The key to a flourishing film production in Belgium
FILM - Television and film have been in our lives for more than a century. Hollywood is the epicenter of it all. It is the home base of dozens of film production companies delivering hundreds of movies every year. How can a small country like Belgium fit in the film production on a large scale? ‘It’s not there yet, but we’re getting there’, states Bill Garner, an American teacher at the International Academy of Film and Television in Antwerp.
Production and distribution of films undergo swift changes. ‘There is no way of getting it to slow down and why should we try? Innovation is always good, certainly for smaller countries like Belgium who are still getting used to making movies in general.’ With money being a large issue it’s tough to get a Belgian production on the big screen. ‘The Flemish audiovisual sector is still trying to figure things out on how to preserve their own place while getting loans from the government’, states Bill.
Wide thinking platform
Let them figure it out. Why wait when there’s so much potential talent amongst television and film students across the country? Exactly. ‘Young driven film-makers are on the rise. I know it, Hollywood knows it and the world knows it. Technology has given youngsters a new wide thinking platform on which they can create so many new stories’, says Bill. Students will find a way to make a production even if they’re not getting backed by the government. ‘I see what students can make in our academy or any other in Belgium. Some of those products are really astonishing.’
Art of cinematography
When it comes to film-making America has been the playground for so many decades. ‘The US will stay the country with the largest movie production. I have no doubt. However, Europe’s position has been in America’s shadow for too long. It’s always had a presence. In a few years America will have to make room.’ Hollywood is fed by huge blockbuster productions. Accustomed to its wealth, it has no room for small productions that, in contrast to the box-office hits, have not forgotten the art of cinematography.
‘The fact that Belgium had three Oscar nominations in a row does state that the movie production is expanding’, clarifies Bill. Getting nominated for an Oscar is a big thing. Some say it’s more important than actually winning it. The Belgian government is starting to show more interest now that they know Belgian productions are doing well on the world stage. The VAF (Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds) was created in 2002 but didn’t do much until the first Oscar nomination four years ago (Rundskop). The VAF annually grants 12 million euros to film-makers. However, this is nothing in comparison with Denmark, which is economically and culturally similar to Belgium and grants 70 million euros.
‘Talent is the key. Flanders has seven film schools. I’m convinced that all schools have a decent program but it could be interesting to combine all or a few of them. Concentrate the talent. It’s what most countries do.’