Sonia Hausséguy e Irena Gruca-Rozbicka • Dipartimento Editoriale e Sviluppo, Crew United
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We sat down with Sonia Hausséguy (Crew United France) and Irena Gruca-Rozbicka (Crew United Polska), who work for the Editorial and Development Department of the platform. Currently, the database of Crew United has over 40,000 active members, and gathers information about 370,000 filmmakers and 60,000 companies from the audiovisual sector. It is available free of charge, but paid, premium accounts provide full visibility and plenty of tools. These, in particular, are the foundation of Crew United’s solid business model. We spoke about the company’s main objectives and its future expansion plans.
Cineuropa: Crew United has been around for more than 20 years. Why did you start developing it, and what was your primary mission at the time?
Sonia Hausséguy: This year, we celebrated our 25th anniversary. In 1996, the founders, Vincent Lutz and Oliver Zenglein, had the vision to create this unified tool to interconnect professionals and give them a platform to represent themselves in a verified and reliable context, where they could be found and “booked”. The idea was to increase transparency in the decision-making process and to promote higher working standards. Nowadays, we cover Germany, Austria and the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Our main goal is to foster encounters between people who want to make great movies together.
Irena Gruca-Rozbicka: That, combined with the focus on sustainable conditions under which European film production must take place. In 2017, we launched the English version of our database, in 2019 the French one, and in 2021, we added the Polish one, which I’m honoured to run.
SH: In every country, we establish collaborations with institutions, unions and associations, which support us in providing the best possible service. This process requires time, research and expertise.
How is the database structured?
SH: There are different categories – freelancers, companies, actors, projects, jobs, accommodation and market. We cover every existing film profession. To register, you must submit a professional portfolio which is verified by our team, checking whether the data are correct and whether you were regularly working within the sector.
IGR: All types of audiovisual projects are available: features, TV productions, adverts, industrial films and so on.
SH: The job section is also reviewed by our staff. Furthermore, we collaborate with the local unions and guilds, making sure that every offer complies with the working conditions in the given country. If an offer is not clear, we contact the publisher and ask for a version of the ad that is not harmful. This is a sort of regulatory role that we play. In this, we have to proceed very carefully, because every market is different. No other platform addresses this, because it requires time and resources. IMDb and others generate revenue and maintain the status quo. By protecting our users and improving working conditions, we have the potential to become the most important European film database.
The long-term goal is to become a European tool, but your leaflet says that Spain and Romania are marked as future target markets, and these will follow your recent launch in France and Poland. Why did you decide to start your expansion in these markets, specifically?
SH: France has the largest film industry on the continent, and there was no database that could accurately represent everyone's work on films – with verified information. The French crew members had to use IMDb with English job titles in order to be listed in projects, leading to many errors. There were no advanced tools to find professionals with credible experience when recruiting solely within your own network is no longer effective. Last but not least, there are a lot of synergies with the German market: French-German co-productions are becoming more and more important, and there is a joint funding agreement and co-operation between film schools. With a strong Crew United Germany and Crew United France, Crew United Europe is on the right track.
IGR: After observing the Polish audiovisual market for many years, we realised that the establishment of the Polish Film Institute helped the film industry become more structured. Nowadays, Poland is not just a large production country, but also a great service provider with good financial incentives. We believe that our tool can make it an even more appealing filming destination for international producers. Spain is one of the most dynamic audiovisual industries in Europe right now. And Romania is known for its artistic excellence.
SH: Our local teams in Spain and Romania are working thanks to the great support of the Creative Europe – MEDIA programme. And in the pipeline of the ultimate, overarching Crew United Europe project, we already have Italy, Greece and Lithuania lined up.
IGR: We firmly believe in our vision of one European network, consisting of strong and transparent local Crew United branches. The most important issues concerning film culture, social and environmental sustainability, education and training of young talents, diversity and integration should be discussed and resolved on a European level. For 25 years, we’ve been actively involved in such a debate in Germany. We have the knowledge and the will to moderate it internationally in order to look for the best solutions to common challenges.
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