“A real team effort is needed between cinemas and streaming platforms”
Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming
Giancarlo Leone • President, APA – Association of Audiovisual Producers
The chair of the Italian association explains his opinion on the future of film production in relation to the crisis which is changing consumer habits
“Italian film was already struggling beforehand”… With these words, spoken during the virtual meeting intitled “Cinema in Search of New Inspiration: The Future of the Italian Audiovisual Ecosystem Post-Covid” (read our article), held on 12 January, the chairman of Italy’s Association of Audiovisual Producers (APA) Giancarlo Leone set himself apart from the chorus of optimistic voices belonging to most of the speakers present. Cinema & Video International sought him out on the side-lines of the meeting to find out more about some of the issues he raised.
Cinema & Video International: Mr Chairman, it seems you don’t believe that the recovery of cinemas can be entrusted to Italian films?
Giancarlo Leone: In order to carry out a full analysis of the situation we need to find it in ourselves to analyse the situation as it stood before Covid. Only by looking behind us can we better understand how best to tackle the future. To simply remove the state of crisis that currently exists in the relationship between films and their consumption isn’t enough. I’m sure that Italian films will be able to help in the recovery process, but we need greater capacity in order to meet the demands of the public, who will otherwise be difficult to win back. We can start with our productions, but we need to remember that the audiences who will be returning to cinemas - as soon as possible, I hope – are becoming increasingly demanding, and their patterns of consumption have changed even more over the past year, due in part to the devastating closure of cinemas. It’s not enough, therefore (and some of the key players in the revival of cinemas over the past decade would agree), to insist we just need to believe in Italian film. All of us, producers, authors, directors and actors, need to work towards recovering our relationship with viewers more effectively, by way of productions which are capable of capturing their interest and inciting their return to cinemas. It won’t be easy, and we will need a strategy informed by all.
Given that the crisis has changed the sector’s production model and that viewing habits, which now primarily involve TV and streaming platforms, have favoured new product types (TV movies, series), do you see a future for engaged, cultural films? Where? In cinemas as well as elsewhere?
Engaged productions, ones committed to investigation and to social and political subjects, come in all genres without exception. There’s no doubt that linear and non-linear TV might be capable of gaining ever more ground in relation to these themes – as it has proven recently, adding to rather than replacing cinema. Producers of TV series and documentaries are especially active in this regard and have shown that, in Italy, there’s huge demand for products capable of interpreting reality, history and politics; subjects which have been brilliantly tackled in the past by Francesco Rosi, Elio Petri, Marco Tullio Giordana, Nanni Moretti, Gianni Amelio and so many other great authors of the film, TV and documentary worlds. There’s plenty of room to move forwards and the platforms realise this, but they shouldn’t be the only ones.
You concluded your talk with the following question: how will we approach this new, changed future? In your opinion, how should we approach it?
When you’re coming out of a crisis, the first thing to do is to ask yourself: how did it all begin? It would be short-sighted to conclude that the sole driving factor was the major health emergency we had to deal with. I don’t believe it’s enough to work towards the earliest possible return to film consumption in all its forms, even if there is now an urgent need for it; we also need to look at the changes which are taking place and which have an inevitable impact on production models and editorial content. Is a film only a film if it’s released in cinemas first? Is it possible for cinema, TV and online distribution to become allies? In response to the first question, I would say no, but to the second, yes, and without jumping the entire distribution chain, either. How? By re-thinking cinema and VOD release window criteria and exploring forms of cross marketing, making a real team effort, and by producing works which can be consumed via a full range of integrated channels, breaking with current conventions over timings and distribution.
In collaboration with
(Translated from Italian)
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