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Viewpoint: Rio’s grand

danny_fentonZig Zag Productions’ CEO Danny Fenton reports back from this month’s Rio Content Market in Brazil. Despite feeling like a ‘new kid on the block’ in this most bustling of emerging markets, the indie boss extols the virtues of the new UK-Brazil coproduction treaty and Rio as a possible new second home.

I was very privileged earlier this month to be invited as part of the PACT delegation to the Rio Content Market in Brazil. It is a country I had never visited before and a market I until now have relatively little knowledge of. I arrived to torrential rain, which was the first shock to my system, but after an infamous boat trip organised by PACT that ended up more like a scene from Mutiny on the Bountyi, I was ready to throw myself into the conference.

It was strange, as a veteran of MIPs and Realscreens, to enter a market where most of the faces were unknown to me but it was exciting and vibrant and although I felt like a new kid at school I was keen to get to know my classmates. With all the new tax breaks and governmental support and the promise of more to come – not to ignore the burgeoning Brazilian economy as part of the BRIC emerging nations – Brazil is definitely the place to be right now.

Added to this Rio has the World Cup and Olympics coming in the next two years, so the appetite for sports based content, of which Zig Zag is a specialist, was well received. We were also kindly invited to witness a football match at the legendary Maracana – where the World Cup Final will be played in July ­– as guests of the British Embassy.

At the conference itself, where free coconuts were just one of the perks, we were based in the British Room (where else?) where along with the other members the PACT delegation we were some of the most sought-out attendees at the market. I suspect this may have something to do with the copro treaty that John McVay, the Chair of PACT, signed the final paperwork for whilst we were there and now only requires rubber stamping by the Brazilian government. The implications of this for UK/Brazil coproductions could be immense.

In total I had 30 meetings in three days of the conference and the majority of those were very fruitful both with local broadcasters and producers. I had a few no-shows, which at first I took personally but later discovered is often the Brazilian way. Also, as the Brazilian independent market is exploding a bit like the UK did on the launch of Channel 4, there is a really broad spectrum of experience there. When you don’t know the people you are meeting it takes half of your time together to work out whether you want to do business with them in the future.

I am pleased to say it was an incredibly useful trip, both in terms of fact finding and business opportunities. I have already had two broadcasters approach me following the market looking to do business. Without PACT I probably would never have taken this opportunity to visit the Rio Content market but I highly recommend it. Once this copro treaty is ratified then Rio could become my second home. I can assure you that would be no bad thing!