AVPSummit: Key players of the Italian and Global content production

The Italian city of Trieste is the scenario of the second edition of the Audio-visual Producer Summit, where top Italians, Americans, and French players take an in-depth look at market trends.

19 JUL 2023

Riccardo Tozzi,Shelby Stone,Gale Anne Hurd,Albert Berger,Daniel Frigo, Gary Lucchesi, Luca Bernabei, Luca Barbareschi

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The director of the Audiovisual Producer Summit, Roberto Stabile, kicked off the event's second edition that gathers top players of the Italian and international audiovisual industry. It is organized by Cinecittà for the General Direction Cinema and Audiovisual (DGCA) of the Ministry of Culture in association with APA, with the support of MiC, MAECI| Italian Trade Agency, Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region and Promo Turismo FVG and FVG Film Commission. AVPSummit is taking place from July 19th to 21st in Triste, and it is a meeting point between Italy and the United States this year also has the participation of France. "We want it to be an event to find solutions to current industry problems," Stabile said. "This meeting was born with the idea of creating not only commercial exchanges but to discuss ideas among professionals in the sector; it is an event to get to know each other and to make ourselves known to the world," added Chiara Sbarigia, President of Cinecittà and APA.

On behalf of the government, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture Lucia Borgonzoni pointed out that one of the objectives of the AVPSummit is to be an itinerant event that shows the various cities that Italy has and that perhaps they are not so well known in the world. "Italy is not just Rome or Venice; we have many other cities like Trieste that are also ideal for production," the executive mentioned. Borgonzoni also mentioned that the Ministry is working on modifying the tax credit. "We do not want to cut it, but on the contrary, increase aid and redesign an old instrument, and in this way, we want to increase the quality of Italian and international productions." Borgonzoni also stressed that the Ministry works on instruments to protect human creativity from artificial intelligence. "It's a very positive technology, but it has to be regulated so it doesn't turn into something negative," she said. Likewise, the Head of Special Projects of the DGCA of the MiC at Cinecittà and the President of the Friuli Venezia Giulia, Massimiliano Fedriga, pointed out that the Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Commission was the first in the country and this became a tremendous economic return for the region. "In recent years, there has been a significant increase in Italian and international productions in our region," he recounted.

In a second panel, Hollywood producers and leading European producers discussed the main challenges for independent producers from US and Europe. The panel moderator, Riccardo Tozzi, Co-Founder and President of Cattleya, introduced the meeting, differentiating content production in the United States and Europe. "In the United States, production is controlled mainly by the big studios, the 'Major' studios, but in Europe, production is independent; it depends on each country, each territory," he remarked.

Independent producer Gale Anne Hurd pointed out that one of the significant differences between Europe and the United States is that the US does not have national funds for independent productions, creating a significant disadvantage. "We have to finance everything ourselves; we would like to be more like Europe," she commented. Hurd also said that independent producers struggle to find who distributes their films in the United States. "Now that we can distribute our films on digital platforms, everything is on hold in the United States," she said. Shelby Stone, Film and Television Development and Production Executive and Consultant, agreed with Hurd that in the United States, it is tough to be an independent producer because if they don't have someone to finance their projects, they have to go out and find funds. "The biggest challenge is that if we are in love with our productions, we have to convince investors, and if we don't succeed, we have to look for buyers, and they will develop the project, but they will also keep the idea." Albert Berger - Co-Founder, Bona Fide Productions opined that the industry is going through a difficult time and "without support from the United States government, independent producers are going through a lot of problems." The producer also agreed that finding a partner in the distribution of the films is very difficult. "We have to rethink how we do business," he stressed.

Focusing specifically on Italy, Daniel Frigo, Country Manager at The Walt Disney Company Italy, stated that he has always heard how wonderful it is to make films and series in Italy. "I find a lot of optimism in the country and the desire to make new tax credits, better conditions for producers, and the desire to make the best productions, and I also see people return to the cinema, which is also very encouraging," he said. Luca Barbareschi, Founder and Artistic Director of Eliseo Entertainment, brought up that in Italy, many Italian production companies were sold to larger foreign companies and remarked that there is no independent production system in the country. "We must become an industry that favors independents and the tax credit and financing provided by the big players; they must favor independent companies. Barbareschi also added that Italy is a very political country, "when the government changes, it changes the rules of the game and the funds and the focus changes with each political party that governs," he commented. For his part, Luca Bernabei, CEO of LUX Vide (part of Fremantle), stressed that the company makes special products, and productions for families with an aspirational desire, seeking to tell stories of redemption, and "for this reason, we differentiate ourselves from other producers," he said. "Now that we are part of Fremantle, our DNA has not changed, we continue with a strong desire to give the market productions of the highest level, and we remain independent regarding our work," he admitted. Bernabei also remarked that Italy differs from the United States because networks are critical. "The Rai and Mediaset productions are an important reality that allows Italian producers to keep the rights to their productions and sell them worldwide. In addition, the Italian reality, what it offers in terms of its geography, culture, and talent, make it a unique country," he completed.

The first Spotlight On panel took place in the new event that Señal News is covering. Director of RAI Fiction, Maria Pia Ammirati, and the CEO of RAI Cinema, Paolo Del Brocco, have revealed the content production strategies and their evolution determined by the significant changes the audiovisual sector is experiencing in recent years. Ammirati referred to the current relationship between cinema and television and remarked that the common denominator is that while cinema remains a central point of the country and television serials have advanced a lot and come closer to the cinema, not only in the quality of its productions but also because there is talent from the cinema that went over to the world of television.

"Now there is a great confrontation with the digital platforms because they produce with a lot of money and great resources, something that we do not have, and the productions cost more and more, the market grew a lot, and the OTTs have invested a lot in my opinion, and this forces us to make productions with costs that are not always ideal," she admitted.

By Romina Rodriguez, from Trieste