The film industry has been and still is constantly evolving and changing. European Film Market aims to adapt to the transformation the film and media landscape is going through, says Matthijs Wouter Knol, Director, EFM
How has EFM shaped this year? The optimism in the industry and European Film Market is a great crystal gazer in the beginning of the year?
Taking the fully booked exhibition spaces in both EFM locations – ropius Bau and Marriott Hotel – into consideration we areoptimistic regarding the upcoming edition of this year’s film market. Already in the run-up to the market, EFM has proven again to be an important communication and distribution platform at the beginning of the film year. We are looking forward to welcoming the industry in Berlin.
What are the signals and trends that you could see in the industry? What are the new additions to EFM in 2019? After taking over as director, what are your observations and changes that you are looking at?
The changes I’ve witnessed in the past five years have had an impact on the EFM. In the past decade until today, the film industry has been and still is constantly evolving and changing.EFM aims to adapt to the transformation the film and media landscape is going through at the moment and aims to provide its participants with essential tools to deal with these challenges. That’s why we further strengthened and developed our various successfully launched initiatives since 2014, such as “EFM Horizon” for instance. With “EFM Horizon”, including EFM Startups, the VR NOW Summit, the Industry Debates and many more, we are offering a platform to engage with these innovations and new developments in the world of media and entertainment whether they are thematic, structural or technological, while providing a particularly close look at the topics of immersive media, diversity, storytelling, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. Other EFM initiatives and projects such as the Berlinale Africa Hub, Drama Series Days, DocSalon, EFM Producers Hub have proven to be of importance to our market visitors in these challenging times, therefore we carefully curated and extended them.
Diversity & Inclusion is the brand under which various activities are planned for EFM? How much of diversity we could see in 2019?
Already since 2017, diversity and inclusion has played a large role at EFM, since the urgency of these topics reached the film industry as well. EFM devoted throughout the market’s initiatives and their programs talks, panels and many other events to discussing further improvements when it comes to gender equality, a fairer distribution of money and opportunities, making minorities more visible and championing a better and more inclusive industry in the years ahead of us.
How about the presence of sales agents and activity at EFM? What about the buyer presence at EFM?
We do not have the final numbers yet, but again, we are expecting more than 9,000 exhibitors, license traders, producers, buyers and investors at the nine days of the European Film Market, among them around 1,500 buyers from more than 60 countries. There will be around 550 exhibitors from almost 70 countries.
How do you see developments on the digital front especially from the OTT platform (Amazon, Netflix)? Are OTT players present as buyers. ?
Representatives from streaming and OTT platforms have become regular visitors of the EFM within the last years. They will be present this year as well.
All these years, EFM has been organizing the finest co-production market? How much is the success rate of films getting into execution mode?
The Berlinale co-production market is closely affiliated with EFM, but curated and organized separately. The success rate is high and the set up of the co-production market has proven right: a large part of the selected projects are being financed and made. The success of its elaborate matchmaking approach is reflected in the sizeable amount of projects featured in previous editions that have made it to completion. In 2018 alone, 16 of these films were screened at international A-list festivals and in cinemas, and one film has already been announced for Berlinale 2019, to be shown in the Panorama section: ‘To thávma tis thálassas ton Sargassón’ (The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea) by SyllasTzoumerkas from Greece.
Technology, innovation, VR are annual features at EFM. What is new this year?
The above mentioned initiative “EFM Horizon” will again be presenting developments that promise to impact and shape the future of the film industry. Over the course of five days, the keynotes, seminars, panels and talks will treat the branch’s challenges, new business models and strategies, while providing a particularly close look at the topics of immersive media, diversity, storytelling, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. Besides the changes in the field of technology the EFM Horizon will also focus on structural changes that are crucial for the industry’s future as well, such as the need to adapt diversity and inclusion or thematic changes that effect storytelling or producing in other ways than just technological developments do.
What are the three or four challenges that’s bothering the film industry right now?
One challenge is probably the film industry ´s relationship to VOD and the involved question what makes a cinematic film: Only films that are shown on the big screen or maybe also films that are only produced for streaming platforms? Another challenge is how to embrace new technologies such as immersive media, artificial intelligence, blockchain, etc. Diversity is still a huge topic and probably will always be. All of these subjects are being explored at the EFM’s Horizon programme.
India is very optimistic about its participation at the Pavilion. The Minister of Information & Broadcasting and senior people are planning to be at EFM? Do you see more scope for India to expand its activities in the market?
Since last year, the Indian participation at EFM has become more prominent, and with this year’s activities and the visit of senior officials from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting we are expectingnew steps to be taken in the years to cometo have India present at the European Film Market on a scale and with a visibility that reflects the importance and diversity of the Indian film industry, in all its facets. We are keen on developing and expanding the activities with India.
Located at ‘Berliner Freiheit’ building, EFM Horizon will look to the future of the film, media and entertainment world and its cross-pollination with the growing tech and startup industries
EFM Horizon will kick off with a visionary Opening Keynote by pioneer Alex McDowell, who will share his reflections on innovations set to disrupt the entertainment world.
EFM Startup Hub
EFM connects 10 leading tech entrepreneurs with the film and media industries. EFM Startups is expanding and for the first time companies from around the globe will participate
EFM Producers Hub
EFM Producers Hub at the second floor of the Gropius Bau provides a meeting and working area for producers to come together with financiers and buyers who can join the Producers Hub activities