Panama panel talks benefits of streaming platforms, Sundance's global reach

Screen | 4/7/2019 | Jeremy Kay
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The level of local-language content championed by Netflix bodes well for content creators around the world at a time when streaming platforms are about to explode, an audience of young content creators heard at the Panama International Film Festival (IFF Panama) at the weekend.

“There are 44 Spanish-language shows on Netflix. The good news is language is no longer a barrier,” producer and Sundance Productions co-founder Laura Michalchyshyn said during a Saturday evening (6) conversation with Sundance Institute’s international director of the feature film programme Paul Federbush and moderator and IFF Panama artistic director Diana Sanchez.

Time - Person - Netflix - Amazon - Studios

However even in a time like this finding the right person at Netflix or Amazon Studios is no mean feat. “With the onslaught or onset depending on how you look at it of Netflix [and other streaming platforms], there are sometimes when it is the best time to be a creative and a content creator, but it’s also terrifyingly difficult – the entry points are not easy,” Michalchyshyn said.

“Sometimes it feels like who do you phone at Netflix or Amazon? Even for me it’s hard. They change every six months – the executives move positions.”

Producer - Way - Creators - Executives - Region

The producer said one way for content creators to make themselves known was to focus on local executives in each region in charge of buying. Once a meeting is secured, the key is to come prepared, with a fully developed package because, as Michalchyshyn noted, “Netflix will not spend money on developing a script.”

In the case of the documentary Bobby Kennedy For President, Michalchyshyn and her associates took six to eight months preparing for a pitch meeting in which they presented a five-minute trailer, a 35-page treatment, a ‘bible’, and a list of who they wanted to interview.

Netflix - Bait - Show - Hours

Netflix took the bait, although they wanted the show to be four hours long a...
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