Backing European film

The EU’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme supports innovation to deliver greater visibility of European films. Sara Gayarre highlights some of the nascent enterprises and technologies that the programme is fostering within the cinema arena.


The landscape of Europe’s cinema and content industry is undergoing one of its most significant transformations, which brings a new era of opportunities for European storytellers and audiovisual industry entrepreneurs. Given this new reality, the success of the European audiovisual industry will depend on three core pillars: fostering new business models, take-up of disruptive technologies, and development of new forms of diverse storytelling and promotion. Progress in these areas will benefit the whole of the value chain, from production to distribution and promotion, as well as access to finance.

Creative Europe MEDIA, the EU’s programme to support the European audiovisual industry, is well aware of the challenges this new era brings and is helping the sector to deal with some of the technological issues faced by the film industry. Among other actions, it does this through funding assistance for the development
of innovative solutions and by encouraging collaboration with an emphasis on technology. The programme helps SMEs and start-ups to be more experimental when developing new technologies by allowing them to create disruptive innovation rapidly. This approach will remain the same in the new programme 2021-2027, in which investment and support to new technologies will be a crucial part.

Promotion not production

European films have traditionally had less visibility than their US competitors. This is partly because, in Europe, support has been focused on production rather than promotion. Thus, MEDIA is currently working to shift attention on to promotion to reach wider audiences in Europe and beyond. In this context, Creative Europe MEDIA decided to use its stand at CineEurope 2019 to feature several cutting-edge digital businesses looking to provide goods and services to cinemas and their suppliers.  

CineEurope is the perfect location for such activity: 3,500 industry representatives from distribution and exhibition right through to technology and concessions suppliers attended to discover new methods of driving attendance. This brought a great opportunity to the thirteen SMEs and start-ups that were selected by MEDIA to showcase their projects, network with peers and find investors and partners to take their ideas further. Here’s a taste of their work…


 Promoting European Films for them to ‘leap-frog’ ahead of other international content

Fassoo, a Berlin-based company, is a successful beneficiary of Creative Europe MEDIA. Their initial project — handily entitled the Multi-Language / Multi-Modal Automated Film Tagging Service Project — was supported with €60,000 for the development of a proof-of-concept of an AI, machine-learning-powered algorithm, a platform and the API needed to enable filmmakers, production companies, VOD platforms and broadcasters to upload film files to an automated platform. 

The content metadata could then be automatically tagged and indexed, saving time, money and improving the quality of the metadata produced. In doing so, it was also hoped that this would lead to the creation of an automated multi-language video tagging platform and an online information repository for European film productions, which would help to stimulate discovery, marketing, promotion and distribution of such content. 

Due to the limited resources of many independent filmmakers and production companies, Fassoo envisaged delivering not only critical monetary and time savings, but also offering a standardised approach to increasing the visibility of films. Enhanced film data and metatags can be used to improve both offline and online curation and programming. It was envisaged that sales agents, distributors as well as VOD platform providers would be able to access the Fassoo software to discover relevant film-specific information critical to the promotion and marketing of European films outside of their natural physical and language borders, both within the European Union as well as abroad. 

The creation of Fassoo is a good example of an experienced film technology company (FilmDoo) working with a highly specialised leading non-film company (PAMA Technologies) to innovate jointly and to create technology that will benefit the film and wider media industry. These solutions play a vital role in ensuring that European films are not left behind in a rapidly evolving film distribution marketplace and potentially provide an opportunity for European films to ‘leap-frog’ ahead of other international content if they are developed properly. 

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 Enriching content online in a legal but effortless way

Already available and live in some of the biggest news groups in Europe, and with more than 200 million hits in 2018, isnotTV is an AI algorithm that connects newspapers with the cinema industry. The algorithm scans millions of online articles, and injects ‘content snippets’ when a specific movie is mentioned, without any extra effort or action for the journalist or blogger. This means that, by way of example, if a journalist talks about Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”, isnotTV adds the description of the film as well as all the relevant details together with the legal options to watch it on TV, streaming or in cinemas.

The goal of this European company is to make legal content consumption easily available for big, small, new and classic movies alike. This becomes increasingly relevant for non-mainstream productions and ‘on demand cinema’ where users gather to watch niche movies, filling theatres all around the world. Overall, a clear win-win for all, which underpins legal conceptions across Europe for small and big productions alike.

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Reminding cinema goers not to miss  their favourite films

Staying in the domain of mobile applications, TrailerApp aims to increase numbers of film viewers demonstrably. Trailers are the key source of data for moviegoers but the potential to employ them is slight and rates of recall of those seen in the cinema remains low. TrailerApp aims to increase a trailers’ advertising impact by equipping cinemas with beacon technology. On leaving a venue, cinemagoers receive an overview of trailers shown before their feature. These can be viewed, evaluated and placed on a list. When the film is launched, the user receives a push message with a link to the local cinema’s online ticket office. Individualised appeal, along with convenience and intuitive usability are  TrailerApp’s unique selling points, offering a way to tie-in customers. 

Trailerdata collects user data and creates a profile of individual preferences, which is then analysed and made available as market research data. Trailerdata contributes to market transparency and offers distributors and cinema owners efficient film evaluation and commercialisation. In-app advertising offers the means to inform cinema-goers about relevant films.

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 Going mobile for greater audience development

CINN App is an audience development tool to better capture today’s consumers. Currently only available in Austria (but scalable to new countries), CINN App can be downloaded free and users can see all films available in their city and create so-called “cinema events”. As soon as someone creates a cinema-event with the CINN App, users from the same area get a push notification and can join the event, browse participants’ profiles and enjoy the movie together on the big screen. 

Besides cinema-goers, it has benefits for exhibitors, who can partner with CINN App to make cinema events at their location more attractive and draw users to their sites; and for distributors, who can use smart-data to create tailor-made movie marketing campaigns. CINN App is a unique two-sided marketplace for the movie industry with common goals — increase cinema admissions and collect first-hand smart-movie data from the user. The ultimate goal is to track a user’s journey from the moment a trailer was consumed to the ticket-buying process, using gamification mechanics to increase ROI. CINN App has been downloaded more than 2600+ times in Austria (only Android). From April 24, 2018 to June 18, 2019 CINN App users have created 679 cinema events, using the App. The startup is looking for investors to launch in other countries.

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These are just some of the many examples of new business and tools available in the market. At MEDIA, we will continue our dialogue with stakeholders in order to understand the industry and its challenges and to adapt our support to their needs. Meanwhile, we will also continue working to achieve our goals of strengthening a competitive audiovisual industry and contributing to promote European diversity. 

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