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San Sebastian: Digital Revolution Favors New Talent

Festival's round table underscores the challenges of online distribution

SAN SEBASTIAN   The advent of film’s digital revolution is helping producers to reduce costs and tap new talent but causes distributors to struggle to make achieve visibility for films in the infinite online market.

As was underscored Tuesday at a San Sebastián Festival round table, Digital Talent: New Creators, New Channels, New Audiences, producers now don’t need to travel to festivals to discover new talent: Digital natives self-produce short-films and send them to producers.

Avalon, a Madrid-based boutique film distributor-producer, has made a name for itself nurturing young talented directors such as Esteban Crespo, whose feature debut “Amar,” now in post, is co-financed by Netflix.

“The new generation of creators has a more natural relationship with the image than previous generations and use the image better than words to pitch their projects, they are more eclectic and much more flexible, said Avalon’s Maria Zamora.

“When Netflix boarded ‘Amar’ we told Esteban Crespo that the film will not screen in theaters. Instead of being distraught, he declared: “About 60 million people are going to watch my film,” she explained.

Vet Spanish director-producer Imanol Uribe (“Numbered Days,” “Far From The Sea”), who has used digital formats in his last two films -of a 14 feature career- considered “highly attractive and positive” the change, an opinion that some of his colleagues in Spain didn’t share.

“You can make a film with a smartphone. This has led to a situation where many low-budget films are being produced and very few big titles,” said Antonio Saura executive director of sales company Latido Films.

“There’s paradigm shift, according to Pau Brunet at L.A. and Navarre based-La Panda: “There are thousands of people who ten years ago would not have had a chance to make a movie. However, we never will get rich with film.”

On the other hand, online content, without marketing, is normally a drop in the ocean.

“To get the interest of an internet audience, you must invest a hundred thousand times more than in the past on marketing,” Saura said.

“There is so much offer that spectators often get lost. Hence the success of TV series success: The problem of what to choose is solved for a week,” said Filmin Juan Carlos Tous at VOD platform Filmin, whose classic film offer has seen an increasing demand among adult clients since the growth of the smart TV device market.

One challenge for the industry is big data: Companies that know so much about us that will give us what we want. This is the next step and there are very well-positioned companies. Amazon knows more about me than I do myself,” Saura said.

Moderated by Zentropa Spain producer David Matamoros, the round-table formed part of the 5th Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum. It was backed by Proa, Catalonia’s Federated Audiovisual Producers, an industry body.

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