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INDUSTRY / MARKET Italy

The EUFCN discusses its response to Covid

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- The European Film Commissions Network met with Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic to examine the management and organisation of audiovisual productions during this past year marked by the pandemic

The EUFCN discusses its response to Covid

What role have the European film commissions played in the management and organisation of productions during this past year characterised by Covid? The Veneto Film Commission, the Czech Film Commission and the Hellenic Film Commission, who discussed this matter with the EUFCN Network Manager Angelica Cantisani on the occasion of FOCUS - the Meeting Place for International Productions, all agreed on the fact that Covid protocols have driven up production budgets by 10 to 20%.

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Opening with the ironic premise: “We’re the children of lockdown, given that we started up activities back in February”, the director of the Veneto Film Commission Jacopo Chessa also offered a few figures on the cost of the swabbing now required of productions: “I know that Alex De La Iglesia’s new film Venicephrenia, for example, spent somewhere in the region of €140,000 on that protocol alone; can you imagine the cost for Mission Impossible, which involves 300 to 500 people? Costs which are sadly not covered by regional funds”, he points out.

That said, the two afore-mentioned productions did find themselves filming in an exceptionally deserted version of Venice, a circumstance brought about by the pandemic which, luckily, in its second wave, didn’t have a huge impact on sets in the Veneto, which there are a great number of at present, thanks also to the new €5m regional fund, which can be combined with the national tax credit incentive which was itself raised from 30 to 40% this year. 

Leveraging incentives was also the route taken by Greece, who increased their cash rebate offer this summer, taking it up to 40%: “we’re working in close collaboration with EKOME (the National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication) who are managing it, with a view to setting up regional film offices; we’re also setting our sights on training courses because demand from international productions for 2021 is high”, reveals Venia Vergou, the director of the Hellenic Film Commission which operates from within the Greek Film Centre. She mentions a few large-scale film sets hosted by the country in the summer: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Last Daughter, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante, starring Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson, which changed location from New Jersey to the Greek island of Spetses as a direct result of Covid; a sizeable advert directed by Cary Fukunaga; Robert Östlund’s new film The Triangle of Sadness, and the Italian-German co-production Daughters, one of the first to commence filming after the first lockdown, on the island of Amorgos, which was Covid-free at the time and which also served as the backdrop for Luc Besson’s Le grand bleu.

International productions are also key to the Czech Republic because, as Pavlína Žipková of the Czech Film Commission explains, “there will be far fewer national productions, given that Czech producers have been greatly affected by the pandemic”. Among the international sets to have ‘faced off’ with Covid, Žipková mentions Margaret of the North, a co-production between Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Poland, Carnival Row, the second season of the series produced by Amazon and Legendary TV on which filming was halted in March, just ten days ahead of its scheduled wrap date (which was ultimately delayed to July), The Wheel of Time 2 (Amazon and Sony Pictures), which was halted twice and is yet to finish filming, and a Marvel show. “We’re now hosting the set of Oslo, produced by Steven Spielberg for HBO, which should wrap filming at the end of the year”.

One sector which doesn’t appear to have been impacted by the situation is, understandably, animation, whether in the Czech Republic, Greece (who are also planning an animation Covid fund) or the Veneto region, insists Chessa, citing the example of Alcuni Studios: “the creators of Leo Da Vinci, who are working hard and have also benefitted from the fund”.

Chessa also spoke about the search for alternative filming solutions, such as Covid-friendly virtual production technology along the lines of Hive Division’s “Led Walls”.

For her part, Žipková recounted how she’d tried using virtual location scouting platforms, which, despite some initial difficulties, provide a good level of detail, in terms of technical information for DOPs too, for example. It’s just a matter of getting used to it, and we need to adapt”.

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(Translated from Italian)

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