Ldb I/O doc_Pauwels 01


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Ldb I/O doc_Pauwels 01

  1. 1. Documentary filmmaking in a changing media Landscape: Internet vs TV – dia 1 Good morning ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, Thank you very much for inviting to be with you this morning. Talking to audiences who were interested to know more about the different aspects of documentary production in Europe is something I have done many times and in many different countries, often for people who belonged to a language group that in fact could be called a minority. Coming from a small region like Flanders I know what that means. I have been in different roles and positions when I was doing this. First I did is as a producer. In fact my very first international production was with Italy, about an environmental scandal in Porto Marghera, near Venice. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   1  
  2. 2. After that I became a commissioning editor. Many of you might think that such a position must be a dream. Well, let me tell you that the two years I spent within the walls of a broadcaster were the two most miserable years of my life. I'll come back to that later in this presentation, for it has a lot to do with today's subject. When I was a commissioning editor, it became clear to me that I, like many of my former colleagues-producers and many of my colleagues within the broadcasting environment were very quickly turning into dinosaurs, because we kept dealing with media in the same way we had done over the past twenty years, and we were blind to the fact that the media landscape was changing and that the game was starting to be played under a new set of rules. Trying to do something about that I created a postgraduate training institute in France where we did our best to prepare all kind of professionals working in Media - I use the word professionals intentionally as you will see later - where we tried to prepare them for a new and much more demanding future. Alas, that adventure ended when local politicians decided to cut the subsidies we needed to keep the school alive. Today I'm more than ever convinced that media people need a lifelong Input/output  -­‐  Bari   2  
  3. 3. training to stay at par with the developments in de media environment, and it is my intention to add professional training activities to the range of activities that EDN is undertaking. Today I'm here in my position as the director of that association, a professional network and information source at the service of close to 1000 documentary filmmakers, commissioning editors and anything in between these two positions. Looking at my past you might say that I’m familiar with the concept of “change”, which is good, for today it’s all about change in our trade. Later this morning I will introduce you more into detail to the European documentary market, or I could even say: to the international market, for production and financing don't stop at the borders of our own continent any more. I will also briefly introduce you to the pitching system but before doing that I would like to ask for your attention for this brief - well, not that brief - presentation on how I look upon the current documentary market. Prepare for a shock. For many years, documentary and television have been synonyms. Many filmmakers still aspire to bring their film to the cinema, but unless your name is Michael More or Morgan Spurlock, or if you concentrate on making films on pinguins, Input/output  -­‐  Bari   3  
  4. 4. dolphins or migrating birds, you will never make a cent out of the big screen. So television it is! If I have been able to build a career out of documentary producing, I owe it all to two main sources: public financing through film funds (national funds and European) and television money. Television has been my friend for many years. Still I would like to refer to a speech I delivered a couple of months ago, during the most recent Sheffield Meetmarket. It was a keynote address in front of the EBU documentary group, in which most of the commissioning editors that we have all been chasing down to pitch our projects to are represented. I dare say that the speech created quite a stir because in essence I was accusing the public broadcasters of letting down and abusing the sector of independent documentary filmmakers. If you want to read that whole speech and find out more about the point I was making, you can go to the EDN website and read it there. My job this afternoon is to entertain you with a lecture that should introduce you to the current media landscape and the position of Italy therein. In my opinion this speech however should be more about the changing tv-landscape versus the Input/output  -­‐  Bari   4  
  5. 5. internet, for it's in that latter field that the challenges are to be found, but also where the potential for a successful production company can be discovered. indeed these are two factors that cannot be denied: the face of television is changing rapidly and the internet is becoming the creative, commercial and social heartbeat of our society. The television landscape is changing on two levels: contentwise and in the field of broadcast technology. Although it might seem that these levels are two very different things, it is my conviction that they are intimately linked and both are of importance for what you’re doing now and will be doing in the future: content and technology: friends or enemies? I fear that in order to be able to make sense of today's subject and to come up with some plausible theories that you can use in your professional activities, I cannot avoid looking at the past, also, because it’s easier to talk with certainty about what happened in the past than to predict a very uncertain future. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   5  
  6. 6. I took advantage of the speech in Sheffield, not to attack the commissioning editors but to inform them about how the independent producers look upon the current production situation and how we feel about the relation between “content providers” and “content distributors”. I did not only share with them our worries and fears, but I also extended an inviting hand to tackle together the many current changes in the media landscape that drive all of us out of our comfort zone and that force us all to become more daring and innovative than ever before. In other words: personally I still see a future for the traditional broadcasting system although we will never return to the comfortable times of the late nineties/early 21th century. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   6  
  7. 7. I started by telling the commissiong editors at that meeting that - in my humble opinion - in today’s media environment there are no certainties any more. Every single current media-model is under pressure and although there are many questions about where the future will take us, there are no clear answers available that can put our minds at ease. I don’t think that I’m the only one who experiences this kind of uncertain situation as disruptive, paralysing and threatening. I also referred to another lecture that recently I have been giving to documentary professionals in Czech Republic and Bulgaria under the very optimistic title: Input/output  -­‐  Bari   7  
  8. 8. hurrah, we’re in a crisis. In that speech I gave a more detailed overview of the different aspects of the changes in the media world that might seem to be a threat, but in the end could turn out to be an opportunity. Let's not forget that: threats can be turned into opportunities for those who are ready to change their way of thinking and acting. In Sheffield I told the commissioning editors that over the past years, the independent documentary sector and they themselves, the commissioning editors, we’ve had our quarrels and differences of opinion about how to work together, but that in essence and in all honesty we both have been defending what we thought was right, as seen from our own side of the playing field. Now the time has come, so I told them, that we have to set our different opinions aside and reunite our forces, for if we fail to Input/output  -­‐  Bari   8  
  9. 9. do so, we might very well get kicked off the media playing field altogether. Let’s face it: we are in a crisis. There’s no doubt about that. Changes in the entertainment- and media environment affect all sectors of production and distribution. The old evolutionary theory by Darwin is valid, more then ever: ADAPT, OR DIE! But the other side of that coin is the second part of that theory; THE STRONGEST WILL SURVIVE. Let's think a bit more about that: we might ask ourselves whether a crisis is a problem or a blessing in disguise? Maybe it’s exactly what we needed to be shaken awake and to make us understand that some things need to change if we as documentary filmmakers want to stay relevant. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   9  
  10. 10. How did this crisis come about? How did the media environment change over the past years and why could these changes be so threatening to all of us? I started producing about 30 years ago. If we had the whole day I could tell you how I began as a very small and innocent, naive might be a better word, as a naive Flemish producer, who wanted to make a living out of producing documentaries that would change the world. We don't have that time at our disposal today, but let me say that it took me about three years before I understood the rules of international production and co-production and made my first steps on that market. Very soon I also started making me first mistakes, but alas I don't have the time to talk about those neither. That would certainly take a full day. What I did learn very quickly was that if I wanted to break out of the boundaries of beautiful but small Flanders or even Belgium, I had to travel and meet people. I needed to create a network. That network I started to build by going to events like the one that you are participating in today. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   10  
  11. 11. I went there, looking for partners and money and after a very long period of searching, seeking, pleading and experiencing many disappointments, I finally managed to start finding funding. The money came mainly from broadcasting related sources and I dare to say… that worked well. Workshops, pitching sessions and even festivals proved to be places where commissioning editors would gather. They were the people who where in charge of strands and slots for creative documentaries and who had a keen interest in the fascinating world across their own borders. If you're not familiar with the terms strands and slots, please ask me about them during the Q&A at the end of my presentation. These commissioning editors liked their documentaries to be innovative, surprising and they loved it when they were directed by a real filmmaker; by a person with a vision and maybe even with a message, but certainly with his or her own creative handwriting: diversity was the key to success. 18 years later, I had become a commissioning editor myself. Now why on earth, do you ask, did I change my profession as a relatively successful producer and stopped producing? Input/output  -­‐  Bari   11  
  12. 12. There were several reasons and they all had to do - already then - with emerging changes in the television and the production landscape that made me feel uncertain and uneasy. First of all, the once rather small international community of producers and directors was expanding rapidly. Increasing numbers of people started to make documentaries, the competition became heavier and it became more difficult to complete the financing plan. More projects were competing for the same amount of money and this growing competition made me feel that it was time for a change. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to start working for a public broadcaster, I jumped to that occasion. I have always been a strong supporter of public broadcasting. To me, it’s the cornerstone of a democratic and open-minded society, the place where standards are set for quality and professional media-standards. You can imagine that I looked forward to working in that kind of environment because I believed that it was the place where documentary really mattered and still was appreciated. By accepting to change sides and by becoming a commissioning editor I no longer would be obliged to compete with friends in order to get the necessary funds to make my films, but at the contrary I would Input/output  -­‐  Bari   12  
  13. 13. be in a position to help them make theirs. What more could one ask for? Alas, it turned out differently. When I went to the pitching sessions in my first year as commissioning editor I was full of hope and very enthusiastic, convinced that I would manage to set up a system of international co-production between my employer, other broadcasters and – most important – the international independent production sector. Two years later I had lost the hope of being able to do that. I started to see that the kind of documentaries that had been so popular on television in the nineties and during the early years of the 21th century - the kind of documentaries that I and my colleagues had produced – how these became less in demand by the broadcaster’s management and the programming departments. I don’t think this was because the audience didn’t like these documentaries any more, but it was because the media environment had changed and public broadcasters started to struggle with their identity in a communication environment that became very commercial. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   13  
  14. 14. The public broadcaster's solution was to start copying the commercial broadcaster’s programs and style and the first victim of this change in policy was the creative documentary. The genre was exiled to the late hours of the evening, or often even to the early-night hours. I believe that for a short while the decision to turn towards a more commercial model for the public broadcasters was the right decision. Many of them had become ministries of television, and I'm sure I don't have to explain to an Italian audience that bureaucratic administrations are not exactly the right places for vibrant work. Before you start to be insulted, let me assure you that the situation in Flanders was not better at all. But what is worse: once the public broadcasters had managed to regain the confidence of their audiences, they stayed in the same commercial logic of thinking, very often forgetting what their role in society should be. This different way of thinking and running a broadcaster led to a situation in which we lost our former natural allies: the commissioning editors themselves, the people who knew about and loved documentaries. Until then, Commissioning editors had been real decision makers and could more or less independently decide what Input/output  -­‐  Bari   14  
  15. 15. projects they would support and show to the audience. The new market-driven thinking of their employers, the public broadcasters, now forced them into a role in which they had less power and had to follow the orders from higher management-levels and – worse – from the programming and marketing department. The financing departments also started asking questions: - why are we investing in heavy-risk projects if we can wait until they’re finished and we can buy them at a lot cheaper prices? - why are we dealing with small and vulnerable production companies that very often lack the financial backbone to deal with unexpected problems? - Shouldn’t we be working with established and bigger companies who have deeper pockets and carry less risk? The business aspect of commissioning became a lot more important. The broadcasting environment, in which I had been working very comfortably during so many years, disappeared and new rules started to apply. For many years the relation between the C.E.'s and the producers had been a very personal one: it was important that they knew who you were and that they remembered your face. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   15  
  16. 16. Now the relation became more anonymous and business-like. And then, there was another phenomenon emerging at the horizon: one that did not even exist in the period when I was a producer: the internet started to play a role. When it first appeared, with it’s low transmission speeds and poor picture quality, nobody believed it would ever be an important player in the media landscape, except some information technology prophets, who hardly anybody took serious at the time. It meant that also on a different level, things started to change. The broadcast contracts that until then had been rather simple became more complicated and the broadcasters would start to demand the rights for internet applications too. They didn’t know what they would do with them, but they preferred to possess them anyhow. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   16  
  17. 17. In most cases the producers were only too happy to give these rights away, more or less for free, for they themselves saw no possibilities to create an extra income in that field. Who cared? Well, that situation has changed for sure. I’m not saying that the internet rights bring in a lot of money today, but they certainly have become a matter of importance for the broadcasters’ efforts to stay in touch with their audience and create loyal viewers who are interested in their programs. I think that by now, even the most conservative documentary producer understands that the internet rights represent a potential value. And it's not only the internet that changes the landscape. The technological developments allow for a complete new way of distributing content and making money with it: digital broadcasters come to us through high speed cable or satellite; time shifted media consumption is a reality; Over-the-Top distribution is knocking on our door; VOD services flourish; we can now use bits of an existing program to reformat them in other formats that we produce for different screens; the possibility to integrate and actively make use of social media in the distribution strategy around a program, It all represents a potential income but it doesn’t come for free. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   17  
  18. 18. How fast did things change! The technological progress was no longer an evolution but it became a revolution. I’m not going to take you through this slide in detail, but do see how for 50 years the media technology was a slow process of improvement, whereas since the turn of the century each day brings a new surprise that changes the way media are distributed and consumed. (There will be some improvisation talk here, translator!) Out of a sense of nostalgia, we can disregard these new technologies and try to stick only with our old faithful partners in the television environment, but I am convinced that such an attitude will be the shortest way to extinction. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   18  
  19. 19. If you allow me to take you back once again to the horrible days when I was employed by the broadcaster, I can tell you that before me and my colleagues realised it, this technology that we considered to be a plaything for nerds, the internet, started offering creative and business possibilities that nobody could have imagined just a couple of years before. If internet distribution was something unimportant when I left production in 2004, when I turned my back on the broadcaster in 2006, one could feel that this technology had the potential to become a game changer. Talking about the current media landscape and trying to discover how Italian producers can find a place in it, I have to underline the strong potential of this new platform. During my stint as a commissioning editor I had learned two things: Input/output  -­‐  Bari   19  
  20. 20. a) the media world was becoming much more business-like and needed well-trained people who besides making good documentaries could also run a healthy company and b) the media world was undergoing a revolution that neither the production world nor the broadcasting world was prepared for. The convergence of tv and broadband was and is becoming a fact but at the moment leaves us all with many open questions. How important will converged TV become? Nobody knows. By 2007, changes in society too had played their part in the evolution of media consumption. The audience by then knew how to make full use of the available technologies, and after having been offered a wider choice (more available channels through cable and satellite, the first distribution initiatives on the internet, linear and later digital recording of programs they wanted to look at later and/or on different screens) the audience now also got a louder voice. They could actually start to communicate with the television makers and let them know whether they liked what they saw... or not! And if they didn't like it, they were not very faithful. They just zapped away and maybe would never return. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   20  
  21. 21. This became a nightmare situation for every broadcasting executive. They became addicted to ratings and audience behaviour analysis and in many cases did no longer ask themselves if what they were offering to the viewer was good, but only whether it was pleasing the audience. It has led to the current situation where television has become predictable, superficial and very often just boring. That person that television had been serving for over a 50 years – the viewer – now had become the “consumer”. This situation and the broadcaster's reaction to it also influenced the reality of the production environment. Now that the “consumer” was in charge, the programmers aimed to please and the answer was found in an avalanche of lighthearted entertainment. Now that’s a strategy that I can understand for a commercial broadcaster, but I was shocked to see how the public broadcasters adapted the same strategy, in an effort to keep their market shares. The situation today is that in the majority of cases the broadcasters are not looking for innovative storytelling any more. The budgets for the few slots that still cater for creative Input/output  -­‐  Bari   21  
  22. 22. content started to go down and in an ever-increasing way commissioning editors continue to lose decision power. As a self-fulfilling prophecy the slots for creative documentary are increasingly being cut: the marketing people consider the interested audience to be too niche, too limited. But today, thanks to internet, broadband and soon glass fiber technology, niche audiences become interesting target groups, and once again here I can see good possibilities for aspiring producers or established producers who are not afraid to jump on the train of new technology. For the first time in history, voices are heard that claim that broadcasting will become less important as a distribution channel and that broadband will become the medium to find and to keep an audience. Visionary people are telling us that the internet and broadband distribution will become the main means of communication, information, education and entertainment and that the new technology will also bring along new ways of financing and monetising audiovisual productions. These people are pioneers and actually still not many in the business really believe them, most of the commissioning editors laugh at these predictions, claiming that linear television will always be around and will stay the number one partner of the Input/output  -­‐  Bari   22  
  23. 23. audience that is looking for content. Many television people consider themselves and their environment as being invulnerable. I have to admit that at my time in broadcasting I didn’t know what to think off it myself… wait and see: that was my attitude. Today I don't have that doubt any more: linear television will never disappear but will lose a lot of its power and influence. Better take that into account when you're working on your next business plan. Today, we’re still in the middle of the technological revolution and the situation has already changed completely, as far as funding possibilities are concerned. DVD has practically lost its importance as a source of financing, the budgets made available by public broadcasters have decreased considerably (the available amounts have gone down with a factor between 30% and 70%), VOD-services are all around but until now fail to prove that they can really contribute to the financing of documentaries and other major players have appeared but until now, they too they fail to contribute in a significant manner to the financing of creative documentaries: you know the names of these over-the-top companies. Netflix, Hulu, youtube, most probably apple-tv and google tv quite soon… Input/output  -­‐  Bari   23  
  24. 24. These corporations are the biggest threat to the existing broadcasting system because… who needs broadcasters anymore. Will you be waiting to watch your favourite documentary or TVseries until some programming executive will make it available for you to watch it on tv, while the same programme is available for you to watch where you want it, when you want it, on the screen you want it and at a reasonable price? If I would be a broadcasting executive today, I would be very worried about my future. Actually, if I were a producer or a director today, I would also be very worried, be it for different reasons. Sheffield received over 650 demands for a meeting with C.E.’s during the MeetMarket; DocsBarcelona had to deal with more than 250 applications from producers who wanted to get in touch with decision makers to ask for their support, the Media support program received close to 500 applications for one single call for single project support… and from my own experience as an expert reader for film funds I can tell you that there we are confronted with the same huge increase in the number of applications. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   24  
  25. 25. It seems that today everybody wishes to be a documentary filmmaker in an environment where there’s less and less funding available and the number of television slots keeps diminishing! The number of documentaries that are produced every year is astonishing. Now it’s time for us to look into the mirror and ask ourselves whether quantity equals quality? As a community of documentary filmmakers, we should be very critical towards ourselves and honestly examine whether what we offer is of the highest standards, up to the quality level that is needed to fulfil our promises to our audience. None of us, professionals, should turn a blind eye to the fact that technically speaking, today everybody is a filmmaker and a content distributor. Only two decades ago one needed to be a trained cameraperson, an experienced sound engineer or seasoned editor to be able to work with the expensive and sophisticated equipment that was needed to turn top-quality images and sound into compelling stories. Today, an untrained but technology savvy person who owns a 6.000 euro camera, a 2.000 euro portable computer and a couple of software programmes worth around 1.500 euro can Input/output  -­‐  Bari   25  
  26. 26. produce a film that looks better than what we produced - at topprices - 20 years ago. Already a couple of years ago I predicted that shooting documentaries would become a lot cheaper. I emphasize the word: shooting! What did not really become cheaper is the professional post-production and of course the labour. More and more I notice during pitching sessions that producers come to the table with part of the project already shot and looking for funds to recoup the money they already invested or - in the best of cases - to find the budget to complete a high standard postproduction process. That's what technology does for you. And that’s also what tolerance does for you. All of us here in this room pay - more or less happily – rather high prices for a top-of-the-range flatscreen TV so that we can watch those wonderful programmes in the very best quality, but the younger generation couldn’t care less about the size of the screen. See them walking around with their PSP’s, their mobiles and Ipads or other tablets, consuming all kind of content that appeals to them on a screen, the size of which gives dinosaurs like me a headache. Do they care? Not in the slightest. They love it. They produce and distribute their own content and happily consume their Input/output  -­‐  Bari   26  
  27. 27. friends’ content, delivered at internet speed by many platforms that are available for free and on which everything is allowed. Often what they find there is funny, shocking, revealing even, but more often it’s boring, purely exploitative and repetitive, and what is almost always lacking is a good story. I wonder whether this is the right way to build up a loyal audience. We’ve entered the digital age, for sure. I consider people of my age to be dinosaurs who try to keep up with the new technologies and fight a bitter struggle to integrate these in their professional strategies – and often fail. People between 15 and 45 are the ones that are of the mixed generation: they know how to use the new technologies but they still remember more or less the old world and therefore they can relate to us, still. But those who are younger than 15 – the digital natives – they have never known what I would call “our world” and they don’t see a reason why they should. And let’s face it: these are your future audiences. If you can’t convince future funders that your productions will reach this audience, you’re in trouble. Like it or not, but more and more you’ll have to cater for these audiences’ needs and expectations. If you fail to do so, you’ll lose contact with them and they’ll find their way to the “Over The Top” platforms and the V.O.D. offerings, where they will find exactly what they will be looking for. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   27  
  28. 28. I still don’t know what is going to happen but one thing I do know for sure: nothing is going to be the same ever again and those who think and hope that they can continue to produce and distribute documentaries like we did it only 10 years ago are making a fatal mistake. Allow me to refer to the world of technology to make an analogy. How many of the technology companies that were too big to fail in the seventies, when the I.T. world started to develop, how many of them are still around? Texas Instruments, Digital, Wang… Many of you will even never have heard of these companies who, in those days, were the mastodons of new technologies. They were convinced that by sticking to the old business models they would also stay on top of the industry. Well, they didn’t. Those companies who did survive, like IBM, diversified and changed their ways of doing business. The other blockbuster companies were so sure that they knew it all, that because they had the money, because they had the experience and because they had the brains, they thought they could dictate how society would use the new technologies that they would chose to Input/output  -­‐  Bari   28  
  29. 29. develop. Take it or leave it was their motto. Time has proven them wrong! That example should make us think twice about how we see ourselves develop over the next decades. Clinging on to what once was has never been a good survival strategy. This goes for broadcasters, but it also applies to independent production companies. In the new media world that we will be confronted with, we will need to create compelling media experiences that go far beyond the traditional documentary format, media products that take into account different media consumption patterns and find ways to make our stories work in a multiplatform environment. That’s quite a challenge and it can only be answered by being innovative and by using the creative input that comes from different sources and by working very hard. When I started in the business I could detect three sizes of production companies. The first one I would call the big boys. These were indeed the blue chip companies (often founded by Input/output  -­‐  Bari   29  
  30. 30. former commissioning editors who left the broadcaster and started on their own). They were producers who had privileged relations with the broadcasters. They seldom had to pitch, or did not really have a hard time when they had to do so, because indeed they were serious, well organised and well structured. No harm in having them around and every big language territory had a limited number of them. But because they were so big they were also rather expensive to work with and therefore could not cater for the poorer slots. That’s where the independent but smaller productions companies came in. Let me now first jump to the other side of the spectrum where in those days already, one would find the idealists, the experimentalists; the people who were fond of media but who had no real intention to make a direct living out of it. Very often they would be very close to the art world and live either from somebody else’s income or from state subsidy. Their products where seldom to be seem on the regular screens but they would form the environment in which new techniques and forms of storytelling would be invented and would be tested. But this was a rather small group indeed. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   30  
  31. 31. In the middle, there would be a rather large group of medium sized companies. Also rather well structured but less well capitalized than the big boys; working with a more limited staff and very often contracting independent researchers and directors. They would also be more mean and lean in their organisation structure. They would be making a limited number of documentaries per year, enough to keep them alive and have some butter on their lunch-sandwiches. They would actually make enough money to pick up some of the better ideas from the experimentalists and turn them into more mainstream forms of storytelling. Once these ideas would have been tested and approved, the big boys would often take them over and start making real money with them. But actually, this sector would be the place where new talent could be tested and got battle experience, before they moved on to better paid levels. It was not such a bad system: between the real factual programmes “industry” on one side and the experimentalists on the other, there would be this important middle class that would serve as cement or glue and keep everything together, driving forward creativity and innovation. I would say that many of you where situated in that class. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   31  
  32. 32. Exactly like in the real society, this situation has now changed. We see the disappearance of the middle classes everywhere, and we witness the disruptive effect is has on society. The same is happening in our own media environment. The middle class production companies are struggling to stay alive and are getting less numerous by the day. A recent study by Joerg Langer for AG.DOK in Germany revealed that the average wage for a producer is less than 10 euro/hour. 80% of the companies are working at a loss! The group of big boys has become a lot bigger but also a lot more international, which means that there’s not a lot of diversity to be found in their programmes. More and more they offer “one size fits all”. And still they are the ones that the public broadcasters increasingly want to work with to please mass audiences! Does this create an opportunity for those companies who manage to create productions for smaller but very interested audiences? Maybe yes. But from where will the Input/output  -­‐  Bari   32  
  33. 33. financing come? And how will these products find their audience if not shown at a decent hour? The group of experimentalists and idealists has grown exponentially. Today, they produce an enormous amount of content but it will never find its way to the traditional screens. They are now the ones who cater for the non-professional needs of the internet, but very few of them will actually make any real money. But the real danger lies in the fast reduction of the number of middle class companies, and as I said, I believe that many of them are in the audience today. The way independent producers of creative documentaries are being pushed aside and treated like beggars by many a public broadcaster is not correct. If they manage to find some support at all, in many cases the amounts that are being offered are scarcely enough to cover a limited part of the production budget, and generally small independent companies are considered to be a pain in the ass. It’s true that working with them is challenging: there’s more risk to it and certainly more work involved; they might be more stubborn than the big boys in defending their ideas and also yes…their documentaries are more demanding and are less aiming at entertainment, and therefore maybe are less crowd-pleasing. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   33  
  34. 34. But these films are the voice of an important part of our society and they should be the gatekeepers of quality, innovation and creativity. Do the broadcasters claim that the audience doesn’t like thse films anymore? How could they, if that audience doesn’t know about them? How can the audience like something they never see? On the other hand: can a company survive on making only creative documentaries? The answer is very simple: NO! Like IBM in the eighties small and middle-sized companies have to diversify and produce different kinds of programs, some of them very commercial and aiming at the huge market of digital broadcasters, big and small. And there's nothing wrong with that. Only yesterday morning I was at the Nordisk Forum in Malmo in Sweden. There I talked to a very respected Swedish filmmaker, with a couple of extremely successful documentaries behind his name and I asked him why he had such a worried look on his face: the answer was quite simple: he worried about how to pay the bills. Worldwide success, many sales to broadcasters and a film shown in tens and tens of festivals did not bring bread on the table. He had just finished a duo-masterclass with a very well known and also very respected American filmmaker who's Input/output  -­‐  Bari   34  
  35. 35. name I can divulge, Alain Berliner, and who indeed is making a lot of money… by shooting commercials and corporate movies that finance his more creative documentaries. Now the million-dollar question is: will the broadband technology and the ever more talked-about trans-media offer a solution for this dilemma of financing? A lot has been said about it and many theories are going around but personally I haven’t seen the light yet. Even when I’m talking to people who are very involved in the concept of trans-media, I hear opposite opinions and a lot of conflicting theories and above all lots of intentions but not so many concrete results. As you have noticed by now, I’m an old fossil, a dinosaur. I admit that I too, I struggle with the new developments and I do not yet feel very close to the emerging possibilities of crossmedia or trans-media, whatever you want to call it. Transmedia: are they about stories or are they about technology? Input/output  -­‐  Bari   35  
  36. 36. Or does the success lie in a happy marriage between both? Being here in Bari, I want to use this opportunity to confirm that EDN is not blind for this situation and will act to assist our members to deal with the new circumstances. We too will have to adapt our actions and come up with innovative solutions to make sure that the documentary genre not only survives but will become more popular, on all platforms, in all formats. Together with our members we’ll look for solutions to make sure that the wonderful films you’re going to make will find and audience that will be captivated by them. To me personally it’s important to find solutions to make sure that producers and directors can work in professional circumstances and make a decent living out of their creative efforts. How we will make this become reality is still an open question and we at EDN are very open to discuss about this with you and to take in your opinions and advices. Talk to us, because information and knowledge mean power and power is what we’ll need in the coming years when we’ll be negotiating with the powers-that-be. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   36  
  37. 37. You might think that all what I've said is sad and pessimistic and not really encouraging. Well, it isn't. It is possible to produce and direct and to make a good living in media land. If you're dreaming about having that Ferrari in front of your door then I would advise you to seek another sector to work in. However, if you plan to have a life worth living, meeting nice and interesting people and in your own way making this world a little better place to live in, then you've come to the right place. Thank you for your attention and good luck with your projects. Input/output  -­‐  Bari   37