Zurich, October 3, 2017 – Some 25 personalities from the Swiss film industry debated and presented their image of the future Swiss film producer at the discussion-based Connect to Reality event, which took place within the framework of the Zurich Film Festival on Monday. The think tank was established to tackle and improve Swiss cinema’s sustained low domestic market share, and its unsatisfactory international success rate. The participants separated into three groups to discuss possible solutions to the above problems and develop concrete recommendations.
“Film producers should be more entrepreneurial, more emphasis should be placed on self-responsibility, success should be rewarded, failure should have consequences.” These are just several conclusions made at the half-day think tank, which began at Locarno Festival in August and continues at Geneva International Film Festival in November.
More money for less films
The panel agreed that there are too many Swiss producers, and too few who think and act entrepreneurially. Using this fact as a basis, two groups came up with a different series of recommendations. In order that Switzerland may finally rise above the mediocre, one group suggested that successful producers should automatically receive support for future projects, and that unsuccessful producers should receive no future support. The second group proposed making more money available to more experienced producers by limiting the budget to a reduced number of director and producer debuts. The proposal to produce fewer films and give those films more money followed in a in a similar vein.
Modernise the film support system
Participants from various professions and organisations concurred that the role of producers must be strengthened and agreed that this can only be achieved by introducing a new support scheme. Success should be rewarded with automatic access to further support; this will also help ensure continuity. Conversely, introducing a ‘malus system’ will block unsuccessful producers from accessing future support.
The Swiss film support system is not suited to the present-day situation. Too many poorly conceived projects are receiving grants and being produced, even though the chances of success are known to be extremely slim. To ensure that underdeveloped projects do not apply for or receive support, an application fee of say CHF 1000 should be introduced.
In order to reverse the current application marathon, one group suggested strengthening the regional film funding system. The first point of contact should be regional funding providers, those who know the projects and the people behind them. Only after going through this initial selection phase should there be (perhaps even automatic) access to funding on a national level. If deemed suitable, a third phase would then comprise interregional support via Media Desk, MEDIA Programme, Eurimages Co-Production Agreement etc.
Of course, this also means that greater demands will be made of producers. An individual strategy, which also includes the promotion and marketing of the production, should be submitted for each project. Swiss cinema must once again become a brand with positive connotations. The panel agreed, “We must know the market and produce for the market.”
The final edition of the Connect to Reality event takes place at the Geneva International Film Festival on November 7. Connect to Reality has been sustained by SSA – Société Suisse des Auteurs and Suissimage.