The European Film Market’s development over many years depends on how quickly it adapts to what’s happening within the industry; to the trends and changes that are influencing the players of this very complex market landscape, says Matthijs Wouter Knol, EFM Director, as he speaks on new initiatives, future developments and trends in the global film, media and entertainment industry, in an interview with Pickle
European Film Market heralds the entertainment industry and gives a perspective of where the film industry is heading? How has the market shaped this year?
The European Film Market is the first market at the beginning of the
year and as such it has been acting as a barometer for the upcoming film year. Our participants come here because the EFM is one of the largest markets for audiovisual content worldwide and one of the most important trading platforms kicking-off the year. With our many communication, information and networking events and initiatives we offer the EFM visitors the upcoming trends and developments that are going to shape the year.
2020 is the beginning of the new decade. How do you see the relevance of markets impacted in the digital age and longer term?
The European Film Market has evolved enormously since its creation in 1988. To maintain its position as a leading market and trading platform in the industry, the EFM has to adapt to what’s happening within the industry; to the trends and changes that are influencing the players of this very complex market landscape. There are technological and financial developments as well as developments regarding content and new players at the market. The EFM picked up on these trends and offers suitable platforms and initiatives such as the Berlinale Series Market & Conference dedicated to all aspects of serial content; EFM Horizon to meet the growing information demand regarding the fast technologically development; the Berlinale Africa Hub, a platform for innovative projects and ideas from the African film industry. EFM DocSalon, EFM Producers Hub, EFM Industry Debates are other initiatives that are also meeting the industry’s ongoing changes. And equally important: diversity, inclusion and sustainability have marked the EFM’s development over the last year, gaining more and more importance due to what’s happening not only in the film industry, but on a larger, social and political scale.
What are some of the new additions and trends that you see in the industry?
We have introduced a new initiative called EFM Landmark, a program aimed specifically at film commissions and producers, offering them an additional business platform. For the first time we as EFM issued a sustainability manifesto because we want to take responsibility for the environment and fight unnecessary creation of waste, be careful in the usage of energy and resources, develop strategies to reduce, reuse and recycle resources.
The manifesto includes also the creation of a healthy and sustainable working climate as well as raising awareness among team and visitors that they are part of a greener EFM. The measures are part of the initiatives already taken in previous years by the Berlinale. The DocSalon also offers new developments such as the “Archive Day”, the DocSalon Toolbox Program specifically intended for international delegations of documentary creatives from underrepresented groups, as well as the partnership with the DAE, the Documentary Association of Europe.
EFM Landmark is a new addition with coming together of film commissioners. What has been the response? It is a great initiative as EFM is always a buzz with film commissions from Europe?
We have received a very positive feedback to EFM Landmark. Especially because “EFM Landmark” will give plenty of options to present new trends, the cash rebates and tax incentives du jour, as well as changes in co-production funding opportunities and showcases of the best locations for film and drama series to producers looking for the right fit.
EFM is a convergence of a wholesome market that has solutions for needs of every aspect of filmmaking (from a business angle), including technology/AR/VR at EFM Horizon. What’s the overall theme that you see emerging this year? What are people looking for in changing times of streaming getting an upper hand?
Our format EFM Horizon picks up on the future developments and trends of the film, media and entertainment industry. The striking subject is that there is not only one striking subject: Sustainability, well-being, diversity, storytelling, artificial intelligence and immersive media – they all are in the focus of this year’s EFM Horizon edition. We will dive deeper into those forwardlooking developments of social, technological, economic and creative nature and with the EFM Industry Debates, EFM Startups, EFM VR NOW Summit and other formats we provide an outlook into the future of the film and entertainment industry. The paradigm shift to streaming platforms becoming key decision makers will be very present in seminars, conferences and events at this year’s EFM.
EFM organizes the finest coproduction market? How much is the success rate of films getting into execution mode?
The Berlinale Co-Production Market is a separate part of the industry platforms at the Berlinale and closely associated with the EFM. It has been a very successful format from the very beginning. This is mainly due to the curated nature of this event. The film makers and their projects are carefully chosen and they are provided with many pitching and networking and one-on-one opportunities where they have the unique possibilitiy to find exactly those partners they need for financing, co-producing, developing etc.
India participation has been on the rise over the last few years. This year also a small delegation will be at EFM. How do you see collaboration and scope for India to expand its activities in the market?
This year, we have 27 companies from India with 38 participants coming to the EFM. There will be five Indian films being shown in market screenings. The collaboration with the Indian film industry goes back quite some time and has intensified over the past years, with the Indian pavilion in the centre of the historic Gropius-Bau.
EFM is keen on further expanding collaboration with different parts of the Indian film industry. Considering the size, influence and impact the Indian film industry has worldwide, including for example on the African continent, I see opportunities for new projects together.
Corona Virus Hits Chinese presence at Berlinale
• A Chinese delegation of companies that was planning to attend EFM in a
Chinese umbrella stand had to cancel their visit due the current health emergency imposed by a Corona virus outbreak in the country that has made it difficult for them to obtain visa. Attendance of Chinese professionals, including buyers, is also expected to be low in comparison to the increasing number of Chinese buyers finding their ways to EFM in the previous three years.
• As many as 59 cancellations from mainland China and Hong Kong have been registered to date. From other countries, at least five people have cancelled their visit and given the Corona virus as a reason to cancel.