SAN SEBASTIAN – One of the biggest single public-sector funding systems in Europe, the European Union’s Creative Europe-Media Program, is up for renewal. On May 30, the European Commission, the E.U.’s administrative arm, set out a proposal for renewed funding over 2021-27 of €1.85 billion. The program’s head, Spain’s Lucía Recalde, used the San Sebastian Festival on Sunday to talk through some of the new program’s ideas, emphases and timeline for approval.
Here are five takeaways from Recalde’s talk:
1. THERE’S NO SUCCESS LIKE SUCCESS
Creative Europe’s Media Program, which funds E.U. film-TV-vidgame development, distribution, training and promotion, and production in the case of TV, would take the lion’s share of the new program, with a proposed €1.081 billion. One leitmotif runs through several key proposals: rewarding movie and shows’ success – for example, with a success bonus for movies and TV shows able to attract substantial audiences internationally. The program could also promote European champions globally. But Recalde cautioned: “Success is not just an absolute amount of audience. We want to reward success, but no one size fits all. Success can also be getting an award at the San Sebastian Festival. That’s another emblem of quality and ambition.”
2. A BOOST FOR TV, ANIMATION?
The Media Program is looking also to supporting successful industries, such as TV and animation. Development funding could be increased to offset their financial risks of larger budgets. “Our current level of support for animation isn’t as robust as it should be. For TV, you need a pilot episode sometime to find investors. That is a serious amount of money. We think this is an area where we could make a difference and bring money,” Recalde said.
3. TAPPING INTO OUTSIDE INVESTMENT
The future Creative Europe-Media Program could look to tap money from other European Union sources, such as Investment EU, which has €38 billion for research, innovation, small-to-medium sized companies and social goals. If that worked, one scenario would see Creative Europe- Media Program recipients able to access not only low-interest credit lines from the E.U., but also risk equity investment.
4. RATIONALIZING DISTRIBUTION SUPPORT
Under the Media Program’s current distribution-aid system, a score or more of distributors in different E.U. counties can band together to access Media Program subsidies for releasing the same film. Their alliance, however, finishes once financing is secured. To make distribution support more effective, Recalde suggested that the Media Program could incentivize new ad-hoc distribution networks to create joint initiatives, such as more coordinated movie-marketing campaigns. Renewed distribution support would also see sales agents and distributors coming together to jointly prepare films’ distribution rollout.
5. EXTENDING EUROPA CINEMAS
Another success story, said Recalde. She would like to see member numbers grow for Europa Cinemas, which rewards theaters distributing a significant percentage of E.U. movies. For example, 60% of the revenues of recent Pedro Almodóvar and Ken Loach films, including Almodóvar’s “Julieta,” came from Europa Cinemas theaters, Recalde said.
The process for renewing the Media Program is a long one, however. The new proposals for 2021-27 are now under examination by the European Council, representing the E.U.’s member states, and at the European Parliament, where the rapporteur is Italian socialist Silvia Costa, the former chairman of the Parliament’s Culture Committee. It’s only after the Parliament has formally voted on the report put forward by its Culture Committee that the Parliament and Council can sit down together with the Commission to discuss a final text for the new program, Recalde said. The European Parliament’s vote on adoption of Creative Europe is scheduled for next April.