Germany’s Top Execs Talk Biggest Issues Facing Their Business Today – EFM – Deadline

As the physical edition of the Berlin Film Festival kicks off today and with the virtual edition of the European Film Market well underway, a number of key talking points such as Covid, the uncertainty of the theatrical sector and satisfying the demand for streaming platforms are likely to be hot button topics amongst buyers and sellers alike.

While the volume of business in what is looking like a rather compact market remains to be seen (with a host of sales agents admitting it’s harder to create a buzz around titles at a virtual market rather than a physical one), there are a few packages out there likely to whet the appetite of international buyers.

But before the deal-making commences, Deadline asked some of Germany’s major players in the film world to give us a sense of the lay of the land in their territory at the moment, highlighting some of the major challenges and opportunities facing their sector today. Take a look below.

Constantin Film

Martin Moszkowicz, President / Chairman Constantin Film

What are the biggest challenges facing your company and sector right now in Germany?

Obviously, the theatrical situation due to Covid is the biggest challenge. As a distant second, the crew and cast situation due to the production boom.

What are the main opportunities in the German market right now?

The production sector (with an emphasis on television and streaming shows) and license trading including library sales is booming. Local streaming platforms as well as traditional broadcasters are huge areas of opportunity.

What are you most excited about for 2022?

We will go into production on the next Bora Dagtekin (Fack Ju Goehte, The Perfect Secret) movie and on Hagenbased on Wolfgang Holbein’s bestselling take on the Nibelungen Saga – a theatrical feature film AND a six-part mini series.

HDF Cinema

Christine Berg, HDF Cinema CEO

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector right now in Germany?

We need a long-term strategy for dealing with the pandemic, because it will be with us for some more time. We have to make it clearer to our visitors that the cinemas are safe places – thanks to their high safety and hygiene standards. This goes hand in hand with the fact that we of course have to get the guests who have not been to the cinema at all since the beginning of the pandemic to go to the cinema again.

Further important topics this year will be the advancement of digitization, the topic “Green Cinema” and measures to remedy the shortening of skilled workers. It is important to inspire more people to work in the cinema environment.

What are the main opportunities in the German market right now?

The most important thing for us is to achieve a political commitment to the “reconstruction” of cultural life in Germany after a year and a half of the pandemic. We call for a strong investment program for this. We also see a lot of potential in a stronger focus on popular German films – specifically on cinema productions – and not just on series or TV formats. To this end, we are striving for a stronger alliance between the producers and the cinemas.

What are you most excited about for 2022?

What I look forward to the most is the moment when I find myself in a movie theater without any restrictions. We all miss this normality. I don’t wish for more.

Fred Kogel, CEO of Leonine

Courtesy of Leonine

Fred Kogel, CEO of Leonine

What are the biggest challenges facing your company and sector right now in Germany?

We love challenges because they make us even better. Managing the release dates of our theatrical slate in a Covid-affected market environment is one of the biggest challenges right now. We think the theatrical market will recover post-pandemic, but the current environment has accelerated the change towards a tentpole-driven, event-film market. Our acquisitions strategy anticipated this development from day one, so our first Leonine acquisitions were Moonfall, Knives Out and Hustlers. We continue to pursue this path, for example with the blockbuster slate we just acquired from Lionsgate including John Wick: Chapter 4 and Ballerina and our own productions like The School Of Magical Animalswhich was the most successful German feature film in 2021 with 1.8 million admissions and also a great world sales success.

Another challenge is getting the right creative talent and the best crew for our productions. Our ability to offer talents a European perspective and great creative freedom makes us a very attractive partner.

What are the main opportunities in the German market right now?

We have positioned Leonine in a way that enables us to seize all opportunities across production, distribution and licensing and to meet the demand of all program providers. All our clients get a 360-degree offer tailored to their individual needs with feature films or series, fiction or non-fiction, produced in-house by one of our production banners, co-produced or licensed, whether national or international, whether new product or library – we cater to all needs with content that belongs to the best available on the market.

In the production segment one of the biggest opportunities is that local German content is traveling around the world. Premium content from all regions will always find its audience and market.

What are you most excited about for 2022?

I’m excited to continue our growth story with Leonine Studios. We’re also very much looking forward to releasing the second part of our franchise The School Of Magical Animals in autumn this year. Our production banner W&B Television is about to complete the exciting fantasy series adaptation of the bestselling book The Gryphon for Amazon Prime Video.

I’m also delighted to work with Pierre-Antoine Capton and our colleagues from Mediawan to continue building our vision of a European studio with Mediawan & Leonine Studios as a home for the best talents and the preferred partner for premium content.

Above The Line

Sigrid Narjes, MD of talent agency Above The Line

What are the biggest challenges facing your company and sector right now in Germany?

The challenges are bigger for our clients than for us as a company. While us talent agents profit from the fact that so many features and series are commissioned nowadays, the speed of development for material is difficult for our clients. Although an executive of a streamer once said, “more time for development doesn’t necessarily mean it becomes a better script,” I do think time for development is of essence and the material has the chance to become better.

Another challenge that affects our clients is the fact that many feature films have a hard time not only to be released but to be seen. Many films that have been produced prior to the pandemic have not been released yet and if they have, a lot of times to disappointing numbers.

What are the main opportunities in the German market right now?

Main opportunities are all the new players – streamers and OTTs. You can shop a project to different streamers and find yourself maybe with several of them interested in your project. This used to be quite different, when we had only [a couple of] broadcasters.

What are you most excited about for 2022?

I’m excited about the fact that all of our clients – with an age ranging from 14 to 80 – are working on great projects this year.

Joern Neumann / augenchein film production

Jonas Katzenstein and Maximilian Leo, founders, Augenschein Film Production

What are the biggest challenges facing your company and sector right now in Germany?

There is a lot of change going on in the independent feature film business and Covid for sure is accelerating the process. At the same time, studio tentpoles become bigger and bigger, and non-franchised original content is produced less. Output deals aren’t renewed and studios seem to produce less and buy more finished films. For our director driven focus and financing out of Germany this also offers opportunities.

Another challenge is that due to the high production volume in the series there is tough competition for crews, so we now cannot focus on curating only talent but have to include the key crew positions as well. One good thing is that it has become a bit easier to get your first HoD [head of department] credit, so there are many very talented younger HoDs around. For casting it is a bit similar, since it feels that everybody is shooting all the time, so it has become all the more important to have a filmmaker on board who can pull in other talent.

What are the main opportunities in the German market right now?

First off, we are super thankful. The world’s strongest public TV system combined with an unparalleled supportive film fund system, which also covers Covid related extra costs, enables us to secure solid financing for our international productions even in these times. And through the high level of series productions more and more crew are skilled enough to join top notch international feature film projects as well.

After a lot of long-needed social debates following the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements, it feels like we are now working in a less toxic and more open-minded industry. Of course. there is still a lot of work to do, but it seems that there is a new generation of potential allies and friends among our fellow producers and also distributors, agents, talent managers, with much more collaborative mindsets enabling us to produce more meaningful features from Germany with international impact.

What are you most excited about in 2022?

We definitely look forward to our next trip to Los Angeles to meet our old and new friends to initiate our next developments with German and European directors (like Marcela Said, Jan-Ole Gerster or Patrick Vollrath). We are craving to meet our friends in the industry live and in real life. We can’t wait to have that glass of rosé in Cannes and to finally cheer in person on the collaborations (such as The Dive or Berlin Nobody).

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