Cannes Marche Debates How to Keep Co-Productions Afloat during COVID-19

With many activities starting to recover since the lockdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic, co-producers have started putting several measures in place as Film Productions restarts.

In a session with Cannes Marche, while addressing Co-Production in COVID-19 Times, Finola Dwyer – founder of Wildgaze Films stated that her company has made a decision to postpone any filming shoots in the United States and Canada and instead are now focusing on local production. Finola also added – “We’re sticking to what we’re doing, holding our nerve and keeping an eye out on U.K. projects that are more self-contained – because this virus is going  to be with us for quite a while.” 

She also revealed that her company currently working on some projects including one with British screenwriter and novelist Nick Hornby.

Also speaking on the issue, Executive Producer Mike Goodridge also said, “Just having to restart preproduction can be a costly process, so there has been a considerable uptick in budget but our co-production partners, our private equity, our bond companies and the banks have all been very understanding, We are all pulling together to get best the result.”

Before the coronavirus lockdown that was imposed around the world, Mike Goodridge was working on co-producing “Triangle of Sadness” – a film starring Woody Harrelson and is being directed by Ruben Ostlund. 

In the session, Goodridge expressed optimism about the shoot saying it was only 37% complete before the lockdown and that they were fortunate the Swedish insurance policy on the film covered them for the pandemic.

While many of the co-producers present in the session were optimistic, some of them were confident they would restart co-production with ease. 

GFG Films’ Matthew Metcalf who produced Dean Spanley and Love Birds are one of the co-producers who are confident it is business as usual for them. He said: “On a domestic level, New Zealand is effectively out of it now – I can go to work in my office – there is lots of work – but everything is more difficult than it was.” He continued, “The irony is that while we can’t travel all the relationships that I have forged over 20 years have been through jumping on planes and nurturing relationships. That’s enabled me now to reach out on Zoom and keep on going.”

Another producer who sees the lockdown as a mixed blessing is Scottish based Victoria Thomas who founded The Polkadot Factory and had to spend the lockdown in Edinburgh. 

She said: “Since lockdown there do seem to be a lot more people who are around and willing to answer their emails at least!” She also added that her company was working on a documentary before the lockdown but it has since been overtaken by other world events. In her words, “The project cover kids in France and police brutality – so we’re now looking at that narrative in the context of what’s been happening.”

Claudia Steffen who is the Managing Director of Pandora Film, a company based in Cologne, however, expressed concern about the financial positions of crew members and said how well each crew member depends on the level of support their government provides for them. 

In her words, “Each country is thinking of its own people and own costs. The German Government came through quickly to support the crew –they can apply for a grant, which covers 60% of what they earn for a whole year. France has also been supportive. Yet we hear of crew from the U.K. that don’t get anything – or their contracts have been canceled. It’s difficult when you start a film and have mix of crew with no security and others who are completely secure.”

She added that other governments need to provide some level of support to stimulate production saying “It’s the cheapest form of funding they could provide.”

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