The Czech government approved proposals on Wednesday to top-up a depleted fund designed to offer rebates of up to twenty percent to productions filming in the country. An additional 300 million crowns is being offered, adding to an already used 500 million allocated by the former provisional government. Commenting on the move, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the cash infusion would not only help bring in productions from abroad, but also aid the country’s image and economy. Dominik Jůn spoke with Ludmila Claussová of the Czech Film Commission to gauge her reaction:
“Obviously we will have more money to give away through the rebates because the original 500 million crowns was really not sufficient. Demand in January and February alone was three times higher than what we could cover. Some film productions ended up going elsewhere because we were unable to offer them the incentives. So this additional money means that we will be able to offer rebates to more projects, and it also demonstrates that the government understands the benefits that film productions bring to the Czech Republic.”
So the fact that this rebate fund has run out mid-year – you said that the original funds were not enough – so does this also mean that there is presently a great interest from production companies to film in the Czech Republic?
“Yes, and actually the fund ran out back in February already. There was a call for applications in January, and the fund registered around 70 projects. This meant a request for one billion crowns in rebates. Obviously, we only had half that amount. This was so little that we ended up seeing many projects ultimately go elsewhere, especially those big Hollywood films.”
So films that don’t get the rebate, they end up just leaving? They decide that it is simply no longer economically viable enough to film in the Czech Republic?
“Yes, because the State Cinematography Fund is not able to give everyone who applies a 20 percent rebate certificate. So those producers end up looking in other countries, where the incentive system is more stable.”
And this programme, I understand, was established in 2010. The film industry says that it brings in around 4-6 billion crowns annually...
“Ten years ago, production volume was around 4-5 billion crowns. And then other countries around the Czech Republic introduced incentives, such as Hungary and Germany. The UK improved its incentives, while many US states introduced incentives too. But the Czech Republic didn’t. The government hesitated for too long, and as a result, we lost a lot of business to other countries. Between 2002 and 2008-09, we saw a drop in foreign or international productions of more than 80 percent. So this means we went from a five billion crown production volume to 800 million, which is really terrible. So in 2010, the government introduced an incentive system, and since then we have seen a slow increase in production volume again. Naturally, it won’t jump back up to 5 billion from one year to the next. Last year, the volume was around 2.5-2.7 billion, and we hope it will be up again this year. We are hoping for around 3 billion. And of course, the capacity is up too. But it really is connected – the more rebates you can give, the more productions you can attract.”