Event Preview: MIA—International Audiovisual Market

Created by the APA (Italy’s Association of Audiovisual Producers) and ANICA (National Association of Cinema and Audiovisual Industries), MIA—International Audiovisual Market returns to Rome from October 14 to 18 with a focus on facilitating business across film, drama series and documentaries.

The event was formed six years ago to spotlight the Italian audiovisual segment, according to Giancarlo Leone, the president of APA. “The project has consolidated over the years thanks to the joint venture between ANICA and APA, becoming an exclusive showcase for our production. In fact, the market has consolidated its format, growing by almost double in terms of attendance and number of contents presented, and thus crediting itself in the agendas of the most important national and international players in the sector.”

Francesco Rutelli, the president of ANICA, says MIA’s keyword has always been “synergy,” becoming a “welcoming, extended collective project for finding and subsequently implementing an innovative market formula and effective tools for the cinema and audiovisual industry to compete and play globally with our foreign competitors and partners and put Italy back as a pivotal player in the European and global ecosystem.”

Indeed, as the strength of Italian content has grown, “MIA has been rapidly growing and becoming an ‘unmissable’ rendez-vous for cinema and television industries in the global panorama, within the beauty of Rome,” Rutelli adds.

Last year, MIA logged more than 2,500 participants from 58 countries, a 20 percent increase on the 2018 edition and a whopping 84 percent gain on the inaugural event in 2015, according to Lucia Milazzotto, the director of MIA. International attendance has steadily increased by 20 percent each year, Milazzotto adds. “MIA is therefore strongly positioning itself in the worldwide key players’ agendas as a fine destination to empower networking, do business and share expertise. MIA has always been evolving, and we’ve been working even harder this year on our formula to present the most efficient hub for our industry delegates in these uncertain times.”

MIA Drama is a key pillar of the event, delivering an “intimate and heavily curated event specifically tailored for the industry, aiming to support international drama co-productions,” says Milazzotto. “This farsighted and focused approach has been very successful, and MIA Drama is now widely recognized by the global leaders of the industry as a trendsetting and unique event to accelerate new business opportunities for the development and creation of new drama productions on an international level.”

To ensure the relevancy of the MIA Drama agenda, the head of the drama division has formed an advisory board that this year includes Wild Sheep Content’s Erik Barmack, MGM’s Rola Bauer, ITV Studios Global Entertainment’s Kate Barnes, Atresmedia Studios’ Ignacio Corrales, BRON Studios’ David Davoli, ZDF’s Simone Emmelius, STUDIOCANAL’s Françoise Guyonnet, Amazon Studios’ Davide Nardini, EPIX’s Nancy Cotton, Lionsgate’s Kevin Beggs, ZDF Enterprises’ Robert Franke, CAA’s Ted Miller, AMC Networks’ Kristin Jones, Mediaset’s Daniele Cesarano and France Télévisions’ Nathalie Biancolli. Other members will be announced by the end of this month.

“The MIA Drama Board of Advisors ensures that our content is up-to-the-minute, highly relevant and engaging,” says Gaia Tridente, the head of the drama division at MIA. “The selection of the board members has been mainly focused on keeping the trend of growth in the engagement of the U.S. players and in general opening the drama boundaries, featuring an exclusive circle of industry professionals, made by the industry for the industry.”

Tridente says some of the advisors will be part of the MIA Drama executive committee, which will evaluate projects shortlisted for the Drama Pitching Forum (submissions are due July 26), and the brand-new Drama Buyers Club, “an exclusive circle of industry leaders (from broadcasters, digital platforms, production companies, studios, agencies and distribution companies), designed to support the Italian TV industry and strengthen the global community in light of what has become a very challenging year.”

In addition to the Drama Pitching Forum, a key element of MIA Drama is GREENLit, “conceived to support and promote the best new contents coming from new and diverse talent in the industry,” Tridente explains. “This year, both events are enriched with brand-new categories to apply for: short-form, miniseries, movies made for TV and digital streaming, alongside the drama series.”

MIA Drama—which in the past has presented key Italian co-pros such as My Brilliant Friend, The Name of the Rose and Devils—will also provide a range of panels and keynotes as well as Drama Match, which Tridente describes as a series of “intimate roundtables organized by MIA Drama both virtually and physically in Rome.”

Virtual will certainly be a key component this year as the world struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions and social-distancing measures.

“The market will take place in the usual spaces of the Barberini district, in a protected and ‘COVID-proof’ environment, through the implementation of protocols that will allow national and international participation in all events,” says APA’s Leone. “On the other hand, starting from this edition and given the needs of the moment, we will have a new and effective tool: MIA Digital. It is an online platform that will allow users live access from all devices and operating systems. In this way, the activities and services of the market can also be used digitally.”

ANICA’s Rutelli adds: “In line with MIA approach—that of an always evolving project, flexible to the fast-changing needs of the industry—we worked on an integrated environment to improve the market experience and create innovative business opportunities. MIA is, therefore, going to be held in two complementary environments. In Rome, our usual and astonishing locations in the center of the Eternal City are going to be set up with all safety measures and according to all health protocols to guarantee, to our national and international participants, the most efficient environment to go back to meetings, screenings, pitching forums and panels. In parallel, our brand-new integrated global platform will offer a full experience, perfectly integrating into the physical event and allowing continuous use by all participants (those who will be able to join us in Roma and those who will connect remotely).”

Indeed, in a year of disruption, MIA’s organizers hope the event will serve as a “physical and virtual bridge for the European industry to leap back to business,” says Rutelli, “and an even more unmissable opportunity to support the centrality of Italian and European cinematographic and audiovisual ecosystem in the global panorama.”

As producers, distributors, platforms and broadcasters struggle with all the challenges COVID-19 has brought, APA and ANICA continue to provide a range of measures to support the local audiovisual industry.

“The impact of the COVID-19 emergency on the audiovisual sector was undoubtedly very strong if we consider that starting from March almost all productions have been stopped,” says APA’s Leone. “The audiovisual sector in Italy has a value of approximately €1 billion, and there are over 7,000 companies operating in the sector with more than 120,000 employees. At the moment, damage to production alone is estimated for at least €20 million, but it is believed that this estimate may be further increased. For the reopening of the sets, we have developed—with ANICA and the other trade associations—a health protocol, defined by the employers’ associations and signed by the trade unions. APA is also collaborating with important health institutes to guarantee the production of the tools and means necessary for the safety of the crew. We are also working on the important issue of insurance and on the possibility for producers to have access to an extraordinary tax credit; although, on the insurance front, the situation is still very complex and unresolved.”

In this new environment—a global crisis combined with stiff competition, “Italy can’t go backward,” says ANICA’s Rutelli. “We all know that the cinema and audiovisual sectors are vibrant pillars for the growth of the country and have a great and positive impact on jobs creation, social cohesion, diversity promotion, valorization of creativity and industrial capacity. We are therefore working side by side with the institutions to allow our sector value-chain players to overcome the crisis. We are all working together—respecting each and everyone’s role — so the ecosystem can grow in an integrated approach within theatrical, broadcasting, platforms and new consumption tools and habits. The pandemic has caused our theaters to lose 25 million audience presences—a devastating dimension never registered before by our industries, which represent the widest and most accessible form of entertainment, culture and sociality. The work we have been doing with our government and the experiments of the next weeks, starting from the Summer villages and the open-air arenas and drive-ins, which will bring audiences back to cinema and people back to work through well-designed measures for reopening sets and productions in full safety and efficiency. This is particularly crucial and important. In the meantime, our government put in place immediate tools for the adjustment of the tax credit scheme, including the safety measures costs, so that to allow our industry to leap back to sets and to produce our great content, while guaranteeing to our workers all safety measures and insurance protection. For Italy, now more than ever, it is important and strategic to invest in our sector.”

Find out more about MIA here.