HFM Boat Session #2: Financing & Co-Production

Boarding the co-pro boat HFM guests had to make a stark choice 30 September, whether to take to Utrecht waters on the finance boat or to wax lyrical on the subject of co-produc­tion on a second boat captained by IFFR CineMart’s Marit van den Elshout. After a lengthy intro­duc­tion proces­sion as every­body onboard under­lined their co-pro creden­tials, topics ranged from juggling prior­i­ties on a complex co-produc­tion, Nether­lands Film Fund prior­i­ties, the creative bene­fits of co-produc­tion and how co-pros can go wrong. The session was rounded off with an inevitable assess­ment of how Brexit may or may not affect Euro­pean co-produc­tion in the future. Ian Prior of Scala Produc­tions explained how their exec-producer contri­bu­tion to the €2 million North Macedonia/​Hungary/​Albania/​Belgium co-produc­tion Willow largely lay in the provi­sion of post-produc­tion services. Despite being directed by Academy Award-winning Milscho Manchevski, the film didn’t meet BFI co-pro funding criteria. They have a co-produc­tion pot of around £1million per year,” pointed out Prior. The prior­i­ties are world-class film­makers making a film engaging with UK cultural content…, a project orig­i­nated outside of the UK that offers an oppor­tu­nity to an outstanding UK talent and a third priority, which is a little looser from my perspec­tive, which is a project that would be enhanced by UK involve­ment… I guess you can inter­pret it one or two or more ways.” Were there any cultural differ­ences or hurdles to over­come while working with the inter­na­tional part­ners on the film? In the main no, he answered, as Scala Produc­tions’ Nik Powell’s knowl­edge of the Euro­pean produc­tion scene and force of person­ality was a huge plus. Now and then there were language issues, but fortu­nately we had a producer on the ground in Mace­donia who was fantastic and had a real can-do atti­tude.” Answering the same ques­tion on cultural differ­ences, Slovenian producer Joško Rutar, former director of the Slovenian Film Fund, stressed how we are now seven different coun­tries that came out of the former Yugoslavia, and we more or less know each other, so you have a network of part­ners in every country… and you work with them and the part­ner­ship are created on a long-term [basis].” Joran Willink of BIND spoke about how his My Extra­or­di­nary Summer With Tess bene­fited from the co-devel­op­ment fund oper­ated between the Nether­lands Film Fund and MDM (Germany), which meant that from the word go he worked very closely on devel­op­ment with his German co-producer Ostlicht Film­pro­duk­tion to make sure that the film would also work well in Germany, as well as in other coun­tries. This takes more time but it was very inter­esting to get feed­back from the very first line… The co-devel­op­ment fund was a good idea. I would love to do this again.” Peggy Driessen-Bussink, the Nether­lands Film Fund manager of Dutch minority co-produc­tions, laid out the minority co-produc­tion funding avail­able for inter­na­tional producers. Total support for feature-length amounts to €3.1 million. From this, €800,000 is earmarked for four VAF features (€200,000 per project), €100,000 for VAF Extra (for an outstanding Dutch/​Belgian co-produc­tion) and €200,000 for a VAF feature anima­tion. In addi­tion, €200,000 is set aside for four HBF projects (€50,000 each). This leaves approx­i­mately to €1.8 million for feature-length co-pro support. In addi­tion, approx­i­mately €300,000 is set for docu­men­tary minority co-produc­tions (of which €150,000 is earmarked for Flemish docs). €100,000 is given to short anima­tion minority co-produc­tions and support can be set aside for outstanding exper­i­mental film appli­ca­tions as well. Distri­b­u­tion support in The Nether­lands for Dutch minority co-produc­tions is also avail­able, with a maximum contri­bu­tion of €10,000 per project. Changing tack, moder­ator Marit asked how the Euro­pean industry will work with the UK after October 31 2019. Thomas den Drijver of New Amsterdam put the ques­tion into perspec­tive, stressing how Dutch/​UK co-produc­tion has always been some­what clouded given the UK’s inability to guar­antee reci­procity. If I give money to an English project then the chances that I will get back on another project are slim to none.” Just as the Brexit discus­sion was looking to get lively, the landing quay came into sight and guests were reminded that this topic was set to be addressed, consumed, cogi­tated over and digested the next morning in the pres­ence of BFI repre­sen­ta­tives and Marleen Slot, producer of Sacha Polak’s UK-based Dirty God, which she co-produced with the UK. Tekst: Nick Cunningham 
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