By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – RioMarket, Latin America’s largest meeting point for audiovisual business professionals organized as part of Festival do Rio 2010 (Rio International Film Festival) dedicated a full day to the independent film business of the United States during the aptly named American Day last week, organized by the U.S. Consulate.

Independent filmmakers and members of the IFP, Josh Mond, Steven Raphael, Antonio Campos, and Jared Moshé at a panel, photo by Sibel Tinar.

The rapid globalization of the cinema industry was a running thread throughout the seminars, and in discussion were pressing issues such as the effects of the economic crisis on independent films, current trends in production and the survival methods of the independent producers during funding crises.

Taking part were prominent guests from within the industry including studio executives, independent producers and directors, as well as legal professionals specializing in intellectual property law.

The consensus between the different seminars and the panelists was that in the face of a crisis caused by both outside economic factors, and the technological advances that have increasingly been changing the expectations and movie-watching habits of the audience, the business has had to keep up with the changing dynamics, reinvent itself and adapt its practices to current conditions in order to stay afloat.

In a seminar on the release practices in the U.S., the advantages and possibilities brought by the digital media were the main focuses. The digital platform, and the strategic use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, are cost-effective options today with the potential to reach millions of people.

Film sales and marketing specialist Steven Raphael was the moderator of the seminar organized as part of the American Day, photo by Maria Hermeto/courtesy of RioMarket.

Alternative approaches to relieving the negative effects of the financing crisis hampering independent film production was the central issue for the panels featuring the members of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP).

Pointing out the fact that filmmakers can no longer rely on distribution or sales while making films, independent producer Jared Moshé preferred to see the positive, emphasizing that the uncertainties and limitations force filmmakers to be more innovative, saying; “Tough times lead to creativity.” Producer Josh Mond of Borderline added that as it becomes easier to make films, it becomes harder to stand out, and hence creativity and originality gain even more importance.

Creativity in the financial sense means finding ways to lower the budget and finding alternative resources, mainly in the form of international partnerships and co-productions as emphasized by Italian filmmaker Fulvio Valsangiacomo (Lights & Shadows).

Fulvio underlined the importance of thinking globally, and networking, stating that relationships with companies from different parts of the world are especially beneficial at this point in time; as Jared Moshé added that for Latin American filmmakers, co-productions with European countries, especially Spain, Portugal and France, was a very realistic and rewarding alternative, mainly due to increased funding options that come with European partnerships.

The cocktail that followed the American Day seminars was accompanied by a pandeiro jazz performance by Scott Feiner, photo by Sibel Tinar.

The moderator of the panel Steven Raphael of Required Viewing encouraged filmmakers from all around the world to get involved with the IFP, which he defined as a “communal organization of filmmakers that support one another”, adding that; “Brazilian filmmakers should not feel isolated, they should know that there is a global community.”

The participants at the seminars were also informed about the bilateral business opportunities between the U.S. and Brazil in the audiovisual sector by Steve Solot, the president of Rio Film Commission, who pointed out that the tax incentives and the soft money available in Brazil for filmmakers, unmatched by the U.S., increasingly make Brazil a desired filming location for American filmmakers.

The seminars were followed by a cocktail party organized by the U.S. Consulate celebrating the cultural partnerships between the two countries, accompanied by a musical performance by Scott Feiner the pioneer of pandeiro jazz.

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