One of the biggest single publicsector funding systems in Europe, the European Union’s Creative EuropeMedia Program, is up for renewal. On May 30, the European Commission, the E.U.’s administrative arm, set out a proposal for renewed funding over 202127 of €1.85 billion. The Program’s head, Spain’s Lucía Recalde, used the San Sebastian Festival on Sunday to talk through some of the new Program’s ideas, emphases and timeline for approval. Following, five takes:
1.THERE’S NO SUCCESS LIKE SUCCESS
Creative Europe’s Media Program, which funds E.U. filmTVvidgame development, distribution, training and promotion, and production in the case of TV, would take the lion’s share of the new Program: A proposed €1.081 billion. One leitmotif runs through several key proposals: Rewarding movie and shows’ success. A success bonus could be introduced for movies and TV shows able to attract substantial audiences internationally, for instance. The Program could also promote European champions globally. But Recalde cautioned: “Success is not just an absolute amount of audience. We want to reward success but no one size fits all. Success can also be getting an award at the San Sebastian Festival. That’s another emblem of quality and ambition.”
2.A BOOST FOR TV, ANIMATION?
The Media Program is looking also to supporting successful industries, such as TV and animation. Development funding could be increased to offset their financial risks of larger budgets. “Our current level of support for animation isn’t as robust as it should be. For TV, you need a pilot episode sometime to find investors. That is a serious amount of money. We think this is an area where we could make a difference and bring money,” Recalde said.
3.TAPPING INTO OUTSIDE INVESTMENT
The future Creative EuropeMedia Program could look to tap money from other European Union sources, such as Investment EU, which has €38 billion for research, innovation, smalltomedium sized companies and social goals. If that worked, one scenario would see Creative EuropeMedia Program recipients able to access not only lowinterest credit lines from the E.U., but also risk equity investment.
4.RATIONALIZING DISTRIBUTION SUPPORT
As the Media Program’s distribution aid currently works, a score or more of distributors in different E.U. counties can band together to access Media Program subsidies for releasing the same film. Their alliance, however, finishes once financing is secured. Recalde suggested on Sunday that the Media Program could encourage this adhoc distribution network to create joint initiatives, such as movies’ marketing campaigns. Renewed distribution support would also see sales agents and distributors coming together to jointly prepare films’ roll out.
5.EXTENDING EUROPA CINEMAS
Another success story, said Recalde. She would like to see member numbers grow for Europa Cinemas, which rewards theaters distributing a significant percentage of E.U. movies. 60% of the revenues of recent Pedro Almodóvar and Ken Loach films –Almodóvar’s Julieta, for example– came from Europa Cinemas theaters, Recalde said.
6.DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH
The Commission proposals for the 202127 are now at the European Parliament, where the person encharged with filing a recommendation, the rapporteur, is Italian socialist Silvia Costa, the former chairperson of the Parliament’s Cult Committee and as such a person who is highly knowledgeable of the E.U film and TV sectors. The E.U.’s Council of Ministers –the body representing Member States– is preparing its negotiations and the Parliament, via Costa, its own report. It’s only once the European Parliament has formally adopted the recommendation put forward by its Cult Committee that the Parliament and Council can sit down together with the Commission to discuss a final text for the new Program, Recalde said. The European Parliament’s vote on adoption is scheduled for next April, but given EP elections, a new Parliament will have to continue discussions on the Program in fall 2019.
JOHN HOPEWELL, JAMIE LANG