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Industry Report: Financing

The German Federal Film Fund (FFA)


The German Federal Film Fund (FFA)

- Christine Berg is the project manager responsible for the German Federal Film Fund (FFA). The funding is a new subsidy created from 2007 with the aim of supporting their creative audiovisual industry.

What is the German Federal Film Fund?
It is a funding from the government, the Ministry of Culture and Media and the FFA, an institute similar to the French CNC or the UK Fund Council. FFA handles and deals with this funding.
The fund offers 60 million E UR per year for 3 years; probably the minister will give an additional support for another 3 years, so for the period 2010-2012.
The money is offered only for production and exclusively for German feature films. It is an automatic funding, with no jury but only guidelines. It is a grant that doesn’t have to be paid back. 25% of the film budget must be invested in Germany.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

What are the basics to apply to the fund?
There are 3 «doors» to go through in order to apply for the funding: the applicant, so the producers who can apply for the subsidy; the project, with the elements that must qualify the eligibility, and the cultural test, a brand new element in Germany.
The applicant must be responsible for the project and the first release print. In other words it must be a real producer based in Germany, able to develop, produce and release the film.
The producer also needs to present a reference as he has to have released at least one film in a movie theatre in the last 5 years.

What is the destination for the fund?
The funding is addressed to feature film, documentary and animation movies and the budget is divided in the following way: € 1m for feature films, € 200.000 for documentaries and € 3m for animation films.
The main requisite applicants must respond to in order to apply, is that 25% of the production costs must be spent in Germany. Also 20% of the German production costs must be financed in Germany. This makes it difficult for international co-productions, because we need a German distribution company, who has to release the film in Germany with several prints, depending on the amount of the budget obtained. So for example with a budget of about € 300,000 at least 30 prints must be released.

Which are the main guidelines to follow in order to apply?
Before applying for the contract, the applicant needs the distributor. This is one of the main guidelines. The application can be made for a maximum sum of € 4m, in this case. Exceptionally, it is possible to apply up to € 10m, in this case there is a board responsible for the decision that analyses the applicant’s request and decides if it is appropriate. It will be important for the board to know how many facilities will be used in Germany, and how much will be spent in Germany.
For example if the budget for a production is € 5m, where out of this amount € 2m are spent in Germany, you can apply for 20% of the € 2m. In the case that the whole budget of € 5m is spent in Germany, you can only obtain 20% of 80%. This rule had to be adopted to respect the European Commission decision who wants to leave 20% of a whole budget free, so that the producer can use it where and as he prefers.

When can you apply for a subsidy?
There are no deadlines for the applications, but they must be presented before the shooting starts. Following the application, shooting should start 5 months after receiving notification, so after the producer has the contract. 75 % of the financing must be closed on notification, and the closing of the total financing three months after notification.
If the producer is shooting a feature film or making an animation production in Germany he can get 20%, but in order to obtain this 20% he has to make the work in Germany.

What are the particularities of the Cultural Test?
The cultural test is a new element for the system in Germany. It is a test that presents characteristics for feature films, documentaries, and animation, with points assigned, like the European Convention Test.
There are 2 blocks: Block A for «Cultural Content and Creative Talent» and Block B for «Production». It is important to stress that if you hire people from Germany for the production, you obtain more points. If you produce a film under the European Convention, you will use their cultural test. For a co-production between Germany, Spain and UK, it will automatically be considered under the European convention.

How many projects have you already supported?
In 2007, 99 projects were supported thereof 14 documentaries, 80 feature films and 5 animation films.
For 2008, 91 films have been supported already, among which only 3 for animation, 23 documentaries and 65 feature films. The result is of only 8 animation films supported in 2 years. It can be explained because animation has not produced positive results in Germany in the last years. Films like Disney’s Ratatouille went well, but German animation films didn’t obtain many admissions. Germany needs more animation films, and we hope co-productions will help to increase the sector.

Within the federal system in Germany there are many other schemes. How easy or difficult is it for your scheme to work in the context of the regional or other subsidies?
It is easy because the system is simple, and it is easy to combine the different subsidies together. Producers propose the project to juries who have to analyse it and approve it, and only at the end of the process they can apply for the German Federal Film Fund.

Financing has to be completed within 3 months of the contract been issued, producers struggle in those 3 months. Is there a possibility to extend this period so the producer can finalise his financing?
It is a problem usually common to TV stations who don’t give contracts, but a letter of intent, that is valid in order to apply for the German Federal Film Fund. But if you need the money, given in 3 rates, you need to present the official copy of the contract. A new decision was made, in order to make available the first payment before having the contract from the TV station or the other subsidies, but a letter of intent must be held.
Information and application forms can be found at:

Cartoon Master Donostia – San Sebastian, Spain, November 2008


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