July 7th, 2009 at 08:33pm brian
There was a very interesting program on Ceska Televize about just how bad it’s gotten for the foreign film industry here in the Czech Republic. For those of you that speak Czech, I’d highly recommend watching the program: part 1 (starts at about 35:30) and part 2. They have on politicians from CSSD, ODS as well as producer Rick McCallum and the head of the Czech Film Association, Petr Mosta, as well as a producer from AudioVizi Pavel Strnat.
For those of you that aren’t going to watch the whole thing or don’t understand the Czech, everyone was basically in agreement that foreign films, which in 2005 brought 5 billion Kc (about $209 million) and this year are only bringing in 1 billion Kc ($50 million), are reaching the point of no return. Soon, if not already, the first-rate crews, equipment and services that made the Czech Republic such a desired location will atrophy and disappear and it will be too late. The message from everyone (including the politicians who seemed to agree on everything except exactly how to enact the support) was that if the Czech Republic is going to have any hope of regaining it’s position as the Hollywood of Europe, legislation has to go into effect this year that gives tax incentives or other financial benefits to producers.
Supporting the film industry in this way (in the second part, Helena Frankova from the Ministry of Culture — I worked with her on Revelations and she really knows her stuff — said that the incentives would cost around 300 million Kc and could generate up to 3 or 4 billion Kc) not only helps the people that work directly on the films, but also helps the tourism industry: restaurants, hotels, transportation. As a side benefit, the money from Hollywood productions fills in gaps in the funding and upkeep of the Czech professionals who make Czech cinema one of the most prolific in Central Europe.
I’m hopeful that, as people are starting to get a clear picture of how foreign cinema affects the Czech economy, the politicians don’t get caught up in sweating the small details. If they can move fast enough, they’ll be able to reclaim Czech’s “rightful” place at the top.