New incentive offers 20% rebate
by Theodore Schwinke
The European Commission has approved a Czech stimulus plan for the film industry. The Czech Film Industry Support Programme offers qualifying productions grants worth up to 20% of eligible production costs.
The programme goes into effect July 7, 2010. The measure was approved by the Czech government last autumn. The Ministry of Culture submitted it for Brussels' approval in January.
Projects must fulfill a number of criteria before than can receive the money. Producers must have at least 75% of their budget secured from other sources and must meet minimum spending levels (CZK 15m [EUR 582,000] for theatrical features). Applications will be accepted only from Czech tax payers, so foreign producers must partner with a Czech co-producer or establish a local subsidiary to access the support.
Projects must pass a test for European cultural criteria, such as source material and setting, and production elements, such as crew and locations. Project's qualifications will be reviewed by an industry council consisting of producer Jan Balzer, Academy of Performing Arts rector Ivo Mathé, Czech Film Chamber director Petr Mošna, director Ondřej Kepka and producer Karel Kochman.
Grants are awarded only after qualifying projects' expenses have been audited. The Czech state budget has set aside CZK 400m (€15.5m) to finance the programme in its first year.
The programme aims to restore the Czech industry's ability to compete at the international level. The combined effects of the decline of the US dollar, tightening of credit and the existence of incentives for filmmakers in other territories has led to falling inward investment in the Czech film industry.
According the Czech Audiovisual Producers Association, international productions directly contributed CZK 705m (€27.4m) to the Czech economy in 2008 — down from CZK 2.1bn (€81.5m) in 2007 and a small fraction of the CZK 5bn (€194m) such projects spent locally in the banner year of 2003.