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What Europe Wants, What Europe Needs: Protecting Independent Film Production (in the Age of Streaming Services)


The European Film Market of the Berlinale 2020 kicked off with the 1st European Film Politics Seminar in presence of 50 experts from the industry and public funding bodies from across the continent.


During a 3 hours brainstorming session, opened by EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol and chaired by Steven Gaydos (EVP of Content, Variety), participants explored how cultural diversity and quality content for the audience can be boosted by independent producers. New legislation on a European level offers great opportunities to involve new global players in the ecosystem. The major goal of the Seminar was to define top priorities for European and national frameworks to focus on in the fast-changing landscape.


During the discussion, the main issues raised by participants were:


  • The positive impact of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) that aims at creating a level playing field between linear and non-linear services: the same set of obligations (financial obligations, quota, prominence) can now be imposed on both broadcasters and VOD services to reinforce  the position of independent producers;


  • The need to redefine and adapt to the current situation the definitions of “independent producer” and “independent production”;


  • The essence of the activity of independent producers: to be creative, to create IP, and to exploit it;


  • The importance of co-productions to reach wide international audiences and of co-development to build strong international partnerships;


  • Production is key but the theatrical distribution and circulation of European works should also be emphasized;


  • Data is crucial for measuring the success of individual films and as a driver for R&D in the development of innovative content;


  • The risks of the disappearance of independent entrepreneurs and of the European independent ecosystem which has been built over the course of decades;


  • The fact that the European market is being disrupted by new players;


  • The opportunity offered by platforms for the circulation of European works beyond Europe: more and more Americans are watching European content;


  • The deals with online streamers differ from service to service, but all have in common that the streamers pay a local price for global rights;


  • The importance of channeling financial support at the European level (Creative Europe MEDIA and Eurimages) and national level to independent producers;


  • The necessity for clear guidelines for a coherent implementation of the quota (30% minimum for European works) and prominence obligations, as well as their monitoring;


  • More disruption is to be expected;


  • The necessity to develop a Best Practice Charter for independent producers producing for non-linear services;


  • The necessity to create compatibility between national support schemes and increase distribution across borders.


Prior to the event, the attendees were asked for their suggestions of urgent topics to act on in the upcoming months to ensure the independent sector gets a boost. From the input received, 6 Calls to Action were identified and debated during the Seminar. In a voting process, the three most important Calls to Action were identified:




The 1st European Film Politics Seminar is an initiative of the European Film Market and aims at annually setting the political agenda of the most vibrant issues in the industry by all key players involved, in order to enhance a faster European synchronization of policies. With the major priorities being set in Berlin, a first draft strategy will be presented at the Marché du Film in Cannes, followed by an overview of measures achieved or still lacking during the Venice Production Bridge. Three informal groups of experts will work on the priorities to identify concrete actions to be taken in the course of the year.


The 1st European Film Politics Seminar was initiated by the European Film Market of the Berlinale (EFM) and co-organized by Doreen Boonekamp, the Association of European Film Agency Directors (EFAD), the European Producers Club (EPC), and the German Producers Association (Produzentenverband).


Impose transparency about consumption data of European works and revenues in the different territories to all linear and non-linear services.

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