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Roberto Olla • Executive secretary of Eurimages

Changes in Eurimages fund for 2009

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Roberto Olla • Executive secretary of Eurimages

Roberto Olla, executive secretary of Eurimages as of last July, outlined to Cineuropa the key changes to the Council of Europe’s co-production, distribution and exhibition fund, to be implemented on January 1, 2009.

Cineuropa: What are the major changes that you have made to Eurimages’ regulations and why?
Roberto Olla: First of all, we’ve introduced the use of external script consultants. Up until now, support decisions were made entirely by the fund’s Board of Managers. What we’ve done is introduce an intermediary stage between the pre-selection from the Secretariat, and the final decision from the Board. As of January 2009, scripts of eligible projects will be sent to two expert readers residing in countries than the evaluated project, who will remain anonymous. They will then provide the Board with their artistic expertise on the project, but the Board will take the final decision. We introduced this system because we want Eurimages to be more transparent and as objective as possible. It also makes the decision-making process more legitimate and democratic.

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The second big “revolution” regards the use of collection agencies. For co-productions of €3m or more, the use of a collection agent will be obligatory. For co-productions with budgets under €3m, Eurimages will reserve the right to ask for an agent. We have invited collection agencies to participate in a call for tenders in order to select the best service for our producers at the lowest price. Of course, producers will have the choice of using their own collection agency or the one we have selected. Again, the aim is to make the financing process of a project more transparent.

European producers often complain about red tape at Eurimages. What do you intend to do to make the Fund more user friendly?
The idea that we ask for a lot is total nonsense. Eurimages support comes at the end of the financing package. Normally, producers who come to us have already submitted most of those documents to their national institutes, regional funds, broadcasters, etc. So when you look at the checklist of documents we ask for, only two are totally new. We only ask what any institution should ask in order to secure public money. However, to make ourselves more “user friendly,” we’re studying the possibility for producers to apply online. This would cut down the paperwork, be more ecological, and make the application process go faster.

Is there a corresponding relationship between the financial weight of each member state and their level of support?
Some countries co-produce more than others – such as France , Belgium and Germany – whereas others – like Italy, the Netherlands or Spain – submit fewer projects for support. This is because their production support schemes do not facilitate co-productions. However, if we look at the success ratio of submissions versus applications, it is higher, for example, for Italy than for France. We do not try to balance our support based on the country of origin.

Regarding the financial contributions from the member states, our system is based on solidarity and each country makes a contribution according to its wealth. The money is put in a common fund and then out of the projects submitted we try to support the best ones – wherever it comes from. We measure how much money is paid out though what is not measured, but is essential, is how co-production practices in Europe have improved thanks to our work.

Have you noticed any trends in terms of collaboration between member states?
This is somewhat beyond Eurimages’ control because we come at the end of the financing, but national film policies have changed over the years. For instance, we see more and more co-productions between France and Germany because of the Franco-German mini-treaty.

What other key objectives do you have for 2009?
My plan is to be the intermediary between producers and decision-makers at the Board of Eurimages. I want to show the Board that I’ll do my best to make our Fund as successful and transparent as possible, and close to the producers’ needs. This is what Eurimages is for – supporting quality European filmmaking.

Will any more members come on board in 2009?
Albania is knocking on our door. The Board will look at new candidate countries in 2009. Let’s see what will happen.

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