Nicolas Bailly is the founder of touscoprod.com, a company that makes it possible for Internet users to co-produce films that have insufficient financing.
Interviewed by Lucía Iglesias Kuntz, UNESCO - Bureau of Public Information.
Can you explain to us how your site operates and what its objective is?
> touscoprod is an Internet site which offers Internet users the opportunity to become co-producers of films, starting with an investment of as little as 10 Euros. The films may be features, shorts, animation films or documentaries.
All they need to do is to select a project in the catalogue, which presents every film with a summary of the story, the technical documentation and the cast, as well as videos of the authors, directors, actors and producers (synopsis and statement of intent and interviews).
With just a click it is possible to pay on line and thus become a ‘co-producer’ of a film. In this way, the co-producer has access to a range of services and will receive a part of the profits of exhibition. These services are created according to the level of progress of every project: they may include a private forum, online discussions with the film team, as well priority in becoming an extra and invitations to participate in the filming or attend previews. In exchange for providing the sums raised from the Internet users, touscoprod negotiates profit rights with the producers of the films. Where relevant, the company pays 80% of the rights received to the co-producers.
Our company’s objective is to raise supplementary funds for films whose budget is not completely covered. It is also a way of creating communities that will promote films by word of mouth.
What kind of projects are you likely to be interested in?
> In order to put a project on line, it must first to be represented by a delegate producer - touscoprod only intervenes in co-productions. A committee then selects the projects, based on the script, the budget and the financial plan, in order to ensure its feasibility. We do not act according to a predefined editorial line - we want to offer quality films, which would be difficult to distribute without the support of a community of Internet users.
The site has been on line since January 2009. Have any projects already been completed or are any close to completion?
After only two months of existence, we now offer around fifteen films - including one feature - which have already raised nearly 30% of the 62,500 Euros required, thanks to nearly 400 co-producers. These figures are very encouraging, all the more so as we have not yet launched any communication to make people aware of the site, apart from press coverage.
We currently are currently negotiating to put a further dozen or so projects on line (French and European features and documentaries). Our first film should be released in September 2009.
Is it not a little idealistic to want to compete with the American majors with an Internet site?
> We have no intention of competing with the majors in Hollywood or elsewhere. It should be remembered that this industry directly and indirectly finances independent cinema with its large productions. touscoprod wants to support these independent productions by creating communities that provide supplementary finance and promote films that have limited marketing budgets.
Touscoprod’s idea is to create a link between the public and cinema before films are released. After all, it is the public that finances films, so why shouldn’t they have their say in their creation?
What appeals to you in the UNESCO Convention on the protection of cultural diversity?
> The UNESCO convention is very ambitious. Such a project must obviously be concrete in its action. The confrontation between economic realities and cultures must be a driving force for creativity. It is certain that new technologies will have a more and more important role in UNESCO’s action for the protection of cultural diversity, as long as the local characteristics of every project and culture are respected, without trying to make them fit a universal mould and as long as the general public is involved, and not just in financial aspects. Everyone must be able to protect diversity in their own special way.