WHICH ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES
Chapter 3 – Regarding supply
Together with entertainment and documentaries there are at least another four categories of activity that complete the vast group of companies and businesses within this sector despite the fact that they are not usually considered in the studies and statistical analyses of the cinema consumer market through which genuine film production is constantly monitored: sections of short films, films produced for the television, pornographic films, and the cinematographical technical industry. The first three of the aforementioned categories – just as with cartoons and ‘doc’ are distinguished by their respective diffusion channels, the fourth category, on the other hand, covers the whole production sector.
Italian animation has existed for around sixty years. The first two Italian feature films: “I fratelli Dinamite” of Pagot Film River by the brothers Nino and Toni (Antonio) Pagot who created the brothers Din, Don and Dan, and “La rosa di Baghdad” by Anton Gino Domenghini were released in 1949 – a distance of 41 years from the prototype “Fantasmagorie” which lasted two minutes and which the French creator Emile Cohl showed in Paris on August 17th . Since then Italian cartoons have maintained a primary position in the area of children’s (and not only) entertainment, above all due to the television.
Widely used in the field of advertising, also today animation techniques find their principle role on the television market – in particular with exclusive satellite and digital channels on pay television – and home video, with a prevalence of United States (Walt Disney and Marvel) and Japanese products but also with a growing number of Italian productions, early transformed by computer graphics in 1982 and by 3D since 1995. An example of the latter was the extraordinary success of Rainbow by Iginio Straffi, which launched the fairy character Winx around the world thereby creating a group of 60 million euros in sales revenues in five years. In total it is estimated that today at least 100 companies operate in the cartoon sector concerning production, both internal and overseas distribution, for a sales revenue of 100 million euros (20 million of which comes from television productions) and to which, moreover, can be connected merchandising activities (rucksacks, toys, music, diaries and other spin offs) for around another 20 million euros..
According to what can be obtained from PRC – Pubblico registro cinematografico (Public Register for Cinematographic Works) managed by SIAE (Società italiana autori ed editori) an average of 300 documentaries are produced each year. Practically 100 works added to the traditional annual list of national films which are considered, as film productions, as of less importance with an implied and tacit recognition of their intrinsic condition as works of minor importance.
This is despite the fact that many of the major and most qualified independent producers of the national cinema are among the most active and attentive operators in the same area as the so-called specialists and as such employ significant resources as was well documented in research carried out by ISICULT (Istituto italiano per l’industria culturale) on behalf of DOC/IT – the association of Italian documentary makers founded in Milan in 1999 and which counts 120 authors and 80 companies amongst its membership. 17
In reality, rather than being of minor importance due to their length and production costs resulting – even if not necessarily – greatly inferior, the documentary sector involves creations which are diverse as a result of their narrative structures, oriented towards documenting reality as opposed to recounting a narrative (which, of course, is at the basis of every film). Furthermore, the character of the film content is obviously of a diverse nature, typically divided internationally into two separate categories: civilisation and nature. The vast majority of documentaries, equal to 79%, belong to the first category, a category which includes films of a social character (52.6%), of art and culture (13.2%), anthropology (7.9%), and science (5.3%). 15.8% of documentaries belong to the second category, which also includes history and archaeology (13.2%) as well as nature and animals (2.6%) whereas the remaining 5.3% are considered unclassifiable.18
It is, moreover, in terms of their typology that these films have as their principle commissioners terrestrial and satellite television networks, both free and paid, with a scheduling which only on general channels – those more easily detectable – exceeds over 2 thousand hours per year. The majority of these programmes concern information and divulgation (1,300 hours) and of lesser frequency those programmes in autonomous form (500 hours) or those concerning schools and education (400 hours).19
In its congenial capacity, by definition, as industrial film documentaries have, furthermore, a second important market outlet in both the private commissioning of industries and large service groups as well as public commissioning represented by administrations and companies, of which in first place come local administrations for promotional reasons. For example, the most consistent regional and national resources of the Film Commission are reserved for the production of documentaries, second only to those resources in favour of cinema films in the strict sense of the word. The distribution in local cinemas results, nevertheless, the prerogative of a few, selected “classics”: on average 15 documentaries per year with a total of around 265 thousand viewers.
With a total production value of 60 million euros – 20 of which from the commissioning of the three principle national broadcasters – this category of film has among its principle operators Vivo Film which has produced 17 films in the last five years, Fandango (15), Palomar (15), Suttvuess (11), Komedì Production (10), Zelig (10) and Stefilm international (8), aside from the RAI with a total of 52 films produced by RAI cinema (13), RaiTre (10), RAI Educational (9), Rai TV (7), Rai Teche (6), RaiSat (4), Rai International (2), Rai Trade (1) and 10 from the Swiss-Italian broadcaster RTSI.20
The distinction of documentaries and cartoons from short films is not always obvious. The definition of the latter is sometimes extended to include commercials and music videos. However, in the most consolidated and most professionally diffused international sense the so-called ‘shorts’ are a specific sector of cinema production identifying brief works – of a duration no more than twenty or thirty minutes (the length of the film varies from 900 by a few metres)- with a typical cinematographical structure and an authentic narrative storyline, as is confirmed by the assignment of specific quota of contributions from FUS for the cinema.
The possible uncertainty of identification for the genre would appear, in reality, to depend on the substantial overlap of diffusion channels which commonly converge in the television networks and in public and private commissioning. In the latter the interests and resources dedicated by the regional and local Film Commission show themselves to be still relevant to their production. Also the production of short films involves, together with a number of operators exclusively dedicated to this genre, numerous production companies which are highly active within the primary channels of this sector.
Italian short films amount to an average of 105 titles which are released every year ( 80% of which normally request access to FUS funding) amounting to a value of total production of 2 million euros..
Since its origins, television has been supplemented by the cinema, which has been a life force for the former’s development. Over the years television has developed and more recently has consolidated a decisively impending presence and elaborated its own specific language.
On the one hand, television has found within the industrial structure of the cinema, with its pre and post-production companies, technical partners capable of sustaining the evolution of the cinema above all during the phases of expansion in the 1960s and even more the 1970s and 1980s. There are small number of so-called executive companies from which emerges that large sector of television linked industries which, working in outsourcing, nowadays absorb over 50% of television production.
On the other hand, television has arrived at the point of shaping almost autonomous forms of cinema products such as television movies and, as a suborder, the so-called television serials, through the experience acquired during the growth of Italian cinema and, primarily, through the collaboration of artistic resources. Also today a large number of production companies which are integrated in the cinema industry with their creative contributions furnish that added value which characterizes a certain part of television supply.
If television serials, in all of their diverse forms – dramas, original titles, soap operas, sit-coms, mini series, and so forth – are not and, in general, cannot be confused with cinema films, the television movies, nevertheless, maintain a proper identity as a film product. Created and produced for the small screen, principally destined for immediate use and a profitability primarily linked to transmission through the channels of commercial television, television movies are similar to certain strategic, industrial products of double or mixed use which lessen the primary and background research into the containment of costs that originally characterized them. The possibility of their parallel use remains somewhat limited and not entirely foreseeable, and yet it is no longer improbable now that distribution companies are registered also in theatrical channels, pay television, and even more, home video.21
Nowadays, television films occupy 11.9% of transmission hours of the larger national networks (19.9% on Canale 5; 13.7% on RaiUno; 13.5% on RaiDue; 11.8% on Rete4; 3.7% on La7) and 39.8% of this scheduling is formed from outsourcing by around 150 external production companies (the quota of the contiguous category television serials amounts to 53.0%) as regards the unique alternative post of the major broadcasters which is not internal production but rather acquisition from foreign companies. The production value furnished by the producers of independent, national cinema working in the sector (amounting in total to few more than 50) is estimated at 60 million euros.22
Pornographic cinema would appear to have nothing in common with cinema considered as an art form. As far as the industrial basis of the cinema is concerned, however, the situation requires a notably diverse evaluation. Despite being entirely parallel to and a hidden part of official film production (more or less since the time of George Méliès), the xxx rated category, for example, traverses the very same structural sectors in phases of pre and post-production as official films. Furthermore, it is subject to the same systems of vigilance and administrative control of the Società Italiana Autori ed Editori (the Italian Authors and Publishers Society) concerning distribution channels of the cinema and home video (in particular through newsagents and sex shops).
These red light products are, nevertheless, supporting the principle distributors to channels – by now somewhat consolidated – of pay television and of ‘pay-per-view’ television and, even more so, the new areas of mobile telephones and the internet.
The most consistent section of this sector is the market supply of pay television. Sky Italia offers, on subscription, 20 channels of ‘Hot Club’ with a repertoire of films as well as ‘Hot Première’ with a preview each day and, according to the most recent estimates, over 200 thousand daily acquisitions from subscribers with average costs – including subscription costs – of 10 euros per view, amounting to an annual total of 730 million euros. Considering that which is accredited to the total of 4.5 million users of satellite television of Rupert Murdoch it is estimated at 1.41 euros per person per day, Sky’s sex industry would arrive, therefore, at covering 29.2% of the entire proceeds of 2.5 billion.23
In alternativa a Sky operano poi in regime criptato e con parental control (barriere che non ostacolano comunque le emittenti satellitari estere) anche Conto Tv, che integra trasmissione satellitare con sistema digitale e propone i due canali hard Superpippa channel e Sin, e la più giovane Glamour plus sul digitale terrestre, cumulando proventi stimati in altri 70 milioni di euro. D’altronde l’annuale rapporto sul mercato dei contenuti digitali in Italia predisposto da Fita-Federazione italiana del terziario avanzato (aderente a Confindustria servizi innovativi e tecnologici) già nel 2006 era stato esplicito: “Partite di calcio e contenuti per adulti sono considerati i contenuti in grado di far decollare la diffusione di digital-tv… Il segmento in forte crescita e di futuro successo è sicuramente quello dei contenuti accessibili in forma pay per veiw o video on demand”.24
Considerably more problematic is the economic evaluation of videos on mobile phones. Pornographic films are among the contents of major interest offered by all active administrators in Italy, however, of the four national telcos: Tim, Vodaphone, Wind and 3 only the last of these publicizes such a service acknowledging its efficiency, despite not supplying like its three competitors any indication of the relative turnover. Among mobile telephone executive staff, however, there is a common conviction that the traffic generated by pornographic videos by now accredits proceeds near to 150 million euros.
Equally difficult is the estimate of showings of ‘streaming’ via internet in relation to a tariff of 0.07 cents per minute of connection and to the average cost of 6 euros for the “rental” of pornographic films, almost all filmed in digital, with a time limit of 48 hours. Only Cybercore of Maya Checchi and Faronet of Roberto Campisi, companies with respectively 14 and 8 staff members claim ‘leadership’ of the industry, also claiming to have 60 thousand and 25 thousand users per day with gross earnings in 2008 equal to 3.2 million and 1.4 million euros respectively.
As opposed to the ever increasingly digitalized consumption of pornography, the traditional market supply of red light cinemas (by now reduced to a tenth of what they were 15 years ago) and pornographic home videos is notably diminished. At the same time the national Italian production of films of an explicit sexual nature has dropped as a result of competitiveness in terms of costs from Eastern Europe (with Hungary in first place): 5 thousand euros of average investment as opposed to 25-30 thousand euros for Italian domestic productions. In actual fact, of the 1,500 films put on the pornography market in Italy, only 300 are produced internally – with a total investment of 6.5 million euros – by 35 companies, among which the recognized major players are Showtime, Sin Video, Salieri Entertainment, Rocco Siffredi Production, and Kamasutra. These are production companies which earn between 20 thousand and 50 thousand euros every year from the networks for licensing rights on xxx rated channels; 400 to 500 euros for every title put on air by minor broadcasters; 6000 euros on average per title from video shops for DVDs sold, with a global budget from home videos of 150 million euros.
From the above orders of size a turnover of 1,45 billion euros can be reasonably assumed for pornographic cinema; a figure which has grown extraordinarily with respect to the last report – the quarterly “Rapporto sulla pornografia” (Report on Pornography) carried out by Roberta Tatafiore – conducted on prohibited business in 2005 by the research centre Eurispes with the patronage of the Papal council for social communication. At the time, however, the supply of films prohibited to minors on pay television, pay-per-view, IPTV, and on streaming videos of the internet was only in its origins and a cumulative turnover, amongst all of the diffusion channels, of 350 million euros was the most that could be accredited. .
A common denominator of all of the sectors within cinema production is that consisting of technical and executive service companies which are involved in all aspects of filming, and which complete the production of motion pictures. In Italy there are estimated to be over 2 thousand technical industries, 43% of which are represented by individual companies or persons (and not by capital) composed of autonomous operators, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs which practically work freelance, whereas a further 30% of joint stock companies (eight out of ten of which are private limited companies) present very reduced dimensions.
Four diverse, principle areas can be distinguished in which the various activities are carried out, revealing a remarkably variegated overview:
Services of edition and post-production in the strict sense of the term, where the major operators, of medium to large scale, are concentrated as referred to in table 11.
Services of production, relative to components of set design and photography, the preparation of costumes and the supply of special technology;
Production agencies, principally consultancy agencies and financial and administrative assistance for the sale of rights, budget arrangements, work plans and financial montage;
Creative services which collaborate with the production of photographic and special effects, music and sound-tracks, choreography and also script adaptation and revision.
Source: “Il cinema italiano in numeri” (from 2003 to 2008) edited by the Ufficio studi Anica on data provided by companies adhering to UNITEC (Unione Nazionale delle industrie tecniche cinematografiche e audiovisive, an associate of Anica.
Elaborated from data contained in “Il cinema italiano in numeri – 2008” edited by the Ufficio studi Anica and from surveys of companies belonging to UNITEC. – * The data relative to companies active in digital application are the result of independent estimates, referring only to the cinema sector, with respect to the global values of the activity calculated as 950 million in turnover and 850 staff units.
The majority of the larger companies – 45.5% situated in Rome and a further 18.5% in Milan – belong to the first category, as is illustrated in table 12 and count for 20.8% from 6 to 10 persons involved and for 20.3% over 20 dependents with full-time contracts.
Within the audio-visual market there does not generally exist a net separation between the cinema sector and the television sector and, therefore, the distinction is based on the principle activity of the company (the service companies which prevalently operate in television production are more than 1,500).
As a result of this it is possible to reconstruct the quota of work employed in the production of the various products: 35.6% of production is dedicated to films and feature films; 12.6% of services regard television films and serials; 7.5% of the services concern documentaries and industrial films (including promotional films and publicity); 5.2% for filming and journalistic reportage; 3.4% is destined for short films; the remaining 26.5% is divided between television programmes and other products, such as animation. Out of the total activity the quota of operations completed with digital technology amounted, in 2007, to 17.1% and is registered as being in constant expansion.26
On the basis of the indications offered by the same entrepreneurs of the sector, the global contributions of the technical industries and executive services to the cinema sector are valued in economic terms at 735 million euros.
17 “Indagine sul settore del documentario in Italia” (ISICULT-Doc/it, Rome 2006) directed by Francesca Medolago Albani.
18 According to the same research the preferred format is 52’ (51.4%) followed by those shorts of 10’ to 15’ (28.6%), by the intermediate 26’ (8.6%), by full length feature films (8.6%) and by fillers (2.8%). Due to the types of support production in DV Cam/Mini DV (59.5%) excels, in comparison to that of DG Beta (18.9%), in HD (10.8%), in Beta SP (8.1%) and in motion picture (2.7%).
19 With the term ‘film’ is intended any filming made with cinema techniques and transmitted in video. The word’s meaning has been defined by the linguist Tullio De Mauro and is today unanimously shared in the significance of “filmed sequence or filmed insert proposed in the course of a television transmission with documentary endings”. The term, in Italian a noun of masculine gender, belongs to the “semantic and lexical innovation introduced by television into the Italian language”. (cf. “Lingua parlata e Tv” by Tullio De Mauro in “Televisione e vita italiana” by various authors, Eri Editino, Torino 1968).
20 From the surveys conducted in the course of the drafting of this report there emerged certain indications – not exhaustive and reported, therefore, as purely informational titles, without any statistical classification value – due to the nominally participating and signed (through the respective companies of reference) by the more entrepreneurially active producers within the documentary area (with at least five productions) in recent years: Gregorio Paonessa (17), Gianluca Arcopinto (10), Nicola Giuliani (10), Federico Schiavi (9), Carlo Cresta Dina (8), Elena Filippini (7), Stefano Tealdi (7), Gabriella Manfré (6), Corso Salani (6), Rean Mazzone (6), Andrea Occhipinti (6), Domenico Procacci (5), Danilo Caracciolo (5), Edoardo Fracchia (5), Francesca Gatti (5), Giuseppe Tumino (5).
21 One can cite the cases of “La Meglio gioventù” by Marco Tullio Giordana, “Camera: La Montagna che cammina” by Renzo Martinelli and “Sbirri” by Roberto Burchielli.
22 The principle indications as to the category of TV films are taken from the research “L’industria della produzione di fiction – Metodo, regole, prospettive” and “La domanda di contenuti in Italia” produced by IEM (Istituto di economia dei media) of the Fondazione Rosselli and presented, respectively, at the “Rome Fiction Fest” (July 2007) and at the “Quinto summit della comunicazione” in Rome (December 2007). In the area of the second study were signalled among the cinema companies most active in terms of TV films for the principle, national broadcasters Palomar, Film Master, Cattleya, ITC movies, Colorado Film Production. Among the companies involved in already budget works for the new season were Albatross, Cattleya, Sacha Film, Sanmarco Film (by Raoul Bova and his wife Chiara Giordano), Leone Cinematografica and Titanus by Goffredo Lombardo.
23 “Sex and the money – Viaggio nel settore che non conosce recessione” by Daniela Stigliano and Filippo Astone, Il Mondo (rcs Periodici – 9 May 2008).
24 “Rapporto e-Content 2006” edited by Federcomin, today known as Fita-Confindustria innovative and technological services (November 2006).
25 “Più tasse? Il porno emigra” by Roberto Galullo, Il Sole 24 Ore, 13th December 2008.
26 This information, as with part of the precedine sections, refers to the research “Le imprese dell’audiovisivo nel Lazio” conducted by CENSIS (Centro studi per gli investimenti sociali) Rome 2007.
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