Interview with Christopher Peter Marcich, Head of Croatian Audiovisual Centre

    Christopher Peter Marcich Christopher Peter Marcich

    ZAGREB: Christopher Peter Marcich was elected to a four year term as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), starting 1 May 2019. He talked to Film New Europe about his main objectives and how the challenges can be overcome.

    Marcich was born in the USA to Croatian parents. He received a master’s degree in international affairs at the Georgetown University. He was Assistant US Trade Representative for Europe and Assistant US Trade Representative for the Environment from 1985 to 1995, President and Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Asia at the Motion Picture Association from 1995 to 2015, and President of the Board of AGICOA - Association Audiovisual Producers and their Rights Management Orgs from 2011 to 2019.

    FNE: How would you describe the situation of the Croatian film industry now?

    Christopher Peter Marchich: The Croatian film industry, like most others in Europe, is facing a time of change. The traditional business model, especially for smaller countries, is being challenged as new platforms enter the market, for example the streaming services. We are not prepared adequately and our opportunities outside of the national market are too limited.

    We also have opportunities that need to be seized. The bourgeoning streaming services could offer opportunities if they are properly folded into our legislative framework and if they show the needed attitude. We are blessed by extremely attractive and diverse locations, skilled crews and a welcoming environment for filming, which are attracting more and more foreign productions. The experiences of these productions, including projects such as Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, are testimony to the attractiveness of filming here. We need to expand the programme and to offer more complete services in the form of a modern film studio.

    FNE: What are your main objectives?

    Christopher Peter Marchich: My main objectives are:

    • Expand the pool of financing for local productions via state support and from those who exploit our markets and what we and other Europeans create
    • Restructure the support we provide to include greater attention to production, distribution and promotion - so more focus on bringing to audiences works that will attract their attention while maintaining our support for new authors, for difficult films and for films that tell our story
    • More attention to coproductions, including with countries we have had insufficient creative cooperation with to date
    • Building-up our infrastructure, including a new state of the art film studio to provide services to domestic and foreign productions, while augmenting our talented pool of skilled crafts persons.

    FNE: What do you think are the challenges and how can they be overcome?

    Christopher Peter Marchich: The challenges are many. 

    • We need to establish our sector as a national priority, in the national interest.
    • We need better collaboration with policymakers, irrespective of political affiliation.
    • We need greater unity of the entire sector including those who make films and participate in their making. Broadcasters, traditional distribution platforms, online services and exhibitors need to step up their game.
    • We need a serious commitment to training and education.
    • We need to integrate the games sector.

    We are moving on all of these fronts. Dialogue, legislation and advocacy are the tools at our disposal and we will be using them to the maximum extent possible.

    FNE: How important is it for you to coproduce with neighbouring and with other European countries?

    Christopher Peter Marchich: Coproductions can spur creativity and diversity. They also by definition improve cross-border cooperation and a sense of belonging to a wider Europe, and to the world, while promoting our own national identity. We work with some neighbours Christopher Peter Marcichalready. We need to broaden that pool. I also see potential in certain countries of Latin America, and even Canada. 

    These days we are hearing expressions of interest from potential Asian partners. In the meantime, American productions are showing keen interest in filming here and working with our service production companies. I hope to see that cooperation intensify in the sense of tapping more deeply into our talent pool of authors, actors, camera persons etc.

    FNE: Where do you see the Croatian film industry in four years?

    Christopher Peter Marchich: In four years, when my mandate expires and I finally actually do get to spend more time on my beloved island of Rab, I hope we will have raised the game of our sector to another level. We will be producing more audiovisual works, of an even higher quality, that attract domestic and international attention. We will offer a much improved infrastructure, stability and a more joined-up sector within which to deliver on this.