Country Focus: Finland
Finland - Regional Film Funds (March 2005)
by Annika Pham
Regional Film Funds in Finland
Poem is the only regional film fund in Finland at the moment located in the City of Oulu in the North part of the country. Set up in September 2000 and headed since by Markku Flink, Poem has around 1million € a year to develop, sustain and promote the region’s film, TV and mobile game industry and culture. The biggest grant comes from the City of Oulu (40-50% of the annual budget), the rest being provided by the Council of Oulu region, including EU structural funding corresponding to a third to a quarter of Poem’s total budget.
According to Flink, the structure of Poem’s yearly budget will change this year as the fund will become a foundation. The key members (and owners) will be the City of Oulu, the Council of Oulu region, Oulu Polytechnic, some municipalities and private companies from the Northern part of Finland.
Splitting its yearly budget in four main areas: script support, project development, production, distribution and marketing, Poem has allocated between 0.4M€ to 0,7M€ to film production over the last four years with Poem’s direct financial contribution ranging from 5% to 10% of the overall budget of a production. Financing for the co-development is repayable loan and for the co-production equity investment.
In terms of number of projects and inward investment in the region, Poem has supported some 76 productions since 2000, with overall budgets ranging from 10,000 € to 1M€. More than 90% of the works originated from production companies based in Northern Finland.
Between 2000-2003, 4 feature films, 23 fictional short films, 24 TV documentaries/documentary films, 13 digital media productions and three TV series were made with Poem support. Among those productions were the 2001 local hit Rolli And The Spirit Of The Woods (Rölli ja metsänhenki) produced by MRP Matola Röhr Production which also won a local Oscar (Jussi Award) for Best Finnish film of the year. Another local and international success was made with poem support in 2003: the documentary Screaming Men (Huutajat) co-produced by Klaffi Productions in Finalnd and Zentropa Real in Denmark.
Last year, three European co-productions were developed with Poem support: Galplanet (UK/FIN/Swe), Maupertuis (Fin/Fr/Swe) and Drum (Fin/Nor/Swe) and this year the feature films that will start shooting include a Finnish/Swedish children film and a Finnish film.
Poem actively encourages co-productions and cross-border collaboration and has a strong relationship with regional funds throughout Europe, in particular in the Bothnia Arc region and Northern Scandinavia such as Filmpool Nord, the regional film fund in Luleå, Northern Sweden, and the North Norwegian Film Centre. Poem provides not only financial support but also technical and infrastructure support from the North Finland Screen Commission and access to local production companies who have experience in international co-production.
Foreign companies need to have a local co-producer from North Finland attached to their project. Part of the production has to be shot in the region and Poem prefers if the production has cultural links to Northern Finland or Scandinavia. 100% of the sum loaned by Poem has to be spent in the region.
In the future, Poem intends to raise its support to film production to 1M€ a year and to become a major regional film foundation and development center for film, TV and mobile games in Finland.
Q&A with Markku Flink, Head of POEM
Cineuropa: What are the advantages for foreign producers to shoot in your region?
Markku Flink: Foreign producers can shoot in our region and we can provide both financial support as well as film commission services. Advantages are professional local staff, good infrastructure and production companies who have a lot of experience on international co-productions. We have also a close relationship with Filmpool Nord which is the regional film fund in North Sweden in Luleå. This relationship opens an opportunity for international co-productions between Sweden and Finland as well as with North Norway.
The landscape in North Finland has its production value as well. POEM is based near the Arctic Circle surrounded by the fantastic Northern Lights, endless summer days and dramatic ice and snow in winter. The landscape varies from the seaside via big, free rivers through the low land to mountainous regions in the East. POEM also harnesses the region's combination of hi-tech expertise and creative talent and fosters co-operation that benefits both fields.
What is your main strategy for Poem in 2005-2006?
Our main strategy is to establish POEM and the City of Oulu as a major regional film foundation and development centre for film, television and mobile games in Finland. Our common goal with Filmpool Nord is to create a strong cross-border collaboration between two regions in two different countries and to build a common infrastructure for film and television production in the region on Bothnia Arc. The aim is the co-production fund of the North Calotte which attracts international companies to co-produce films in the Northern Scandinavia.
What does it mean for you to be part of the Cine-Regio network?
The Cine-Regio network is a forum to exchange ideas, to establish further collaboration with other regions in Europe but especially to work together towards European Union and to influence on Media Programme and other fundíng programmes. The aim is to strengthen the position and importance of the regions in the field of European film and audiovisual industry. Maybe we will see in a near future some strong cross-border collaborative film regions in East, Central, West, South and North Europe. Together these multinational regions will perhaps have a better and more acknowledged position within the European film industry. I think this kind of development could benefit both fields - the industry and the regions as well.
Head of Fund: Markku Flink
Annual budget for feature film and documentary: €419,752
Max amount awarded to a feature film: Between 5-10% of the budget
Feature films supported in 2004: 3
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