Mart aims to boost indie 3D

3D Stereo Media 2011

The 3D Stereo Media confab spans all aspects of 3D, from scientific applications to entertainment.

It has grown quickly: the first edition in 2009 attracted 350 participants from 13 countries, while last year’s event had 800 attendees from 20 countries.

As well as the conference, workshops and film festival featured in previous editions, this year sees the addition of the 3D Film Mart, a co-production market that seeks to boost the number of independently produced 3D pics, particularly those from Europe.

“There are a lot of Hollywood studio 3D projects, but fewer European ones, for obvious reasons: They started later, the financing is a bit more difficult or complicated than other films, but also because the existing markets in Europe — like Cannes, Berlin, etc. — were not really putting the 3D people together,” says Thierry Baujard, CEO of film biz consultancy Peacefulfish, which helped set up the market.

The European Union’s Media Program, which is keen to encourage European producers to take on 3D projects, provided 40% of the funding for the market.

Further coin came from the regional government in French-speaking Wallonia, which is keen to boost investment in this area.

“The transition (to 3D) is not easy to manage, because it requires new technical skills — the filmmakers must learn a new 3D film grammar — but also in terms of funding. The market is a tool that should answer that last challenge,” says 3D Stereo Media co-founder Pierre Collin, who is exec manager of Twist, an org that reps 100 digital technology companies in Wallonia, as well as running his own consultancy firm, Eureka Conseils.

The mart attracted applications from 60 projects, and from those 20 have been chosen to take part, with budgets totalling $88 million ($119 million). All projects have 10% of their funding in place. The highest budgeted project is the $24.3 million fantasy toonpic “WindWalkers” from France’s Forge Animation. The next biggest is the $13.5 million sci-fi horror “Grind” from Berlin-based New Tension Films. Both are English-language pics. Most projects are budgeted below $7 million.

Apart from covering the additional cost of 3D filmmaking, another issue for producers is securing a TV pre-sale, which is problematic given that relatively few TV companies have 3D channels, Baujard says.

As well as being pitched to international financiers and co-producers, the projects in the mart will be judged by a jury, which includes Anne Sheehan, an exec at Prescience Film Finance in London, and Mark Menta, prexy of Malibu Film Group, in Los Angeles.

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