Film industry feels Latvia's magnetic attraction

Among the numerous screenings taking place during the Rīga International Film Festival, industry players from across the continent and beyond gathered on the banks of the River Daugava October 18 for the first ever Magnetic Latvia Film Conference, held under the auspices of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA).

LIAA head Andris Ozols gave LSM an overview of the event, outlining what Latvia has to offer to international filmmakers and how the industry has gained both confidence and market relevance in recent years so that it no longer offers just a cheap workforce and post-Soviet sets but a much broader portfolio of products and services.

"It's true we are cheaper, but the services rendered here are really world class," says Ozols, " and a 'Baltic Union' does work - Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians create a critical mass of specialists available... we need to perform in numbers, not only in quality."

Andris Ozols on film industryMike Collier/LSM

    Among the participants were two of Latvia's pre-eminent film producers, husband and wife team Gints Grube and Inese Boka-Grube, whose company Mistrus Media is responsible for some of the most successful Latvian movies of recent years including The Chronicles of Melanie, My Father The Spy, The Mover and Lustrum.

    It might even be said with some justification that it was The Chronicles of Melanie that kick-started the currrent wave of high-quality productions with international rather than just local appeal, but as the Mistrus Media executives point out, there is no reason for the industry to rest on its laurels with a shortage of suitably trained staff meaning that soon, production capacity might be reached unless fresh talent can man the cameras and microphones. They also have some timely advice on the importance of a strong script as the basis of a solid production.

    "It's a crucial step forward that we are working with our own productions that are also of interest to other European producers, too as co-projects. This helps to bring information about our industry, about our talents, about our stories, outside," says Inese.

    "Education of professionals is one of the problems," says Gints, "Last year and this year we reached maximum capacity because everybody was busy in different productions... we need to work on the next generation of people, not only to be educated technically in the film industry but in business, catering and even languages, for instance."

    Mistrus Media on Latvian film industryMike Collier/LSM

      The Magnetic Latvia Film Conference, organised by the @LIAALatvija and taking place in Riga on October 18-19, will focus on the development of the Northern European film market. https://t.co/2zv0qMiSwI

      On the second day of the event, October 19, the industry players were due to be taken on a location tour.

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