Mar del Plata: FIAPF Pushes Digital Agenda (EXCLUSIVE)

Powerful global producer org relocates to Brussels to work more efficiently

Mar Del Plata: FIAPF Pushes Digital
Copyright: Emilio Mayorga

MAR DEL PLATA: The International Federation of Film Producer Associations (FIAPF), the world’s film producers org, is looking for a larger efficiency by relocating from Paris to Brussels as producers confront the huge challenges of the sector’s digital revolution, Luis Alberto Scalella, FIAPF president, announced at Mar del Plata Festival.

Grouping 35 national associations as members, representing 30 countries, FIAPF held its first executive committee meeting – at least in modern memory – at the Argentine Fest over last weekend.

Setting up new offices from March in Brussels, home to the European Commission, FIAPF, whose members include the MPA and IFTA, has made the move after other trade federation. Previously in Paris, the International Federation of Film Distributors’ Associations (FIAD), an assn. of European distributors, has already relocated to Brussels, as has UNIC, the International Union of Cinemas, a Euro exhibitors’ org.

Based out of Brussels, FIAPF can not only represent its producer members’ interests more efficiently with the European Commission but also collaborate with other trade bodies, such as the MPA, whose H.Q. is already in Brussels.

“We have constant meetings with the European Commission and benefit from the aid of the MPA and IFTA,” Scalella told Variety.

FIAPF’s relocation comes as the film industry faces multiple, large and complex challenges. Much of that comes from the digital domain.

“Much of the movie industry’s future business will come from Internet,” Scalella insisted. “We must ensure that there will still be a movie business, that producer which invest and actors, directors and technicians that work for a salary would be paid enough for work done.”

FIAPF is not just focused on Europe. But one of the main political issues on its agenda is inevitably the European Commission’s strategy for a Digital Single Market, outlined on May 6, which is crucial to the world’s film-TV sector, not just Europe’s.

Strategy pushes for portability: That content paid for in one E.U. country should be available to the client in others when traveling. It also champion cross-border access, whereby people in the E.U. should have the right to access content across borders situated on digital platforms in other countries.

FIAPF has reiterated its deep concern that such principles could threaten the ability of the film industry to continue financing films through “territoriality.” One key instance of this is territory-by-territory pre-sales of films, worth roughly 25%-50% of movies’ financing on many higher-end European films.

Local distributors would be reluctant to put up meaningful minimum guarantees and P & A if films are playing on digital windows across Europe by the time of theatrical release.

Gunther H. Oettinger, the European Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, suggested at the Cannes Festival in May that certain sectors of “sensitivity,” such as movies and TV, could be exempted from the Commission’s DSM plans.

Just how that exemption may play out is still unclear, however. The Commission is expected to release by the end of 2015 a regulation on portability. It is also scheduled to publish a communication – a non-final roadmap or food-for-thought – on copyright by year-end or early 2016.

In general, given that digital distribution is still a nascent sector, FIAPF is calling for contractual and commercial freedom for the sector to develop with flexibility and a diversity of offer.

FIAPF celebrates four-to-five annual executive committee meetings, effective meets of its board of directors charged with the daily monitoring of FIAPF. It holds General Assembly meetings twice a year.

Present at FIAPF’s executive committee meeting were Scalella, and one of its two U.S. VPs for the U.S., MPA’s Stanford McCoy, who was appointed MPA president-managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa in January. (IFTA’s Jean Prewitt also co-serves as FIAPF U.S. VP).

Also present in Mar del Plata were FIAPF VPs for Africa (Nigeria-based Alex Eyengho, president of the Association of Core Nollywood Producers), Asia (Mohammad Mehdi Asgarpoor) and Europe (Borje Hansson, CEO of Sweden’s Bright Pictures).