Blog: Facing funding challenges at Power to the Pixel

Parallax Films' Maija Levio on day two of Power to the Pixel, which included a cross-platform pitch comp and a presentation from CMF and SODEC on financing challenges.

By Maija Levio

After a warm introduction from Liz Rosenthal, CEO of Power to the Pixel, Valerie Creighton of the Canada Media Fund and Monique Simard from SODEC took the stage this morning in London.  The pair were releasing a white paper called Understanding Funders: Funding approaches, challenges & adaption strategies to help funders cope in a changing media environment meant to stimulate discussions at a funders think tank on Friday as part of the Forum.

The white paper presented stats on the funding of audiovisual content in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, the United States and Australia.  According to Creighton the rapid development of the digital media landscape requires tremendous flexibility as producers put together increasingly complicated funding scenarios to finance their projects.

Monique Simard noted that in her role at SODEC, she has found that in addition to film and TV, digital is changing all cultural industries including art, book publishing and music.  She also highlighted the need for flexibility citing six universal challenges faced by funders around the world: alignment of legislative and regulatory frameworks; new relationships among players in the value chain; challenges related to governance and consensus building; diversification of funding sources; development of new support programs and education and professional support.

Simard noted that education was a key means of building support for the digital industry and a key mandate of her agency.  SODEC recently organized an information session for provincial government officials explaining the nature of digital cultural industries and their role in the economy.

The rest of the day was dedicated to The Pixel Market Finance Forum. Power to the Pixel had selected eight cross-media projects from 100 submissions to compete for the €6,000 ARTE International Prize.

A producer or producer team pitched their cross media projects to compete for the prize. Some projects were linear films, like Canadian producer Ann Shin with My Enemy, My Brother, while others had a focus on web content, such as Flickering Flame which promised to present film clips and artifacts from the career of U.K. filmmaker Ken Loach. Other projects fell outside the film and web realm, such as Infinity Engine’s proposed art installation which aimed to explore how scientific discoveries related to genetic mutations will affect all living things.

Each presentation was presented to a unique panel that included a broadcaster, a funder and international cross media experts such as Lance Weiler, co-founder of Reboot Stories, and John S. Johnson, cofounder of Buzzfeed, who provided detailed feedback and advice on the projects.

Included among the longer sessions were short “Nordic Focus” pitches profiling cross media digital projects originating from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.

All of these projects will participate in a closed event on Thursday. A total of 16 projects and 16 producers will have the opportunity of further professional development and a one on one meeting with funders and broadcasters, as well as the chance at an additional €3,000 in prize money.

Maija Leivo is a mom, filmmaker, experimental gardener and serial blogger.  Working as a writer and producer for over 10 years at Parallax Film Productions, Maija is currently completing Bahama Blue for Oasis and Discovery Channel International and has launched digital projects Dinologue, and her first iPad app Garden Sketch.

- Image courtesy of Shutterstock