What can we expect from this year’s Avant Première Music + Media Market? And how has the IMZ International Music + Media Centre supported its members through a turbulent 12 months? We spoke with IMZ secretary general Katharina Jeschke to find out.
IAM: How has IMZ adapted to the new situation and the changing needs of its members?
Katharina Jeschke: First and foremost, we have intensified the dialogue with our members to understand their challenges in order to offer real helpful solutions. We wanted to keep our initiatives active and accessible. For example, we hosted our IMZ Academies online.
Moreover, it is crucial that Avant Première 2021 takes place as the meeting point on which an entire industry is counting on. We want to make sure that those active at the intersection of performing arts and audiovisual media do business and find support in one another at Avant Première – this time online from 15-18 February 2021.
What the Covid crisis has done, is confirm the course we have taken and accelerate the pace at which our digitalisation strategy is moving. This is why together with the members of the IMZ, we are developing IMZ Online Services – the digital search engine and B2B marketplace for film licence trading. From searching productions through a huge catalogue, to making custom selling propositions and closing a deal: all of it is possible on IMZ Online Services.
IAM: What have been the biggest issues for your members?
KJ: The first lockdown was of course very hard. Cancelled events led to film projects coming to a halt. Some new online projects have opened up for many film producers, but not enough to replace what was lost.
In addition, film distributors have seen a decrease of sales, for example to cinemas and in-flight entertainment. Moreover, many concert halls and opera houses have put their in-house film productions on their website for free, and so new challenge arises with this: to get the audience to pay again.
Finally, broadcasters have had difficulties accessing new content. At the same time, cancelled events (e.g. sports) have opened up slots for performing arts programming.
Last but not least, obviously COVID-19 has led to significantly more use of video streaming services – our members in the VOD sector can confirm this.
IAM: Talk us through the programme for this year – how have you adapted it to meet an online-only format?
KJ: Our leitmotiv from the beginning was: what do the IMZ Members and the music and dance film industry need right now? With this as a starting point, we tailored our programme to bring the greatest benefit to our participants and their businesses.
IAM: What was the most important thing to keep in the programme?
KJ: We wanted to ensure access to what the industry needs most right now: business opportunities. As always, the Avant Première Screenings will stay the core programme of Avant Première, presenting over 560 of the latest music and dance films as well as 90 highlight productions from 2015-2019.
As an industry gathering, it is also crucial that participants have the opportunity to make contacts with leading industry players. We have transformed our speed dating format ‘One-on-One Expert Sessions’ and also our talk ‘What buyers want’ to online formats.
Last but not least, networking is a necessity for the whole industry, so there will also daily informal events.
IAM: What will be familiar for regular attendees, and what will be new?
KJ: Whilst the look might have changed, the feel this year will be quite alike to previous editions. Our regulars will recognise the familiar faces, high-quality networking opportunities and highly relevant programme.
What’s new? Expanded online matchmaking opportunities; The Shine a Light Award, presented to actions and initiatives connecting people through the arts in times of Covid-19; and a presentation on IMZ Online Services in the course of the Innovation Focus.
IAM: Why is Avant Premiere still important for the industry in 2021?
KJ: It is more than ever crucial for industry representatives to come together. For producers, visibility and reaching buyers has been a challenge, and Avant Première builds on this. Moreover, there has been a huge upheaval in the industry because of digitalisation, which we address at all levels at Avant Première. Also, peer learning is as valuable as ever: what creative solutions or business ideas do others have?
Last but not least, Avant Première has always been a place to meet not only business partners, but also new and old friends. We can’t have lunch in the same room, but we can still catch up and have an e-coffee with our peers!