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MIA 2020

Post-COVID stories and the importance of technology (and of young people) form the focus of the MIA’s webinar

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- A panel of producers discussed the ways in which stories and narrative models will change in the wake of the pandemic in a webinar organised by Rome’s MIA Market

Post-COVID stories and the importance of technology (and of young people) form the focus of the MIA’s webinar
The webinar participants Francesca Di Donna, Nicola De Angelis, Gian Andrea Pecorelli and Giuseppe Saccà

How will stories change? What forms will narrative and, therefore, production models take after the pandemic? It’s a question that’s often been asked during lockdown and it’s been talked about once again within the “Storytelling and Audiovisual Production in Post-Covid Italy” seminar, an event organised by the MIA, Rome’s International Audiovisual Market which brought together the CEO & Head of International Co-productions and Development at Fabula Pictures (part of the Federation Entertainment Group) Nicola De Angelis, Head of Development & Production at Rodeo Drive Francesca Di Donna, Giuseppe Saccà of Pepito Produzioni and CEO of Aurora TV Gian Andrea Pecorelli.

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The racial tensions which have flared in the wake of George Floyd’s death in America formed the basis of a reflection on the difficulties involved in telling topical stories within the limits imposed by health and safety measures. On this point, De Angelis places the emphasis on ‘how’ rather than ‘what’: “Rather than adapting scripts around Covid, we should focus on using technology differently, to ensure we tap into reality rather than falsifying it. The visual effects industry has always been undervalued in Italy. At the minute, we’re ‘relocating’ a series, which was set in another city, to Rome, and we’re resolving a number of problems through VFX and the use of optics, which allow us to ‘squash’ the scene, creating an ‘artificial social distance’. We’re due to be back on set on 22 June”.

And yet the problem of stories becoming outdated, a sudden issue caused by the pandemic, remains central to discussions, as stressed by Giuseppe Saccà who explains: “the way in which we tell stories in Italy had already changed a lot over the past 10-15 years; we forty-somethings are the product of a twentieth century culture: the tools that I have to read reality are the ones my father gave me. The new generation are the ones who will really be able to put us in touch with the new post-Covid reality”. The very generation who - as pointed out by the audience taking part in the webinar – don’t enjoy great access to the industry today. So “ensuring that young people are listened to, that they’re included and encouraging inter-generational cooperation. This is the challenge we must meet in the years to come”, Saccà concludes.

It’s possible that the global nature of the pandemic might favour the development of stories “tying in with universal themes, which are arguably becoming ‘more necessary’ because they resonate with all of us; themes such as illness or death and the attempt to overcome them, following the example of products such as Afterlife, or La linea verticale by Mattia Torre, which have successfully explored terrible subjects through the comedy genre”, observes Francesca Di Donna.

The subject of universal themes necessarily raises the question of international co-productions which, according to De Angelis, “will undergo radical change, because people will be travelling less, and it will become increasingly difficult to combine creative skills. Thinking about co-producing on the financial level alone is extraordinarily complex, because now everyone is adopting some form of protectionism. This was a situation created by streaming platforms, ahead of Covid-19, because they’re able to ‘travel everywhere’ with the products they offer. Also, there’ll be a few genres where we’re crushed by high-level American or English productions: period dramas, for example, which we do make, but by ‘splitting the work’ across various countries”.

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(Translated from Italian)

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