June 16, 2024

The 2nd Creative Investors’ Conference, organized by the San Sebastian Festival and CAA Media Finance, took place as the U.S. saw history in the making: the end of the Writers Guild of America’s 148 day strike. That set the tone of proceedings at the two-day confab and maybe added a slightly larger sense of forward momentum to the central issue at stake: a State of the Union take on the challenges and opportunities for the U.S and global film industry, from a market and producers’ perspective. 

Multiple audience members, many from Spain and Europe, commented on their delight at the caliber of panelists and attendees, many at the top of their game. Their answers to questions marshalled by CAA Media Finance’s Roeg Sutherland on one key panel and San Sebastian’s Wendy Mitchell on many more, were often direct and sometimes counter-intuitive but convincing; which is what the audience of course was looking for. 

Below, a baker’s dozen of preliminary takeaways from the Conference. More from Variety on an overall industry wrap on Friday. 

So How Has the WGA Deal Left Hollywood?

In the wake of the WGA agreement, “it seems like the SAG strike will be resolved, hopefully, relatively soon,” said Sutherland. At the Conference’s first round table, Amblin’s Jeb Brody sensed that “a real feeling of enthusiasm and creativity.” That said, “A lot of the issues that led to the strikes are still with us. “The tension between streaming and theatrical remains, the larger studios working with their own streamers and trying to function well and make sure that that’s all making sense remains,” he added. It’s going to be a couple of years, I think, until that gets really figured out,” he added. 

And Combined With the Pandemic?

“COVID and the strike accelerated trends already there before,” said Goodfellas’ Vincent Maraval. “Local cinema market share in every country is going up. Independent American cinema used to be global. [Now] it’s less global, and the market’s become more local. The world is changing in a way that makes everything more local.We need to become more open and curious about local cinema [around the world], because exceptions can come from anywhere, he added. “Isn’t the world so-American centric anymore? Sutherland concurred.

New Talent Surge

10 of San Sebastian’s 16 main competition contenders are from first or second-time directors. There’s “an enormous amount of fresh talent coming through, and those new voices, that for the most part don’t come from the U.S., have had a platform to speak because of the strikes, because there’s a lack of American product,” Sutherland reflected. “Buyers themselves are more open to new voices than they were, something fresh, new that might break through, that’s the key thing,” said Pete Czernin, at BluePrint Pictures.

U.S.-International Alliances

So U.S. companies are looking to get more involved in international. “I think a lot about if there were a way to work with more international directors in the American system,” said Killer Films’ Pamela Koffler. “Or maybe there’s a way to work with more of those filmmakers in a mixed way on, say, a Spanish-language film shooting in Spain. I don’t know what we could add, but that’s a place that really interests me,” she added. Some companies have tied a knot, such as Anonymous Content and Spain’s Morena Films, creating a joint venture, launched at Cannes. “Many times, it is difficult to access American IP or talent. With Anonymous, we can be more successful,” explained Morena’s Juan Gordon. “Spain is obviously an important territory, not just on a distribution and finance level, but also talent. And Spanish is a global language,” added AC’s David Davoli .

Producer Pressure Points

Not that the cup always overfloweths in international. “The pressure is how to achieve a local market impact and yet for titles to travel as much as possible,” Matías Mosteirín, at Argentina’s K&S, said at a Producers Perspective panel on Wednesday. In Spain, “the main challenge right now is an inflation in cost, due to the inflation of the number of projects. Our upside possibilities are more limited, because we have to give away the main part of rights, and theatrical is suffering recently,” said Fernando Bovaira at Madrid-based MOD Producciones. U.K.-based Quiddity Films’ Emily Morgan agreed. “There’s a sense of being kind of squeezed from both sides: Not much financing available or pre-sales, while crew rates have gone up,” she said. Little wonder Mitchell called producers “heroes” at the end of the session.

The Times They Are A-Changin

But Dylan never said that they were getting better. There was the same ambivalence at times about panelists, such as on resilience of theatrical markets. “We’re seeing an amazing return, post-pandemic, in the box office. We released ‘Old Boy’ 20 years after its initial release and it made almost twice its original gross,” reported Neon’s Sarah Colvin. “For me, personally, the theatrical business is dying,” countered Brody. What’s “really exciting is the international market opening up to in theatrical to a younger audience,” said Fionnuala Jamison, at France’s MK2, citing its success with “How to Have Sex.” But “there still need for some work to do with distributors figuring out how to do that,” she recognized. “It seems to be a swings and roundabouts moment,” said Czernin.

What’s Selling?

For Maraval, animation, especially from Japan, such as “The First Slam Dunk,” which made $106.0 million in Japan and $151.3 million worldwide. “In Japan, there’s a [theatrical] market for younger audiences. It’s very different to Europe where we have a big problem, which is that our cinema is financed by television which has a very old audience.” Goodfellas is also moving into action movies, budgeted at $8 million-$10 million.

Japanese animation film, “The First Slam Dunk”
Toei Animation

A Yes to Animation, Especially in France

Asked to name a representative Haut et Court current production, Carole Scotta cited “Savages!” a 2D animated feature from “My Life as a Zucchini” director Claude Barras. “France has great animation schools and a very strong festival, Annecy. We also need to address the younger generation. Barras is very talented. He has a way of addressing younger kids with very strong narratives,” she said. A marvellous French program sees school kids being taken to cinemas to see films, she added. “Education is the basis of what we should all do, and this is part of it. It’s wonderful.”

Producing a Movie

Christine Vachon and Koffler gave an effective masterclass on the nuts and bolts of movie production. Here’s Vachon talking on how a project dies: “You get a great script with a strong director. Can you cast movie stars? Will that make the movie better or ruin it? That’s the first question. We try to get a worldwide buyer. Often they don’t want the movie. So we have to do foreign sales, which means casting recognisable names. But everyone has the 10 you want. So you start getting into like fantastic actors who are crazy hard. And at a certain point you just can’t tell the story for the amount of money the world will give you.

Frankenstein Fallacy

Filmmakers must pitch organic stories, not chase transnational appeal. “You can’t imagine how many producers or writers come to me and say something like, ‘Hey, we have a Mexican actor, Argentinian actors, and then a Cuban actor playing the grandfather,’” said Infinity Hill’s Axel Kuschevatzky (“Argentina, 1985”) before adding that it creates a “narrative Frankenstein” of little sense to anyone, because it represents no one.

What’s Selling? Art House on the Prairie

Navigating the tension-laden terrain between intimate art house films and market demands, Vicente Canales at Spain’s Film Factory Entertainment noted a growing distributor preference for larger, audience-pulling films. With smaller distributors also joining the chase for more commercially lucrative yet quality projects, the spotlight dims for smaller, delicate cinematic pieces that traditionally colored the art house scene. Canales pointed a finger at overproduction and limited international appeal, underscoring a saturated market where numerous films languish without audience or distribution, fostering a climate of frustration and missed opportunities in the industry. This shift underscores a critical balance –  crafting resonant art while meeting market calls for both profit and widespread allure.

Risk/Reward When Targeting the U.S. Latinx Market

How to break into the U.S. Hispanic market? It requires titles that mirror its nuanced identities, “one foot perhaps in parents’ culture, but also American, obviously,” noted Elisa Alvares, at Jacaranda Consultants and senior advisor for IPR.VC. While some production houses adeptly create such content, the underlying business model presents a conundrum. “From an investor’s perspective, the risk is still very big,” she added. The safety net? Producing in countries like Mexico, where reliable resources, incentives, and lower costs provide a cushion for investors wary of uncertainties, so creating films that initially recoup investments in their native countries before breaking into the potentially lucrative Spanish-speaking U.S. market. 

The Rub

“There are more and more producers and less and less distributors. We need more A24s, more Neons. I guess there must be a structural problem, “ said Maraval. That said, he added, “the platforms arrived and didn’t kill any pay TV or free TV or so we multiply the number of clients and the possibility of watching films. So why shouldn’t we be optimistic? The landscape has never been so promising for us.”  

San Sebastian’s 2nd Creative Investors’ Conference ran Sept. 26-27. 

Desbloquea Monedas Gratis en TikTok: Tu Guía Definitiva
Unlocking TikTok Coins: Proven Strategies
TikTok Coin Farming: Tips for Success
كيفية الحصول على عملات TikTok: دليل شامل للمبتدئين
TikTok Coin Hack Myths Debunked
How to Get TikTok Coins Effortlessly
مولدي العملات TikTok: الحقائق والأوهام
TikTok Coin Generator Review: What Works Best?
Free TikTok Coins: Insider Secrets
La formule secrète de la génération de pièces sur TikTok
TikTok Coin Farming Techniques: Unveiled
TikTok Coin Hacks: Boost Your Account for Free
Generatori di Monete TikTok: Mito vs. Realtà
TikTok Coin Generators: What to Watch Out For
TikTok Coin Generator Review: What Works Best?
Consejos de Seguridad para Ganar Monedas TikTok Gratis
A Deep Dive into TikTok Coin Generation
Free TikTok Coins: The Easiest Methods
Aprovechando al Máximo los Regalos de Monedas TikTok
Free TikTok Coins: The Future of Social Media
TikTok Coin Generators: Fact vs. Fiction
Crescere il Tuo Seguito TikTok con Monete Gratis
Free TikTok Coins: The Holy Grail of Success
Free TikTok Coins: Your Ticket to Stardom
Recommandations d’experts : Le hack des pièces TikTok
Free Coins on TikTok: Tips and Tricks
How to Get TikTok Coins Effortlessly
Plongée approfondie dans la génération de pièces sur TikTok
The Secret Sauce to TikTok Coin Generation
TikTok Coin Farming Demystified

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *