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

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Eighth Workshop – 26 to 28 September 2018, Royaumont Abbey, France

Module 5 – How to assess the performance of funding programs dedicated to international co-operation?

Introduction

Many funds have put or intend to put in place schemes to support the development of relationship between local and foreign producers, i.e. minority co-production support schemes. Each of these programs have different objectives i.e. encouraging the co-operation among professionals from different countries, give space for newcomers outside of their conventional funding schemes, consolidate production companies, give work to their local professionals.

Green Hats and Red Hats Regarding the Funds’ Co-operation Policies

The MEDICI participants were asked to summarize the main success stories (green hats) and challenges (red hats) of regarding their funds’ policies, with a particular emphasis on the international collaboration. The following table provides an overview of the participants’ presentations.

W8 Module 5

 

National funds

Green Hats Red Hats
Federal Office for Culture – Film Department (Switzerland)
  • Re-distribution of automatic funding is done on the basis of festival success => there is an increasing number of Swiss films at the important international festivals, and producers are motivated to work more on their festival strategies
  • Lack of co-production treaties for all audiovisual formats, not only traditional films.
  • Lack of data about the international circulation of supported films and data from television
CNC (France)
  • Everybody wants to co-produce and sign treaties with France => this gives the CNC the privilege to be really picky. There are two requests per month sometimes and they come from other Film Institutes, governments or from the French Embassies in foreign countries.
  • The CNC-process is quite efficient in a sense that producers do not wait too long to receive the money.
  • Co-production treaties relate only to film, except for the one with Canada. Treaties should include all audiovisual formats.
  • Lack of efficient assessment system in regard to the films’ performance, which prevents the fund from making necessary policy changes
  • A better central database is needed. Too many different, separated departments and people manage support programs schemes. Producers take advantage of this situation and send different applications with different figures because they know it cannot be checked.
Luxembourg Film Fund
  • There are many co-operations with other funds in the French-speaking territories.
  • Numerous agreements with many regional funds for professional training, co-development and co-production.
  • The tax-incentive system has been replaced by the direct support system and now every Euro goes directly to the industry.
  • Openness for all formats, new technologies and different languages.
  • Only one funding scheme as opposed to the complex funds like CNC.
  • The selection committee can also hear producers’ pitches that may involve directors and scriptwriters.
  • Not enough demands regarding the urgency and relevance of selected projects, which leads to a number of “useless” projects.
  • The fund should follow more closely the life cycle of the supported films. Introducing a sort of success index is considered as a solution.
  • Regulations need to be simplified.
  • Point system should be re-framed, which is expected to be in place by March 2019.
Austrian Film Institute
  • Good co-operation between different film funds in Austria in terms of auditing, co-productions, solidarity, etc.
  • More and more activities promoting gender equality in Austrian cinema.
  • Anachronistic co-production treaties. The Ministry requires too many documents for the certification process and also asks the film fund to review those documents due tot he lack of expertise, which creates big delays in issuing certifications. This process slows down even Austrian-German co-productions, and certificates from the two countries sometimes show completely different percentages for same films.
  • The organizational structures can be improved. There is one committee taking care of the funding decisions and the supervisory board that makes strategic and policy-related decisions. But the big problem is that members of this board are most of the time producers, directors from Austria, which prevents the board from being objective enough.
  • A need for more larger production companies and more high-budget films.
  • Resources for supporting young talent are very limited
Hungarian National Film Fund
  • The application process is fully digitized, which makes the fund’s work very transparent.
  • Increased visibility of supported films by means of generous support schemes for distribution of films (including co-produced films).
  • Very selective support schemes. No financial co-productions, but only relevant and organic ones like cultural co-productions with countries with which Hungary shares the same history.
  • The fund needs to further improve the regulations regarding the international co-productions. There are still no specific, separate, regulations for co-productions.
Polish Film Institute
  • Dynamic co-production activity (at least 15 minority co-production a year).
  • Intensive collaboration with other film funds, particularly from neighboring countries (Germany, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Lithuania), but also with other countries such as the Netherlands, France or even the UK.
  • The fund is launching soon a distribution support scheme for the Polish films distributed internationally
  • The recent change of the Head of the Institute has created some fears within the entire film industry
  • The fund still needs more co-production treaties and agreements.
  • Mentality of decision-makers should be changed. Projects could be evaluated according to a precise point system that would force the decision-makers to argue every point they give to a project.
  • The audience aspect should be prioritized, so both producers and decision-makers are put under pressure to give more attention to this aspect.
  • According to the Polish law, the fund can support only the theatrical release window.
  • Bureaucracy sometimes take too much time.
  • There is a need for a completely new system for data harvesting, because the fund lacks data.
Lithuanian Film Center
  • The film law heavily prioritizes co-productions and treats them as national films. Thus two thirds of the supported projects are co-productions. Diverse instruments for fostering co-productions (i.e. memoranda of understanding, agreements between film institutes, trilateral arrangement between the Baltic states) are replacing traditional co-production treaties.
  • The fund insists on marketing and audience strategies in the funding applications.
  • A specific distribution support scheme was introduced three years ago. There is an urge to talk to the producers who decide to do distribution themselves, which can be particularly useful for niche, auteur films.
  • Digitization of the application process is in progress.
  • The requirements regarding marketing and audience strategies should be further strengthened.
  • Distribution support scheme is in place, but there is still no direct correlation between the size of the distribution grant and the box-office results.
Finnish Film Foundation
  • The cash rebate has been recently introduced for foreign productions.
  • A flexible decision-making process and regulations. Projects simply need to bring some benefits to the Finnish film industry in one way or another.
  • Commissioning editors sometimes are simply not up to their tasks and it can create a lot of problems.
  • Collaboration beyond the borders of the Nordic region and Eurimages is very limited. It could be improved.
Netherlands Film Fond
  • Strong focus on co-productions. Many of them are foreign, art-house, minority co-productions released in Dutch cinemas.
  • International distribution scheme
  • Close collaboration with many other film funds in Europe.
  • Numerous co-development funds, talent labs, training programs, expert meetings, etc.
  • Priority is given to relevance, urgency and originality when selecting projects, which particularly works within the minority co-production scheme.
  • The fund is sometimes losing focus by doing too many different things at the same time.
  • No benefits from co-production treaties with China and South Africa despite the enormous time and money invested in signing them.
  • Co-development funds should be larger.
  • There are no regional or TV funds. Industry is looking only at the national fund.
  • More attention should be given to development and pre-development phases, but also to the TV drama and cross-media.
  • It is difficult to launch a successful VoD platform
CORFO’s Film Fund (Chile)
  • Supporting development, distribution and trips to the international film festivals.
  • The fund is part of the Ministry of Economy. Thus it supports industry and companies, and, unlike the cultural funds, expects some economic results back.
  • Paperwork is not huge, especially in the beginning of the process.
  • The online application system is in place
  • Producers are asked to provide audience-design and project development strategies already in the development stage.
  • A Chilean company must submit funding applications, but the project can include the talent from all over the world.
  • Producers need to pitch and present their projects in front of the selection committee.
  • Only six co-production treaties in place, but not enough funding for sustaining them
  • Need for more audiovisual, not only film, co-productions.
  • No central film institute in Chile. Instead, the public support is spread across different institutions that are not synchronized and have different goals and simultaneous deadlines.
  • Only one call per year
  • The selection committee consists of three domestic and three international jury members, which also requires a lot of co-ordination.
  • The administrative workload is too big. There can be up to 500 applications per call, while only two persons are employed to process them.
  • Visibility is also a huge problem. Responsibility is given only to the producer, but the funds and government should also engage more in providing visibility of Chilean films.
Norwegian Film Institute
  • Increased international visibility.
  • Making four-year strategies with action plans and focus countries. Currently, there is a specific focus on the French market and collaboration with the French industry.
  • The US market is perceived as a complementary market, not a competing market, and the fund is trying to take advantage of that philosophy.
  • Good and easy communication with partners from other Nordic countries.
  • The cultural test regarding the Norwegianness of every film (based on four questions), which is made for the purpose of making sure that the money goes only to the Norwegian, not international, producers.
  • New, digitized application process.
  • The internal market in Norway makes quite expensive Norwegian films financeable within the Norwegian system (+Sweden and the NFTV Fund). This happens due to high MGs that can reach 2.5 million of euro and the generous automatic support scheme (the cap of 3.5 million euro per film). Also, the NFI can finance up to 70% of the film. All this together kills the international ambitions of Norwegian producers.
  • In the organizational terms, there is an unhealthy split between the department in charge of development and production of fiction films, and the distribution department. There should be more collaboration for the sake of better content and distribution.
  • The website can be more user-friendly
Telefilm Canada
  • Proactive internationalization policies. Canada joined Eurimages and signed the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. The fund incentivizes Canadian producers to travel to international festivals and co-production markets. Canadian delegations also travel to international festivals to foster international collaboration with Canada. For example, the recent activity at the Galway film festival resulted in many new Irish-Canadian co-productions.
  • Transferring successful policies from other countries (i.e. Germany).
  • Evaluating projects by assigning a score (success index) to a film, whereby every project is assessed in the same way based on the sales, box office, festival success, track record of the creative team, etc.
  • Separate micro-scheme for first time directors with projects costing up to 1 million dollars
  • Collaborating with iTunes that released 150 Canadian films in 2017 when the country celebrated its 100th anniversary.
  • Promotion of gender equality and cultural diversity through supporting 125 indigenous communities in Canada (inclusion of representatives of indigenous communities in selection committees, the agreement with the International Sami Film Institute regarding international co-ventures, etc.)
  • Too many minority co-productions and the lack of reciprocity.
  • Administrative capacities need to be increased. The fund receives up to 200 projects per call, which is 10 times more than 20 years ago.
  • Too many production companies in Canada (over 200) and the public financing is not able to sustain all of them.
  • More support for distributors in promoting better Canadian films and increasing their visibility.
German Federal Film Board
  • Increased international co-operation on the political level, particularly though EFADs that articulates the political goals through discussions between many European film funds.
  • There is the new agreement with the CNC for the purpose of exchanging strategies.
  • Due to too many films, the fund started prioritizing also economic relevance when evaluating applications (target audiences, distribution strategies, etc.). It is combined now with the cultural relevance.
  • There are many co-development agreements, but there is still the lack of interest from the German producers.
Croatian Audiovisual Center
  • Good minority co-production scheme that includes all categories (fiction, animation, experimental films and documentaries), both features and shorts, and four deadlines per year.
  • The new law was adopted in July 2018, which provided an opportunity for improving funding schemes and changing some regulations.
  • Good independent cinema network for European films.
  • The budget for the minority co-production scheme should be higher. The fund normally supports only 15 out of 100 applications and it is mostly countries from the former Yugoslavia. The fund should stimulate co-productions beyond ex-Yugoslavia.
  • Every change needs to be done in co-operation with the entire audiovisual sector, which often leads to long discussions where everybody is talking and nobody is listening.
  • Follow-up on supported projects can be better.
  • Producers are thinking more about the distribution strategy from scratch, but are still not obliged to present it during the application process.
  • National market share is really low and a better strategy is needed in this regard.
Slovak Film Center
  • The fund is fully digitized – from the application to evaluation process. That increases the transparency because the contracts are published online and accessible on the webpage (together with the budgets and evaluations).
  • No VoD platform for films produced in Slovakia. There is no place where one can see either newer or classic films. They exist only on DVD
Icelandic Film Center
  • Dynamic co-production activity when it comes to fiction films.
  • Good collaboration with other Nordic countries.
  • Low co-production activity when it comes to documentaries, which requires a change in the regulations.
Irish Film Board
  • There are many co-productions with UK and other countries.
  • The fund is not a slave to co-production treaties. They use them only when it makes sense like with Canada or France.
  • Next year, the fund will start investing more in the TV drama with strong international aspects.
  • There is a need for a new business model regarding the data update. Currently, the fund is working on a central digitized database similar to the one created by Eurimages.
  • Data is a big issue. Producers need to have a better data-monitoring and there should be more partnership with tech and online companies (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.).
  • There should be more co-development initiatives that would deepen relationships between funds and producers

Regional (subnational) funds

Green Hats Red Hats
Cineforom (Switzerland)
  • Good co-operation inside the country with other regional funds and the national fund.
  • Digitized application forms, which ensures online publishing of all important documents (results, selection committee compositions, financial plans, budgets, etc.) and provides more transparency.
  • Lack of more flexible policy for international co-production
  • Lack of relevant and urgent projects
  • Insufficient visibility of supported films
  • Lack of a Swiss VoD platform
SODEC (Canada)
  • Strong internationalization policy. As a result, younger generations of filmmakers already think globally.
  • Generous distribution and promotion schemes that should ensure more international visibility for films.
  • Lack of reciprocity in regard to international co-production. The fund intends to work more only with compatible funds.
  • Lack of communication with the government and the politicians who do not understand the new trends and how they can increase their efficiency.
Filminvest3 AS (Norway)
  • Attracting productions to the region and engaging the local talent
  • Good collaboration with the Norwegian Film Institute
  • The fund functions as an investment fund and recoups from the income on the projects, with high interest rates
  • Tax incentive has been introduced
  • Co-productions are mostly documentary films and are national, internal Norwegian co-productions.
  • There is a huge competition for national money (especially for the funding alloted for fiction). The regional film funds together receive only 12% of the total public financing allotted for film.
Film i Väst (Sweden)
  • Co-producing activity for over 25 years with many countries without using co-production treaties.
  • Very often the fund is the only Swedish financer in international co-productions because the Swedish Film Institute is not big enough to support them all.
  • Active involvement in the co-produced projects (script-development, post-production, distribution).
  • Sharing knowledge, competence, and contacts accumulated over many years of co-producing.
  • Very fast in decision-making.
  • Insistence on reporting about the visibility of the projects the fund supports. In that way the fund evaluates if producers deliver what they promised.
  • The fund does not use co-production treaties but the fund’s own regulations are very strict, because, according to the Swedish legislative framework regarding the regions and local communities, they need to be very protective of taxpayers’ money.
  • The fund is an equity investor and co-producer in projects, which is difficult for producers.
  • The region does not offer any tax-incentives and the fund needs to lobby for them.
  • The fund does not always select the most relevant, urgent and newest stories. A new form of knowledge and skills are required for improving the situation in this area.
Nordmedia (Germany)
  • The fund does not use treaties, which enables it to co-produce more easily.
  • The fund’s co-productions are driven by ideas and people
  • Collaboration on different types of audiovisual projects (TV series, documentaries, etc.)
  • The game support scheme might be introduced soon.
  • Fully digitized
  • Too many regulations regarding the regional spend, which requires a lot of paperwork.
  • Lack of data on how visible are the supported projects.
Screen Scotland
  • A generous distribution and exhibition support scheme that involves co-productions and is also used for promoting films across Scotland outside the big cities.
  • A good tax-incentive system is in place.
  • There are many films set in Scotland, dealing with Scottish issues, that do not have any Scottish creative talent involved (directors, writers, producers). The fund cannot support them because they are not in line with the fund’s social remit.
  • The definition of “screen” could be broadened beyond cinema and TV.

Supranational funds

Green Hats Red Hats
Eurimages
  • Fully-digitized. There is a central digital database – Coeurimages – and the information goes directly there. The database also includes information like script-doctors’ reports on the submitted scripts, contracts, follow-up data measuring the success of the supported projects, etc. Coeurimages has interface for every country, which makes it easily accessible.
  • Eurimages’ films have a lot success at festivals (many festival awards and other cultural accolades)
  • Right now the fund is in the middle of a major evaluation of its governance and its mission. It is helpful in re-defining the fund’s identity and streamlining the fund’s objectives.
  • Eurimages is a cultural fund protecting the freedom of expression, and supporting mainly films that market cannot finance alone (unlike national film funds that need to support both culture and industry).
  • Procedures need to be simplified and, the decision-making process further shortened.
  • Transparency is always an issue because the members of the Board of Management have a double role (national and supranational).
  • There is a constant resistance to change because the representatives of 38 member countries have different ways of perceiving reality on personal and national level, which makes transformations difficult.
  • People do not understand Eurimages in the same way, there are different expectations; there is a need for a common vision and value system.
  • Eurimages receives and finances too many projects. Among them, there are too many “ordinary” projects that do not contribute to the fund’s main mission, which is a result of the current decision-making system across European funds.
  • Eurimages supports too many projects in order to keep all the member-states happy, but this decreases the fund’s impact. Instead, the fund should focus more on relevant films that could not be made without Eurimages.

Cooperation between public funds in an increasingly complex and international environment: opportunities, actions, ideas

Illustrations by KAK

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