in place several

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SOMETHING ELSE

With towering trees found far and wide, Canada is not short of forested landscapes. But the local maple trees are undoubtedly symbolic of the nation.

The long lasting natural features can live anywhere between 100 to 400 years, growing up to as tall as 35 metres. Stretching from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, Canada produces 71% of the world’s maple syrup.

A long part of the nation’s cultural fabric, maple syrup is a natural marvel. Derived straight from the source, maple trees are drilled and then tapped, allowing the sweet substance to flow right out.

training initiatives including schemes from the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, in order cater to growing demand for skilled workers.

“In this time of unprecedented content creation and consumption we have seen significant growth in production volume in Calgary, and Alberta overall, that has impacted our economy, job creation, sustainability practices as well as engagement with our underrepresented communities,” commented Luke Azevedo, Vice President, creative industries, operations and Film Commissioner at Calgary Economic Development. “We continue to see a positive impact from the sector that brings Alberta to the forefront of the global entertainment market.”

QUEBEC

Providing a 20% cash incentive for all projects with a minimum spend of CAD250,000, the Quebec film industry is still on the rise. With an impressive roster of new productions gravitating towards the province, Quebec continues to prove a force to be reckoned with.

The latest edition of Paramount Pictures’ Transformers franchise, Rise of The Beasts will be venturing to the province to film action sequences. Michael Bay executive produces with Tom DeSato and Lorenzo di Bonaventura, with Seve Caple Jr joining the project as director.

ESSENTIAL FACTS

TAX INCENTIVE

25%

A 25% tax credit is available for national & co-productions under the Canada film & video production initiative. Foreign cast & crew are required to pay tax in host region, but VAT is recoverable. A minimum of filmed content must identify the region, as well as making the use of local cast & crew along with a cultural test.

STUDIOS

The largest film & television studio in Canada is currently finishing construction in the metro Vancouver area, scheduled for operation in 2025. The development boasts 21 sound stages and a combined 480,000 sqft for wardrobe & production office space.

RECENT PRODUCTIONS

Video game inspired HBO series The Last of Us finished filming in the Calgary area June 2022. With a thirteen month shooting schedule, this production is the most expensive to take place in Canada. TIME ZONE

YES
GMT -5 The Last of Us © 2022 Home Box Office, Inc.
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Ghostbusters: Afterlife © 2021 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Wanted: Metaverse Brand Manager

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET IN 3D? ACCORDING TO SAMI KHAN, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF MOBILE GAMING

EXPERIENCE ATLAS: EARTH, THE METAVERSE IS HAPPENING NOW AND COMPANIES WITHOUT A DEDICATED BRAND MANAGER ARE GOING TO MISS OUT.

Fifteen years ago, no one would have predicted that every company from Apple to your neighbour’s startup would have a highly-skilled, highly-paid brand social media manager. Yet that role is now a core requirement for every business striving for outsized success. So what will be next?

Metaverse brand manager needed immediately and desperately!

Think about it: the metaverse promises (amongst other things) to provide an online experience in an almost unimaginable immersive manner. But, will your company’s version of the metaverse provide, specifically, what the internet doesn't, and who is going to help articulate it?

We believe that the next round of breakthrough consumer technology (augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and others), will enable a new-and-vastly-improved iteration of the internet. If you can imagine the internet experience in 3D, then you can begin to appreciate the enormous untapped potential power of the metaverse.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. The companies determined to create and define the heightened and eclectic metaverse experience must be ready. They will need to have a new breed of brand manager who is capable of handling an entirely new batch of brand opportunities and challenges.

In our case, we think a metaverse mirrored on top of the real world is one of the best ways to achieve a desirable version of a 3D internet experience. Every parcel of ATLAS: Earth’s virtual land is mirrored on top of the real world physical property it represents, and will be gateways for a variety of twin digital user experiences that leverage all current and future tech breakthroughs.

At least that’s how our brand manager is helping to strategise and articulate how we seize our opportunities and deal with our challenges.

In each company’s case, their metaverse brand manager will need to do more than just manage their brand’s social media presence. A two-dimensional role like a traditional social media manager can’t keep up with the constantly expanding, ever evolving nature of the metaverse. A metaverse brand manager will need to, and be able to, go much deeper.

To properly build and successfully manage an immersive metaverse experience, this new role will require (for starters) Unity game engine training as well as an extensive background in design – not unlike the UI/UX game artist roles that exist today. On top of that, a metaverse brand manager will need strong marketing skills and a deft approach to human psychology to help create and articulate the immersive, authentic experiences that will form the core of the metaverse’s new-and-improved version of customer-brand interaction.

As of right now, finding someone who can fill this role might sound slightly more challenging than tracking down Bigfoot. But as with any emerging field, the best candidates will train and flex their metaverse muscles, ready to rise mythically to the challenges and opportunities.

And while none of us know precisely what untold promises, potential, and power the metaverse will bring us in the short-and-long term future, there’s no time like the present to put ‘hire a brand metaverse manager’ on the top of your to do now list.

Sami Khan is the co-founder and CEO of Atlas Reality, a company building real value in the virtual world. Prior to starting Atlas, Sami created and executed growth strategies for some of the largest digital products in the world now valued collectively over USD15 billion including the micro-investing app Acorns and the money-saving browser extension, Honey. He has been featured on multiple case studies featured on a Snap earnings call, at Facebook, Twitter, and Adweek.

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Everybody Knows Greece

Aspotlight filming destination in the south-east of Europe, Greece offers stunning locations versatile both in terms of landscape as well as in architecture, incredible financial incentives (40% cash rebate and 30% tax relief), qualified crews and devoted local talent pool.

Greece is blessed with heaven like diverse locations and landscapes some of which can double for other countries. The country’s manpower includes incredibly experienced and efficient production companies and film professionals capable of servicing even the most demanding audiovisual productions. On top of all this shines the renowned Greek light and the Mediterranean climate.

The support of the audiovisual production industry is inextricably linked to the national goal to make Greece one of the most attractive and safe destinations for the realisation of audiovisual projects. In this direction, the cash rebate operated by EKOME, the services provided by the Hellenic Film Commission of the Greek Film Centre and the implementation of the National Film Offices in the 13 regions of the country, among them the Athens Film Office, the Film Office of Central Macedonia, the Epirus Film Office, the Film Office of the Ioanian Islands to name a few, pave the path for the promotion of the comparative advantages of each region and provides them with the potential of attracting investments.

Greece is a natural studio, a point for which we have an added value that only a few countries can match. It is not only the fact that to shoot a film you need great light, but, also, that the country offers an incredible variety of locations covering ancient Greek, Roman, Medieval, Byzantine and later elements for every occasion. From snowcapped mountain ranges to forests, lakes, beaches, even volcanos (!) we can offer every type of scenery. The variety and versatility of locations is ideal for filming

any kind of genre be it a romantic comedy, a drama, an action film, a thriller, or, even, a period drama.

In addition, Greece can provide production companies with the full package and has become a one-stop shop for productions. Major US studios including Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount and Universal have already chosen Greece as a filming location.

Aside from on-location production, Greece has a growing post-production industry. Greek crews speak perfect English and have the expertise to work flawlessly with international productions. From outstanding drone operators and post-production labs equipped with high-end industry technologies, to world-class VFX specialists servicing demanding projects, Greece provides dream teams.

The Hellenic Film Commission of the Greek Film Centre is always available and willing to provide any creator, artist, or producer with the right kind of tools so that they can bring their idea to fruition. In other words, it is not a matter of incentive but a matter of perspective.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Maria Koufopoulou Director, Hellenic Film Commission m.koufopoulou@gfc.gr / 0030 210 36 78 514 Stavroula Geronimaki Operations Manager, Hellenic Film Commission s.geronimaki@gfc.gr / 0030 210 36 78530

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filmcommission@gfc.gr www.filmcommission.gr
MAKE
GREECE OFFERS AN ATTRACTIVE COMBINATION OF LOCATIONS, ANCIENT SITES, COMPETITIVE FINANCIAL INCENTIVES, 40% CASH REBATE AND EXPERIENCED CREWS TO ATTRACT INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS.
“THE SUPPORT OF THE AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCTION INDUSTRY IS INEXTRICABLY LINKED TO THE NATIONAL GOAL:
GREECE
ONE OF THE MOST ATTRACTIVE AND SAFE DESTINATIONS FOR
PRODUCTION
IN THE WORLD.”
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
World-renowned director David Cronenberg shoots Crimes of the Future in Athens.
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2022 Palme D'or Winner Triangle of Sadness films on location at Evia Island.
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1980’S BOMBAY IS THE SETTING FOR APPLE TV+’S SWEEPING ROMANTIC EPIC
Making of Shantaram

Based on the semi-biographical novel written by convicted Australian bank robber, Gregory David Roberts about his adventures in the prisons, slums and wealthy districts of a Casablanca-style Mumbai, any screen adaptation of Shantaram was destined to be an exotic affair.

Apple TV+ commissioned 12 hours from Paramount Television Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios for a reported USD100 million. It is co-created and executive produced by Steve

Lightfoot. Episodes were directed by Bharat Nalluri (Spooks: The Greater Good) and Justin Kurzel (True History of the Kelly Gang) and stars Charlie Hunnam.

Filming began in October 2019 in Australia with a significant portion of the series expected to be shot later in India. However, Covid-19 restrictions enforced a switch of location to Bangkok where the production were able to lock-off entire streets to recreate Mumbai shanty towns and vibrant Colaba

district. Bangkok’s sizeable Indian community were called on as extras.

Production designer Chris Kennedy (Lion) and Costume Designer Margot Wilson dressed sets, cast and extras to match the 1980s period. Australian cinematographers Stefan Duscio and Robert Humphreys shot on Arri Alexa Mini LF, serviced by Panavision Melbourne, with a look that emphasised warmer tones for Indian scenes and more neutral cooler tones for flashbacks shot in Victoria.

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Shantaram © Apple TV+.
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Iceland ups its production game

Iceland has just raised its tax break for projects that shoot in the country from 25% to 35%, positioning itself in the upper tier of international filming locations when it comes to incentives. makers investigates the likely impact of Iceland’s generous incentive on the country’s audiovisual industry.

Iceland has not been short of productions gravitating to its wintry depths and breathtaking landscapes. If the visual marvels were not enough, the incentive increase to 35% is sure to close the deal for those returning and others yet to explore.

Whether lending the quaint coastal town of Stykkishólmur to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, or Svínafellsjökull Glacier creating an otherworldly experience in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Iceland is a feature film location phenomenon.

Servicing the newest Luther film, starring Idris Elba, RVK studios provided their expertise and facilities whilst production was stationed in Iceland. The BBC, Netflix, 20th Century Fox and Cherrin Entertainment project travelled to Iceland, using its expanded feature budget to take advantage of the chance to explore what the admired Nordic industry has to offer.

"What we've been able to do [with the movie] – having delivered every episode of Luther on budgets which are comically small – is to have a wider canvas and a bigger budget to tell the kind of stories that we've always wanted to be able to tell,” commented writer and creator Neil Cross in a Radio Time interview on the bigger and better feature version of the franchise.

Welcoming a slew of international productions, Iceland remains the country in the back of every filmmakers mind. Hosting large scale projects such as Robert Eggers’ The Northman and Peter

Flinth’s Against the Ice just this year, it is difficult to think how the industry could grow that much further. But the filming possibilities seem endless. The fourth season of HBO crime drama True Detective is shooting there, starring Jodie Foster.

Film in Iceland, an organisation concerned with improving the competitiveness of the Iceland film industry, announced the new 35% cash incentive. With no cap on the total refund that a company can receive, the programme permits reimbursements for all film and television production costs incurred in Iceland.

To be eligible for the incentive, productions must last at least 39 working days in Iceland, creating at least 50 local jobs for Icelanders and spend a minimum of ISK350 million (EUR2.3 million).

As a multidimensional creative hotspot, contributing both awe-worthy locations and an experienced workforce, the efforts to draw in international involvement to the audiovisual sector have been strengthened by the support of the government.

“The widespread backing in Parliament by all parties bears testament to the support that the film industry enjoys in Iceland,” commented Icelandic Minister of Culture and Business Affairs Lilja Alfredsdottir. “Since the introduction of the first reimbursement scheme in 1999, Iceland has been fully committed to building a fruitful long-term relationship with stakeholders in the film industry. The new bill offers enhanced incentives and presents one step of many that Iceland has taken to underline that commitment.”

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“WELCOMING A SLEW OF INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS, ICELAND REMAINS THE COUNTRY IN THE BACK OF EVERY FILMMAKERS MIND.”
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Against the Ice ©Anders Overgaard & Netflix.

SET AMONGST THE WINTRY LANDSCAPES OF NOVA SCOTIA, PRODUCTION FOR THE WASHINGTON BLACK SERIES WAS ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SIMILAR LANDSCAPES FOUND IN THE ICE COVERED REGION, WITH AN ENTICING FINANCIAL PACKAGE ON TOP.

Icelandic filmmaker and founder of RVK studios Baltasar Kormákur’s new romantic drama Touch is bringing multinational expertise to the shores of the country. Known for his work on the safari thriller Beast, Adrift and The Oath, Kormákur is exemplary of the international scope of Icelandic talents. Set in the UK, Japan and of course Iceland, the film, which started production in mid-October, is based on the novel by Icelandic businessman and writer Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson, who also co-wrote the script alongside Baltasar.

With a budget of ISK1.1 million (EUR 7.5 million), the film is a product of investment from the Icelandic Film Centre and the Nordisk Film and TV Fond, with co-financing delivered by the recently increased Icelandic film incentive.

Set for release in Autumn 2023, RVK studios will take lead on production, including representation from Kormákur himself and Agnes Johansen. The Icelandic company will be accompanied by Mike Goodridge’s British based production company Good Chaos. Local distributor Sena was placed in charge for Icelandic screen with Focus Features and Universal Pictures taking on international releases.

Washington Black took advantage of the landscapes of East Iceland as well as and undisclosed studio in Reykjavik for its action packed narrative to run wild. The Hulu mini series starring Sterling K. Brown and Tom Ellis, follows the tumultuous story of an 11-year old boy, George Washington ‘Wash’ Black, who must flee a Barbadian sugar plantation and death itself. Brown takes on the role of Medwin Harris, a former Black refugee of Nova Scotia, whose travels with Black will shake up his life in an unexpected way.

Set amongst the wintry landscapes of Nova Scotia, production for the Washington Black series was able to take advantage of the similar landscapes found in the ice covered region, with an enticing financial package on top.

Alfredsdottir’s dedication to the Icelandic visual industry does not stop with the government’s concern for international forces coming to the snowy shores. In our conversation, the minister made it clear that the initiative is just the first step in strengthening the industry from the ground up.

“In this country with over 300,000 people, the pool of talent is undeniable,” the minister commented.

With the objective of establishing Iceland as the go-to creative hub of the north Atlantic, the incentive’s intrigue is but a means of exposing the

immense talent existing in the country. In turn, as blockbuster productions come for the sweetened financial deal of the incentive, and stay for the experienced workforce, the number of opportunities increases.

Born and educated in Iceland, musician Hildur Guðnadóttir’s name continues to circulate in the world of film. Making waves with her Oscar-winning contribution to Todd Phillips 2019 Joker, she has also worked with Todd Field on his drama Tár and with Sarah Polley on Women Talking.

The strong musical history of Iceland is also accompanied by an attractive 25% incentive for recording in the country. Locally based independent music company INNI and its eight studios have played a big part in making Iceland a one stop shop for all production needs.

“BEYOND THE FINANCIAL DRAW, THE ICELANDIC FILM INDUSTRY CONTAINUES TO FLOURISH WITH ITS INTERCONNECTED LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATIONS.”

Having worked on a number of international projects, including a television series and three feature films, INNI is supported by a talented roster of composers. Working on projects such as coming of age story The Edge of Seventeen, action packed comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Apple TV’s murder mystery drama Defending Jacob, Atli Örvarsson, composer and founder of the music company, has leant his energies to a number of feature projects, stretching across genres.

Beyond the financial draw, the Icelandic film industry continues to flourish with its interconnected local and international associations. With a slate of globally recognised talent and production space, the local industry is a worthy contender against many of the world’s filming heavy hitters and is only on an upwards journey to greater successes.

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True Crime in the Dock

The recent fallout from true crime stories has put the role of filmmakers in the dock. The Dropout, the Hulu/Disney+ dramatisation of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the fraudulent blood-testing startup Theranos, arrived at an awkward moment for the real-life case. The trial of Holmes’ business partner Sunny Balwani was held up when t wo jurors were dismissed by the judge, as they had watched the series, compromising their objectivity.

In Petersen’s 2019 book, Behind the Staircase, he expressed his gratitude to the documentary crew: “Allowing them to film everything was the wisest decision I made,” he wrote, “for during the trial, witnesses lied and committed perjury to convict me; it was all on film.”

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The Staircase © 2021 WarnerMedia Direct, LLC. All Rights Reserved. HBO Max™ is used under license. Author Michael Petersen – convicted of the murder of his wife in 2003 even credited a docuseries chronicling the case as being key to his eventual acquittal in 2017 since it showed him and fellow witnesses in a different light.
Demand for True Crime has soared in recent years. But, as filmmakers try to make their stories stand out from the crowd, are lines being crossed? makers investigates...

Do we need more distance and time before a True Crime team jumps into action?

“Our rule is never to film a case while still in court,” says Kate Beal, Founder and CEO of documentary producer Woodcut Media. “It’s legally impossible unless you’re working very closely with a channel.”

For the innocent wrongly accused of crimes, it’s arguably never too soon. But for those unresolved cases with no clear-cut perpetrator, sometimes turning the cameras on only serves to muddy the waters of already impossible cases to solve.

“We wait for a judicial review so there’s a professional legal result on which to base our stories,” says Tom Brisley, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Arrow Media. “The best programmes are truthful – they don’t cross the line.”

The 2022 HBO Max dramatisation of The Staircase, starring Colin Firth, only added to the murk since it included the original French-led documentary crew as characters in the drama.

Antonio Campos’ adaptation depicts the original documentary director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade and the series’ editor Sophie Brunet, acting in ethically questionable ways. De Lestrade is shown requesting multiple takes and more emotion while Brunet is portrayed as someone whose real life affair with Petersen altered her professional approach to the edit.

Documentary filmmakers might purport to tell the truth but they must also acknowledge their inevitable role in shaping the story. The problem is that, once you put a subject on camera, are you getting the real person or someone performing?

“Our job as journalist s is to reflect what we see,” Beal says. “You can only take people as they give themselves to you. If they alter themselves for the camera, that’s on them. It’s up to the viewer to make up their own mind.”

The dramatised approach taken by HBO’s The Staircase – in which a point of view is inserted into the story – is an exception to the rule.

“The viewer is educated enough to understand the truth as long as you present clarity to them,” Beal insists. “You naturally end-up forming a relationship with the people you film with and your relationship will always impact in some ways but it is your job to be as impartial as you can.”

“YOU CAN ONLY TAKE PEOPLE AS THEY GIVE THEMSELVES TO YOU. IF THEY ALTER THEMSELVES FOR THE CAMERA, THAT’S ON THEM. IT’S UP TO THE VIEWER TO MAKE UP THEIR OWN MIND.”

“Our north st ar is the victim,” says Beal. “Every team member has to empathise with the understand the victim’s family. It’s crucial they are aware of what is going on and communicated with respectfully. Then you widen the circle, to try and speak to whoever is necessary to tell the story. Sometimes the victim’s family has asked us not to proceed so we walk away.”

Arrow adopts a similarly respectful approach. “Being true to the story requires being truthful to contributors. It means giving them space, being sensitive to their trauma and building trust. Trust is the key to telling the story.

“We also offer them support before and after filming with expert councillors. You’ve got to be able to protect them.”

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DRAMATISATION DOCUMENTARIES TRUE CRIME Caught in the Net © Arrow Media. DOC FILMMAKERS MIGHT PURPORT TO TELL THE TRUTH BUT THEY MUST ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR INEVITABLE ROLE IN SHAPING THE STORY. THE PROBLEM IS THAT, ONCE YOU PUT A SUBJECT ON CAMERA, ARE YOU GETTING THE REAL PERSON OR SOMEONE PERFORMING?
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The Beverley Allitt Tapes © Woodcut Media.

Law enforcement are also very protective of victim family, he says. “They will only get involved if the victim family want the story to be told. The networks and streamers we work with all have rigorous standards. You can choose to work with broadcasters that have very high standards when dealing with victims.”

Nevertheless, as producers trip over themselves to cater for demand, those standards have slipped.

“Commissioners now tend to look for stories that happened in the last five to ten years,” Brisley says. “There’s a real desire for contemporary storytelling which is challenging because everyone is chasing the same stories.”

Beal reports a worrying practice starting to emerge with some programming which she says borders on harassment. “We’re very clear. You cannot harass a family who has lost a child.”

Rather than the fault of a few rogue crews this stems from the “pressure of a successful genre” she believes “It’s not one overzealous director, production company, or commissioner but a combination of everything. There are talks about codes of practice for True Crime producers but it’s not a formal Ofcom agreement as to how we should operate.”

There’s another side to duty of care too, one that often gets ignored. “True Crime is a really hard genre to make in terms of production personnel having to live with that content,” says Beal. “In our hybrid working world that can mean gaps in support when they are not in the office.”

Woodcut makes counselling available and runs courses for team members to be mental first aiders. “We can move people to another show if they have bad dreams. We encourage people to be talk about things. But we’re not perfect. We’re always seeking to do things better since working with these stories does have an impact.”

True Crime is a form of specialist factual containing elements of psychology, social history and sociology which add depth to each story, she observes. Perhaps for this reason the genre tends to skew female, unless the subject is gangster related.

Beal began making murder and investigation docs in 2010 and helped pioneer the True Crime genre in the UK with shows like World’s Most Evil Killers The success of Netflix’s Making a Murderer in 2015 transformed the genre out of single story, adjudicated, episodes into multi-episodes exploring one story from every angle. Beal thinks this trend has come full circle.

“The genre has matured and now there’s a roll back to single stories over one to three parts,” she says, citing the three-part The Beverley Allitt Tapes for Sky Crime. “A successful true crime structure should have a strong beginning, middle and end but the genre is big enough and the audience hungry enough to encompass many different forms.”

Woodcut’s The Killer in My Family, for example, tells the story from the perspective of the murderer’s family, including the impact it had on them.

“ A FITBIT MIGHT TELL THE PRECISE TIME SOMEONE’S HEART STOPPED. A SMART PHONE TRACKING APP WOULD SHOW ITS SPEED OF MOTION AND CAN BE USED TO IDENTIFY WHICH TRANSPORT THE THIEF IS USED TO GET AWAY.”

Brisley spearheaded Arrow’s successful foray into the genre, which includes a slate of successful returning series for Investigation Discovery including Body Cam, See No Evil and American Monster.

“Broadcasters want exclusivity (such as never seen before footage), access to principals and a fresh angle to draw viewers in,” he says. “Fingerprints and DNA were once the smoking gun in helping authorities to solve crime but new digital methods often prove to be the most effective.”

Arrow Media innovated the use of real CCTV to make See No Evil and recently turned to data to create Caught In The Net.

“The data trail we all leave behind can be used in extraordinary ways by police. A fitbit might tell the precise time someone’s heart stopped. A smartphone tracking app would show its speed of motion and can be used to identify which transport the thief is used to get away. The trick is to present essentially 1s and 0s imaginatively on screen.”

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THERE ARE TALKS ABOUT CODES OF PRACTICE FOR TRUE CRIME PRODUCERS BUT IT’S NOT A FORMAL OFCOM AGREEMENT AS TO HOW WE SHOULD OPERATE.
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Making a Murderer © Netflix.
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American Monster © Arrow Media.

Are VTubers the future of content creation?

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CodeMiko has pink hair, the wide eyes of an anime cartoon and usually wears a blue cropped sports jacket. She is also one of the most high profile virtual Tubers in the world with nearly one million subscribers on Twitch and a combined 86 million views of her content across all platforms.

CodeMiko may be virtual but to say she isn’t real is only half the story. CodeMiko is the creation of Korean American Youna Kang, a former animator at Nickelodeon, who created the character’s persona using Unreal Engine, a motion capture suit and animation modelled in Autodesk Maya.

Kang is one of a growing number of hugely successful VTubers – creators streaming digital alter egos taking the internet by storm. VTubing content increased 467% year-on-year in 2021, according to Twitch. Mori Calliope (two million subscribers), made USD854,595 in the same year according to analytics site Playboard. This was just from the YouTube livestream monetisation feature superchats alone, making her the seventh-most superchatted YouTuber in the world.

The other six streamers who out-earned Calliope’s superchats are also all VTubers.

Many of the most popular streaming avatars are created or managed by agencies like HoloLive, Nijisanji and VShojo. Hololive has 71 active streamer accounts with over 64 million subscribers on YouTube. Gawr Gura, a VTuber, is the most subscribed VTuber worldwide with over four million subscribers.

VTuber avatars usually resemble anime characters, since the genre first emerged in Japan, but during the pandemic the phenomena took off worldwide.

Kang’s avatar is more realistic than most but the barriers to entry are low meaning pretty much anyone can create and stream in the body of avatar. You can create a 3D character with free software like VRoid, buy virtual clothes at sites like Booth.pm and refine it in Blender or Adobe.

The hardware costs needed for streaming need not be expensive either. A decent spec PC, standard webcam and facial tracking software like VSeeFace (which is free) are the basics.

Kit aside, the other element to being a successful VTuber is personality. That may seem strange given that so much of this activity is likely being driven by an algorithm but it seems that authenticity – that necessary characteristic of content creation on social media – remains crucial even behind a mask.

“People get into it before they even do a test stream,” VTuber Kyrie Overdrive tells Wired “I've seen a lot of people plonk down the hundreds and thousands of dollars for a full model and rig setup, only to stop streaming two months later because they realised they didn't like streaming, or burned out quickly.”

Nonetheless the top VTubers are indeed already making hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars often in concert with brands.

BRAND POTENTIAL OF VIRTUAL INFLUENCERS

Last year, Netflix introduced VTuber N-ko Mei Kurono as a brand ambassador for anime content on its platform. N-ko is best described as a human-sheep hybrid and also hosts the Netflix Anime YouTube channel.

Gaming company Sega turned Sonic the Hedgehog into a VTuber and Kellogg’s did the same with its 70-year-old Frosties mascot Tony the Tiger on Twitch.

Explained Sadie Garcia, director of brand marketing at Kellogg’s in a PR: “Twitch is a growing service with more than 31 million average daily visitors, giving Tony and Kellogg’s a chance to connect with new audiences and engage unlike we’ve ever done before with a fun and innovative gaming experience.”

Authenticity remains key however, which is why there’s been some backlash against the Tony the Tiger activation and against brands like Calvin Klein and American retailer PacSun which both, separately, partnered with fictional Instagram influencer Lil Miquela. The computer generated character is created and operated by venture capital firm Brud, and fans of the brands didn’t appreciate the illusion.

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CONTENT CREATORS STREAMING USING AVATARS HERALD THE WAY WE WILL ALL SOCIALISE ONLINE. BRANDS ARE TAKING NOTE BUT WHAT DO THEY NEED TO LEARN?
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“BUT IT SEEMS THAT AUTHENTICITY –THAT NECESSARY CHARACTERISTIC OF CONTENT CREATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA –REMAINS CRUCIAL EVEN BEHIND A MASK.”

IT WAS THE ATTEMPT TO PASS OFF A CG CHARACTER AS HAVING A GENUINE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF THE URBAN LIFE AND CULTURE IT PROMOTED WHICH IRKED.

Similarly, earlier this year, Capitol Records was forced to fire rapper FN Meka just days after hiring him. The record label didn’t hide that fact that FN Meka was an AI-generated avatar, with AI-generated music. Indeed, the character had already amassed more than one billion views on its TikTok account. But Capitol bowed to accusations of racial stereotyping.

As reported by The Guardian, a black activist group, Industry Blackout, called the creation “a direct insult to the black community and… an amalgamation of gross stereotypes, appropriative mannerisms that derive from black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics.”

It was the attempt to pass off a CG character as having a genuine lived experience of the urban life and culture it promoted which irked.

What seems to be the winning formula for VTuber engagement is a feeling among audiences that the character’s personality is authentic, even if their outward appearance and their backstory and mythology is not.

Not surprisingly, there’s a growing community of ‘trans VTubers’ some of whom say that adopting an avatar has helped them navigate gender dysphoria.

“[VTubers] exist in this space between anime character and real person,” says YouTuber Gigguk in a video. “But they can explore original ideas or get away with things that other people can’t who exist in the same space.”

VTuber Ironmouse, for example, is the mostsubscribed female streamer on Twitch. TechCrunch notes that in real life, the Puerto Rican gamer is chronically ill and sometimes bed-ridden, so VTubing helps her have fun and socialize, especially when isolating from the coronavirus.

Avatars are also helping content creators scale their business. One of them is Dutch creator Jordi van den Bussche who amassed 15 million YouTube subscribers to his gaming channel. Struggling to

keep on top of what he says were constant pressure for fresh content, in 2021he invented a blue-haired VTuber called Bloo. Bloo now has two YouTube channels.

By creating a virtual avatar, van den Bussche explains he is able “to run a personality-based channel that is not focused around me.”

A VTuber persona can always be molded to meet the needs of an audience, he says. That quality also makes VTubers great partners for brands, and Bloo has already uploaded plenty of sponsored videos.

Indeed, van den Bussche now works with several other collaborators helping him create content and puppet the avatars. Using voice cloning software, anyone can step into Bloo’s shoes. Three different people have performed the character so far, though apparently not yet van den Bussche himself.

Kang has also taken a back seat to controlling CodeMiko day to day. CodeMiko is now known as a project and is being developed by an engineer, artist and animator. She even has her own publicist and PA.

One day soon, all social media platforms will be dominated by VTubers, predicts van den Bussche: “VTubers will rule the future because you can run 100 channels.”

Tony the Tiger and Lil Miquela have the technology and the financial backing to be technically impressive and well-marketed, but VTubers have to be authentic to connect with fans.

“Even for VTubers who only connect with audiences through their avatars, the phenomenon is ultimately about the human connection,” Amanda Silberling of Techcrunch says. “After all, there’s still a real human behind those big anime eyes even if you’ll never see their face.”

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“ AFTER ALL, THERE’S STILL A REAL HUMAN BEHIND THOSE BIG ANIME EYES EVEN IF YOU’LL NEVER SEE THEIR FACE.”
BRAND AWARENESS CONTENT CREATION ANIME
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Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® is the first brand globally to work with Twitch to transform a brand mascot.
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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC green filming

This includes tax free import on filming equipment and free permits to shoot in public spaces. The incentive contributes to the influx of international filming projects that make use of the relative cost effectiveness of the country.

Whilst the country’s rental houses are equipped with only basic filming kit, close proximity to neighbouring Puerto Rico and Miami makes it easy for teams seeking specialised equipment. Concerned to continually grow the industry, the government has made it easy for the import of necessary equipment from Puerto Rico, conducting trade three times a week.

A new version of 1989 hit film RoadHouse began filming on location in the Dominican Republic in August. Amazon Prime Video’s new take follows Gyllenhaal's character, a former UFC fighter, who takes a job as a bouncer at a roadhouse in the Florida Keys.

As the second largest country of the Antilles, the Dominican Republic is 48,671 square kilometres of sandy beaches and dense tropical forests. Foreign producers have access to idyllic natural landscapes and state of the art studio spaces.

International productions choosing to film in the Dominican Republic are immediately immersed in its lush natural features and unique tropical charms.

“From beaches to jungles, deserts to mountains, even colonial zones you can replicate anything you want in the Dominican Republic,” commented Mariana Vargas, DGCINE Film Commissioner. With a rapidly developing film industry, and investment into the development of the screen sector, the country is establishing its position as a much sought after production location.

Pinewood Studios’ base in the Dominican Republic helps immensely in this regard. The site offers 43 acres of space and equipment and is only 20 minutes away from the Santo Domingo International airport. In addition, the studio houses an eight acre water facility, a specialty feature for Pinewood. Paramount Pictures’ action comedy The Lost City starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum and directed by Adam Nee, recently used locations across the Republic as well Pinewood stages.

A 25% tax credit is available to foreign productions when filming in the Dominican Republic. Eligibility for this requires a USD500,000 minimum spend.

LOCATION HIGHLIGHT

The Dominican Republic has made tremendous efforts in encouraging sustainable practices through their tourism ventures. Puntacana is home to many initiatives such as its centre for sustainability and a range of educational opportunities. One popular site is the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve. Consisting of 1,500 acres of land, the reserve is known as a transitional subtropical forest due to its mix of flora and fauna from both humid and dry habitats. Donated by Group Puntacana to the Fundacion Grupo Puntacana, the land was intended to serve as a private nature reserve for educational, scientific, and recreational purposes. With origins of Taino culture, the reserve was named the Indigenous Eyes, paying homage to the original settlers. It is formed of 12 freshwater lagoons stemming from Yauya, an underground river. Each lagoon is named with a Taino word.

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“INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS THAT ENTER THE COUNTRY ARE IMMEDIATELY IMMERSED IN DIVERSE NATURAL LANDSCAPES AND UNIQUE TROPICAL CHARMS.”
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Making of House of the Dragon

FANTASY DRAMA SEQUEL MIXES EXTENSIVE STUDIO AND LOCATION SHOOTS

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HBO’s much-anticipated prequel to Game of Thrones was created by novelist RR Martin and Ryan Condal with Condal and Miguel Sapochnik as the showrunners. Each of the ten episodes in the first season reputedly cost USD20 million.

Four stages at Leavesden were supplied by teams at Warner Bros Set Lighting & Rigging. The main stage housed the Red Keep and the other main stage houses the throne room. Permanent sets on the backlot include the Red Keep gates and Godswood.

It was the first production to use the Volume Stage at Leavesden although its use here was more as testing ground in anticipation of heavier work during season two.

The main location filming was on the Iberian peninsula around Girona, Granada and Extremadura. “As always you try to shoot location before you shoot studio but because of schedule it ends up the other way around which can be annoying,” says DP Fabian Wagner, who spent eight weeks in Spain and Portugal, lensing three episodes.

In the UK, Holywell Beach in Cornwall features as the Stepstones. The season’s first big battle sequence is brought to life by the natural rocks and caves at Kynance Cove.

A st and-off between Otto Hightower and Daemon Targaryen takes place on Dragonstone bridge with Dragonstone itself and the rocky environment surrounding the bridge played back on the video wall. The bridge is based on the San Juan de Gazelugatze, a site near Bilbao. The virtual production team captured LIDAR scans of the site to rebuild it virtually within Unreal Engine.

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Images © 2022 Home Box Office, Inc.
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Disability Representation in Production

Disability representation on screen has been a topic on the tongues of the industry for years. But a year on from Jack Thorne’s call to action to improve representation in the sector, makers explores the current reality of the forgotten diversity and what is being done to make that change.

His Dark Materials and Enola Holmes screen writer Jack Thorne laid it all bare during his MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh film festival in 2021. Expressing his disappointment in the television industry, and recognising his own inadequacies, he made it clear that the disabled community is no longer settling for the sidelines when it comes to representation.

“The TV world is stacked against the telling of disabled stories with disabled talent,” stated Thorne.

While pockets of the industry, from television to film to advertising, makes use of disabled characters at the forefront of their productions, the proportions in relation to the realities of audiences is still falling short. Like the case for many marginalised communities, moments of authentic storytelling can be few to none.

Although making up about 20% of the UK population, disabled people continue to be excluded, both in front of and behind the camera. Despite the steps that have been made, the visual industry is still riddled with token peripheral appearances and painful stereotypes in film, television and commercial content.

Deborah Williams, executive director at Creative Diversity Network who use the online system Diamond to gather diversity data, said: “It’s a challenge to celebrate when five years on from our first report, the vast majority of our industry’s

power-brokers who commission content and run indies and broadcasters are still from such a narrow range of backgrounds. Our analysis is that too much activity has been focused on increasing diversity at entry levels rather than breaking down the barriers to senior level representation. Diamond is a measuring tool, not the end product. Five years of data shows that concerted industry action is more important than ever.”

With less than 6% of the screen sector including disabled people in senior roles, according to the Creative Diversity Network’s fifth annual report, the lack of inclusivity in senior roles is limiting the change that can be made to achieve a more diverse workforce. In turn, the diversity displayed in programming suffers also.

“There appears to be nowhere in the industry where disabled people thrive,” the report states.

A year on from Thorne’s impassioned speech, the industry has seemed to take note and take some action, resulting in an overdue shift towards rectifying the longstanding issues. No longer exhibiting minimal efforts towards creating diverse spaces, industry professionals are responding to the need for more all-round disability representation and are making definitive actions to achieve such.

ITV’s October About Time event brought together, broadcasters, commissioners, casting agents, producers, and agents, for a night of entertainment that urged industry professionals to acknowledge

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“THE TV WORLD IS STACKED AGAINST THE TELLING OF DISABLED STORIES WITH DISABLED TALENT.”
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Ralph & Katie © ITV Studios & BBC.

their subconscious biases. Appealing to those at the pinnacle of production, attendees were encouraged to commit to promoting the inclusion of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent.

Aiming to champion those who have spent years fighting for better inclusion of disabled individuals in the industry, ITV brought on board Hot Coals production. From crew to casting, writing to production, the inclusion of disabled people is at the forefront of the commitment.

“This is not the first time our communit y has asked for better opportunities, these conversations have been happening for decades, but it’s only now that the industry seems ready to listen,” stated Clare-Louise English and Jo Sargeant of Hot Coals Productions. “There is a thirst for more inclusive work and diverse characters.”

Hot Coals Productions’ Backstage Bodies programme champions the voices of deaf, disabled an neurodivergent creatives. With hands-on mentoring. Guest speakers passing on their expertise and experiences, as well as number of networking experiences and future placements, the organisation’s commitment is setting the example for what should be the norm in catering to inclusivity.

Sara Johnson, a collaborator of Hot Coals Production’s English and Sargeant, is also creating spaces for disabled industry professionals to thrive. As an ally, Johnson launched Bridge06 bringing the necessary conversations that need to be had surrounding action amongst companies’ diversity and inclusivity models.

With Bridge06’s access coordinators, there is no room for excuse for excluding the underrepresented disabled community in the production space. The initiative bridges the gap between productions and any deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent cast or crew they have hired or intend to hire.

“The process is simple and cost effective, with the AC on hand to support, advise, and in the carrying out of their role encourage disclosure and the safe and expertly supported provision of all access requirements needed by any member of cast, crew or staff.”

Following the success of The A Word, Peter Bowker’s Ralph and Katie is continuing to make strides for the disabled communities on screen representation. The BBC drama series poses nothing out of the ordinary from any other love story the leads just happen to have down-syndrome.

As disabled actors are often excluded from roles that are written about their experiences, roles are often handed over to their non-disabled counterparts.

With the assumption that disabled characters need to be written for the screen, many disregard the already existing talent that comes from the disabled community, leading to misinformed representation.

“There is so much talent bubbling away within these [disabled] stories,” stated Bowker to Deadline. “The hunger to be heard is there and there is no real excuse why disabled writers shouldn’t get work.”

Not only contributing to a more inclusive space for disabled industry professionals, Bowker’s use of an all-disabled writers room contributes to the authenticity of the stories being told. Beyond the on screen representation, the talent behind the scenes is not only catering to the demographics, but also creates a more accepting working environment.

There’s a special feeling that comes when watching a show with characters you can relate to. Whether it’s a personality trait, or a physical attribute, representation matters. From the unapologetically confident Jocelyn, played by Lauren Spencer, in Hulu’s Sex Lives of College Girls, to the physical skill of Alaqua Cox’s Echo from Marvel’s Hawkeye, disabled characters on screen are slowly shifting away from being labelled as their disability and appreciated more for their contribution to the overall narrative.

Whilst there is evidently still a long journey to go for disability representation, the collective efforts made across the board are a positive start. As inclusion and diversity moves beyond a simple tick box in the processes of production, and becomes more of an integrated norm, the create possibilities are endless.

With programming expanding alongside new stories being told, production spaces opening to new voices and programmes being brought on to teach an eager to learn industry, the future of disability inclusivity is promising.

“WHETHER IT’S A PERSONALITY TRAIT, OR A PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTE, REPRESENTATION MATTERS.”
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THE BBC DRAMA SERIES POSES NOTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY FROM ANY OTHER LOVE STORY – THE LEADS JUST HAPPEN TO HAVE DOWN SYNDROME.
TALENT
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Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Hawkeye © Chuck Zlotnick & Marvel Studios 2021.
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Amsterdam: the creative hub

The energy of the Dutch capital’s creative sector is undisputed. Its liberal culture seeps into the industry allowing content creators to produce extraordinarily innovative work. But as more international powerhouses gravitate to the city, what’s next for Amsterdam?

To start, the Netherland’s offers an attractive 35% cash rebate for filmmakers. With up to EUR1.5 million available per film, foreign productions will benefit from more than just dreamy canals and classic architecture. The programme is also focused on developing the Dutch film industry both domestically and internationally.

Local writer and director Laura Hermanides began filming her debut feature film, The White Flash in October 2022. The project shot for 19 days in the Osdorp district of Amsterdam and amassed a total of EUR500,000 in funding from The Netherlands Film Fund and the Amsterdam Fund for The Arts.

While incredibly welcoming to international productions, the development of its local industry is key. The Netherlands Film Fund’s Cinescoop scheme aims to champion those local voices who want to develop commercial, internationally-facing, Dutch features.

The first three feature films to receive support from Cinescoop, each to the tune of EUR 1.8 million, were Jaap van Heusden’s drama In Alaska, Vincent Bal and Sem Assink’s animation Miss Moxy and Tallulah Schwab’s travelling magician story Mr K.

At the heart of it all is Amsterdam, the bustling city of culture that injects the country’s creative industry with its unique perspectives and talent. Beyond its own talent, Amsterdam is home to 130 international creative industry headquarters which provide employment for approximately 31,000 people.

Netflix’s 2020 arrival to Karperstraat, in the south of the city, saw a doubling of the number of workers previously employed in the area before their relocation. With the facilities accommodating 800 workers, Netflix’s station in Amsterdam, and the development of its wider European presence, has been enhanced by the local expertise.

“We have become very accustomed to the Dutch openness and directness over the past years, which is a great culture fit for our company and has supported our growth,” the US streamer said.

Prime Video’s Modern Love Amsterdam continues to bring the streamer to the city. The series is the first European adaptation of the 2019 US anthology based on the popular New York Times column. Other versions included three Indian language adaptations and a Japanese remake.

“Modern Love transcends distance and differences between people, which is why it resonates internationally with a large audience,” said Georgia Brown, Head of European Originals, Amazon Studios. “We are very excited to give a unique Dutch perspective to this format, for our Dutch and international viewers.”

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“WHILE INCREDIBLY WELCOMING TO INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS, THE DEVELOPMENT OF ITS LOCAL INDUSTRY IS KEY IN THE NETHERLANDS.”

Most notably, Amsterdam’s involvement in the advertising industry is becoming somewhat of a signature contribution to the creative sector. With companies such as The Family Amsterdam, TBWA\NEBOKO and KesselsKramer taking a roster of international brands under their wing and amplifying their marketing to a global audience, the city has become a force to be reckoned with.

“More and more international headquarters have moved to Amsterdam given the favourable tax breaks and benefits for companies and employees as well as the stability of the European Union,” stated Geoff Coyle, TBWA\NEBOKO’s international managing director to Little Black Book. “So, for talented creatives the work they crave has very much gone Dutch.”

Involved with a range of global brands, including McDonalds, ESPN, Deloitte, TBWA\NEBOKO is not afraid to take risks. Adidas’ controversial Impossible is Nothing campaign was criticised for displaying 25 exposed breasts. The response to the campaign was mixed it was even being banned in the UK.

“The creative industry in Amsterdam is currently very influenced by the well-known social responsibility topics such as sustainability, inclusivity and women’s rights, that also play a role in the international advertising industry,” commented Joris Kuijpers, founder of The Family Amsterdam.

The Family Amsterdam is among those leading the way in creative innovation. With strong and longstanding relationships with brands such as G-Star Raw and Nestle, the company’s collegiate ethos creates a strong bond between themselves and the brands that they work with.

“At The Family Amsterdam, we take inclusivity and diversity into account. Always. But mainly because we believe that a mix of people with different backgrounds and characters makes the work truly stronger, more diverse and more authentic,” added Kuijpers.

KesselKramer’s eclectic history as a creative agency has continued into the modern day. Creative directors Gijs van den Berg and Rens de Jonge are carrying on the legacy of founders Erik Kessels and Johan Kramer, utilising a straight to the point and truthful approach to their advertising campaigns.

Taking on another creative production for Dutch denim brand G-Star, Amsterdam and New York based Ambassadors bring another dimension to advertising. Utilising deep fake technologies, Ambassadors take viewers on a time travelling experience as a man ages with his jeans in the Wear Your Denim to the End campaign.

Ambassadors expanded their team this year bringing in South African talent Michelle Kreuger as head of production. With a team that reflects their international reach, the company’s diverse executive roster in combination with the liberal nature of the city they are rooted in creates the perfect foundation for uninhibited creativity.

As the local creative industry of the Netherlands reap the benefits of being exposed to a range of international heavy hitters, the global stage will always welcome the unique and multidimensional entertainment force. From advertising agencies bringing a Dutch flare to global brands and the film fund’s investment in upcoming projects, the future of the local screen sector is a promising one.

“THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY IN AMSTERDAM IS CURRENTLY VERY INFLUENCED BY THE WELL-KNOWN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
TOPICS SUCH AS SUSTAINABILITY, INCLUSIVITY AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS.”
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MORE INTERNATIONAL HEADQUARTERS HAVE MOVED TO AMSTERDAM GIVEN THE FAVOURABLE TAX BREAKS AND BENEFITS FOR COMPANIES AND EMPLOYEES AS WELL AS THE STABILITY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.
FOCUS 2023 Thank you to all our 2022 exhibitors, delegates, speakers, sponsors & partners See you next year 5-6 DEC LONDON tlgfocus.com
Image courtesy of David Avalos.

interview withderspici jamee ranta

From masterminding Halsey’s theatrical promo film If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power (2021) to being a 2022 Grammy nominee for co-producing Bieber’s music video Peaches, Jamee Ranta is an executive producer of some of the most iconic music videos today.

Through her own boutique creative, multi-media production company Artifact, Ranta has produced content in television as well as documentaries, web series, short films, and feature length films. She has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. Her commercial credits include clients such as Marvel, Vogue, Pepsi, L'Oréal, and McDonalds.

Recently, Ranta joined educational hub Filmmakers Academy where she presents a bespoke course on the art of producing.

MAKERS Where were you born?

JAMEE RANTA Dayton, Ohio into a low-income family. We had limited resources but I was first in my family to graduate high school, first to go to college and I used that discipline and resilience to fuel my experiences. The actual experience of being on set, learning from peers was my biggest education.

When did you develop an interest in creative arts?

I wanted to be an astronaut but… my father is a musician, my uncle a director, my grandfather was

a fashion photographer, my grandmother an actress so the arts is something I had always known and was a means to explore and learn and grow.

What was your first job in the industry?

At a camera rental house, checking Alexa and Red cameras. From there I started to work as assistant camera and DIT.

Why did you gravitate to production?

On set one day somebody came up and asked ‘Are you the producer?’. Until then, I’d been feeling a loss of creativity and control. But if they were even thinking that I could be confused with a producer, then maybe I did have some sort of quality. It gave me the confidence to change up.

What’s the secret to successful client management?

Have patience, listen first and explore responses – because at the end of the day everyone has an ego and we all want to be heard. Even if it’s not right, listen, without just shutting people down. You have to balance that with time-money management and logistics. Maybe coming up with alternative ideas or ways to explore what they are thinking with the reality of what would be cool or what would look good or what time will allow for us to shoot or what will be safe on set.

Who is your Filmmakers Academy course intended for?

For those looking to work on problem solving skills. Those willing to take risks but aren’t quite

sure how to do it. Those looking to be in a team facilitating creative expression, while managing expectations and the nitty gritty of what that looks like. Being a leader is a position of service to your team, not a right. It is not a post of control to be used for force. It’s an honour

Are there many people, in your experience, who abuse power?

Some people want to be leaders because they want control but that’s a very important misconception. This course discusses the responsibilities that comes with the position.

How do you tell a client that their idea might not be the best?

Planting seeds is the best way to invoke change. I hope that if people take away just one idea from my teaching that inspires collective team work then I feel I am doing something right.

Who are your heroes behind the camera?

Quentin Tarantino because of his very quirky personality. In terms of style and artistic craft, Baz Luhrmann. He really inspired me to do music videos because of his unique camera angles, colour palette and heightened eccentric performances.

What’s the future of the music promo?

Filmmaking is one of the highest art forms combining photography, painting, construction, set design, sound and audio engineering. The whole purpose is to emotionally

drive the consciousness of the viewer and that is what we are all focussed on. Some people forget that.

How is music performance evolving?

Immersive experiences are definitely stimulating and can be beautiful if done right. The type of art I like is not a fantasy or escape. The whole purpose of the art I make is for the viewer to experience something through their senses as a subconscious trigger for change in their lives.

Does the metaverse intrigue you?

The metaverse is in its beta and as an artist looking for feeling and emotion I’m having a hard time connecting with it at this stage. I’m excited about exploring what it could be but it feels like the wild west at the moment.

Which artist, past or present, would you most like to work with?

I would have loved to work with Tupac. He’s such an explorative writer, exceptional at expressing emotion. I’m so curious about the ideas he could come up with as an artist using today’s technology and how I could make that happen. That’s something I think about quite often actually.

The person I’ve most wanted to work with my entire career is John Legend. He comes from Dayton too and I also grew up with gospel influence and listening to his music. That would be special.

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Music & Movement

The success of Kate Bush’s track Running up that Hill in Stranger Things has prompted debate about the use of repurposed soundtracks versus original scores in film, television and commercials. What are the pros and cons of both, the differences in costs and the risks of developing original scores in comparison to using already existing music?

Music is a tool to navigate through the narrative of a film. Whether it be the grandeur of Hans Zimmer’s compositions during the otherworldly scenes of Dune, or the unsettlingly nostalgic journey throughout Ryan Murphey’s Dahmer, the auditory experience in film and television shapes audiences’ emotional responses to the scenes in front of them.

But while some music choices become synonymous with their accompanying visuals, does the risk of creating new music for film and television encourage the use of pre-licensed music?

Pre-licensed music in films is not a new concept in production. From Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums decade jumping rock classic mashups to the eclectic partnering of Enya and Mary J Blige in Thor: Love and Thunder, the surprise of a playlist favourite creates a unique sense of familiarity.

As fans ran to their Netflix accounts to partake in the worldwide premiere of Stranger Things 4, many were not expecting the musical time machine that they would be entering. While the eery

compositions of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein garnished the dark and twisted scenes of Hawkins, this season’s musical choices took a whirlwind of a journey in the world of the show’s audiences.

With its era-specific tones to match the eighties set award-winning series, Kate Bush’s airy vocals accompanied by powerful instrumentals proved to be unexpectedly fitting. In the new season, Max, played by Sadie Sink, is saved from the hands of Vecna, played by Jamie Cambell Bower. Bush’s catchy chorus and synth chords awoke something much more amongst audiences than the show could have expected.

“The sequence was really cool and we were happy with it, but it was missing a little something,” stated series co-creator Matt Duffer in an interview with Netflix earlier this year. “I was like, ‘Well, let’s try Kate. Because when has Kate let us down?’ And it just took it to this new heights. It’s arguably the most epic Kate Bush moment. It comes back in a major way.”

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Dune © 2021 Legendary & Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

First released in 1985, Running Up That Hill made a 21st century return to the charts, breaking three UK records when it hit number one. It also reached number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles. With a 44 year gap between its chart presences, Bush became the oldest woman to hold the number one spot with the song’s revival.

Running Up That Hill has made silver screen appearances in many other shows such as ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, FX’s Pose, HBO’s Big Little Lies and Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida, but with Stranger Things it sky rocketed.

But with the transferability of repurposed songs, is film and television missing out on becoming an individual experience ?

“There is always a risk in creating anything,” commented composer Alex Somers. “A risk that it won’t be good or won’t be heard and felt in the ways that you hoped for. But this is life and all we can do is imagine new sonic and musical worlds and try to realise them and bring them to life. Film is an amazing and rich place to experiment and explore with new sounds. Yes, you could say there is less risk with using existing music if the music is well loved by the audience but I don’t think making music for film is that steeped in risk. It is more about our creative practices and being unafraid to do something that is really ourselves and not let ourselves conform and sound like everybody else just because you can.”

With the boisterous compositions of Hans Zimmer standing the test of time and new talents like Alex Somers taking to the stage, the original score is very much still alive and relevant. Whilst not possessing the same catchy hooks that have resonated across radio stations and across generations, music made specifically for films harness a unique quality.

Evoking conflicting emotions over its culturally influenced tones, the power behind the machine generated drums and reverberating vocal calls of Dune’s soundtrack is undeniable. Zimmer’s musical finesse, as displayed in his revered work for James Bond: No Time to Die, Apple TV mini series Prehistoric Planet and most classically Gladiator, brings an auditory dimension that takes visuals to another level.

Scores from talents such as Zimmer have even reached beyond isolated film fans, entering the world of social media. With his own account, Zimmer has credited apps like TikTok and Instagram for discovering new talents, as well as reaching his new audiences who might not be familiar with the crescendos of his work on Gladiator. In the midst of his 287.7 thousand follower count, fans of the composer are redefining his music for a new audience, with remixes and adaptations, creating another dimension to the classics.

Unlike the inclusion of already licensed music in filmed content, the process of creating an accompanying piece of music is an intimately orchestrated process that often transcends the simple role of writing a song or instrumental. The relationship that is developed leaves little room for risk in regards to how the music will be integrated into the project.

“Every time I begin making new music for a film, a series, a dance piece or anything visual, I try and steep myself in the world that my music will be entering into and helping to create,” states Somers, who’s work recently featured on the soundtrack for Disney+ cannibalistic thriller Fresh. “I have long creative chats with directors and choreographers about how they imagine the music functioning and sounding. I ask if they have specific instrument dreams or sound ideas, then go off on my own and write and record a lot of music. I’ll work a lot by myself experimenting and trying to find the sound of the film in the simplest most raw form possible.”

As musicians take on the musical responsibility for their accompanying visuals’ soundscapes, it is hard to think how that can be replicated through songs that have loaned their emotionality to so many varied projects. Through the relationship built between composer and the filmed piece, certain harmonies and musical cadences become synonymous with the visual art.

“Often the sound of the music I record is changed radically once I lay it to picture or get it in the computer and begin treating the sounds,” added Somers. “The recorded music is just the clay to mould into something. I love working with computers and outboard effects to find new sounds and textures and this part of the process is often the most fun and surprising!”

“I think creating original music for films will never die. It’s a beautiful craft and will always be relevant for filmmakers to work with composers to create a musical language in their films,” concluded Somers. “Both songs and original music live side by side in harmony.”

While the use of music in film could be down to the numbers, like Kate Bush’s USD2.3 million pay in royalties, or the percentage of a film budget used to compose an original, the creation of the auditory experience in film is a personal one. Social media and streaming are giving younger generations the opportunities to discover music of past generations, resurrecting their popularity and causing a multigenerational pull towards how they are used.

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“YOU COULD SAY THERE IS LESS RISK WITH USING EXISTING MUSIC IF THE MUSIC IS WELL LOVED BY THE AUDIENCE BUT I DON’T THINK MAKING MUSIC FOR FILM IS THAT STEEPED IN RISK.”
SOCIAL MEDIA AND STREAMING ARE GIVING YOUNGER GENERATIONS THE OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER OLDER MUSIC, RESURRECTING THEIR POPULARITY AND CAUSING A MULTIGENERATIONAL PULL TOWARDS HOW THEY ARE USED.
James Bond: No Time to Die © 2021 Danjaq, LLC & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
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Stranger Things © Ursula Coyote & Netflix.

ITALY classic charm

From the ancient and classic cities of Rome and Venice to the idyllic and traditional landscapes of Ischia or the Aeolian islands and the vineyards of Tuscany, Italian regions offer a cornucopia of backdrops for a multitude of production needs.

One of pleasures to be had in watching House of Gucci was the film’s diverse use of Italian landscapes as a lush backdrop to the intrigue. Milan, Rome, Lake Como and the Alps all feature in Ridley Scott’s dramatic staging of Patrizia Reggiano’s life within the Gucci family, which starred Lady Gaga as Reggiano and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci. The Aosta Valley in Northwestern Italy, stood in for the resort of St Moritz, where Maurizio and Patrizia owned a chalet. Specifically, the villages of Gressoney-La-Trinité and Gressoney-Saint-Jean, nestled beneath Monte Rosa, have little changed since the 1990s, and therefore thoroughly suited to shooting a period film.

Film facilitator Shoot in the Alps guides foreign producers through the picturesque Alpine terrains that span France, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. Advertising campaigns for fashion brand Pretty Little Thing and Moncler are among the many brands that have used the spectacular mountains as campaign backdrops.

Different regions within Italy boast location specific film commissions each equipped with a wealth of information and funding opportunities for international productions. The Trentino Film Fund, for example, offers producers up to EUR400,000 for each project that makes partial use of the Trentino landscape and includes at least 20% of local crew professionals.

LOCATION HIGHLIGHT

Proclaimed as Italy’s capital of culture for 2022, Procida is a hidden gem in the Bay of Naples. With 10,500 inhabitants, the island is just under two miles in total, but is home to a wealth of captivating sites. Pastel coloured houses, picturesque café lined coasts and small cobble-stone streets are full of character in what is still a relatively unexplored location.

In spite of its tranquil environment, Procida has made big screen appearances, lending backdrops to The Talented Mr Ripley (1999), Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015) and 2020 local drama The Italian Boys

Within the small island, Procida is home to a range of locations, including the ancient town of Terra Murata. Its steep cliffsides offer breathtaking views of the entire Gulf of Naples, and the Marina Grande, home of the 12th century Palazzo Merlato.

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“ITALIAN REGIONS
SUCH AS TRENTINO AND TURIN PROVIDE INTERNATIONAL FILMMAKERS WITH ACCESS TO LOCALLY SPECIFIC INSIGHT AND FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES.”
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House of Gucci © Universal Pictures.

ESSENTIAL FACTS

TAX INCENTIVES

40%

The Italian government increased the tax credit from 30% to an impressive 40% incentive for foreign theatrical motion picture & television productions.

STUDIOS

Rome’s legendary Cinecittà Studios boasts an impressive 400,000 sqm space from sound stages to production offices. The studios are currently being extended with addition of two further sound stages, a permanent green screen room and a pool dedicated to underwater shooting. Upcoming projects include Finalmente L’Alba, starring Lily James and Willem Defoe. The Saverio Constanzo-directed film is set in the 1950s and will explore the reputation of the studios and its past status as Hollywood on the Tiber.

RECENT PRODUCTIONS

Paramount+ announced its launch in Italy this autumn by debuting a slate of Italian originals including Circeo, a drama about the 1975 massacre; 14 Days, which tells the story of a couple forced into two weeks of seclusion; and Corpo Libero, a thriller based on the novel by Ilaria Bernardini.

The Torino Piemonte Film Commission alone offers several distinct funding pots including the Piemonte Film TV Development Fund, Piemonte Doc Film Fund, and the Short Film Fund. In addition, the Piemonte Film TV Fund is provided by the Regione Piemonte organisation, offering a maximum of EUR200,000 for qualifying projects.

Italian producers can obtain up to 40% of the eligible costs of the total budget as tax credit for feature films, docs and television series. Commercial productions are not eligible. To encourage internal investment in the film industry, there’s also a tax credit of 20% for Italian companies outside the industry, which can rise to 40% if the film also obtains a fund from the state. In May 2022, the Italian government also increased tax credits for film exhibitors from 20% to an impressive 40%, following their full capacity cinema reopening in October 2021.

Milan based production company 20 Red Lights regards Italy as a nation that “provides quality, quantity and something different,” in comparison to neighbouring Mediterranean countries. For example, Daniel Craig raced both a motorcycle and an Aston Martin DB5 through the Unesco heritage site of Matera in southern Italy in the opening action sequences of the latest James Bond adventure No Time To Die. The hillside town, nicknamed Little Jerusalem, was previously used by Italian cinematic giant Pier Paolo Pasonlini for 1964 classic The Gospel According to St Matthew and Mel Gibson’s controversial 2004 biblical drama The Passion of Christ used the rock church of San Nicola dei Greece for the last supper scene. For a less obviously used location, producers could head to Liguria a coastal region of north-western Italy and its capital of Genoa.

Such hidden gems could be found by calling on the services of Milan based production service and location-providing company Taaac! “We can now provide a full 360-degree location scouting experience for VR headgear or smartphones,” reports Taaac! co-owner Andrea Turchi.

The Italian film industry’s massive cultural influence has long marketed its national identity to a globally adoring audience. Michael Mann’s Ferrari, starring Adam Driver as the title character, is only the latest in this regard. It began principal photography in Italy in August in the home city of Ferrari, Modena, and follows the story of Enzo Ferrari, race car driver and founder of the luxury sports car company. The script is by Troy Kennedy Martin who wrote the original 1969 cars in Italy caper The Italian Job and is shot by Oscar winning cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt and edited by Oscar winner Pietro Scalia.

THE ITALIAN FILM INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO SUCCESSFULLY MARKET ITS NATIONAL IDENTITY TO A GLOBAL AUDIENCE KEEN TO EXPERIENCE LOCAL PASSION, HISTORY AND LUXURY.

SOMETHING ELSE

The 66th Eurovision Song Contest was held at the multi-purpose indoor arena PalaOlimpico in Turin, after Måneskin’s success for Italy the previous year. This marked the country’s third time hosting of the live television spectacle, travelling to Naples in 1965 and Rome in 1991.

Måneskin, the Italian glam rock band, have been taken on a whirlwind ride following their win, achieving three UK Top 40 singles, and opening for legendary group The Rolling Stones. Other than its three winners over the years, Italy has seen performers placed within the top five a total of 15 times since their debut at the contest in 1956. Since then, they performed continuously up until 1980, taking a 13 year break that started in 1998 and returning to the competition in 2011.

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Review: IBC is back

After a hiatus of three years, the European media and technology community was able to reconvene in beautiful Amsterdam for networking and exploration of industry trends. makers was there to test the temperature.

It may have been a smaller show than before than pandemic with 37,000 visitors around 20,000 less than the 2019 high but attendees were glad to be back in 3D not Zoom. The sentiment seemed to be that you don’t know what you missed until it’s gone.

In a keynote address, Walt Disney Studios explained how rapid progress in artificial intelligence is already disrupting many aspects of the traditional filmmaking process both for live action and animation.

“AI is truly profoundly transforming the way you produce movies,” said Markus Gross, Chief Scientist. “We want to use AI and deep learning to create animated characters that are truly art directable in real time.”

The technology could eventually enable directors to give verbal instructions to CG characters about how to walk or which way to move in much the same way text to image engines like DALLE-2 operate today.

Another popular presentation focused on the work done by Accenture Song for Netflix’s Stranger Things season four, specifically around the VFX work to bring the main antagonist, Vecna to

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life on-screen. This was all done manually with VFX Supervisor Juri Stanossek, highlighting the painstaking nature of each stage: “You are using all the experience you have to add realistic fire to a moving character because everything is different when the character is moving.”

A highlight of the IBC conference was an editing masterclass from Paul Machliss, ACE who walked the audience through his early career to his most recent collaboration with director Edgar Wright.

Born in Melbourne, Machliss first visited IBC in the late nineties working for a postproduction company after which he stayed on in London, met budding director Wright and together they worked on comedy series Spaced leading to features Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Last Night in Soho.

“With every film Edgar tries to challenge what’s possible in cinema and in editorial too,” Machliss told IBC. “Everything we did with Baby Driver, in terms of synchronising action to music, we tried to take one step further on Last Night in Soho.”

Machliss shared how his approach to editing had a major impact during the shooting of Baby Driver and resulted in the design of a portable edit system which allowed him complete freedom to locate himself anywhere on the film set.

Of his latest project, the DC Comics feature for Warner Bros The Flash, directed by Andy Muschietti starring Ezra Miller, he said: “We’re going to be utilising some very new technology in terms of getting multiple versions of the same actor on screen. It’s going to be worth the wait because it looks fantastic.”

Many of the tech developments on show were about further transitioning facility workflows into the cloud. That could soon include finishing too.

“We have achieved the ‘over the shoulder feel’ for uncompromised live reference grade monitoring in the cloud,” explained Katrina King, Content Production M&E, AWS.

The solution, tested with FilmLight’s Baselight grading system, uses JPEG-XS to lightly compress pictures at 444 12-bit with a latency suitable for interactive working.

“It is visually lossless,” reported Peter Postma, MD, Filmlight. “The creative decision making is seamless.”

Studio-funded thinkt ank MovieLabs provided updates to its 2030 Vision for the industry to migrate all production workflows to the cloud. CTOs from Marvel, Universal, Sony, Paramount and Warner. Bros were all present to affirm that the strategy is on track.

Adobe had a presence on over 100 IBC exhibition stands, many of them highlighting the ability to work with software in the cloud. For instance, there were numerous camera to cloud demos with companies including Atomos, Teradek and Mo-Sys. Frame.io, now integrated with Premiere Pro and After Effect s and included with Creative Cloud membership, now enables file sharing and real-time review and approval.

Avid returned to IBC with cloud-enabled solutions for remote working. It debuted NEXIS | EDGE, a software that provides editors with the same media access, workflow, and user experience they have come to depend on from Avid in facility environments. There was a technology preview of high-resolution Media Composer streams to Microsoft Teams, achieving what Avid called a “third monitor” experience intended to accelerate content review by creatives.

RED Digit al Camera demonstrated a means to capture 8K 16-bit Original Camera Files (OCF) direct to cloud for instant on-set or remote editorial collaboration. A live stream of 8K captured content is also seen as a breakthrough for Virtual Reality 180-degree experiences.

“It makes no sense to watch a flat image when you’re shooting immersive so it is vital to come up with a way to feed the live camera to a headset,” said Lewis Smithingham, of global creative agency Media.Monks. “[With RED Connect] we are able to have a live monitor on set that is the same 8K resolution as the post files we deliver.

He added, “The entire immersive experience from capture to delivery has changed so rapidly in the last six months it is staggering.”

EDITING THE CLOUD

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

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“ADOBE HAD A PRESENCE ON OVER 100 IBC EXHIBITION STANDS, MANY OF THEM HIGHLIGHTING THE ABILITY TO WORK WITH SOFTWARE IN THE CLOUD.”
WE’RE GOING TO BE UTILISING SOME VERY NEW TECHNOLOGY IN TERMS OF GETTING MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF THE SAME ACTOR ON SCREEN.
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Ciudad de la Luz is owned by the Government of Valencia, which is working to make this complex the headquarters of the largest audiovisual production center in Europe. The studios are equipped with large areas for film, television and advertising production with advanced services to meet all the needs of the national and international market.

It has six sets, three production support buildings, workshops and warehouses, exterior filming areas and a water tank for underwater filming, among other facilities and services.

Facilities:

• 6 soundstages Intercommunicated 2 by 2, with a total of 120,000 sq ft, the soundstage buildings are independent, soundproofed and air-conditioned.

•3 production support buildings – Includes the dressing rooms, hairdressing and make-up rooms, wardrobe, decoration and props storage rooms, meeting rooms, toilets and showers.

• 1 mill and workshop building The building totals 120,550 sq ft divided into several areas for the construction of sets: stage and storage areas, spaces for creating special effects, lighting and camera equipment and wardrobe storage.

• 2 backlots Outdoor filming areas of 18,05 acres and 19,3 acres with natural horizon, equipped with electricity supply, water and fibre optics.

• Backlot tank Located in one of the backlots with dimensions of 328.08 ft x 262.47 ft, in addition to a blue screen on one of the sides.

•Water areas This is one of the differentiating elements of the complex compared to other production centres in the world. It has a 86,000 sq ft of backlot water tank, with a maximum depth 17,06 ft in the inner part.

• Ancillary services for post-production - Ancillary services for sound post-production, editing and mixing, and even projection rooms with advanced technologies.

Tax incentives: Spain is positioned as a very competitive and profitable shooting destination for the international industry. Investments in foreign cinematographic and audiovisual productions entitle the producer to a tax deduction of 30% of the first million euros of the deduction base and 25% if it exceeds that amount, with a maximum of 10 million euros per production.

The Region of Valencia foresees in 2023 an incentive for cinematographic and audiovisual production consisting of a direct subsidy of a percentage of around 18 to 20% of the qualifying local expenditure that occurs in the region on the occasion of production with a maximum of EUR1.5 million per production.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Marisol Blázquez (+34) 965 315 800 / info@sptcv.net

www.sptcv.net/ciudad de la luz/

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“THE AMAZING WATER TANK HAS A MAXIMUM DEPTH 17,06 FT IN THE INNER PART PLUS A 86,000 SQ FT BACKLOT.” CIUDAD DE LA LUZ IS THE MOST MODERN FILM STUDIO IN EUROPE: A COMPLEX WITH ADVANCED AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCTION SERVICES AND ALL THE MEANS AND FACILITIES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF PROJECTS.
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A recent image from
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The Ukraine Effect

AS THE UKRAINIAN FILM INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO REACH OUT FOR SUPPORT HOW IS CENTRAL EUROPE LENDING A HAND?

With surrounding countries feeling the shock waves of the Ukrainian conflict, regional film industries have joined forces to support Ukraine and its creatives, displaying a sense of solidarity through the arts. makers explores how Poland and Croatia’s continued collaborative efforts with Ukraine are influencing their approach to production.

In the months following the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the local film industry has been flipped on its head. With many Ukrainian film professionals taking to the front line and creative spaces being turned into shelters, the future of the local industry has been dependent on the support of those across the world.

“During the war, film production almost stopped,” commented Anna Volkova of the Ukrainian Motion Picture Association. “Most ongoing film projects were halted, except for those in the final stages of production.”

With the redirection of investment towards the war, many creative projects and those involved in the industry have had to fall to the sidelines. As FILM.UA’s studio spaces continue to double as a bomb shelter and creative projects are being handed off, neighbouring countries in Central and Eastern Europe have stepped in to show their solidarity.

The regional support of Central and Eastern Europe has been a force in somewhat taking on the Ukrainian film industry as their own. From festival recognition to productions including Ukrainian

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talent, both on and off screen, the countries involved are showing how solidarity with Ukraine is becoming an integrated practice of their own approaches to production.

Sharing a border with Ukraine, Poland is at the forefront of supporting displaced citizens affected by the war. This support was not limited and extended across all industries, including the screen sector.

“The war is very serious issue that we all are very much concerned with. All the people in Poland feel how it affected all the elements of our lives,” commented Jagoda Litkowiec, head of new business at Graffiti Films.

With those Ukrainian workers involved in labour oriented production, such as set building, having to leave Poland to fight in their homeland, and many others coming in to the country to seek working opportunities, the industry structure was presented with the interesting task of acquainting a brand new workforce with an unknown industry.

We have seen an example where a production house created a place where all visual industry professionals who found themselves in Poland, could meet,” commented Syzmon Gruszecki, Graffiti Films CEO. “During those meetings they could not only exchange their contact lists, but also learn about job opportunities and get a basic idea of how Poland’s industry works, what’s possible and what the key industry hubs are. Some companies started to provide free lessons for Polish language whilst some others have provided free office space for those working online and needing a bit of good office comfort with reliable Wi-fi connections.”

Between having to deal with language barriers and an oversaturation in particular sectors of the industry, Polish film professionals needed to reevaluate their approach to the production sphere as they knew it. With many displaced Ukrainian citizens taking on odd jobs, productions have had to quickly adapt, providing opportunities for those awaiting the return to their local industry.

Very much involved in supporting Ukrainians during the trying times, Graffiti films have extended a hand in all aspects including their involvement with an artistic project called Ukrainian Women Portraits, by Ukrainian producer Anastasia Solonevich.

“Graffiti Films initially came up with a plan of creating a Ukrainian unit where we planned to create, as soon as possible, a fully independent film sector including crew starting from executive producers down to production assistants,” added Gruszecki.

Aiming to give an opportunity for Ukrainian women to become reacquainted with their cultural identity, outside of the war, the photo session produced by Solonevich went way deeper than anyone could have ever expected.

“WORKING IN UKRAINE WAS AN AMAZING ADVENTURE. I MET VERY HONEST, VERY PROFESSIONAL, AS WELL AS VERY EMOTIONAL AND POSITIVE PEOPLE.”

As Ukraine continues to push through with projects such as the Ukrainian-Polish co-production of full length improvisation drama Two Sisters the story of a journey into the war torn country, from the perspective of outsiders, and Netflix’s acquisition of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s satirical series Servant of the People, Ukraine is still in search for funding stability to sustain its creatives.

Lukasz Karwowski, the director of the film, says, “Working in Ukraine was an amazing adventure. I met very honest, very professional, as well as very emotional and positive people. I have shot in other countries before, so the professional team I met was no different from others. The difference was that everyone wanted to make a commitment, everyone wanted to do their best, everyone believed in the story and could feel the unique relationship between Poland and Ukraine, between Polish and Ukrainians. While shooting certain scenes, I saw tears in the eyes

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SOLIDARITY
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WE HAVE SEEN AN EXAMPLE WHERE A PRODUCTION HOUSE CREATED A PLACE WHERE ALL VISUAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS WHO FOUND THEMSELVES IN POLAND, COULD MEET.

FROM THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES WITH WAR , CROATIA APPROACHED THE RECENT CONFLICT IN UKRAINE WITH AN EMPATHETIC TOUCH, SUPPORTING THE PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION OF UKRAINIAN PROJECTS.

of the Ukrainian team. It was a privilege for me to work with gorgeous and very talented Ukrainian actors. There were no language issues, as I decided that the Polish actors would speak only Polish, and the Ukrainian ones only Ukrainian. And that works very well in the story.”

“Ukrainian filmmakers are open to new coproductions and cooperation in spite of the war. But the industry desperately needs financial support,” commented Anna Volkova, Project Manager at Ukrainian Motion Picture Association.

As part of an aid initiative launched by the Polish Film Institute for Ukraine in response to the invasion, a call for applications was made under the new Polish-Ukrainian Film Initiatives Operational Programme. Announced by Radosław Smigulski, director of the Polish Film Institute, the aim of the programme is support Polish and Ukrainian producers and authours on their projects.

The first four priorities under the operational programme tackled the development and production of documentaries, animated films, script writing, and festival and film initiatives. The fifth, which is more financially oriented, contributed approximately EUR2.1 million to the Polish-Ukrainian film initiatives in 2022.

“Its purpose is to support activities carried out jointly by Polish, Ukrainian or Polish-Ukrainian producers and authors, and in particular to create conditions for Ukrainian citizens to continue creative work in the field of cinematography,” commented Marzena Kleban, Festivals & International Projects Manager at the Polish Film Institute. “So far, under the production priorities, the Polish Film Institute has co-financed five film projects and eight projects under Priority IV: Festivals and Film Initiatives.”

Also amplifying Ukrainian voices and talents, Estonia’s Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has included actress Daria Polunina amongst the honoured at the event. Polinina, whose credits include 2019 family feature Foxter & Max and upcoming Netflix series The Girl And The Astronaut from director Bartek Prokopowicz, was selected “as a sign of support to the actors community in Ukraine” and a continued effort to champion the talents of the country.

From their own experiences with war, Croatia approached the recent conflict in Ukraine with an empathetic touch. With a history of collaboration between the two film industries, Croatia’s support of Ukrainian creatives during this time was a natural choice.

Prior to the war, Croatia and Ukraine joined forces for two important projects showcasing the respective talents of each country. But with the ongoing conflicts, production and distribution was handed off to Croatia, allowing for releases to go ahead after the invasion started. Butterfly Vision and The Silence bring Ukrainian stories to the stage, with the support of Ukrainian crew alongside the support of their European counterparts.

Ukrainian director Maksym Nakonechnyi’s Butterfly Vision tells the harsh and surreal story of Lilia, a Ukrainian woman talking about her post war imprisonment life. Facing the hardships of returning to her life as a soldier and wife, Lilia must contend with the disposition of being labelled as a victim.

The premiere of The Silence in Croatia corresponded with the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Based on the trilogy of novels by investigative journalist Drago Hedl, filming for it took place in both Croatia and Ukraine, making use of a multinational crew.

“FESTIVALS CONTINUE TO SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH UKRAINE. ESTONIA’S TALLINN FILM FESTIVAL, FOR EXAMPLE, CELEBRATED UKRAINIAN TALENT.”

Based on true events, the story follows the horrors of a human trafficking case in Kyiv and the Croation town of Osijek. The six-episode series directed by Dalibor Matanic is produced by Croatia’s Drugi Plan and Radiotelevision. Beta Film took the lead on co-production, joined by Star Media and OLL.TV from Ukraine and ZDF/ARTE.

“These days the team of Drugi Plan, with great sadness, recognise the exact spots in Kyiv where they filmed in 2021 that are now shown in the news as areas struck by Russian projectiles,” commented Tanja Ladovic Blaževic, Head of Filming in Croatia.

Whilst Eastern and Central Europe have extended a hand in supporting Ukrainian creatives, the respective nations have continued to reassure international filmmakers of the safety in each of their territories.

As neighbours of invaded territory ,the respective nations have recognised the need to adapt to their circumstances. Welcoming international filmmakers to the safety of their borders, nations of Eastern and Central Europe are reassuring the global market that they still open. But whilst business goes on in spite of the extreme upheavals to daily Ukrainian life, the underlying social responsibility to their Ukrainian counterparts, is very much still alive.

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INITIATIVES HOPE
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Behind the Animation Boom

The content boom kickstarted by Netflix and followed by international streamers is felt nowhere more keenly than in animation. Accelerated during the pandemic, soaring demand has changed the economy of animation making new types of shows possible and reaching different types of audiences plausible.

As restrictions on filming during the pandemic impacted live-action, animation industries have seen a huge surge in demand for content – the market is expected to grow from USD354. 7billion in 2020 to USD642.7 billion by 2030.

“The boom is quite spectacular,” says Marc du Pontavice, CEO of French animation firm Xilam. “It really started four to five years ago and I doubt it’s yet its reached peak.”

There are several factors driving the boom. At base are the evergreen characteristics of the medium itself.

Animated content is easier to export for international sale, it tends to be cheaper to produce than live action, and as Walt Disney is reputed to have said, ‘Every seven years a new generation of children comes along.’

“There’s always a new market and animation doesn’t age,” says Ralph Kamp, Chairman & CEO of animated feature specialist Timeless Films. “Snow White is as good now as it was in 1937. Animation holds its value. Unquestionably there’s a boom now though where we are on that curve is difficult to tell. At some point it will level out. We are in a very cyclical business.”

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Pinocchio © Netflix 2022.

The medium is also demonstrably pandemic-proof, less fragile and more resilient than live action which may be why streamers are bolstering their resources.

Perhaps the busiest is Netflix which has been ramping up its inhouse animation division. In July it acquired stalwart Australian studio Animal Logic which is known for making hits like Happy Feet and The Lego Movie.

The two companies are already partnering on The Magician’s Elephant (set for a 2023 release) and Ron Howard’s first animated film, The Shrinking of Treehorn. More than 800 staff in Sydney and Vancouver have been added to Netflix payroll at the same time as Netflix has made dozens of employees redundant.

Karen Toliver (VP Animation Film Content) and Traci Balthazor (VP Animation Film Production) have been tasked with streamlining the animation team but show no signs of reducing output. In the last five years Netflix has had seven Oscar nominees, with a win for If Anything Happens, I Love You and is backing Guillermo del Toro's stop motion feature Pinocchio in the current awards season.

“Streaming platforms have a different model to broadcasters,” says Pontavice. “They realise that animation is not necessarily a motive for subscription but it is a motive for retention of subs.”

In other words, kids will watch it every day. And demand is global.

“When streamers commission a show it is immediately available in 200 countries. This gives a huge boost to the property and enables a much deeper exploitation of the show.”

Streamers tend to commission fewer episodes upfront and if the show is successful then commission more. “It is likely you’ll get commissioned for 500 episodes over 20 years as might happen with a broadcaster,” he says. “However, streamers are very flexible in terms of length. You don’t have to divide episodes into perfect segments. They don’t care if an episode of the same series is longer than another one which is great because not all stories fit the same format.”

Budgets are reportedly far superior than broadcast but expectations of quality are higher too. “It is not replacing existing money it is incremental to the business,” says Pontavice. “That means huge progress in terms of the quality that we produce. We earn more money and we can invest in more spectacular, innovative shows.”

FORMATS

Xilam’s 78 x 7 Karate Sheep for Netflix is a slapstick comedy that would normally be made in 2D. “The squash and stretch of slapstick is notoriously hard to do in CGI but with the money available now we’ve dared to make it in CGI.”

The company’s Chip ‘n’ Dale: Park Life for Disney+ is another slapstick but this time made traditionally “with no cut-outs, almost a hand drawn technique that is spectacularly expensive and difficult to make. The budget made it possible.”

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“SHORTER
ANIMATION DISNEY NETFLIX
GIVE YOU SCOPE TO INNOVATE. INSTEAD OF PLAYING IT SAFE, YOU CAN EXPLORE IDEAS LIKE RENDERING IN A COMIC BOOK STYLE OR PRODUCING IN A 2D/3D HYBRID.”
The Doomies © Xilam Animation. Scrooge: A Christmas Carol © Timeless Films.
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UNQUESTIONABLY THERE’S A BOOM NOW THOUGH WHERE WE ARE ON THAT CURVE IS DIFFICULT TO TELL. AT SOME POINT IT WILL LEVEL OUT. WE ARE IN A VERY CYCLICAL BUSINESS.

Kamp insists that lower budget don’t make production any less imaginative. “What money buys you in animation is time. You always want to take your time to get it right and that is the key thing.”

Timeless recently delivered musical feature Scrooge: A Christmas Carol to Netflix for which the animator optioned Leslie Bricusse’s songs from a 1970 live action version of Dickens’ classic.

Streamers are not the only clients fuelling the animation boom. “The big thing we noticed was social media content. Content for YouTube is easily on a par with television in terms of rendering quality and narrative format,” reports Pete Divers, Co-Founder and Head of VFX at Australia’s Fika Entertainment. “That was nowhere near the case a few years ago.”

Animated content for YouTube and social media ranges from supporting material for shows on streaming platforms to branded content.

“Toy brands are using narrative animation heavily to market product,” says Divers.

Fika created Ultimate Designer House, a 360° tour for Mattel’s American Girl brand which received three million hits in five days after release.

“You can use YouTube as a stepping stone to prove yourself,” he says. “If you can pull off 52 x 3 then you can start to move into longer form material. Shorter formats also lowers the risk and gives you scope to innovate. Instead of playing it safe, you can explore ideas like rendering in a comic book style or producing in a 2D/3D hybrid.”

Advertising agencies also jumped aboard the animation ship as their live-action options sank in the pandemic. “We had a massive influx of commercial enquiries, specifically from adverts that were previously live-action jobs,” says Sam Gray, head of business development at Passion Pictures

and Strange Beast. “Companies wanted to directly translate those scripts into animation, which didn’t work. We helped them understand how animation can work for them.”

Animation is also benefitting from advances in technology. Fika operates a motion and facial capture stage and uses actor performances as the basis for many of its animated production including the series Adventures with Auntie Ada. On a larger scale, gaming studio Nintendo recently bought Japanese CG house Dynamo Pictures to develop animated properties using Nintendo IP. Disney is also using CG and mixed media animation to create stories like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Gaming company Riot Games created the League of Legends animated series Arcane with Fortiche Productions, which it invested heavily in after the show’s first season debuted on Netflix. One-time Nintendo rival Sega has also made big bets on film and animation, with multiple Sonic the Hedgehog products released and in development.

CHILDREN, PLATFORMS ARE KEEN TO ATTRACT OLDER AUDIENCES.”

In fact, Nintendo itself signalled that it was jumping into the Hollywood fray with the announcement of the new Super Mario Bros movie, which will be produced by Illumination and star Chris Pratt and Anya Taylor-Joy.

While most animation is still targeted at preschool children, platforms are keen to attract older audiences.

The Doomies, a 22×22 horror comedy in production for Disney marks Xilam’s first project aimed at a teen audience. Xilam has another deal with a significant US showrunner to produce an action adventure for adults. “We expect adult animation to represent 20-30% of our output in the coming years,” reveals Pontavice.

For all the technology most animators believe there is something irresistibly tactile about sitting in a room with a group of people and bouncing ideas around.

“That creativity is the most enjoyable and most frustrating part of the business,” says Kamp. “Every day you come up with something new but you can’t instantly package and repeat it. Many people have tried to make a factory out of animation but if you do the audience will quickly get tired with the product.”

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“WHILE MOST ANIMATION IS STILL TARGETED AT PRESCHOOL
STREAMERS CREATIVITY YOUTUBE
STREAMING PLATFORMS REALISE THAT ANIMATION IS NOT NECESSARILY A MOTIVE FOR SUBSCRIPTION BUT IT IS A MOTIVE FOR RETENTION OF SUBS.
Arcane ©
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Adventures with Auntie Ada © Fika Entertainment.
Netflix.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

thelocationguide.com/makers

NORDICS force of nature

From ice fjords, snow covered mountains and crystal clear lakes to dazzling modern architecture, the Nordics are not short of eye catching locations. The Nordic film industries are also a unified force, strengthened by the individual offerings of each region.

Co-operation has proved key to the success of the production sector in the Nordic countries. Regional film commissioners work together to promote the destination to international shoots, while co-production has been a longstanding method of funding high-end, locally produced drama. The countries that make up the Nordic region – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland and the Faroe Islands –continue to become increasingly collaborative on a political, economic and cultural level.

Sweden has lagged behind it’s Nordic neighbours, it is yet to offer a production incentive, but the recent success of Swedish and French co-production Triangle of Sadness will hopefully help to address this. Directed by Ruben Östlund, the black comedy recently won the Palme d’Or in Cannes.

But is it right to judge Nordic countries as seperate entities at all when the crossover is so great? Swedish-based production company The Line, for example, leant its hand to Danish Oscar submission Holy Spider.

Directed and written by IranianDanish filmmaker Ali Abbasi, the film travels to Jordan, following a journalist’s investigation of a sex worker murderer known as the spider killer. Production was spearheaded by Profile Pictures which joined forces once again with Sweden through Nordisk Film Production as well as France’s Why Not Productions and Germany’s One Two Film.

LOCATION HIGHLIGHT

Frederiksborg Castle is one of Scandinavia’s most famous palaces. Situated on an island, the castle is surrounded by a lake and picturesque gardens so there are great views from every angle. The interior, which is home to the museum of national history, offers ornately designed cornices, as well as centuries old Danish artefacts.

From the eastern side, the castle appears to float in the waters that surround it, whereas on the west, the castle is shrouded by the foliage of the national park.

Making an appearance in the fifth season of Netflix’s critically acclaimed thriller Money Heist, the green of the aged copper and the brilliant repurposed red brick structure was strikingly different from the show’s usual Spanish architecture and landscapes.

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“ REGIONAL FILM COMMISSIONERS WORK TOGETHER TO PROMOTE THE DESTINATION TO INTERNATIONAL SHOOTS, WHILE CO PRODUCTION HAS BEEN A LONGSTANDING METHOD.”
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A Boy Called Christmas © 2021 Netflix US, LLC & Studiocanal SAS.
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Q&A

Mission: Impossible

Following Denmark’s streaming platform battle with heavy hitters such as Netflix and ViaPlay, an emphasis has been applied to honing production skills through locally focussed projects. Danish powerhouse SAM productions is continuing to display the integrity of the local production industry with hit shows such as Borgen, The Chestnut Man and The Wife through streaming partner Studio Canal.

HBO’s newest season of Succession will travel to Norway for filming. Produced by Scott Ferguson, the fourth season will star Alexander Skarsgård as Lukas Matsson. Featuring a strong Norwegian identity, the show was shot in many local settings including in western Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road, the Romsdalen Gondola and the luxury Juvet Landscape Hotel used in sci-fi thriller Ex Machina.

Q: What productions have you worked on in Norway?

A

: I worked there on both Mission: Impossible Fallout and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

Q: How would you describe the experience of filming in Norway for newcomers?

A: Norway is breathtaking. If you haven’t been there, its quite unique and very expansive.

Q: Where would you advise incoming filmmakers to go if they are looking for something new to capture?

A: On Mission: Impossible Fallout we shot at a fairly well known destination called Preikestolen cliff (pictured above), which is a kind of flat rock outcropping. It looks like a large ledge and people hike there although it can be tricky. We staged the finale of the movie at this location. It’s certainly worth seeing in real life and it was an incredible location for us to film.

Q: What makes Norway a special region to film in?

There are lots of interesting locations to visit, with roads, tunnels and ferries, subsidised by the government, giving you access to the kind of engineering that would cost millions of dollars to build in place in New York City.

Norway as a country offers the facilities to be able to work in their particularly tricky and remote locations. We were able to get the resources needed which can sometimes be very difficult to do.

The Nor weigan film industry’s 25% production incentive is an attractive draw for foreign filmmakers venturing to the mountainous country. From the peninsula of Stadlandet used for fantasy blockbuster Dune to Langvann lending its quaint home structures in No Time to Die, a slew of feature films are familiar with the scenic spectacles on offer in the country’s borders.

“The local industr y can currently service several international projects simultaneously in addition to local production, but as elsewhere the production boom is bringing both opportunities and with it, challenges,” commented Norwegian film commissioner Meghan Beaton.

Also lending its spectacular landscapes to many feature films, Iceland’s 35% filming incentive is only promising an influx of more production activity. As the backdrop to many sci-fi and fantasy projects such as Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and the HBO phenom of Game of Throne’s, the integrity of the industry is reflected by the calibre of productions that continue to return to the country.

A go-to destination for snow covered sceneries and forested landscapes, Finland has a strong production base built on its location diversity and competent crews. The country’s 25% incentive has enticed a number of international productions, including Netflix’s A Boy Called Christmas.

Equipped with k nowledgeable crews, Finland is home to a wealth of guidance for foreign filmmakers to make the most of their experiences. Film Service Finland give international newcomers a full service, form planning to post-production.

With an expansive range of locations, Lapland continues to bring people to its awe-worthy landscapes. Although stretching across the north of most Scandinavian countries, Finnish Lapland is the most built up destination for filming.

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© 2018 Paramount Pictures.

ESSENTIAL FACTS

TAX INCENTIVES

25-35%

While Sweden & Denmark do not offer a standalone regional filming incentive, Iceland offers a 35% rebate for production in the country, Norway offers 25% & Finland’s 25% reimbursement offered through business Finland is able to be taken advantage of by those working in Aland, Greenland & the Faroe Islands.

STUDIOS

RVK Studios in Iceland, True North Studios in Iceland, Norway & the Faroe Islands, Apple Tree Productions in Denmark & Film i Väst in Sweden.

ATA CARNET YES

RECENT CO PRODUCTIONS

In the Pallid Light – Renars Vimba (Latvia/Iceland/Finland).

Raptures – Jon Blahed (Sweden/Finland). Producers: Andreas Emanuelsson, Tony Osterholm (Iris Film AB). Co-producer: Tiina Pesonen (Rabbit Films Oy).

The Soft Skin – Minka Jakerson (Sweden/Denmark). Producers: Annika Hellström, Erika Malmgren (Cinenic Film). Co-producers: Signe Leick Jensen, Morten Kaufmann (Toolbox Film).

The Swedish Connection – Thérèse Ahlbeck, Marcus A. Olsson (Sweden/Denmark/ Belgium). Producer: Julia Gebauer (Way Creative Films). Co-producers: Amalie Lyngbo Hjort (Beofilm), Cloe Garbay (Umedia).

Made up of 18 mountainous islands, the Faroe islands are constantly developing their industry, slowly but surely making their mark in the Nordic and global screen industry. Championed by the Faroese Film Institute, the unique collective is home to a database of services, such as Faroe Guide.

Connected by road tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridges, visitors to the Faroe Islands are spoilt for choice with the breadth of backdrops. With rolling hills, winding rivers and valleys, and harbours home to a variety of sea birds, the islands possess a unique visual aesthetic. Gasadalur waterfall and hiking mountain is just one of the many quintessentially Nordic features that one can find in the pockets of land between the Norwegian sea and Atlantic ocean.

Whilst yet to prominently break into the international screen market, the Faroe islands, Greenland and Aland’s benefit from the 25% Finnish film fund. With the well connectedness to their Nordic counterparts, foreign filmmakers are able to partake in quick stop overs and spontaneous opportunities to discover the budding local industries.

With icebergs, snowstorms and the possibilities of catching a glimpse of the northern lights, Greenland is a force of nature. A great destination for documentary filmmakers and those curious of the natural wonders on offer in the country, Greenland is home to a thriving community of creatives and talented crews.

Lending its brilliantly white snow powdered mountains to a number of feature films, Greenland’s Russel Glacier has appeared in the Marvel’s 2007 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender.

SOMETHING ELSE

Hygge is defined as a quality of cosiness and comfortability, encouraging a feeling of contentment and wellbeing. Deriving from the original Norwegian word hugga, the term has become a fixture in the Danish cultural identity. Coined by the Danish as the way of life, it has been widely adopted by other Scandinavian countries.

Author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Meik Wiking, published his book The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living for the entire world to become familiar with the concept.

From candles to sweatpants, Hygge is the creation of anything that makes an individual feel cosy and stress free. With a focus on well-being, the Danish and surrounding Nordic open air landscapes are the perfect example of a Hygge environment.

Friluftsliv, first coined by playwright Henrik Ibsen back in the 19th century, is an amalgamation of the Norwegian words for fresh air and life or lifestyle. With a focus on overall quality of life, Friluftsliv is an integral part in a Hygge lifestyle.

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© Sven-Erik Knoff & Visit Norway.

Blockchain for Creators

WEB3 IS BROKEN CAN NEAL STEPHENSON’S BLOCKCHAIN FOR CREATORS FIX IT?

Web3 is billed as the next iteration of the internet. Advocates say it will be decentralised, more open and led by blockchain technologies – in contrast with Web2 where data and content are centralised in a small group of powerful companies. makers explores the likely impact of Web3 on content creation.

Author Neal Stephenson coined the term ‘metaverse’ and now he wants to be chief architect of a new project to see it realised. While his depiction of the future internet in Snow Crash three decades ago was dystopian, Stephenson wants to rescue the nascent metaverse of today from the clutches of big tech and self-interested venture capital. His ambition is to secure what he and others believe can be a thriving and more equitable social and business environment for the creative community.

To do this, Stephenson is backing a new project, called Lamina1, that represents a blueprint for the third phase of the internet – known as Web3.

There’s an unavoidable use of jargon in discussing this topic, which does make it more of a black hole than it needs be. To understand better, let’s just rewind a little.

Back to Basics: Web1 and Web2

Web1 refers to the internet of the 1990s and early 2000s — the internet of blogs, message boards, and early portals like AOL and CompuServe. Most of what people did on Web1 was passively read static web pages, and much of it was built using open protocols like HTTP and FTP.

Web2 from around 2005 was characterised by social media and user generated content. People began actively participating in the internet rather than

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passively reading it. Most of that activity ended up being distributed and monetised by big companies (Facebook, Google) which kept most money and control for themselves.

Web3, the story goes, will replace these centralised, corporate monoliths with decentralised, community-run networks (called DAOs), combining the open infrastructure of Web1 with the public participation of Web2. We are said to be in transition to Web3 now.

Crypto investor Li Jin sketched the vision this way: “If the pre-internet/Web1 era favoured publishers, and Web2 favoured the platforms, then Web3 is all about tilting the scales of power and ownership back toward creators and users.”

Financial analysts McKinsey agree: “Web3 potentially upends the existing power structure with a shift back to users.”

The basic technology Web3 will be built using decentralised blockchains the shared ledger systems used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Online communities and businesses will be built with blockchain technology in a new kind of organisational structure called Decentralised Autonomous Organization (DAO).

In theory, DAOs can be more transparent than traditional organisations, because the group’s important decisions get made on-chain, using governance tokens, payment mechanisms (like NFTs) and votes that are supposedly take place in the community rather than behind closed doors. Rewards are tracked using smart contracts.

Crypto investor Chris Dixon argues that DAOs: “can help course correct the internet back to its original, idealistic vision: power and money pushed to the edges, networks growing and flourishing together, a level playing field for talent anywhere in the world, a thriving creative middle class, and a generally diverse and interesting place.”

The promise

As might be apparent, Web3 is not just a set of neutral technologies. It is also a philosophy bordering on political ideology with which various factions are wrestling for the future of digital society.

Idealists are almost utopian in their hope for Web3. Their starting point is that most people who make media on the internet today whether artist, musician, video game streamers or animator, put their work on platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. Those platforms are great for building an audience, but they’re not great for making money.

Web3 will transform the internet as we know it, disintermediating traditional gatekeepers and ushering in a new, middleman-free digital economy.

Where the metaverse comes in

The metaverse will be built – again in theories proposed by Web3 evangelists – on Web3 and technologies to make all our interactions with the future internet open (not walled gardened), safe (in terms of data privacy and cyber-bullying) and outside the control of any monopoly. Web3 tools will code the metaverse and Web3 principals will set how transactions are made.

The problem

The problem is that Meta, Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, ByteDance and the other titans that rule the internet today won’t give in to this vision without a fight. Those who believe in the potential of Web3 as a once in a lifetime chance to reset the internet as a force for good, fear that big tech will attempt to recast Web3 in its own current Web2 form. That is –the metaverse might be realised as something like Ready Player One where entrepreneurs, however benign, still reign supreme.

There are other issues too. In recent months, market prices of major cryptocurrencies have tumbled, the trading volume of NFTs has slowed, and, most importantly, some pioneers of the space have

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“IT’S GOING TO BE HARD AND IT’S GOING TO TAKE HEART, BUT THE UPSIDE OF PROVIDING A MAKER DIRECT ACCESS TO THEIR MARKET IS STAGGERING.”
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TODAY, STORYTELLERS, DEEP-THINKERS AND DESIGNERS PITCH AND HUSTLE IN SEARCH OF FUNDING – IN GAMES, MUSIC, FILM, AND FASHION – ONLY TO HAND OVER 30-70% OF THEIR REVENUE, OFT POST-RECOUPMENT, TO LENDERS AND MIDDLEMEN

WEB3 WILL REPLACE CENTRALISED, CORPORATE MONOLITHS WITH DECENTRALISED, COMMUNITY RUN NETWORKS COMBINING THE OPEN INFRASTRUCTURE OF WEB1 WITH THE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION OF WEB2. WE ARE IN TRANSITION TO WEB3 NOW.

declared bankruptcy because of failed risk management and misuse of consumer funds.

“The value proposition for consumers at the heart of Web3 is a powerful one,” McKinsey reassures, while acknowledging huge questions need to be resolved. “Regulatory oversight, user experience, and the underlying technology will all need to further mature if Web3 is to ever reach mass adoption.”

Yet because of the technology’s disruptive potential every industry, including those in content creation, need to keep informed, if not actively experiment. Despite the recent market downturn, the speed of innovation and investment is unlikely to slow.

Venture capital investments in Web3 exceeded USD18 billion in the first half of 2022, remaining on track to top the peak of USD32.4 billion worth of deals in 2021.

“We are already starting to see the emergence of Web3 native marketplaces, payment networks, and deposit and loan platforms,” McKinsey advises. “The emergence of Web3 gaming, social, and media platforms the Web3 metaverse could be next.”

What’s more engagement is growing fastest among younger generations.

In a recent McKinsey survey of 35,000 active online users in some of the largest digital-asset markets India, Singapore, the UK and US 20% of respondents age 25 to 44 said they own digital assets. Two thirds of those had already made payments using digital assets and just over half had used NFTs as a form of digital identity or performed play-to-earn activities with digital assets.

Content creators at the heart of Web3 Here’s where Neal Stephenson comes in. Not content to let Web3 become the domain of capital he has co-devised Lamina1, a suite of blockchain, interoperating tools and decentralised services optimised for an open metaverse. In Stephenson’s vision creators are placed front and centre.

Since no blockchain has been expressly designed to support the unique needs of the open metaverse or that of creative communities, he maintains, that’s what Lamina1 will be.

It’s worth quoting his argument in full from the white paper announcing the project.

“Makers have long relied upon financiers, platform owners and publishers to grant their ideas oxygen and provide a pathway to broad distribution and monetisation. Though the introduction of new software and tools has allowed more amateur makers to enter the market, it has not tipped the model

toward creators. This is squarely what we’re interested in – building a home with more favourable economics for those who create the content we voraciously consume.

He continues, “Today, storytellers, deep-thinkers and designers pitch and hustle in search of funding in games, music, film, and fashion –– only to hand over 30-70% of their revenue, oft post-recoupment, to lenders and middlemen. By acquiring the work of creators, the platform owner expands the portfolio with subscriptions, ad revenue and insights, none of which is shared with those who bring the platform such success.”

Pulling no punches, he declares: “Inexorable economic forces drive investors to pay artists as little as possible while steering their creative output in the directions that involve the least financial risk. Lamina1 lights a new path forward.”

What is Lamina1?

Well, it is currently under active early-stage development with a roadmap to launch in 2023. It is building a blockchain with payment mechanisms and development kits. The venture is backed by prominent tech leaders, notably Epic Games and Unity, because the vast majority of today’s immersive metaverse experiences are powered by game engines.

More than this, though, Lamina1 wants to be the rallying point for an ecosystem of open source tools, standards and enabling technologies “conceived and co-developed with a community of creators.”

Stephenson explains, “As this new digital economy crystallises, so does the potential to reimagine the financial systems and foundational structures that fuel it. In its early stages, the success of this movement depends on the conviction of companies, creators and consumers to demand something different.”

He is pitching Lamina1 as a Skywalker which will wrest power from the Empire.

“None of this works unless developers ignore the lure of working with well-funded giants and sign up to a rebel effort devoted to an open metaverse,” says Stephenson’s Wired colleague Stephen Levy.

Stephenson himself ends on a note of which Marx would be proud.

“We march waving the pirate flag at the front of the cultural movement, asking both creators and consumers to join the fight for greater agency and ownership the fight for an economy that is imagined, produced and owned by its creators. It’s going to be hard and it’s going to take heart, but the upside of providing a maker direct access to their market is staggering.”

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BACK TO CONTENTS
LAMINA1

Articles inside

Blockchain for Creators

8min
pages 159-164

Behind the Animation Boom

7min
pages 148-152

Nordics

8min
pages 153-158

Report

7min
pages 138-142

Interview with

5min
pages 128-130

Italy

6min
pages 135-137

Music & Movement

7min
pages 131-134

The Ukraine Effect

8min
pages 143-147

Amsterdam the creative hub

5min
pages 125-127

Disability Representation in Production

6min
pages 121-124

Making of

1min
pages 118-120

True Crime in the Dock

7min
pages 108-111

Are VTubers the future of content creation?

6min
pages 112-116

Iceland ups its production game

6min
pages 105-107

Dominican Republic

2min
page 117

Making of

1min
pages 102-104

Comment

6min
pages 99-101

The True Cost of Virtual Production

9min
pages 88-92

Canada

7min
pages 93-98

Strength in Diversity

5min
pages 70-73

Briefing

3min
pages 79-80

New Zealand is Back

8min
pages 81-85

Is the Next Generation ready?

7min
pages 74-78

Making of

1min
pages 86-87

Brazil

6min
pages 67-69

In Game Advertising

8min
pages 62-66

Interview with

4min
pages 60-61

Comment

3min
page 55

Interview with

5min
pages 50-51

Belgium

2min
pages 56-58

Netflix & Chill Ads

5min
pages 52-54

Profile

3min
page 59

Wales: Boom Time for Production

6min
pages 47-49

Digital or Bust

4min
pages 38-39

Making of

1min
pages 22-24

News in Brief

3min
page 8

THAILAND

4min
page 9

Austria

2min
page 25

Report

8min
pages 15-19

Comment

10min
pages 40-46

Ready for your close-up HAL?

13min
pages 26-32
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