During the 77th Venice International Film Festival, which took place from 2 to 12 September, we had the opportunity to chat with Pascal Diot, head of the Venice Production Bridge. This area plays an important part in the development and production of film projects, as it allows, through the meetings and workshops it offers, the creation of a network between audiovisual professionals and the presented projects.
The Venice Production Bridge is subdivided into several markets, including the Final cut, which focuses on productions from Africa and the Middle East, the Venice Gap-Financing Market, which presents fiction films, documentaries, and VR projects seeking financial support from European and international producers, the Book Adaptation Rights Market, which offers book publishers the opportunity to promote the development and production of projects through the audiovisual industry, and the VOD Market Day, which, as its name suggests, allows VOD platforms to offer their services to international distributors. The pandemic has, inevitably, had an impact on the market’s different workshops. However, positive things also came out of this strange situation, as Pascal Diot explains.
Pascal Diot by © Birgit Heidsiek
You are the head of a market that is split into several subdivisions. What changes have you felt this year?
“The obvious change is the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced us to create a hybrid market, where some events were held physically and others online, in order to meet the health safety requirements of several countries. This year, 993 professionals came to Venice and 290 others took part in the online meetings, instead of the usual 2700 visitors. The market was mostly attended by European people. Since the lockdown, the Venice Production Bridge is the first market to be held physically, and it will probably be the only one since the other markets are expected to be held online. Regarding the film projects, however, there were no real changes. We have received and selected as many projects as in previous editions for the Venice Gap-Financing Market and the Final Cut. The only change was in the Book Adaptation Rights Market because a lot of publishers have been unable to come to Venice due to the pandemic".
Do you think that online meetings have made the market less dynamic than last year?
“Only the presentations related to virtual reality were held online, the other projects were presented on-site in Venice. The market was very dynamic there. Since it was the first market since the lockdown, all the professionals who came were eager to meet other professionals again and to exchange with them. The meetings were therefore all the more efficient. People were thrilled to be here, it worked very well”.
What was according to you the highlight of this 2020 edition?
"What struck me was the overall atmosphere. Because of Covid 19, we took strict sanitary measures: mandatory temperature checks for all those entering the festival, face masks, tickets reservation to watch a film or attend the online panels… All this helped reassure everyone who came to the festival and contributed to the development of a strange atmosphere where there were fewer people".
What are your fears and hopes regarding the changes that were caused by the Covid 19 situation?
“I don’t have any particular fears, because the overall results were very positive. Besides, we are probably going to keep some of the new features for next year. We have realized that booking the seat one wants to occupy during a film screening was useful and worked well. As far as our hopes are concerned, everyone who had to present their project online wishes for only one thing: to be able to come back here. They do not like taking part in meetings via Zoom or Skype, they prefer face-to-face meetings. They can’t wait to come back to a normal market, where everyone can meet".
What are your expectations and goals regarding the future of the market?
"We will keep doing what we usually do. The Venice Production Bridge is different from other markets such as Cannes and Berlin, buying and selling are not the core of our market, but the services we provide to production and producers are. For example, we wanted to develop a market dedicated to virtual reality this year, if it hadn’t been for Covid-19. I am also thinking about other ways to develop new services for producers".
What is the impact of the pandemic on films whose development or production has been launched?
"Some projects, especially those related to the Gap-Financing Market, had to delay their shooting. While we usually reach a rate of 82% of films that complete their financing within the 6 months following the market, there could be a time lag this year. Some shootings have been pushed back to next spring, so these projects will reach completion later, perhaps in the second half of 2021. That's the main impact of the pandemic".