Sarajevo 2021 - CineLink Industry Days
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
At Sarajevo, European producers discuss what they have learned during the pandemic
The debate, part of this year’s CineLink Industry Days, was moderated by producer Paula Alvarez Vaccaro
During this year’s CineLink Industry Days (14-19 July 2021) hosted by the Sarajevo Film Festival, three European producers discussed what they’ve learnt from making films during the pandemic, and if there have been any positive outcomes from the process. The debate, titled “What have we learned from filmmaking during the pandemics?” and moderated by Paula Alvarez Vaccaro of UK outfit Pinball London, saw the participation of veteran Ada Solomon from Romanian outfits Hi Film Productions and microFILM, Elizabeth Karlsen from the UK’s Number 9 Films and Adis Đapo from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s SCCA/pro.ba. It took place on Zoom on 15 August.
Solomon explained how she managed, together with other Romanian producers, to create a “common framework” that didn’t exist before in her country: “We put ourselves together in an unprecedented solidarity effort, we started by informing ourselves, to see what we could grab.” In the early stages of the pandemic, it was crucial to share safety protocols implemented across Europe and the US, as well as to take part in the brainstorming sessions held by ACE and EWA.
Once Romanian producers understood that local authorities would not support them financially, they decided to help them to establish serious, feasible protocols with realistic limitations. The process was rather fast and shootings were allowed to resume already on 1 June 2020. While the governmental regulations were rather permissive, each production applied more restrictive, additional protocols to avoid disruption and protect the crew, Solomon disclosed. The experience gained in 2020 allowed this year’s productions to go smoother with limited damages.
Karlsen explained that she experienced almost the opposite scenario, with “very restrictive protocols” created by the government and not necessarily by people who were familiar with the dynamics of film production. During the pandemic, she produced Mothering Sunday [+see also:
interview: Eva Husson
film profile]. One of the pros was being able to hire high-level talent with little difficulties, such as Olivia Colman and Colin Firth. On the other hand, the increased demand of content production driven by streaming platforms made it very difficult to find enough manpower. The lack of fresh forces ready to work on set, along with the need for increased studio spaces and facilities, is forming a gap impacting the industry’s growth, which “will take years to be filled.” Unsurprisingly, strict adherence to public health guidelines has been required to gain insurance coverage. Overall, Karlsen has described her experience as “successful” but also “extremely stressful.”
Đapo produced three movies over the last two years. He defined his experience as much closer to Solomon’s than to Karlsen’s. With the help of the local association of filmmakers, local producers created a protocol to follow, “realistic for the country and for our budgets,” which does not allow for massive testing “for the whole crew and all the time.” The situation improved starting from February, when many Bosnians managed to get vaccinated in Serbia, as the implementation of a national vaccination plan in Bosnia only started in very recent times.
In the second part of the session, producers shared their takes on the future of film production. Solomon explained how “only by sharing and caring can we go through this” and how sharing means making public both best practices and failures. Đapo agreed with Solomon and added how small and adaptable is the film community, and how producers can set the example for other economic sectors. Karlsen said that it is now time for the industry “to use its muscles and power,” especially in a phase during which many young people are joining its ranks.
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