May 06 2010

Expanding the reservoir

Published by at 01:18 under Articles

SOURCE: http://www.paperjam.lu – Brian Power

THE FILM INDUSTRY IN LUXEMBOURG SUPPORTS ITS MEMBERS THROUGH THREE ASSOCIATIONS, BRINGING TOGETHER DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS EMPLOYED IN THE FIELD.

“Remembering that we started from scratch 20 years ago, and that things really began to take off 15 years ago, we now have almost 20 members of the Luxembourgish Union for Audiovisual Producers (Ulpa), and they are actively working in the co-production of feature films, documentaries and animation,” says Nicolas Steil, General Secretary of Ulpa. Steil himself is something of a veteran in the film industry in Luxembourg. He founded the precursor to Ulpa, the Producers Association of Luxembourg, and played a role in negotiating the CIAV audiovisual tax certificate scheme. He also produced several films and worked in television, as well as directing and co-scripting 2009’s Réfractaire. These are the kinds of cross-overs in function that seem endemic in the industry in the Grand-Duchy. Are they? “Sure, sometimes producers and directors agree on something!” he jokes. But the sentiment is clear: Luxembourg has to show versatility to remain competitive, and there has been a learning curve.
A producer by any other name?

“We have certainly gone through different phases of development as we have sought an identity, both for our film industry, but also for ourselves as Luxembourgish producers.” He continues, “in the first phase we had to show we were capable of working in film production. We attracted foreign productions to Luxembourg but worked for them mainly as service suppliers, even if our role was designated ‘producer’. Line-producing was the Luxembourgish heart of the production. After that, with more muscle and experience, we became more active on the technical and artistic sides as well. Parallel to that, majority shares in the financial packages also developed.”

That is not to say it has all progressed serenely. Steil believes that a few years of fallow competitiveness, where other countries had developed different financing schemes, had to be addressed. As he points out, the four major sources of finance for movie producers are pre-purchase from television, distribution, government subsidies and private investment. “In Luxembourg, we simply do not have the first two of these: the market is just too small.” How can producers here get around this? “In our co-production agreements, there is a points system which gives our input that bit more clout,” says Steil. “The amount of finance we put in goes along with the use of local talent, local technicians and spending over half the days of shooting here and over half the days spent in post-production. It gives the producers more muscle, but it’s good for the country as well, employing people from here. It also gives us a purchase option on the rights.”

Even as producers are gaining momentum, Steil admits that it takes time for a film industry to reach maturity. He estimates that 600 people earn their living from it in the Grand Duchy, but also “there is a shortage of heads of departments and actors. It takes time for these to have an international value. In certain areas we only have two or three heads of department. Similarly, with actors, directors have to consider gender, age, languages, accents… The reservoir for roles is not big enough.”

Indeed, Steil feels that this could be a problem for the future in terms of the talent pool. Those already here are working and do not have the time to train, while the points system decrees requirements of nationality or residency that restrict some development potential. But he also believes Luxembourg is getting more respect internationally in projects where main producers are from this country, and the offers and products are getting better. “We need to attract more quality, actors and departmental heads, get them to settle here…”Where is Ulpa going? “There are still some technical problems when it comes to the use of the governmental schemes, there is no cooperation with the financial place when it comes to discounting subsidies. This has to be one of our priorities as a union. We need a funding system here, a guarantee fund to enable banks to work with Luxembourgish producers.” Anything else? “We have developed a studio project, a one stop shop, in Dudelange – this will truly show what we can do, and reflect well on the whole industry and on the whole country… We must take the next step, and do it soon.”

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SOURCE: http://www.paperjam.lu – Brian Power

THE FILM INDUSTRY IN LUXEMBOURG SUPPORTS ITS MEMBERS THROUGH THREE ASSOCIATIONS, BRINGING TOGETHER DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS EMPLOYED IN THE FIELD.

“Remembering that we started from scratch 20 years ago, and that things really began to take off 15 years ago, we now have almost 20 members of the Luxembourgish Union for Audiovisual Producers (Ulpa), and they are actively working in the co-production of feature films, documentaries and animation,” says Nicolas Steil, General Secretary of Ulpa. Steil himself is something of a veteran in the film industry in Luxembourg. He founded the precursor to Ulpa, the Producers Association of Luxembourg, and played a role in negotiating the CIAV audiovisual tax certificate scheme. He also produced several films and worked in television, as well as directing and co-scripting 2009’s Réfractaire. These are the kinds of cross-overs in function that seem endemic in the industry in the Grand-Duchy. Are they? “Sure, sometimes producers and directors agree on something!” he jokes. But the sentiment is clear: Luxembourg has to show versatility to remain competitive, and there has been a learning curve.
A producer by any other name?

“We have certainly gone through different phases of development as we have sought an identity, both for our film industry, but also for ourselves as Luxembourgish producers.” He continues, “in the first phase we had to show we were capable of working in film production. We attracted foreign productions to Luxembourg but worked for them mainly as service suppliers, even if our role was designated ‘producer’. Line-producing was the Luxembourgish heart of the production. After that, with more muscle and experience, we became more active on the technical and artistic sides as well. Parallel to that, majority shares in the financial packages also developed.”

That is not to say it has all progressed serenely. Steil believes that a few years of fallow competitiveness, where other countries had developed different financing schemes, had to be addressed. As he points out, the four major sources of finance for movie producers are pre-purchase from television, distribution, government subsidies and private investment. “In Luxembourg, we simply do not have the first two of these: the market is just too small.” How can producers here get around this? “In our co-production agreements, there is a points system which gives our input that bit more clout,” says Steil. “The amount of finance we put in goes along with the use of local talent, local technicians and spending over half the days of shooting here and over half the days spent in post-production. It gives the producers more muscle, but it’s good for the country as well, employing people from here. It also gives us a purchase option on the rights.”

Even as producers are gaining momentum, Steil admits that it takes time for a film industry to reach maturity. He estimates that 600 people earn their living from it in the Grand Duchy, but also “there is a shortage of heads of departments and actors. It takes time for these to have an international value. In certain areas we only have two or three heads of department. Similarly, with actors, directors have to consider gender, age, languages, accents… The reservoir for roles is not big enough.”

Indeed, Steil feels that this could be a problem for the future in terms of the talent pool. Those already here are working and do not have the time to train, while the points system decrees requirements of nationality or residency that restrict some development potential. But he also believes Luxembourg is getting more respect internationally in projects where main producers are from this country, and the offers and products are getting better. “We need to attract more quality, actors and departmental heads, get them to settle here…”Where is Ulpa going? “There are still some technical problems when it comes to the use of the governmental schemes, there is no cooperation with the financial place when it comes to discounting subsidies. This has to be one of our priorities as a union. We need a funding system here, a guarantee fund to enable banks to work with Luxembourgish producers.” Anything else? “We have developed a studio project, a one stop shop, in Dudelange – this will truly show what we can do, and reflect well on the whole industry and on the whole country… We must take the next step, and do it soon.”

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