In this episode of the ScreenME podcast, Ulrike Rohn engages in a conversation with Sten- Kristian Saluveer, an innovation strategist, audiovisual producer, content technology entrepreneur, and founder of Storytek, a media tech accelerator and innovation hub, and the head of the innovation track at Marche Du Film of the Festival de Cannes. With his enormous wealth of experience and expertise that spans various aspects of the film industry, Sten provides comprehensive insights into the challenges and opportunities within the European film industry.

The talk was inspired by his recent trip to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, USA, that has further stimulated his reflections on global trends and key differences between the film industry in Europe and elsewhere. In this episode, Sten illuminates the various factors that he sees play a role in shaping a systematic effect within the film industry, impacting entrepreneurial prospects in the industry. He also shares the insights from a recent large- scale survey conducted with the 4500+ members of the European Film Academy that brought to light the state of skill development in the European film industry.

Some of the key arguments that Sten makes in this episode include:

Audience connection

Sten emphasizes the importance of connecting with the audience, highlighting that online media and creator economies are not separate entities but rather integral parts of the media landscape. He stresses the urgency for Europe to engage with this sphere to remain relevant. Collapse of online and physical media distinction Sten predicts the collapse of the distinction between online and physical media, foreseeing a future where personalized media experiences will dominate. He discusses the significance of brand-centricity and algorithms in this evolving  landscape.

Comparison with successful models

Sten discusses how successful studios in arthouse and niche content in the US and UK have thrived. He attributes their success to a combination of excellent creative skills and economic understanding, particularly in the area of IP management. Sten also points to South Korea’s film industry as a successful model, attributing its achievements to clear industrial policies and comprehensive support structures. He emphasizes the need for Europe to replicate similar strategies to nurture a healthy and competitive film industry.

Challenges in training opportunities

Sten highlights the challenges professionals face in accessing training opportunities, particularly due to financial constraints. He notes the reliance on festivals and markets for training and the need for diversification in training sources.

Importance of policy shifts

Sten underscores the need for a significant policy shift to address structural issues in the
industry, such as the lack of executive education and upskilling programs. He advocates for policies that support industry leaders in acquiring necessary skills and fostering a culture of continuous learning.

Call for systematic change

Sten stresses the importance of systematic change, particularly in adapting to new technologies like AI and prioritizing human skill development. He advocates for a
collaborative approach between industry and policy to drive global traction and ensure
industry sustainability.

Significant quotes by Sten-Kristian Saluveer during this episode:

“I think we are totally missing out the connection with the audience’s not just the creator economy or online media anymore. This is THE media. The big issue in Europe is that we have to start interacting with that sphere very fast, because this is this is where the media is.”

“We are going to see very soon the collapse of the distinction between the online and the physical media…What is going to happen very soon is that there will be no apps, at least from a customer perspective, because it really does’t matter anymore for the viewer where the content comes from, because the personalized, hyper personalized media experience will be accumulated or combined algorithmically into your front screen… So it’s about brand centricity, concept centricity, and algorithms. These collapse into this digital shelf. But of course, the problem with the digital shel is: How do you get into that front page?”

“The results of our survey with the European Film Academy were pretty much a bombshell. There were things that we expected, but there were also things that came quite unexpected.”

“How can we innovate if we don’t have the skills to do so?”

“In terms of training, we need a quite a big political mindset shift: We cannot solely rely on festivals and markets to shoulder all the responsibility.”

“We need a systematic change. And the human skill set is what will make a huge difference.”

“With a few notable exceptions, there is no place in Europe to have industry-specific, high-level executive education. My proposition would be that every national ecosystem should guarantee that type of executive educational opportunity. I believe executives should have access to zero-interest loans to attend the best MBA programs. Our leaders need to enhance their capacity to get over those structural gaps.”

“From a policy-first and industry-later mindset, I think we really need to to industry-and-policy-together mindset in order to gain some global traction.”

Further links:
The survey conducted together with the European Film Academy Both Sten-Kristian Saluveer and Ulrike Rohn work for Crescine (link), a project that is frequently mentioned in this episode. Within this project, Sten conducted a survey together with the European Film Academy among EFA’s 4500+ members. The aim of the survey was to get more insights about membership background, expectations, and circumstances.
You can find the findings here:

Sten-Kristian Saluveer’s bio:
Sten-Kristian Saluveer is a media and technology expert, producer, strategist, and entrepreneur based in Europe and Japan. He has pioneered co-productions with South Korea and Estonia, created the first genre film festival (HOFF) in Estonia, co-developed the
future strategy for European Film and Media, established media innovation hub (Storytek), managed multi-million dollar innovation projects, and served as Strategist in Residence for the Estonian government. Currently, he is the Strategic Advisor and head of the innovation track at Marche Du Film of the Festival de Cannes and Chief Curator of the European Virtual Production Summit. Sten mentors professionals globally and is a frequent speaker at top festivals and conferences on the future of storytelling and technology.