Methodology, Skills and Professional Benefits Participants Participants' Comments MEDICI Coordinator and Head of Studies «The 12 Labours of Hercules» Report of the Reports – Workshops 1 to 4

Reports Previous Workshops

Seventh Workshop – 27 to 29 September 2017 – Finstadjordet, Norway

Module 2 – How to design funding programs today?

Introduction

The revision of support programmes is a recurring and necessary exercise for funds. Firstly, the environment is changing and evolving. Secondly, financial and administrative constraints may be imposed on the funds.

Or, in other words:

Case Studies

What follows are three case studies of public film funds that have recently undergone significant policy and organizational transformation.

CASE STUDY 1 / Swedish Film Institute (SFI)

Kristina Borjeson, Head of Film Funding
www.sfi.se
Please also see Kristina Borjeson’s presentation (PDF)

We are in the middle of the process of reforming our programmes, so we cannot still present any results but only describe our intentions. 

SFI presentation

Context

Our funding resources used to be defined by the Film Agreement according to which half of the funding came from the Government and another half from the cinema owners, producers and TV channels. In 2015, the Swedish Government decided to remove the Film Agreement and take the full responsibility of film as one of the cultural areas (together with theater, etc.). As a result of this policy, since 31th January 2017 the Government has been fully funding the SFI. That made us re-consider our goals and the way we redistribute the Government allocation (32 million Euros per year) for supporting production and development.

What was the reason for reorganization? 

The previous funding system became outdated. It was built little by little, scheme by scheme, which created a too complex network of schemes impossible to administer properly. 

The purpose of the new system is to have Swedish films being made by Swedish film industry. The SFI’s function will primarily be to support projects and not the industry.

The challenges we encountered when transforming our schemes:

Industry in Sweden is very fragmented. There are many associations of different – or same - film industry workers with different opinions. So, we had to talk to everybody and find the solutions that everybody will agree upon, which was very difficult.  

  1. Painful “divorce” from the old system (Film Agreement) since the full governmental responsibility implied the increase of taxes on cinema tickets (from 6% to 25%), which made nobody happy. It is the SFI, as Governmental body, that now has to deal with the anger of cinema owners and other industry people. It took a lot of discussions during this first year and a lot of questions are still to be solved.
  2. Lack of functioning business models
  3. Lack of financing
  4. Small language

The new system

  1. The creation of the “Industry Council”. All professional organizations are now organized into the “Industry Council” and we have to discuss the changes to the support schemes with them. These organizations are structural units within the industry, each representing a different industry voice. There are two organizations for producers, one for directors, one for scriptwriters, two for distributors, one for private financers, two for cinema owners, one for regional funds, film schools, TV stations and WIFT.
  2. More democratic discussions. The idea is to have two meetings a year. It would be more this year given the quantity of work to be done. The Industry Council is going to take care of the dialogue within the industry which is completely new. In the old system, run by the Film Agreement, the discussions included only the industry players that had to contribute to the funding schemes. The other segments of the film industry (directors, scriptwriters, etc.) were excluded from discussions.

The transformation steps

Agenda Setting.

We started off by conducting a study, evaluating the existing schemes. The evaluation included a lot of qualitative research (interviews with different parties from the film industry), but also a lot of statistics and other quantitative analysis. It took seven months before the report was ready for presentation. Following the report presentation, we arranged surveys and polls in order to collect opinions from everyone in the industry. We had numerous meetings again with different organizations, a lot of phone calls, e-mails correspondence until February 2017. 

Problem Formulation

Another cycle of meetings ensued in spring 2017. It started with the Industry Council to establish the new goals for the Swedish films, followed by different meetings with the Government. The second step was to establish the goals for the Swedish film from the point of view of the Swedish Film Institute. These goals explained what Swedish films should actually undertake for improving the market share, international exposure, festival life, audiences, etc. In June 2017 we presented our positions and goals at the Board meeting. 

Repetition of Cycles

Then, the same cycle was repeated. We had a new Industry Council meeting in September 2017 when the Board made the decisions about the first part of the funding. Another Industry Council meeting and Board meeting took place in November and December 2017, respectively.  

Implementation

At the same time, there are also a lot of internal meetings and work within the SFI. The idea is to revise the SFI’s funding schemes, using the work force the institute has. The new funding schemes will be into effect in January 2018 and implement until May 2018. They will be structured into three new support areas:

  1. 1) Development will be the headline of our support schemes. Support will be given for development of projects, for individuals and for companies. Development will be divided into two different schemes, the schemes shall improve communication with the industry and the whole process will be tracked and monitored. Special focus will be on talent development.
  2. 2) Securing continuity for people and companies in all the different areas (short films, feature films, documentaries, new media content, etc.) through introduction of several different schemes. 
  3. 3) Training both for individuals and companies. Our current training scheme is chaotic and badly structured. The new scheme will be more focused and cover three specific areas in the two coming years, including scriptwriting, development of digital content, etc. There are a lot of small companies in SE spending too much time on surviving. They don’t have time to develop their companies. The scheme will allow them to have access to funding to educate themselves. 

During the implementation process, the SFI will 1) be tougher and more demanding when making funding decisions than during the previous system, 2) give money only to professional people (under new terms and conditions), 3) be more transparent, 4) describe better the SFI’s aims and how they connect to the goal, 5) be more consistent – not changing things too much and too often, 6) be more predictable and not change things over night, 7) be more modern.

The goals:

There are two levels of goals: the general goals and the SFI specific goals based on the interpretation of the general ones. 

  1. The general ones are the seven policy goals set by the Government: gender, diversity, distribution nationwide, children/youth, strengthening freedom of speech, international exchange, film heritage).
  2. The SFI specific goals including market share, international success, diversity, gender, etc. As part of the SFI’s yearly operational plan, outcomes of those goals will be measured on an annual basis.

Expected outcomes

We want to create a system that will be transparent (clear decision-making), sustainable (predictable, consistent, stable, persistent, aiming at diversity) and modern (we need to adjust, to be able to evaluate ourselves and see what works and what should be changed, to follow the ever-changing reality)

Questions from the audience

What is your market share goal?
In 2017 – at the moment – our market share is between 15 and 16%. We hope to reach 22% by the end of the year. As you know, the market share is unpredictable and could depend only on one very successful film. If this or those films are not Swedish, they kill domestic films in cinemas. 
Can you tell us more about the new terms and requirements? Will they be tougher before or after applicants get the money? 
It will be asked that the supported films attract more audience. The problem in Sweden is that domestic films don’t stay in cinemas (between 2 to 3 weeks). Thus, producers will have to come up with a detailed distribution strategy and explain much better how they are going to spend the money we grant them. 

Case Study 2 – German Federal Film Fund (FFA)

Christine Berg, Deputy CEO
www.ffa.de
Please also see Christine Berg’s presentation (PDF)

FFA Christine Berg

The FFA decided to reform its funding schemes on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Unlike the Swedish Film Institute, the FFA doesn’t get money from the Government, but from cinemas (percentage of cinema tickets) and broadcasters. 

The transformation steps

Agenda Setting

Preparing the ground for making necessary changes consisted of two steps:

  1. The first step was to change significantly the Law because we depend on it.
  2. The second step was to change the FFA’s funding guidelines in accordance with the new law in order to stimulate productions of films with more cinema admissions. We support only films meant for cinemas, but different phases within their value chain. 

Problem Formulation

First, we did the quantitative analysis to identify the causes of the problems we are facing. We took a look at the releases of German films since 2006:

Accordingly, the problem to be solved was how to make films with more admissions, that is, films that at the same time have high production value, economic and audience success.

It took us two years of discussion before we reached agreements on new goals and objectives. Representatives of all industry segments were involved (scriptwriters, directors, broadcasters, studios, etc.).

Implementation

Old Law New Law (since January 1 2017)
Bigger selection committees (13 permanent members) Smaller selection committees (7 members out of the pool of 42 people)
No minimum funding quota Minimum funding quota
No educating selection committee of FFA’s goals and objectives Educating selection committee of FFA’s goals and objectives
“Broad funding” “Excellence Funding” – give more money to fewer projects everybody will benefit from
Committee members overloaded with work Decrease committee members’ workload
Create clearer and more predictable funding profile
100 projects per meeting Much less projects per meeting to secure a better workflow
More money for project development (up to 100,000 Euro per project)
Expected Outcomes

Challenges

Questions from the audience

Aren’t you afraid that establishing the minimum budget would trigger the inflation of budgets? 
The smaller films should just apply to other types of funds we have in Germany. However, sometimes we support even very small films if we realize that they are extremely important and have a chance to go to festivals. But we hope these guidelines will help producers decide where their film belongs and what they should aim for. Budgets will not inflate, because auditing is performed after the project is finished and any irregularity is detected. 
Do producers bear any consequences if they fail admission-wise? 
There are no consequences. This principle is part of our guidelines and not bound by the law.
Do you have a cap on financing?
Yes. It is one million Euro or 10% of the budget. We can give more than 10% in exceptional cases, but producers must provide a convincing explanation. In the past we tended to give less than what producers asked for. As we are always the last piece in financing, we only put them in trouble because they still needed to find the rest of the money somewhere else, which was often impossible.
When do producers apply to FFA for funding?
We recommend to producers to go to the market first (broadcasters, distributors, etc.) then to their own regional fund(s), and finally to the FFA. But they often apply to all the levels at the same time. 
Do you have deadlines?
This is also something we changed. We used to have 4 deadlines. Now we have 7, so we will be able to respond to producers’ needs faster and be more flexible. 

Case Study 3 / Creative Scotland

Scott Donaldson, Head of Film Education www.creativescotland.com 

Agenda Setting

In Scotland, culture (that also includes film) is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, together with economic development end education. Broadcasting is reserved for Westminster Government. In 2010, Scottish Screen (public film agency) was merged with another institution into Creative Scotland. Its goal was to promote arts, film and creative industries.

Scottish Screen (SS) then went through three difficult years of significant reorganization. In 2014, their strategy was defined within five areas: 1) film education, 2) talent development, 3) film development and production, 4) inward investment and co-productions, 5) distribution, exhibition and audience development.

It indicated SS aspiration to be holistic and support the development of the whole sector, industry, value chain and infrastructure, but we lacked the resources to do it ourselves.

Problem Formulation

However, there are several other agencies whose activities overlap with ours. These agencies include Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise as economic development agencies, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council that funds colleges and universities in Scotland. Since Scottish producers, and other industry people, complained about insufficient support for films, the Scottish National Party opened the debate in the Parliament about setting up a “Screen Unit” and committed to the manifesto to open it within Creative Scotland. Right now we are in the process of achieving it and the said agencies should contribute to the budget of the new Screen Unit

Implementation Plan

The main challenge is that all of the above mentioned agencies traditionally do not support the Scottish film industry. For example, Skills Development Scotland is responsible for developing apprenticeships. However, these five agencies will now be included in Creative Scotland and they will contribute to the fund. Before this new funding scheme becomes operative, they all together have to submit a funding proposal to the Scottish government (Ministry of Culture). The Ministry of Culture will then decide on the amount of additional funding to be granted to the film industry. 

Expected outcomes

There are several expected outcomes of this new funding scheme:

Outcome of group discussions

Examples of some most impactful revisions (best practices) that different film funds have implemented

The Role of Public Film Funds in the Future

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