10. April 2009

For the second year in a row, the Czech Film Commission is taking part in the 24th annual Locations Trade Show (April 16–April 18), the largest film location market in the world, in Santa Monica, California. Leading the Czech delegation is Ludmila Claussová, head of the Czech Film Commission, an organization established in 2004 to help foreign film crews planning to shoot in the Czech Republic. “I believe it's essential for the Czech Republic and Prague to be presented at this event,” Claussová says. “It's important for the Czech film industry to appear alongside other significant film countries.” The Locations Trade Show (LTS) is organized by the Association of Film Commissions International (AFCI). More than 3,000 film professionals attended last year's event. AFCI was established more that 30 years ago in the US and currently has more than 300 member commissions. The Czech Republic was represented at LTS for the first time at last year's event. Claussová found that most visitors then had a clear idea of the quality of service that Prague and the Czech Republic offer filmmakers. “The most common topic of discussion at the stand and in meetings with production companies after the market, however, was investment incentives and financial support for film production in the Czech Republic,” she says. Film professionals attending last year's LTS were also interested in the Czech Republic's historic locations. “Producers know that they can find a range of diverse locations and scenery, architectural styles and historic periods close to Prague,” Claussová says. Nonetheless Claussová is keenly aware that the Czech Republic needs to work to to compete successfully with other territories. “Prague and the Czech Republic offer everything a filmmaker could want: highly professional crews, a variety of great locations, the highest level of film infrastructure, and more. The one thing we don't have is the one thing that is most important right now: incentives or stimulus plans for film production,” she says. In recent years, the Czech Republic has lost several productions to other countries where filmmakers can find direct or indirect support. “Producers and investors would rather spend their money making a film in a country which will stand by them and offer them proven models of support, rebates and other stimulus plans. If we could just fill in this missing piece of the puzzle, we could be competitive again,” Claussová says. International analyses show that the Czech film industry is on a level with those in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and individual US states — except that these territories all offer filmmakers incentives. “Incentives also play a psychological role. Even if the budget for shooting a film in the Czech Republic, without incentives, is the same as, for example, shooting in Germany with incentives, the investor would rather go to Germany, because the Germans have shown that they'll stand by him,” Claussová says. Claussová plans to meet with a production company which is developing a screenplay set in Prague in 1989. “I will try to meet with the producers but I really must say that I'm holding few cards and no aces to convince them to shoot their film with us,” she says. “I'm afraid the project will end up in incentive paradise in Berlin or Budapest. The irony is that earlier filmmakers shot Prague for Berlin. Now it looks like they'll shoot Berlin for Prague.” The Czech participation at LTS is, as last year, supported by the Czech Ministry of Culture and the Audio-visual Producers Association, which helped establish the film commission six years ago.