Industry Report: European Film Commissions
Truls Kontny • President, European Film Commissions Network
by Valerio Caruso
- Cineuropa talked to Truls Kontny, the new president of the European Film Commissions Network, to find out more about the role that the EUFCN plays in today’s cinematic landscape.
Cineuropa: You were elected president of the European Film Commissions Network last December. What are the challenges for the organisation in the upcoming months?
Truls Kontny: The challenge for the network is to raise its profile and make itself much more visible. We are a big European network with 90 members from 29 different countries, and it's important for us to have a voice in Brussels and to make it known what we are, what we do and what we can offer. This will be the main focus for us as a board over the next two years.
Another important issue is to find ways of making our funding more stable. As it is now, we are totally dependent on member fees, but to be able to do a lot more for our members, we want to find other sources of income as well.
What is the role of the EUFCN? Being a truly European organisation, do you feel that your voice is heard within the European institutions?
It's heard, but not enough! That's why, at this edition of the Berlinale, we have had a lot of meetings with other organisations to build alliances and to make ourselves more widely known.
Within a couple of weeks, my vice-president, Mikael Svensson, our office manager, Angelica Cantisani, and I will go to Brussels to have several meetings with the different institutions and to follow up a lot of the meetings we had in Berlin.
Up to now, it has been important to build up the network – and it is a hidden treasure, as one of our partners told us. It is about time that the rest of Europe and the world know about us!
EUFCN is a good observatory of the European film commissions. What have the main developments in the film commissions been over the last few years?
To be able to get their films made, producers are increasingly depending on co-producing between regions and countries. To be able to help them, I think the main developments are that a successful film commissioner now needs to know how co-producing works and needs to understand in what way he or she would be able to help producers to make their projects happen. In the end, it is very much about the budget and how it is possible to make the best movie out of a certain amount of money.
Is the success of a film commission dependent on the availability of a fund or tax incentive?
Most countries today have some incentives. If you don't have any kind of incentives, most of the big production houses won't even think about going to your territory. That is the big challenge for those countries that haven’t set any up so far.
That being said, I think it is also important to have some regional or national fund that could contribute to co-productions from your jurisdiction. That makes it more interesting for both foreign producers and your domestic producers to cooperate on real co-productions, andthat is why it is so important that a film commissioner understands what producers need and can act as a matchmaker.
You are also the director of Film Commission Norway. Can you tell us how many foreign projects were shot in Norway in 2014 and what the economic benefits were?
We have seen that Scandinavia and Norway are really hot at the moment – we are having our “15 minutes of fame” in the international film industry. It is an emerging interest, and we have a lot of potential projects contacting us. Unfortunately, we still don't have any incentives in Norway. One consequence of this is that it is difficult to measure how many projects are actually made in our country and how much money they spend, since a lot of foreign producers who have contacts within the country from before go directly to them. Over the years, we have tried to measure this on a voluntary basis, and based on that experience, I think we calculated 80-100 projects all in all, which spent 70-80 million kroner.