01-07-2019

FNE at KVIFF 2019: Czechs Lobby to Increase Incentives

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KARLOVY VARY: The Czech Film Fund, with the support of the film industry, is pressing the government to raise the amount of money available for film incentives to 1.2 bn CZK (nearly 50 m EUR) and to increase incentives to 25%. The film incentives currently stand at 20%, the lowest rate in the EU, with a cap of 800 m CZK (31.5 m EUR) in available funds.

The proposal was put forward by the director of the Czech Film Fund, Helena Bezdek Frankova, at a panel that kicked of the Karlovy Vary IFF's Industry Days.

The impassioned discussion that followed took on the spirit of a public lobbying session aimed at the Director of the Financial Department at the Czech Ministry of Culture, Jan Vorechovsky, who noted that a rise of 50% in the available funds “could result in overheating” of the industry, which might not be able to support the increased demands on the film sector.

That suggestion was rebutted by Milk & Honey Films producer Radomir Docekal, who said that immediate short-term demand for more crew members could be met by bringing them in from neighbouring countries.

A strong show of support for the proposal came from Radek Spicar, vice president of the Confederation of Industry, which represents industry unions with 1.5 m members, roughly 30% of all employed people in the Czech Republic. Spicar said that at their recent meeting, the Confederation decided to put attention on the creative industries sector. “Creative industries bring in more money than the automotive industry,” he said. He also vowed to support the lobbying effort of the film industry to raise money for incentives. “It’s a way to move forward. The creative industry keeps the money in the country. We need political support for this. We need to explain to politicians that incentives need to become widely discussed,” he said.

Film incentives were first introduced in 2010, and capped at 14 m EUR. That amount rose after the new audiovisual act of 2012 to 31.5 m EUR / 800 m CZK, where it has remained constant.

“Now 800 m CZK is not enough,” Docekal said. He pointed the rise of streaming services, which are hungry for more original product, including series. He added, “We could have 180 shooting days, so we need more money than expected” in order to meet the demand for film incentives.

Film director Petr Jakl stated, “We are starting to lag behind.” He added, “There are sometimes projects on the verge of being made, and an extra 5% would make the difference. It’s hard to keep pace with other countries,” which have been very aggressive in their approach to film incentives. He also noted a lack of flexibility in the Czech system, which is unable to respond to increased budget demands of individual productions. “The more flexible the system, the higher the chance to attract films,” Jakl said.

The filmmakers pointed out that 60% of the people working on a film production are non-film people, such as service providers. “Stability of services is important. Suppliers need to develop their businesses,” Docekal argued.

Some 80 productions are receiving funding from incentives annually, Frankova told FNE. She said that the objective is not to increase the number of productions, but to make more funding available to the productions. Asked about her timeline for increasing the available funds and raising film incentives to 25%, Frankova said she had the plans prepared and could put them into effect as soon as the increases were approved. “The first step is to get more money, and secondly the goal is to have more money per film,” she said.