Interview with Peter Badač, New Director of Slovak Audiovisual Fund


    BRATISLAVA: FNE spoke with Slovak producer Peter Badač, the new director of the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, about the first steps he intends to take and his priorities for the next five-year period in the office.

    Peter Badač, who was elected on 18 January 2023, studied production at FAMU in Prague and received his PhD degree at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. He is a member of the Czech Film and Television Academy and the European Film Academy.

    FNE: What was the main motivation for deciding to run for the position of director of the Slovak Audiovisual Fund?

    Peter Badač: I felt that thanks to my 15 years of experience as a film producer, I know the audiovisual environment very well and maybe it is time to give something back. I would like to use my knowledge and foreign contacts, to be inspired by "good practices" and perhaps to introduce some changes here in Slovakia, so that creators have the opportunity to devote their time primarily to films and not be overwhelmed by bureaucracy and paperwork. My vision is to set the rules in such a way that they are helpful to all those subjects in the audiovisual industry and do not complicate their lives more than it’s necessary.

    FNE: From the position of a producer/filmmaker, how do you evaluate the functioning of the film sector and where do you see room for change?

    Peter Badač: Of course, the vast majority of new projects that are created mainly thanks to the support of the Audiovisual Fund. Nevertheless, I see a lot of room for improvement in the functioning of the institution as such. In the digitalisation of the agenda (signing contracts, submitting applications, digitalising archive outputs) I see great reserves, and I think that much more can be done in 2023. Of course, sustainability is also related to this, with which we want to motivate our applicants, for example by creating an ecological calculator and special support for creators who apply the principles of sustainable filming.

    I also see big challenges in setting up the support system, where for years we have had a division into feature, documentary and animated films in the structure according to which the amount of support is also allocated. Therefore, documentary or animation filmmakers often complain about the insufficient amounts of allocations. So the question is whether to change these allocations according to length and thus divide the subprogrammes into feature films, short films, minority coproductions and television projects.

    FNE: What are the first steps/changes you decided to make?

    Peter Badač: Certainly, the digitalisation of the agenda is one of the big priorities for 2023, which applicants will also feel, because it will remove the bureaucratic burden and they will need only a computer and Internet to apply for support, no matter where they are in the world.

    The second step will be to focus on the supporting activity. We will now evaluate the setting of expert commissions and the entire evaluation system. I would like to initiate a discussion within the professional public and, based on their comments, set up not only the structure itself, but also look for solutions to improve and simplify individual processes.

    FNE: What are your top priorities for the next five-year period in the office?

    Peter Badač: I think that the first year is also an observational one, so that I can get to know the processes and at the same time to work on making them more efficient, as I mentioned before. In the near future, we also expect to move on, as these premises are not enough for us as part of the expansion of the agenda.

    As for the promotion of Slovak film abroad, which is undertaken by the Audiovisual Fund‘s Slovak Film Commission and also by the Slovak Film Promotion Department of the Slovak Film Institute (SFI), the question is whether, for example, these two departments could not cooperate within the framework of one institution. I think that this is a long-term process, so that we can analyse together with SFI whether this connection would make any sense.

    At the same time, the Ministry of Culture is preparing a unified database as part of digitalisation, where our institution will also be a part of it. We would like to use this database so that producers report their projects to one place and other institutions take what they need from there, so that the producers won’t have to report to three or four institutions.

    FNE: What do you think is the current situation of Slovak film?

    Peter Badač: Thanks to the operations of the fund, we have systemic support for Slovak film, and in the last years of 2017, 2018, 2019  (before the pandemic), Slovak viewers began to trust domestic production more and to watch Slovak films. I'm sorry that the COVID-19 and the current economic crisis seem to have set us back 10 years, and it will take a while to regain the trust of the audience and to raise the attendance for Slovak films. The decline in cinema distribution is large, and therefore it is a challenge for us as well to decide how to set these conditions and how much money to invest in cinema distribution, or, for example, whether to support video distribution more.

    I think that the problem is not in the number or quality of Slovak films, but rather in the fact that we cannot deliver them to the viewer, that the viewer does not know about their existence. This is also a challenge for the Audiovisual Fund, so in the first round we should do some analysis of audience habits and in the second round we will devise and apply effective strategies to get the Slovak film to the audiences and also start to talk more about film and audiovisual education in schools.