Norwegian producer Gudny Hummelvoll, whose Hummelfilm shingle worked in tandem with Sweden’s Yellow Bird on hit climate-crisis thriller “Occupied,” has been elected President of the European Producers Club.
Hummelvoll is the first woman to head the organization of 130 prominent independent film and TV drama producers across Europe, including the U.K., who since 1993 have been jointly thrashing out pressing audiovisual industry issues and lobbying European Union legislators.
She replaces Spanish producer Alvaro Longoria, head of Spain’s prominent and prolific Morena Films, in the organization’s top role. Longoria is now one of EPC’s three vice presidents, alongside Dariusz Jablonski, head of Poland’s Apple Films, and Paula Vaccaro of Pinball London.
In her first interview as EPC leader Hummelvoll underlined the importance of working towards greater diversity as a group.
“The producer is at the heart of the industry,” she said. “She/he chooses subjects, and develops and finances them to turn them into movies or TV dramas,” she added, noting that “we have a responsibility” in terms of the choice of stories and “talents we are working with.”
Hummelvoll paid tribute to her predecessor, Longoria, pointing out that he produced “Champions” (“Campeones”), the hit comedy about a basketball team made up of people with disabilities, “that was a game changer in the Spanish society.”
“We have been focusing a lot on gender, in looking at under-represented minorities, but there is more ground to cover,” she said. “I’m eager to see what we can do as producers to make the film and TV sector more diversified,” Hummelvoll added.
Another major challenge for EPC will be countering the power of streaming giants that has greatly grown during the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides megahit “Occupied,” now playing globally on Netflix, Hummelvoll has more recently produced Norwegian writer-director Camilla Strøm Henriksen’s 2018 chiller “Phoenix”; and co-produced upcoming drama “Daniel” by Niels Arden Oplev, about photographer Daniel Rye, who was held captive by ISIS militiamen. Her company encapsulates the European indie ethos, combining quality, cultural diversity and commercial viability.
“The independent producer is in danger,” she said. “We are seeing the predominance of a financing model based on the one the streamers use, where producers don’t have any rights or revenues back.”
“There has never been so much demand for content. But for which content?” Hummelvoll noted. “There is a paradox that we are experiencing every day as producers. Our content can reach international audiences thanks to the global platforms, which represent an opportunity for European producers to grow and make our industry grow as well outside Europe.”
But, again, at what cost? Particularly “when it comes to keeping the rights and deciding what content should be made,” Hummelvoll added.
The EPC has been discussing measures to curb the power of streaming giants with the European Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, who has created an informal task force on this topic comprising all film and TV industry segments.
In terms of regulations, “we need to create a real level playing field between broadcasters and streamers. Everyone has to take part in the financing and (content) creation in Europe in the same way,” she said.