Göteborg 2022 – Göteborg Industry
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
“How do we save the producers and take good care of them?” wonder experts during “Future-proofing the Industry” panel
by Marta Bałaga
Panellists at Göteborg discussed the current challenges faced by European producers and the changes brought about by the US market
Gathered in Gothenburg for the Göteborg Film Festival, international experts were asked to address some of the changes caused by, among other things, the ever-increasing production rate for drama series. As noted by Rikke Ennis, CEO of REinvent, during the “Future-proofing the Industry” panel, the producers are the ones who end up struggling the most in these situations.
“Great producers are a rare species; it’s a very tough job. You can see that many of them are overworked,” she said, underlining that they are the ones taking the biggest risk pretty much right from the start, often developing projects for years without knowing if they will ever get made. “That’s where we see a very fragile business. It’s an important thing for all of us to think about: how do we save the producers and take good care of them?”
Kjartan Thor Thordarsson, CEO of Sagafilm, agreed that what’s being asked of smaller companies is “nearly impossible” these days. “It’s not easy and not sustainable, and that’s why we see smaller companies joining bigger ones.” As a result, many people decide to leave the profession, added Martina Österling, agent and partner at Albatros Agency. “They burn out, which leaves us with less experienced producers. It’s a huge issue.” This is why, she said, European producers could benefit from having professional representation, just like their US colleagues.
Joining in online, Filippa Wallestam, EVP and chief content officer at NENT Group, underlined the need for open and transparent dialogue. “The more we know, the more we can help,” she said, adding that the company decided to develop a “pulse survey” in order to help its employees. “We send it to everyone, and that way we know if there are things that we need to adjust.”
Also, while the current demand for new content is a blessing, Österling pointed out, it also results in people taking on more than they can possibly handle. “I am thankful because all of my clients are working, but it has also led us to this conversation. And we need our talent to be in safe hands.” Kjartan Thor Thordarsson also bemoaned the pressure to deliver content faster than ever. “Every producer wants to deliver a quality product, but you cannot make a fantastic series in six months. Market circumstances demand us to work faster, and decision-making can be different simply because of the competition.” But Wallestam wasn’t willing to agree that the quality is suffering. “I don’t think we have ever been as strong in the Nordics as we are now. It’s fantastic to see how much the market has actually evolved. If I look at what we were producing five years ago compared to what we produce today, it’s an enormous difference.”
Although, as everyone noted, it’s exciting to see new, more diverse talent emerge, the industry needs to make sure that the work is sustainable and that experienced players don’t leave to pursue other goals. Or, according to Thor Thordarsson, they need to learn how to protect themselves better, also when faced with US buyers. “I think the money will always dictate how this industry works, and now, it’s coming from big American studios. When a big buyer enters a new market, they will apply the same rules as they do at home.”
“The most important thing is that we work together,” added Wallestam. “Maybe the producers need a little bit more love from us? I hope that in the future, they will get more clarity.”
“The other thing that’s extremely important is the fact that, these days, we are working in the dark,” summed up Rikke Ennis. “There are no numbers, no data. We produce and deliver, and then perhaps we hear something about whether it went right or wrong. We used to learn from the past – now we are swimming without knowing which direction to go in. This kind of transparency possibly needs to be legislated.”
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