Look to Latin America, digi producers: report

Latin American markets offer digi producers a chance to work with partners with a similar cultural background who are open to collaboration, says a new industry guide.

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Digital media producers should take note of the opportunities in emerging Latin American markets, which feature digitally engaged populations and partners open to collaboration, a new report suggests.

On Friday, the OMDC, the CMF and the Bell Fund released part two of International Digital Media Co-Production: A Guide for Canadian Companies. Part one of the guide, released in September, aimed to encourage digital media coproductions between Canadians and international producers to ensure market success in Canada and abroad.

The second part of the guide, which focused more on the mobile gaming space, aimed to provide producers with recommendations and advice about how to succeed in emerging markets including China, India, Korea Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.

“While the markets in China and South Korea are more established than the other jurisdictions reviewed here, producers working in Latin America value the cultural similarities and the closeness of time zones, particularly for producers in Ontario and Quebec,” the report concluded.

“The Latin American market is very collaborative. Canadian consulates can help with market information and contacts throughout Latin America and not just their own territory. Broadcasters and publishers can also help access counterparts in other Latin American countries and facilitate collaborative work with those countries,” the report read, which also recommended leveraging connections made in one Latin American country to do business in other countries in the region.

For all emerging markets, the report recommends producers work through government channels meet reputable partners and seek out help to work around rules that may not be supportive of copoduction structures. The report also concludes that digital media producers should look outside traditional funding sources for projects aimed at emerging markets, as there are often no established funding programs for these areas.

However, the report does encourage looking to government departments outside culture, such as technology or regional business development, to secure financing, but cautions against seeing cost savings as the primary reason to enter an emerging market.

“The cost savings could easily be lost because of the higher cost of managing the project in some jurisdictions. While some markets have highly skilled talent in some categories (e.g. programming in India or design in Argentina), they may be lacking awareness of or not comfortable with North American requirements in other necessary categories,” the report read.

The report highlighted Argentina as a largely untapped market for coproduction opportunities, and encouraged Canadian digital media producers to seek out partnerships in the country. The report noted Argentina has a highly connected population, and the newly created Argentinian Ministry of Culture also has a focus on digital media. Funding available in the country currently is limited to film and television projects under the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts, but last year the organization put out a call for youth-focused multi-platform projects.

“Given the digital focus of research at the Ministry of Culture it is anticipated that there could be more calls for applications or competitions at INCAA related to digital or convergent content,” the report reads.

The report also includes comments from Hugues Sweeney, the head of the National Film Board’s interactive studio in Montreal. His office has been working in Latin American markets for the past five years, and sees it as the natural next step after working with European broadcasters. The NFB recently pacted with an Argentinian broadcaster to produce the digital media project Primal, and he did warn that working with Argentinian producers requires navigating “very political bureaucracy” and meeting regularly with partners “to overcome cultural differences as in Latin America there is a more fluid concept of time and deadlines.”

However, overall, Sweeney reported he ” values working in Latin America because compared to Europe it is closer both geographically and culturally in terms of social conventions, history and openness to technology and innovation.” He also noted the lack of tradition of coproductions also means partners are open to innovation in business arrangements, Sweeney said in the report.

Also highlighted were opportunities in the Brazilian and Columbia markets, both of which have government programs focused on digital media.  The report gives the example of the experience of Juan Benitez Lopez of digital animation studio Pipeline Studios. He worked with ProColumbia, the country’s digital media-focused trade commission, to in turn work with the government to train enough Colombians to set up a satellite studio in Bogata. The studio, which has since moved to the city of Medellin in Columbia, now does service work and their own 2D projects, along with coproductions with other countries.

In addition to Latin America, the report also looked at the opportunities available in the Indian, Korean and Chinese markets. For China, the report cautioned that producers must make content that is culturalized for the market, rather than just “localizing” it by translating the language.

While the market demand in India for digital media is currently fairly low, the report recommended producers monitor the market as it continues to develop. Korea, meanwhile, has large potential in the mobile gaming space, and the report suggested Canadian mobile gaming companies explore opportunities in the market. However, the report notes two companies that recently attempted unsuccessful partnerships in Korea see it as a market to watch, but not prioritize.

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