Professionals and major stakeholders in the Swiss cinema industry have come together at the 23rd Geneva International Film Festival (GIFF) for the third part of the Connect to Reality program, a platform for discussion set up by the Locarno, Zurich and Geneva festivals. Together, they discussed proposals aimed chiefly at achieving greater continuity and rethinking training courses in the cinema industry.
Tuesday November 7th at the GIFF, authors, moviemakers, producers and representatives of institutions in the Swiss cinema industry as well as international guests gathered together to discuss moviemaking, training, work continuity and the relationship between authors and audiovisual producers in Switzerland. Several new proposals were formulated during the event, including the introduction of specializations – in moviemaking as well as editing, sound recording, lighting and emerging media – at the level of a national MA program, slate funding for authors, and automatic aid when an audiovisual project has already earned the support of major stakeholders for its production and distribution .
While highlighting the importance of having a neutral platform to discuss such vital issues for the future of audiovisual media in Switzerland, several participants asked for more peaceful discussions in future CtR events in order to foster a more constructive approach to issues relating to the distribution, production and creation of Swiss movies. Moreover, all the professionals present pointed out that it was becoming a matter of urgency for Switzerland to implement a system – as in most Western countries – that provides for the reinvestment in national audiovisual production of some of the large profits that cable operators and major stakeholders in the digital field make each year.
As an introduction to this day of reflection, a discussion on moviemaking brought together Swiss author and director Jacob Berger, Indian moviemaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan and French and Polish producer Maria Blicharska. During their round-table discussion, all highlighted the importance of coming up with more flexible financing models to free up creativity in the audiovisual field. They noted that a script was a continuously changing object and that it could as such not be the single most important criterion by which to assess an audiovisual project.
Think tanks also enabled a number of avenues for some innovative reflection to be identified. In the field of academia, although most participants rejected the idea of a university-level national school for cinema, they have already expressed their desire for greater mobility between Swiss schools at BA level and for a national MA in Cinema with specializations for trades in the audiovisual industry to see the light of day. Cinema students should also be able to “connect to reality” by enjoying greater mentorship, experiencing the reality of shootings through internships and coming into contact with producers at an earlier stage.
As for the absence of continuity in moviemaking trades, this may be due to a lack of distinction by the financing channels of the Swiss audiovisual industry between newcomers and experienced professionals. It may also be due to the often-tense relationship between authors and producers and to the blatant lack of professional screenwriters active in Switzerland. Among the proposals put forward, the idea of introducing slate funding for authors, following the European model, which would enable them to simultaneously develop at least three projects – in association with one or several producers – was unanimously voted in favor of. Finally, it was pointed out that when projects submitted to selection committees already benefit from the strong support of a coherent team of operators in the chain of production and distribution, they should benefit from automatic aid. Such a decision would help strengthen the producers’ decision-making power, thereby reinforcing their entrepreneurial capacity to everyone’s satisfaction. An “oddball track” could also be created to promote new formats and innovative projects outside of the mainstream as well as a “fast track” based on the Canadian model, that would enable moviemakers (young ones especially) to produce a movie with fewer means but more quickly and with greater artistic risk-taking.
With this third part of the Connect to Reality program, professionals in the Swiss audiovisual industry ultimately undertook an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the support system for independent creation and fostered innovative ideas to strengthen the continuity and relationship between authors and producers in the future.