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AGREEMENT

Equity, the U.K. trade union for creative practitioners, and Independent Theatre Council (ITC), the management association representing the independent performing arts sector, have agreed major improvements to the Ethical Manager Agreement for performers and stage managers.

The new agreement will come into force from April. For performers and stage managers, there will be an increase to the minimum weekly salary of over 10% – rising from £494 ($600) to £545 ($663) and an increase to minimum daily fees by 20% – rising from £100 to £120.

For choreographers, designers and directors, there will be also be an increase of over 10% to fees. The agreement also sees a 20% uplift on meal, daily accommodation, and commuting allowances. Touring and relocation allowances are to be combined into one living away allowance of £447.68 per week in London, and £410 per week outside of London. This sees an uplift of over 30% on the existing touring allowance (which was £311.20 per week), and an uplift just under 250% on the London relocation allowance (which was £129 per week) and just over 290% on the relocation allowance outside of London (which was £104.80 per week).

The agreement also makes clear that the principal responsibility for finding and providing accommodation sits with producers, and makes a five-day week during the rehearsal period the norm, reduces overall maximum working hours, increases holiday entitlements to beyond statutory minimums, and places wellbeing and dignity at its heart with provisions guaranteeing support for physical therapy and the contractual requirement for producers to have equal opportunities, dignity at work and environmental sustainability policies.

FESTIVAL

International Film Festival Rotterdam, which runs Jan. 25 – Feb. 5, will host a program of art installations, live performances and immersive media in multi-disciplinary section Art Directions.

As well as the Steve McQueen artwork “Sunshine State,” which was commissioned by the festival, there are six cinematic installations. In Rotterdam’s Central Station, Chinese artist Shuang Li presents an installation that invites “the public to consider the implications of our ever-evolving digital world.” “Æther (Poor Objects)” combines the imagery of the annular solar eclipse with a ring light commonly used by online vloggers.

Georgian filmmaker Dea Kulumbegashvili, who premiered her debut feature “Beginning” at IFFR in 2021, brings her installation “Captives” to Rotterdam. The artwork, hosted at WORM’s S/ash Gallery, brings the audience into “the deeply intimate space of an on-screen character.”

Other artworks include “Anubis Is Not a Dog” by Italy’s Zapruder, “Déjà Vu” by Shuang Li, and “Spectral Constellations” by Semiconductor of the U.K.

Art Directions also includes virtual, expanded and augmented reality projects. Gina Thorstensen’s interactive “Kabaret” is a “playful ecological VR experience on the plight of coral reefs, complete with a singing shrimp.” “No Place But Here” by Annie Nisenson and Dylan Valley uses virtual-reality technology to “immerse us in the ‘Reclaim the City’ movement in Woodstock, South Africa.”

“Night Creatures” conjures bat creatures who are “able to pop into the flow of a real festival environment via the mobile phones of IFFR visitors.”

The festival also announced that its guests would include Frank Grillo and John Swab, the actor and director respectively of “Little Dixie,” Darren Aronofsky, who will be present his film “The Whale,” and Geraldine Chaplin, who plays the General in Luka Jessica Woodworth’s take on Dino Buzzati’s “The Tartar Steppe.”

Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase will also be in Rotterdam, as will French actor and filmmaker Mathieu Amalric, with his 1997 feature debut “Mange ta soupe.” Maryam Touzani, director of Morocco’s 2023 Oscars submission “The Blue Caftan,” will also attend.

ACQUISITION

Banijay‘s Endemol France has acquired a majority stake in Puzzle Media, a production outfit specialising in action, adventure and alternative culture. Puzzle Media was formed in May 2007 by Jonathan Politur and has grown to deliver extreme and board sports content in high volume, with titles including “Riding Zone,” which has broadcast every weekend for 14 years on France Télévisions. Puzzle Media also develops and produces a range of other content, with daily drama, “L’Amour à l’Epreuve,” having just launched on France Télévisions.

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Meanwhile, Banijay has appointed Steve Matthews to the newly devised role of content partnerships executive, reporting into global head of scripted, Christian Wikander. In the role, which commences Feb. 1, he will act as a key facilitator in the group’s production development process, supporting in driving co-production opportunities across the Nordics, Spain and beyond, and building out the business’ pipeline and creative partnerships primarily across drama.

Matthews joins from HBO Europe, where he most recently served as VP, executive producer, scripted, having joined the business in 2014, where he worked on productions including “Pustina,” “Umbre,” “Uspjeh,” “The Sleepers,” “Foodie Love,” “Gösta; and from Banijay’s footprint specifically, “30 Coins” (Pokeepsie), “Beforeigners” (Rubicon) and “Beartown” (Filmlance).

APPOINTMENTS

Blue Ant Media has promoted Love Nature’s global general manager Carlyn Staudt to an expanded role as general manager, Love Nature and head of commissioning, global media, reporting into Jamie Schouela, president, global channels and media. In this newly created position, Staudt will continue her work heading up the wildlife and nature brand’s strategic direction and operations globally, while now overseeing all commissioning for Blue Ant Media’s free-streaming and linear channels in the U.S., Canada and internationally. 

Julie Chang has been promoted to executive VP, business strategy and coproductions, global media. Sam Linton has been promoted to VP, production and development, global media and Alison Barrat will continue in her role as senior VP, production and development, Love Nature. All three report into Staudt. James Manfull has been promoted to commissioning editor, Love Nature and continues to report to Barrat. Katie Bauer Murdock has joined as executive producer, reporting into Barrat.

WRAP

The first project from Indian actors and producers Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha‘s production company Pushing Buttons Studios, “Girls Will Be Girls,” which started filming in Nov. 2022, has wrapped after a 45-day schedule at picturesque locales in Uttarakhand, northern India. The film, directed by Shuchi Talati and is about the life of a 16-year-old girl in an elite boarding school in a small Himalayan town and how her rebellious coming of age phase is hijacked by her mother who herself never got to come of age.

The film is an Indo-French co-production which is being jointly produced by Pushing Buttons Studios, Crawling Angel Films, Dolce Vita Films and Blink Digital Media.

Elsewhere, Fazal, alongside Hussain Dalal, stars in Shujaat Saudagar‘s “The Underbug,” a selection at the upcoming Slamdance Film Festival, which is set to take place Jan 20-26 at Salt Lake City and Park CIty, Utah. In the film, as India is ravaged by sectarian violence on the eve of its Independence Day, two rioters take refuge in an abandoned house. An eerie presence in the house, however, haunts the men to the edge of sanity.

LIBRARY

Pan Nalin’s Oscar-shortlisted “Last Film Show” (Chhello Show) has been invited to include its screenplay in the Core Collection of the Oscar library. The Gujarati-language coming-of-age drama recently became the first Indian film in 21 years to be shortlisted in the best international feature film category at the 95th Academy Awards.

FORMAT

Canada’s Bell Media has acquired the CBS adaptation of “Lingo.” Simulcasting with CBS’s launch in the U.S, the gameshow premiered in Canada on Jan. 11 on Bell Media owned channel CTV. Hosted by Emmy winner RuPaul Charles, the format is a wordplay gameshow, which pits teams against each other in a battle to find words and win big cash prizes.

The format has been sold in more than 17 territories by All3Media International, with versions of the show produced in major markets, including U.K., Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and France, where the format has aired for 29 years in France.

RuPaul Charles serves as host and executive producer of the U.S. version of the game show for RuCo Inc. along with Layla Smith for Objective Media Group (an All3Media company), Jilly Pearce for Objective Media Group America and Ed de Burgh for Triple Brew Media. “Lingo” is an All3Media/IDTV and Talpa TV format, distributed by All3Media International.

“Lingo” CBS