In 1992, a summit for European heads of state was held in Edinburgh, Scotland. To support the summit, local authorities initiated a series of local events. One of these, Sharing Stories: International Co-Production Conference, has continued on for the five years since.
The three-day event, which took place this year from November 22 to 24, attracted over 200 people a full-capacity attendance from 26 countries around the world including the U.S., Canada, EEC countries, Mexico, Scandinavia, Australia and South Africa.
Pauline Muirhead, director of Sharing Stories, describes the conference as very practical. ‘It’s not a talking shop. The aim of the event is to get producers together with the right co-production partners.’ And the name reflects its practical nature. ‘We really do share stories,’ says Muirhead. Case histories and specifics of past deals are discussed, and several mock pitch sessions are held.
In the ‘Animation’ session, two producers pitched projects to a panel, which included representatives from Europe and North America, to decide whether the project was acceptable and what changes would have to be made so that it would fit the criteria for both markets. This was followed by a discussion of the role of merchandising. The ‘Taking it to the Limit’ session, according to chair Lisa Opie, deputy head of programming of TCC, examined the problems inherent in developing factual, topical and issue-based co-productions for youths. In ‘Multimedia: New Sources of Finance? The Co-producer’s Guide,’ a film and TV project was proposed to a CD-ROM producer and Web site designer to judge the feasibility of success in these areas for the project.
Muirhead attributes the full house at this year’s conference to Sharing Stories’ track record. ‘It has proved itself to be a practical and productive place for producers, broadcasters and financiers to do business.’
Increased funding hasn’t hurt the cause either. For the first time in its history, Sharing Stories received a grant through the European Commission’s Media II program this year, which has allowed the conference to extend its reach significantly. Other sources of funding include Channel 4, the Scottish Film Council, Discovery Channel, BBC Scotland, as well as local authorities.
The tentative date for the 1997 conference is November 12 to 14.