European Film Forum revisited: watch panel discussions in full

This year's European Film Forum took place in Vilnius on April 6, the closing day of Vilnius Film Festival. Film professionals debated on how to put smaller European countries on the global map of cinema. Here are some of the key points of what they had to say.

Co-production is the key

In their discussion of the ways that films from smaller scale markets could make an impact at home and abroad, the panelists were in agreement that co-production was to be recommended as a strategy to reach a wider circulation for the films produced.

Julie-Jeanne Régnault, Head of European Affairs at France's CNC, suggested that the more one co-produces, the more one will have distribution in other countries and the more chance of the resulting films also being distributed online via Video on Demand (VoD) platforms.

Indeed, data collected by the European Audiovisual Observatory would seem to bear this out: EU national films were distributed in an average 2.8 countries on VoD, but this increased to an average 3.6 countries if these films were made as EU co-productions.

The concept of the organic co-production was championed by the panelists, with Arben Zharku, director of the Kosovo Cinematography Center, pointing out that he has a very hands-on approach to each project his institution backs by working with the producer on finding the appropriate co-producer, sales agent or festivals.

We need big data on European film industry

While the Estonian Film Institute's Edith Sepp argued that one should be pragmatic and realistic about the potential of smaller markets like those in the Baltic region, Film New Europe's Markéta Hodouskova observed that promoting films after they were finished was already too late; this process should accompany a film during various stages of production.

Julie-Julie Régnault added that producers need to enter into a dialogue with exhibitors, distributors and VoD platforms about how their films function on the various platforms and have the access to data about audience behavior and trends.

Such players as Netflix or Amazon Prime are never likely to divulge information about their subscribers to producers whose films are available on their platforms, but the sharing of data by European players is crucial for the future development of the industry.

Try to find new audiences

Test, test, test was the rallying call proposed by marketing strategist Joanna Solecka of the marketing agency AlphaPanda when looking at new ways of finding audiences for European films.

She explained that film marketing in the digital era require a multi-angle, multi-touch approach encompassing social media, crowdfunding and outreach to create chatter about a film.

Using the case studies of three films - Zero Point, A Heart of Love and The Last Family - to illustrate her point, Solecka emphasised the need to test extensively in order to target the right audience.

Whether a director should also be donning the marketing man's hat when developing the screenplay for a film was open to debate as far as the young Lithuanian filmmaker Karlolis Kaupinis and his Slovak colleague Tereza Nvotová were concerned. Remaining true to your artistic vision was paramount for them.

Watch panel discussions in full here:

The European Film Forum is a platform for a structured dialogue between policy makers and the stakeholders in the audiovisual sector.

Please find more information about the event at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/european-film-forum