Five years ago, the Finnish Film Affair launched the first edition of its Nordic Flair training program, an initiative designed to provide career development to film professionals from across the Nordic region, taking place in parallel to the Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy.
This year’s event focuses on sales agents, distributors, buyers and broadcasters working in one or more of the Nordic countries and is designed to provide attendees with the tools to innovate new sales and distribution models, scout emerging Scandinavian film talent and develop their professional teams through challenging times.
“There are many Scandinavian talents working internationally behind the scenes in the film industry, and with the focus this year we want to highlight that,” said Maria Pirkklainen, director of the Finnish Film Affair, noting that “educational opportunities for this group were scarce. . in general.”
The event, which culminates in the presentation of the Nordic Film Award to a top regional talent, includes workshops hosted by Sten-Kristian Saluveer, the founder and CEO of Storytek Innovation and Venture Studio, and Nordic Factory. Saluveer, a media innovation and policy strategist working at the “crossroads of strategy, technology and film”, will work with participants on ways to “future-proof” the Nordic industry amid sweeping changes in the global entertainment industry.
“In many ways, the Scandinavian industry is already quite competitive artistically. But at the same time, we are rather small markets, and whatever happens in the larger ecosystem, it has a huge impact on the business,” he says. “So the industry needs to continuously retrain and future-proof itself to ensure that this exciting Scandinavian cinema or feature film content will continue to deliver success.”
Saluveer has collaborated with policymakers at the national level and at international institutions such as the European Commission, while also helping the Marché du Film of the Cannes Film Festival develop its Cannes Next conference, an innovation-driven business development platform focused on the future of the entertainment sector .
In view of how both current and future events could affect the industry, Saluveer expects that “the next year, two years, will be very difficult, especially for the independents.”
That caution stems from a range of factors facing not only industry professionals but everyday consumers as well, such as soaring energy prices, growing fears of a global recession and ongoing uncertainty about how Russia’s war in Ukraine will unfold. With consumers around the world tightening their belts, the consequences are likely to be severe for the entertainment industry.
That’s especially true of the global streaming platforms that have reshaped the film and television landscape in recent years. Just a few years ago, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video represented what Saluveer describes as a “golden cash cow” for producers, who could strive to sell their movies to services willing to pay a premium in the cutthroat competition to attract eyeballs.
However, that business model has been turned upside down, with Saluveer pointing to the dramatic drop in Netflix’s stock price earlier this year — an event that underscored investors’ growing skepticism of the subscriber-driven streaming model — as evidence of the “massive decline in the share price.” share price of Netflix”. volatility” that those platforms face.
“We need to start to understand that this particular model is also very fragile and very sensitive to large fluctuations,” he says. At the same time, he points to “a content overload” on streaming services, which compete not only with each other, but also with a dizzying array of other entertainment and leisure options. The question looming in the industry, he says, is, “How do we get the public’s attention and time?”
Participants in this year’s Nordic Flair event include Fredrik Scholze, Digital Media and Promotion Manager at Norway’s Arthaus; Jutta Hopp, marketing manager at Finnkino Theatrical Distribution in Finland; Niklas Teng, head of traffic and festivals at LevelK in Denmark; Veronica Rossi, senior marketing manager at Nordisk Film in Finland; and Elina Pohjola, team leader and film commissioner at the Finnish Yle Film Team.
Despite so much uncertainty casting its shadow over the global fencing industries, the Nordic region already has a number of strengths to build on, such as solid public support, a history of regional cooperation at the cultural level and a tradition of rich storytelling throughout the world – class talents. “The Nordics already have a history of being a very strong global brand with a regional twist,” says Saluveer, citing examples such as the Nordic Noir TV genre. “They also have a very, very strong history of technological innovation.”
In areas such as virtual manufacturing, Scandinavians are already making progress. At Nordisk Film’s Valby headquarters outside Copenhagen, the first state-of-the-art 360° LED stage in Scandinavia is already operational, enabling productions to capture actors, sets and props against a photo-realistic, virtual backdrop. Meanwhile, Film i Väst, the Swedish regional film fund, is working with Igelkott Studios to build Europe’s largest projector-based virtual production wall, which is expected to be completed in early 2023.
Such innovations, Saluveer says, combined with a traditionally strong production sector, offer Scandinavian film professionals hope that they will not only survive, but thrive in the face of what the future holds. “Unique content, the technology foundation and a bit of out-of-the-box thinking: I think that could take the Nordics to a whole new level very soon.”
The Finnish Film Affair will take place from September 21 – 23.