There was a palpable air of excitement as dozens of experienced and emerging filmmakers crowded the first day of the inaugural Durban FilmMart (23 – 26 July) finance and co-production market.
A joint venture between the Durban Film Office (DFO) and the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), the FilmMart got off to a high profile start with a master class on film financing fundamentals presented by Mike Kelly of UK consultancy Northern Alliance Ltd.
Kelly, who has worked in film and television for 25 years, noted that the value chain in the independent production sector is currently being challenged by the advent of digital technology and the exploitation of product via the Internet.
Said Kelly: “In theory, digital distribution should lower your distribution costs and open up audiences for more specialised films. But if you look at who is getting the money, it’s still blockbusters like Avatar. So the theory of digital opening up a new universe for independent filmmakers and distributors has not quite happened yet.
“The fundamental truth of the industry for at least the last 50 years is that the Hollywood studio industry rules the market and the independent industry has to fit around what the studios do. Consequently, as independent filmmakers you have to ask yourself where you stand in the value chain and where your film fits into the global picture. Part of the challenge for all filmmakers is to be different, inventive, creative and challenging. So, once you’ve achieved that with your film, you have to do it all over again for your next film.’
Kelly revealed details of a survey he had conducted on the British independent sector from a business perspective. For this and more on Kelly’s observations see the October issue of Screen Africa.