Support of Audiovisual Industry
In 2014, the Slovak Audiovisual Fund opened a new program for audiovisual industry support, based on 20 % cash rebate of certified private expenses spent for film or TV production in the Slovak Republic.
As of August 1, 2017, sum of eligible expenses for cash rebate is min. 150 000€ for feature film with duration min. 70 min. or documentary or animated series (max. 13 epizodes, each at least 5 min.); min. 300 000€ in case of two- or three-epizode film or miniseries (each at least 70 min.) or primary TV series (max. 13 epizodes, each at least 40 min.) Minimal amount spent mustn't exceed 50% of total budget of the project during three years from the registration of the project.
Each eligible project has to fulfil criteria of the cultural test. More details can be found in the Act on the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Part 4, sections 22a – 22f.
Decree of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic on the Film Project (+ Cultural Test)
List of registered projects here (in Slovak).
Two Years of the Audiovisual Industry Support Programme in Slovakia
(by Daniel Bernát, the article was published in Film.sk 09/2016)
The Audiovisual Fund opened a new Audiovisual Industry Support Programme in autumn 2014, in order to attract interest in the making of audiovisual works in Slovakia, to support the development of infrastructure in the domestic audiovisual industry and to increase its international competitiveness. How successful has the Programme been to date? How much interest have applicants shown in it and are any modifications planned regarding its basic setting?
The substance of the programme is that, if a producer invests a minimum of € 2 million in the production of a work in Slovakia, they may receive a grant amounting to 20 percent of the eligible costs. The Ministry of Culture made possible this type of support by amending the Act on the Audiovisual Fund: “It is really very difficult to estimate the real interest in our Programme. Not only because several European countries have similar programmes, but also because there has been no “production basis” for the production of films in Slovakia since the Koliba Film Studios were closed. Digitisation has certainly made film production considerably more efficient and more flexible; nevertheless, some important technologies are still missing, hence we are unable to provide a comprehensive production background to film productions,” said Martin Šmatlák, Director of the Audiovisual Fund. “However, it was important for me to launch this Programme and, thus, to gain a practical response as to whether and to what extent it could be of interest for potential investors in audiovisual production made in Slovakia. I am glad that after last year’s “lead climber” – the TV series Marco Polo 2 – we now have four further projects in this Programme. Their producers seek to invest almost € 22.5 million in them in Slovakia.”
After the launch of the Programme, Slovak producers started to object that the requirement to invest at least € 2 million in Slovakia was too strict and had the effect of excluding domestic productions from the applicants. Accordingly, several of them would welcome a decrease in this limit. Martin Šmatlák responds that it resides within the competence of the Ministry of Culture to make decisions on this condition. All the basic conditions of this Programme are stipulated within the legislation, not by the Fund’s internal regulations.
Based on information dating from the beginning of July, the Minister of Culture, Marek Maďarič, entered into negotiations with the Minister of Finance on a reduction of the compulsory minimal eligible costs in Slovakia. This issue remained unresolved as of mid-August. “We would like to achieve a level allowing more flexibility for the entry of non-governmental investments in film production in Slovakia. Currently, it is still too early to responsibly quantify any potential reduction; however, we would like to discuss this possible modification with the professional associations active in audiovision and in respect of experience from the functioning of similar systems in comparable European countries,” stated Jozef Bednár, the spokesman of the Ministry of Culture, in response to our questions. In this respect, he also referred to another contemplated modification in the Programme’s setting. “The extension of the option to apply for support for a group of several films (so-called “slate funding”) also seems of interest. Our legislation already allows for the provision of funds for a film project consisting of one, two or three individual cinematographic works. This instrument offers producers the opportunity to submit, in tandem with projects with a higher budget, low-budget works that would not separately be able to attain the predetermined limit of input investments. The extension of this possibility, together with a modification of the cost limit, might increase the attractiveness of the system for foreign, as well as for domestic filmmakers.” In conclusion, Jozef Bednár noted that the Ministry will present specific changes prior to the end of this year, in order to be able to influence producers when making decisions on film locations for next year.
Within the Programme, the Audiovisual Fund has paid out a grant only for the above-mentioned Marco Polo 2, all in all, €412,599. “The financial mechanism defined by law is such that the Fund will receive a special contribution for this Programme from the national budget calculated on the basis of the amount planned to be invested in the making of projects with applications for registration submitted to the Fund. We can earmark funds in our budget only once we know the actual amount of the funds invested in the registered projects,” clarified Martin Šmatlák. Over the course of the summer, several new projects obtained confirmation of registration in this Project from the Fund. The American company, Lionsgate, expressed interest in making the adventure movie Robin Hood: Origins in Slovakia; the film will be made by director Otto Bathurst. According to the Ministry of Culture, the film would be made in Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia, whereby more than four hundred foreign crew members should arrive in Slovakia (Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx and Eve Hewson should star in the movie), and the production could invest USD 15 million in our country. Two television projects have also been registered. The co-production mini-series Marie Therese, to be made by Robert Dornhelm, will capture the life of the Austro-Hungarian empress in four parts. The second project is the 13-episode TV series Inspector Max produced by the Slovak production company Trigon Production in collaboration with RTVS and Czech Television. This detective series, which deals with the burning issues of corruption and toothless justice, will be directed by Peter Bebjak. Juraj Kukura will star in the title role.
In addition, the Ministry of Culture also referred to interest from the British company, Fourth Culture Films, in making two feature films in Slovakia – Consider Yourself and Maestro. The first is to be directed by Vadim Jean and it is a biography of the author of musicals, Lionel Bart. Olivia Colman, Stephen Fry, Eddie Marsan and Geoffrey Rush are expected to star in the film. In turn, the second film is the story of the moving fate of the Viennese piano virtuoso Eduard Keller. It is a British-German-Australian co-production directed by Vaughn Stein with Frank Dillane and Klaus Maria Brandauer in the title roles. As regards these films, the production company would like to invest €3.2 million in Slovakia.
The Czech Republic has introduced the so-called “incentive system” which makes it possible for the project to acquire a grant of 20 percent of the recognisable costs too. Their lower limit is specified as follows: CZK 15 million for a feature or animated film, CZK 3 million for a documentary and CZK 10 million for an episode of a series. This system has been in operation in the Czech Republic since 2010 and it has been successfully applied to dozens of projects. As for the other V4 countries, a grant of 25 percent (in some cases even more) of demonstrable costs can be obtained in Hungary, while in Poland a system with similar advantages has not yet been introduced. This system was adopted in Slovakia relatively recently, so we asked the Director of the Audiovisual Fund how they promote it to potential investors. “The Audiovisual Fund provides regularly updated information about its support activities on its website. The Ministry of Culture also provides information on the new Audiovisual Industry Support Programme and we have also provided several foreign media with more detailed information. However, the Fund is not really in charge of presenting and promoting Slovak audiovision,” responded Martin Šmatlák. “The promotion of Slovakia as a film country must be in the interests of all the stakeholders involved and it can be effective only in collaboration with the state – the Ministry of Culture and the Slovak Film Institute – and the business entities active in the area of audiovision, not only in film production or distribution, but also in the provision of technical services and specialised activities and in the mediation of sales of audiovisual works or negotiations for the film locations. This is an area where I can still see quite substantial room for improvement in Slovakia.”
We will inform you of the final form of the modifications in the basic setting of the Audiovisual Industry Support Programme in Slovakia on the pages of Film.sk. Among other concerns, it will be of interest to note whether and to what extent these modifications will also appeal to Slovak producers.