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PGA Online Pitchfest: Brazil

Posted By Rob Klinger, Friday, July 11, 2014
Producers have long worked outside of the TMZ and these days, where a project shoots is often based on the vision of the filmmakers and the range of available incentives. Usually, it’s essential to have a local partner to help ensure a smooth production. With this in mind, the Producers Guild has been proactive in expanding within the United States as well as creating alliances across the globe.

To that end, the PGA International Committee teamed with the Guild’s Diversity Committee to host a video conference with producers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in late April. It was the first of such initiatives to take place online and builds on the International Committee’s long tradition of introducing PGA members to potential foreign partners and promoting international co-production.

Featuring a pitch-and-be-pitched format, about ten PGA members assembled in the conference room of the Guild’s Beverly Hills office (four pitching, with the rest there to listen to pitches) to interact with a similar grouping of members of SICAV – Brazil’s affiliate to the PGA. The event was moderated by the International Committee’s Brazil Rep, Robert Klinger and Steve Solot, president of the Rio Film Commission.

The opportunity was open to all PGA members, with participants chosen based on how Brazil-centric their projects were and how likely they might be to qualify for Brazilian incentives and interest a potential co-producer.

After an introduction to Steve Solot and SICAV by Diversity Committee Chair Deborah Calla, International Committee Chair Stu Levy initiated / brokered a memorandum of agreement with SICAV and hatched the idea for the video conference.

"As our industry continues to become more and more global, it's crucial for our Guild members to meet potential business partners overseas.” said Levy.

Calla.stated, “Producers have to be resourceful in finding money to finance their projects.  Understanding that, the International and Diversity committees came up with an innovative Skype co-production opportunity for PGA members to share their projects with Brazilian producers.  We plan to continue to build on this first step for our Guild members. Brazil is a young and growing market with many possibilities.” 

These alliances are important since they encourage sharing of information, a greater understanding of what’s required to qualify for production incentives and the chance to meet far-flung production partners who can be immensely helpful in understanding – and very often qualifying – for local incentives.

PGA participant Rosemary Marks, who pitched action adventure project 1 Kill 2 Many found the Skype call to be, “a great, innovative idea.” She added, “It was also interesting to hear first-hand about the reality of filming in Brazil.”

Said PGA participant Frederick Keeve, “My film project, Vine, was selected to be one of the film projects presented, and it was a great opportunity not only to practice my pitching skills, but also to get my creative ideas in front of producers from another country that could possibly impact the making of this film. The Skype call was helpful in understanding the Brazilian producers' budget parameters and also an opportunity to hear about their film and television projects as well.” 

“It’s fitting that the first call was with Brazil” opined Robert Klinger, the International Committee’s Brazil rep. “Brazil’s vast and experienced production community is growing, and as the largest country in South America, it can offer any setting you could imagine, from urban sprawl to quaint colonial towns to the world’s greatest nature reserve – the Amazon. Brazil has a myriad of incentive programs, an extensive pool of skilled crew, and the key to it all – experienced production companies that can facilitate everything from production services and equipment to extracting the maximum benefits from the various available incentives.”

All this has led to major shoots in Brazil, including such features as Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Fast & Furious 5, The Expendables, and OSS 117: Lost in Rio.

Ultimately, the success of this PGA outreach will come in the form of fruitful working relationships between members and foreign producers. So far, one of the call participants from the PGA side is working to help secure finishing funds for one of the Brazilian projects, a nearly completed documentary about a Brazilian Ambassador stationed in Europe during WWII who helped hundreds of people escape Nazi persecution.

Tech improvements to the conference room at PGA headquarters promise an enhanced experience for the next call, but even with a simple Skype, participants were very pleased. Rio Film Commissioner, Steve Solot commented, “The event was considered a complete success and should be repeated soon.”

And repeated it will be. As the Guild continues to form international alliances and signs more memorandums of understanding with affiliates in other countries, the International Committee plans on hosting more calls with more countries.

“This first co-production pitch via Skype was efficient and effective,” said Stu Levy.  “Brazil is an exciting market, and we'll not only do more with Brazil, but present similar opportunities around the world, so stay tuned!"  

Learn more about the International Committee:
Learn more about the Diversity Committee:

For a primer on Brazilian incentives, get a copy of The Brazilian Audiovisual Industry: An Explosion of Creativity and Opportunities for Partnerships, by Steve Solot

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