Dutch Film Fund co-production czar Ger Bouma outlines the conditions for international producers looking to co-produce with The Netherlands.
'We are a small country with a small fund,' points out Ger Bouma, the man charged with overseeing Dutch Film Fund co-production investment activities. 'Our aim is firstly to strengthen the position of the Dutch producers and to stimulate film production in the Netherlands. But of course we are part of the whole film world, and you have to look for partners in other countries to finance your films, so it’s normal that we also give possibilities to foreign producers to try and finance their films with money from the Dutch Film Fund.'
This year the Fund is set to contribute €1.65 million to foreign productions in which the Dutch producer has a minority interest. This marks an increase on the original projected 2008 figure of €1.3million. In the future Bouma is hopeful of setting aside a regular €1.6m per year for minority co-production funding when the Fund’s 2009-2012 budget (sourced from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs) is announced later in the year.
Of this year’s €1.65m, €600,000 was already earmarked for Flemish producers, whose own fund, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), reciprocates with matching investment in three Dutch productions. A further €200,000 was set aside in advance for the Hubert Bals Plus Fund that enables Dutch producers to become involved with projects developed through the IFFR (Rotterdam Film Festival) Hubert Bals Fund.
So once this pre-allocated €800,000 is removed from the fund, Bouma is left with a reasonable, though far from massive, remainder with which to satisfy the co-production needs of the many international co-pro applicants. Inevitably, given that the Fund’s contributions range from €50,000 and €200,000 per production, stringent qualifying criteria must be applied, and many applications will be rejected. 'We don’t have the kind of budget where we can give money to every interesting project,' he points out.
The first criterion is that the Dutch minority co-producer must have at least one feature credit in The Netherlands. Secondly, at the time of application, 50% of the film’s budget must be in place within the originating country. Thirdly, the entire Dutch investment must be spent in The Netherlands or on Dutch elements, such as cast or crew. Fourthly, there should be a Dutch distributor in place and fifthly, the Dutch contribution to the budget (not just the Fund’s contribution) must amount to at least 10% of the film’s total budget. Of course, the script and film plan must meet exacting quality standards, and the examining panel must be satisfied both with the talent of the personnel involved and the theatrical potential of the project.
Another potential source of funding for international co-producers is the Supplementary Fund, currently valued at approximately €13million. Used mainly by Dutch producers, the fund can provide the final third of a film’s budget, if the rest of the budget is already in place. A quarter of the film’s budget must be sourced from private investors. In addition a successful applicant must meet three of seven cultural criteria. For example, one of the leading roles should depict a Dutch person, or the film must be located in The Netherlands. Another factor may be that the project is based on a script written in the Dutch language.
'The Supplementary Fund is for films aimed at a Dutch audience but there is the possibility for foreign producers to make a successful application, if they can meet the conditions,' Bouma concludes.
International co-productions that received funding from The Dutch Film Fund in 2008 (with originating country and contribution):
- LAURA. Director: Ben Verbong. Germany (Elsani Films) and the Netherlands (CFM bv.) € 200.000.
- STORM. Director: Hans Christian Schmid. Germany/Denmark (Zentropa) and the Netherlands (IDTV Film) € 200.000.
- FISH TANK. Director: Andrea Arnold. UK and the Netherlands (Kasander/Westwood Holding) € 150.000.
- ADRIENN PALA. Director: Agnes Kocsis. Hungary, France, the Netherlands (Isabella Films) € 100.000.
- FACE. Director: Tsai Ming-Liang. France (JBA Prod.) and the Netherlands (Circe Film) € 200.000.
- MY QUEEN KARO. Director: Dorothee van den Berghe. Belgium (Caviar) and The Netherlands (IDTV Film) € 200.000.
- HELAASHEID DER DINGEN. Director: Felix van Groeningen. Belgium and the Netherlands (IDTV Film) € 200.000.
- AQUA FRIA DE MAR. Director: Paz Fabrega (Costa Rica). France/Spain/Mexico/Netherlands (Isabella Films)/Hubert Bals Fund € 50.000.
- BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS. Director: Haolun Shu (China). Germany/France/Netherlands (IDTV Film) Hubert Bals Fund € 50.000.
- THE LIGHT. Director: Aktan Aryn Kabut (Kirgizie). France(ASAP)/Germany(Pallas Film)/Belgium/Netherlands (Volya Films) Hubert Bals Fund € 50.000.
- FRICCION. Director: Michel Lipkes (Mexico). Mexico/Netherlands (Waterland Film) Hubert Bals Fund € 50.000.