Carlo Thoss (Alta), Photo: David Laurent/Wide

Par Brian Power, publié le 30.04.2010


A problematic aspect of the development of the film industry in Luxembourg has been not a lack of technical ability, which has indeed taken some foreign producers and film makers by surprise, but the organisation of the pool of talent available, not to mention the rights and interests of those technical professionals dependent on the industry for their livelihood. It is certainly not a situation devoid of complexity, as Carlo Thoss, president of the Luxembourgish Association of Audiovisual Technicians (Alta) points out. “Two years ago, 19 technicians got together to create Alta. Eleven of us were elected to the council. It was important for us to have one person from each domain, like the camera department, the sound department, decor... Everyone had to be represented because each department will have its own problems so all views have to be considered.” If the beginnings of the association took time and effort, it is a testament to the members that development has progressed in a healthy fashion.

Creating a safety net

“We have meetings twice a year where all problems are discussed together, but we are also represented in four different commissions. These are the Film Fund, the Filmpräis, the other associations, Ulpa and Lars, and then also the Commission d’indemnisation des intermittents du spectacle.” The final one is vital: Alta members must earn at least 50% of their income (the majority) as freelance workers in films, and do not necessarily know where the next job will be coming from, and this protects their interests and earnings. “It must be said that many technicians work more or less throughout the year, and it is a healthy situation, with an average of two films in production at any given moment” says Thoss. “However if this weren’t to be the case anymore, the audiovisual technicians here obviously do not have the safety net of working in television, for example, or for big advertising companies. We only really have feature films and documentaries.” Subject to certain criteria, technicians who are not working are assisted for those periods. And this is especially important for people who are not in the key positions, or at the highest level. “One of us consequently represents them in the commission. We can give our opinion to the government that way.” Quite apart from looking after its members, Alta has another motive for doing this. To gain the requisite experience in the technical aspects of movie making needs an investment in time measured in years, and the stop-start nature of it can lead to people being lost to the industry before they’ve had a chance. Technical jobs are difficult enough as it is. “You have to be flexible,” insists Thoss. “These are jobs where you can be working any time of the day, any day of the year. You may work for three months, then spend three months out. You may spend a month or two working in a foreign country. That brings its own stresses... But you really do meet a lot of interesting people, and there is never a routine in the life of a film technician. You have to be positive about this. If you aren’t, you won’t survive.”

After 20 years working in the industry on the sound side, Thoss remains enthusiastic about it, both from a personal point of view and a national one. “People have to learn things the hard way, and crafting technicians does take time, but there are a lot of highly qualified people here. Once you find a niche you have to stick at it, but technicians in this country, perhaps more than any other, get the chance to try several things. If the laws stay the same, it will only continue to develop. Intellectually, the films we make here are interesting. We have taken a few years to get to this place. Sure, it’s still a bit insecure, but it was worse ten years ago.” The industry is reaching maturity and the talent is here from a technical point of view. Now is the time to mentor the next generation.

FaLang translation system by Faboba