European Film Promotion Convenes ‘Crisis Committee’ to Cope With Coronavirus Disruption

European Film Promotion, an agency that represents movie bodies from 37 countries, is putting in place changes to its programs to minimize the harm being done to the industry by the coronavirus crisis. As part of that effort, EFP has convened a “crisis committee,” Sonja Heinen, EFP’s managing director, told Variety.

The committee will meet every week and will involve national film bodies, and representatives of festivals and other industry players, such as the sales company body Europa International. The committee will seek to be “a kind of barometer” and “collector of different views,” EFP said in a statement.

The first meeting will take place on Friday and will involve representatives of EFP member organizations and Jérome Paillard, executive director of Cannes Market, who will talk about his plans for a virtual market, starting on June 23, if it is needed.

The committee has been convened because decisions will have to be made quickly during the crisis, EFP said, and promotion bodies and sales agents are dependent on the decisions of the festivals, and vice versa. With this in mind EFP is looking to facilitate an exchange of views between industry players in order to speed up communication and ensure transparency.

EFP is also adapting its programs to suit the changed circumstances caused by the coronavirus crisis. Heinen said: “For us, it is important to keep the visibility for European films,” and in particular to ensure that the “diversity” of the continent’s filmmaking was represented at virtual events.

EFP plans to make its Film Sales Support initiative, which provides funds to sales agents for the marketing of European films, more flexible so that it can be used by sales agents for digital promotion and pitches, and doesn’t require the agents to attend a festival or market in person, and remove the requirement for a theatrical release for the films. These changes will depend on E.U. funder the MEDIA Program giving its permission, as it funds the initiative. EFP is working with Europa International to ensure it can continue to “keep supporting the sales companies,” Heinen said.

EFP is looking to work closely with festivals and markets that are setting up virtual events due to the pandemic to develop digital tools to pitch projects, make presentations and screen films. EFP will also offer to organize online training for its member organizations and other partners “to embrace the digital shift in all promotion areas as quickly as possible,” it said in a statement.

EFP’s Producers on the Move program, a platform for up-and-coming producers, is going to take place in a digital format in May. The event usually takes place at the Cannes Film Festival, but the festival has opted to move to late June. EFP will offer a variety of digital tools for meetings to take place between the producers and leading figures in the film industry who could help extend their professional network.

In some respects having Producers on the Move activities take place when Cannes isn’t in progress may allow greater access to film industry figures, Heinen said.

She said that the “social aspect” of Producers on the Move was important and if Cannes goes ahead on June 23, as is hoped, then EFP may organize some activities for the producers then. However she said that she doubted that the festival would go ahead then as a physical event, although Cannes Market intends to go ahead with its virtual market at that time, come what may.

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