What is Initiative Film all about? Where does your knowledge in film development come from?
Since I started up Initiative Film in 1993, my team and I have worked on the essential phase of developing films and the talents behind them.
In 1992, I left production convinced that this fundamental time in project management needed real know-how, time, intuition, and a network. I thought carefully about methods, specific legal agreements, funding, and development, while putting together a sort of directory of talents and a subject database.
How have you been involved with Euromed Audiovisual?
I was lucky to be head of studies for an innovative, unique project called Medea from 2002 to 2005. Medea allowed me to reflect both on artistic talent and feasibility, and to be exceptionally able to offer each author/producer team a development budget. As part of the project, participants had access to logistical, artistic, and financial support, as well as an exceptional networking opportunities.
Aristote was probably the most taylor-made project. Targeted at young talents from the Euro-Mediterranean region, the idea was to help a small group make the move from short film to feature film, or from “mere” screenwriter to author/director. We discussed methodology and practice, with rigorous follow-up for screenwriters without a director and sometimes without a producer. The number of projects that saw light and screenwriters who worked after the project clearly show that it met a demand, that is still there.
Initiative Film is one of the only companies in Europe specialised in film development. Could this experience be expanded to countries from the South?
At Initiative Film we don’t work with the North, the South, the East or the West, we work with directors, screenwriters, producers, wherever they come from. What does radically change from one region to the next is not professional needs, but access to development money.
In these countries, what is the weakest point in film development?
It could be the producer’s role in this decisive phase. When a producer has a hard time funding a film’s development, following up on screenwriting, finding a co-screenwriter for his director, who usually writes alone, then development and the film itself are at risk.
But money is not the only cause for sometimes difficult relations between director and producer -- and this is not specific to the South -- as usually there is no authority on film development.
What may be lacking in countries of the South -- and which, not long ago, also lacked in other countries -- is the ability to find someone to write either for or with a director, which requires generations of screenwriters to have been trained to collaborate on screenplays, not to systematically become directors themselves.
It is also possible that, in the South, a desire to adapt a literary work can be thwarted because it will automatically be an extra cost. It’s the cost of an option. We have noticed that even if this cost is minimal, keeping in mind it is added on to the cost of a screenplay, it restricts development to a demanding schedule. This is the time of an option. And so the possibility is quickly brushed aside.
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