Just behind the famous Palais which during the Cannes Film Festival is littered with film stars, cameras and tourists something quite special is occurring, something often ignored by the media, but magical nevertheless. Behind the glitz and glamour of the red carpet films are being born or in some unfortunate cases killed.
The Pavilions in the Village International is where the movies we all know and love are cooked up, where producers and film makers find the means to put their films on the big screen. Most countries have a presence all hoping to attract film makers to film in their territory. You couldn’t walk two or three steps without overhearing the pitching of a new film or important introductions being made. There were non –stop networking events and meetings day and night.
Speaking to people in the industry I saw three common trends; the importance of film tax credits, the rise of women film-makers and a move towards technology and VOD streaming sites as a means of screening and promoting films.
Rarely do people get excited when I tell them I am an accountant. Normally the only people who want to talk to you after this point are other accountants. However things were different in Cannes; everyone’s keen to hear about the UK Film Tax Credits available to film makers. The UK is lucky enough to offer a very lucrative Film Tax Credit to film makers who produce their films on our soil. Offering a 25% rebate on 80% of qualifying expenditure in the UK. However we are not alone Belgium also have a similar tax credit along with a number of states in the US, most notably the state of Georgia, where the IRS gives filmmakers 30% tax deduction on production expenditure. Film-makers are aware of these incentives and are keen to ensure that they take full advantage of them when and where they can.
Over the last 12 months there has been a realisation in the industry that more needs to be done to encourage and promote female film-makers and leads in films. Though the industry has a long way to go I believe we are starting to see some positive changes. During my time at the film festival I met a number of female filmmakers who work for all female film production companies, many films looking for financial assistance had lead female roles as well as that a number of plots focused around a female protagonist. The industry knows it has to change and I believe this year’s Festival is evidence that it will meet the challenges it faces.
Last year the festival was hijacked by the row between new technologies like Netflix and the more traditional French Cinema. It was decided by the judges panel that only films released in French Cinema would be considered for the Palme d’Or. The changes in the rules meant that this year Netflix pulled out of the festival. Despite this change the industry has not turned its back on technology. Many filmmakers target VOD companies like Netflix and Amazon as their main source of distribution. It was all about new technologies at this year’s festival. Not only as means of distribution but there was a growing belief that actually many of the stars of tomorrow were on social media sites like Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat. The following many Youtubers have, especially amongst the younger generation, has turned the heads of many film makers who now look to youtubers to take on lead roles in their films. Many see these stars as portal to an untapped market of millennials who seemed to have rejected the more traditional cinemas and TV.
The Cannes Film Festival was a real eye opener into the direction the industry is heading. Many are exploring new technologies like VR and AR as means of making films. There is an understanding that change must occur to encompass more women and ethnic minorities into the sector. From a financial point of view I saw how countries who promoted film productions via tax credits benefited the wider industry.