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FUNDING Slovakia

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Slovakia overhauls its support system for audiovisual projects

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- The country aims to revitalise the domestic audiovisual industry and to attract more productions

Slovakia overhauls its support system for audiovisual projects
A photo taken during the shoot for Marco Polo 2 in Slovakia (© TASR)

The Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund have re-evaluated the current system of granting support to the domestic audiovisual industry. “It was necessary to change the basic standards of the system in order to provide opportunities for smaller projects besides big productions, and to motivate producers to seek and capitalise on non-state financial sources for film production in Slovakia,” Martin Šmatlák, the director of the Audiovisual Fund, told Cineuropa. The minimum amount of finances to be spent in the country in order to become eligible for the cash-rebate system was previously €2 million. In the past two years, only the American production of the television show Marco Polo 2 has benefited from the rebate.

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After the revision of the support mechanism, the minimum amount of finances to be spent in the country was lowered to €150,000 in order to be eligible for the 20% cash rebate. Following the changes, “nine new projects registered for the support. Two other projects registered last year: the film diptych Maria Theresa (read the news) and the television series Inspector Max will soon demand the payout of this money under the new conditions,” reveals Šmatlák. “The real impact of the change will be that the cash-rebate financial mechanism will be opened up to smaller productions. In the domain of independent production, the Slovakian audiovisual industry depends on public funding for more than 80% of its activities, so the creation of this incentive is a highly beneficial step,” he adds. 

Some of the efforts to boost the domestic audiovisual industry include the fact that the authorities have increased the total annual budget of the Audiovisual Fund to €6 million (up from €4.5 million in 2014-2016 and €5 million in 2017), while the Audiovisual Fund itself has revived the MINIMAL initiative, designed to help emerging domestic filmmakers and producers (primarily those working on their debut and sophomore features) with low-budget projects. 

A new body will be established within the Audiovisual Fund, the Slovak Film Commission, which is scheduled to start operations in the coming year. “Its main role will be to present and promote Slovakia and its regions as a ‘film country’. The Film Commission will provide information about shooting possibilities in the country, and create and update a database of shooting locations, companies, technologies and services. It will also provide legal and financial consultations to productions interested in shooting in Slovakia, and provide contacts to potential investors looking to participate in financing a film production,” the director of the Audiovisual Fund sums up. “I believe that the creation of the Slovak Film Commission, which goes hand in hand with the incentives from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, will kick-start new cross-border co-operation and attract foreign production companies to Slovakia. The National Cinematographic Centre was established to promote Slovakian cinema abroad, while the Slovak Film Commission will promote Slovakia along with its infrastructure and incentives,” Rastislav Steranka, director of the National Cinematographic Centre at the Slovak Film Institute, told Cineuropa. 

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