Film, finance and business models

Last week the Danish Minister for Culture, Uffe Elbæk, hosted the fourth meeting in the series of discussions called Kultur på Kanten (Culture on the Edge). This event was a follow-up to the previous event, which discussed the issue for the publishing industry vis-a-vis digitalisation. This time the invited speakers were: Jesper Bay, Sarita Christensen and Michael Noer.

To kick off the event Uffe Elbæk offered a couple of thoughts on the challenges that the film industry faces at the moment:
  1. Digitalisation – all art forms are currently encountering the “digital wall”. The music sector was the first to face the challenge and is slowly emerging on the other side with new business ideas and new business models.
  2. Digital interregnum – digitalisation has left a vacuum where the different sectors need to experiment and pursue new business models. However, everything is still very fluid.
Jesper Bay, who is an independent cultural consultant, gave a short presentation on his views of the challenges the film industry is facing. Bay has worked in the music industry for a number of years and drawing on this experience. Key points were:
  • Digitalisation has started and there is no going back so it is better to embrace it.
  • Availability is the most important parameter for success.
  • The changeover to digital will take longer than you expect and will be more costly too.
  • The quicker you get started and change business models the better.
  • Business is changing from a one platform game to a multi-platform business.
  • Digital business for the music industry has increased year-by-year.
  • Digital is not a technological revolution as much as a mental revolution.
Finally Jesper mentioned three development areas to prioritise:
  1. Audience focus
  2. Innovation – using technology in new ways
  3. Investments in technology, market research and skills development.
After this the other panelists gave their perspectives on the challenges in their respective roles of producer and director. Sarita Christensen talked about how she already works strategically with funding and at an early stage discuss with directors what budget a film can raise.
Michael Noer talked about how he feels two ways about piracy. On the one hand it is great to create something that people cannot get enough of. However, he also expressed concern about piracy in terms of developing sustainable business model. Michael Noer felt that maybe as Jesper Bay and Uffe Elbæk mentioned at the beginning of the event that the music sector had a lot to offer the film sector – and that creating music and creating film maybe isn’t too dissimilar.
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