Unpacking Conecta FICTION & Entertainment 2024 with Géraldine Gonard

Geraldine Gonard

Industry turbulence has made international cooperation – and coproductions – more valuable than ever. TBI speaks to Conecta Fiction & Entertainment director Géraldine Gonard about why now is the time to strengthen relationships and how her event is delivering on all fronts.

You have created a packed schedule this year across both scripted and unscripted, what are some of the key themes for the June event?

There is so much going on this year. First, we have our two country focuses with Portugal and Brazil (more of that below), and we have some amazing keynotes lined up as well. We’ll also be exploring lots of new business models – we’ll be talking about FAST and AVOD, for example – and of course, we will be investigating all the new ways of financing content. That might be branded content, which is really interesting, and with less original content being commissioned now, we have to look for more private investors and different mechanisms to get shows off the ground.

Conecta Fiction

We will also be looking at how you can make the most of your IP across formats such as podcasts and uncovering the art of marketing. And we also have our new Conecta Vibes strand which allows attendees to do leisure activities such as Yoga together – so you can connect with people in a relaxed, informal environment!

You mentioned that Conecta is highlighting two ‘Focus Countries’ this year in Brazil and Portugal. What can we learn from these two nations?

It’s a fascinating time for both of these countries but Brazil especially, which is coming back onto the international stage after four years of non-support from the government. It’s great to see them all again, they are so active and looking for partners, especially in Spain and Portugal.

It is very important to have them all here at Conecta and we’re delighted to be able to welcome lots of Brazilian producers, while also supporting moves to redesign the legal side of their industry – exploring how to set up federal tax rebate systems, for example, and looking to see how they can make streamer regulation, such as happened here in France and Spain a few years ago. Portugal is also becoming really active and there is increasing cooperation with Spain, with opportunities to work with very big stations but also some of the regional channels and streamers.

Conecta covers both scripted and unscripted, how are you looking to balance the event’s schedule across these genres?

We run scripted and unscripted sessions throughout the event and while we don’t deal with percentages, it’s a fairly mixed balance. And that is important because there are things people on both sides can learn – there are elements of branded content, for example, that apply to unscripted and scripted.

Conecta Fiction in Toledo

Marketing is another area where we can learn from one another and we’re keen to try to help people mix in a natural, organic way – so we have keynotes and panels that can help scripted executives but also those who might be working on docudramas.

There are also the international pitching sessions – what do the entries for this year’s event say about the health of the industry?

Well, we’re on course to receive more projects than we did last year but there is a trend – which we also saw last year – of projects becoming less expensive, especially in ideas coming from the UK. In terms of subjects, we have received a lot of projects on music, but we are also seeing that there is not the range of subject matter there was in previous years. It seems there are more people doing the same thing because commissioners are becoming more conservative. We’re in something of a crisis, so nobody wants to take such big risks.

You speak to producers from around the world. What do you make of the challenges facing the industry?

One thing is for sure, there is an increasing necessity to collaborate and coproduce on projects, to find partners. And that is because the market is quite tough – it is getting more expensive [to produce] because we have inflation, but we also have audiences who want the very best quality shows and they’re not going back on those values, so people want to see a movie in each episode.

We need to work together, especially across Europe, because we need to grow. We have to compete with the output of the American networks and streamers, and even if they are slowing down a bit on commissioning, they are still super strong. That’s why Conecta is so important – and that’s why we have changed as an event.

Conecta Fiction

We are now so focused on enabling organic cooperation but it is not just about single projects – for me, it’s also about ensuring international agreements to enable more international cooperation. It is about exchanging ideas and striking partnerships, sharing talent, sharing companies and doing business together in different countries so we can create the best content.

Conecta welcomes delegates from around the world but being in Spain, the local contingent is always strong – how has the local industry fared over the past year?

It’s not easy, but Spain has been doing very well partly because of our language – the country has proven quite resilient to the slowdown of the market. Part of this is because we’re a mature industry, we raise a lot of talents and we have the Spanish-speaking world to target, so there are a lot of windows for sales in South America. I travel quite a bit and if I compare Spain to other countries I see we’re quite lucky because we still have a lot of platforms producing. HBO, for example, might be doing less but it’s still producing here and then we have national companies like Atresmedia and Movistar+ which are still producing a lot, so there is plenty to be optimistic about.

Conecta Fiction & Entertainment takes place in Toldeo, Spain between 18-21 June 2024.

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