London’s Focus, a meeting place for the international production community, is ready to return in December for an “ambitious” eighth edition.
“It’s all about volume and ambience. This will probably define Focus this year,” says managing director Jean-Frédéric Garcia. “People expect this show floor to be buzzy.”
The two-day live event, which will unspool at the Business Design Centre from Dec. 6-7, will offer a “packed” program, he says. Focus Virtual is set to follow on Dec. 8 and 9.
“Our virtual edition back in 2020 was a learning curve, but it proved great for extending our reach. We don’t want to lose that,” says Kate Hughes, director of marketing and communications, mentioning this year’s registrations hitting “record levels.”
With its conference program presented in partnership with Variety and sponsored by CCS Rights Management, Focus continues to embrace growing convergence of audiovisual formats, attracting professionals from across film, TV, advertising, games and XR.
“What we are most proud of is that we work across various fields of the audiovisual spectrum. Other events are a bit more specialized. We specialize in all of them,” Garcia says.
Its participants will be able to attend more than 60 sessions, panel discussions, workshops and presentations featuring over 150 leading industry experts. More than 200 companies will be exhibiting this year.
Willem Bosch, Pedro Lopes, Sumerah Srivastav, Katrina Wood and Sydney Gallonde will discuss the Role of a Showrunner, while This Just In: The Future of Global Content will look at trends for both scripted and unscripted content. A special Canadian co-production session is also planned.
In the Convergence of Film & Games, Paul Raschid and Neville Raschid will take on the interactive film “The Gallery.” Finally, In Conversation sessions will welcome IMDb founder Col Needham, Good Chaos’ CEO Mike Goodridge and Jane Millichip, incoming CEO of BAFTA.
Reflecting key industry talking points of 2022, Focus will also give the floor to Filmmakers for Ukraine, an online platform launched by Crew United Europe, and designed to support those affected by the ongoing war.
The importance of sustainability, diversity and mental health will also be discussed, with the Film and TV Charity presenting its free to use resource to improve mental health and wellbeing, “The Whole Picture Toolkit.”
“We have been talking about mental health, and how it affects people on set, for a while now. It’s not a new topic for us, but there are new approaches to solving problems,” says Garcia.
He also mentions the Makers & Shakers Awards, launched in 2019. “They are given to people who are making a real impact in the industry, pushing the boundaries when it comes to mental health, tolerance and inclusivity. Progress is definitely being made.”
The challenge is to provide new angles to existing topics, he says. “When we put a session together, we try to make sure that even when its theme is quite common, there is something new to say [about it]. We were one of the first ones to talk about blockchain in film finance, for example. In 2019, we had a session on NFTs.”
Despite all the changes in the industry, networking is still the key to Focus’ success, underscores Hughes. “There will be many happy hours on the first day,” she says with a laugh. “The idea is to bring people together. That’s where some of these current conversations take place.”
“People will expect to get some concrete answers because it’s a snapshot of what’s going on. But one of the unique selling points of Focus is getting all these people under one roof, making sure they are able to connect,” adds Garcia. “It’s not a transactional exhibition. It’s based on making contact.”