INCONTRI #6 draws to a close with an eye on the future

Yet again our INCONTRI programme this year was extremely productive and forward-thinking, bringing together around 80 personages from the film and television industries to partake in discussions, keynote speeches and a think tank session. Brian Person, the director of Local Originals for Netflix opened INCONTRI #6 in conversation with Torsten Zarges, providing an overview of the On Demand giant’s recent production activities. For Netxflix, European productions will represent “a growing significance in the overall strategy” of the company. Netflix places little emphasis on users and usage data in its creative process. The success of a series, Pearson explained, is not merely dependent on the strength of the series concept and the script, but also on the competence of the team working to implement the ideas of the writers.

Marco Chimenz, CEO of the Italian production house, Cattelya, and producer of Suburra, was next to take the floor, talking with Matthijs Wouter Knol about his experience of producing for Netflix. “Netflix is obviously quite a disruptive force in the international television market. But you wouldn’t think it to work with them. They forge their place in the market in a way which is so constructive that working with them is an enjoyable and productive experience.” INCONTRI #6 also provided the opportunity for Sky Italy and Sky Deutschland to outline what they’re currently looking for in the market. Whilst collaboration with ARD on Tom Tykwer’s “Babylon Berlin” had been extremely successful, Marcus Ammon of Sky Deutschland revealed that they are currently looking more for series which are tailored exclusively to Sky. What he meant thereby was that a more a modern and horizontal style of storytelling is currently in demand. Nils Hartmann, director of Original Productions for Sky Italy, said that they are currently looking for series similar to those which have already proved very successful in Italy, namely local, authentic programmes with strong characters and a strong storyline.

Young German producer Jakob Weydemann then shared his experience of producing for Sky Deutschland. Sky first became involved in his project Sex and Crime and were then instrumental in the realisation of the film. In his talk with Torsten Zarges, Austrian producer John Lueftner stressed that additional players in the market are of vital importance for small, independent production companies.

The afternoon was rounded off with a panel discussion entitled “Time for Change – producing for the future”. The panel comprised producers Carlotta Caloria, Indigo Film and Jörg Winger, UFA Fiction and editors Klaus Lintschinger, of ORF and Christian Granderath of NDR.

A discussion with consultant Isabell Buchner from ComingNext.TV marked the end of the first day of the conference. Armed with some convincing statistics, she put forward her hypothesis that TV usage is increasingly taking a multiscreen format. 97% of viewers between the ages of 14 and 29 use multiple screens at once, usually a smartphone in combination with a television. Her market research has shown furthermore that television is increasingly delivered from internet service providers (OTT).

The second day opened with the exciting story of Annette Reeker, founder and CEO of all-in-production house. “Nobody had any faith in us or in our project and it’s still not the case that we have some big business behind us.” That was how she began her account, which went on to explain how she became the writer and showrunner of Cape Town, a now internationally-acclaimed series with an all-star cast whose budget of 1 million euro per episode was financed by private sponsors.

Georg Ramme, Global Managing Director of the Endemol Shine Beyond group and internationally recognised expert in the field of online videos, delivered his keynote speech on “Premium online content strategies.” He discussed other incidents in which productions have been very successful in achieving huge numbers of viewers without the backing of a broadcaster.

Producer Claudia Lehmann and actress, blogger and writer Tanya Neufeld then presented their case study of a very successful web series and its effective combination of financiers and distribution partners. Producers Carlo Cresto-Dina and Valeria Jamonte from the Italian production house Tempesta presented yet another online-format, woven into an interactive game “Tell me more”.

The conference was concluded with a think tank session whereby Petter Braathen, a top management coach from Norway, encouraged all INCONTRI #6 participants to consider what they were going to take away from the two conference days and how they would implement their findings in their everyday work.

Following on from INCONTRI 6# was the INCONTRI Lab!, which this year addressed the themes of coproduction and financing opportunities across Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Jan Krüger (Port au Prince Film & Kultur Produktion) and Maja Wieser (Echo Film) discussed the feature film project Iceman – Rache which deals with Ötzi’s final days, whilst Cornelia Hammelmann (DFFF) talked about the German-Italian coproduction fund. The INCONTRI Lab! also introduced some projects from the IDM imitative RACCONTI Local Talent.

We would like to take this opportunity once again to thank all our guests for yet another fantastic film conference.