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“We want to use MEDIA to take collaboration to the next level”

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Lucía Recalde • Head of Unit, Creative Europe MEDIA

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- We sat down with Lucía Recalde in Berlin, during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the European Film Awards, to discuss MEDIA’s current situation and its plans for the future

Lucía Recalde • Head of Unit, Creative Europe MEDIA

We sat down with Lucía Recalde in Berlin, during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the European Film Awards, to discuss the current situation of the MEDIA sub-programme of Creative Europe and its plans for the future.

Cineuropa: MEDIA is now at halftime in 2017, so what is there left to do for the second half?
Lucía Recalde:
From the results of the intern evaluation, we know that MEDIA is fulfilling its objectives and is addressing the challenges we identified: the fragmentation of the industry, globalisation, the digital shift and access to financing. The challenges have not changed as such, but the intensity of those challenges has increased. More has to be done in order to address the digital shift, because the way that European content is being consumed is changing quite dramatically and our programme aims to help European industry to adapt to these new patterns. But digital is not just a challenge or a risk - it means a lot of opportunities to connect with audiences, and open new and innovative marketing strategies.

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Are there any specific new measures you are going to introduce over the next few years in order to address this?
One of the main challenges of the future is finding a way to bring industry more closely together. We want to use MEDIA to take collaboration to the next level. We realise there is no country and no segment of the industry alone that can address these challenges.

On the topic of fragmentation and digital shift, new industries like the video game industry and virtual reality are now a big part of the cake. How are you addressing this?
We discussed virtual reality in length in Venice, last September. There are already many virtual reality projects that MEDIA is supporting, such as market access, like Venice’s, and training projects. What we don’t have these days is a strategic approach, something we would like to have soon - the objective is not yet to create a scheme to deal with small-scale activities, but instead to delimit the most important challenges where MEDIA can help.

As for video games, we have got a scheme and the guarantee facility, whose budget has just been increased by 50%, meaning an increase from 120 to 180 million euros, which is a sign that financial institutions believe that this is a good initiative. Although we shouldn’t just focus on grants, but also other sources of financing that can be particularly useful.

Because this industry is still emerging, is it still difficult to create a common dialogue between its agents?
One of the main problems, not only for virtual reality, is that we have to separate financial schemes. MEDIA addresses the content industry and Horizon 2020 addresses the tech industry. We haven’t done enough to bring these two communities together. This is sometimes not about putting in additional money, but about creating the right vehicles of dialogue between the different parts of the industry.

You are also in talks about what’s going to happen after 2020, once the MEDIA programme is over. What can we expect from that?
The European Commission plans to adopt all Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposals by summer next year, which means we have six months to prepare all of our proposals. It is too early to say what the proposals will look like exactly, but what I can say is that we’ll build them on the dialogue we have already established within the industry.

Something that is prevailing in the EU agenda is the contribution of education and culture to strengthen European identity. There are a number of interesting findings in the communication that the Commission adopted in November. In order to promote our cultural diversity we have to promote our common identity – both go hand in hand. Sometimes in the past we have thought about the things that make us unique rather than about the things that bind us together. I think this is a very important dimension of these measures.

Young audiences are one of the main focus of your educational and cultural initiatives…
We are convinced that films play an extremely important role in spreading these identity values. Commissioner Mariya Gabriel focused on this in her speech in Venice. We can’t just think about the future of cinema in terms of film production, we have to think about the future generation of film viewers. We can’t miss out the audience. We have to take into account the fact that the way that young people view content is different. This should not be seen as a threat, but as a door to new opportunities to engage with new audiences, to communicate, to promote content in different ways.

You are working closely with the European Film Academy, whose 30th edition of the European Film Awards we are celebrating.
We are very proud that for the first time MEDIA will support the EFA Young Audience Award initiative. On the other hand, we launched last year, an online competition to promote Europe’s unique diversity of films on our 25th anniversary, and the response was very positive, because we’ve got more than 9,000 participants, reached through social media. Next January we will launch it again, this time partnering with European Film Academy, Europa Cinemas, European Film Promotion, UNIC and the network of European Film Schools, to reach even more people. We all share the same objectives, and if we all come together and join forces, we can do much more with the limited resources we all have.

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