14. January 2021

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As every year, a number of regions supported film production through their regional funds, with a total of over CZK 22 million (USD 1.02 million/EUR 840,000) going to support filmmakers in 2020. The most actively supportive region was the South Moravian Region, followed by the Zlín Region and Prague.

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Il Boemo production in Mahen theatre | Photo: Richard Hodonický

The conditions for drawing on these funds are set mainly so that the region or the city plays an important role in the audiovisual work that receives support, thus earning it a place on the map of the film world. However, the most important aspect of the support is the economic benefit that these local funds bring. “As with the incentives provided to filmmakers by the Czech Film Fund, the amounts provided to filmmakers by small regional film funds are gradually returned several times over to the regional economy through payments for local services, be they leased locations, craftsmen, local services, accommodation facilities, or gastronomic services,” says the head of the Czech Film Commission Pavlína Žipková.

How much was distributed in different regions

The South Moravian Film Fund handed out the largest support amount last year in two calls. In the call for production, it distributed CZK 8.8 million among 12 productions chosen from 47 applicants – confirmation that regional funds are a viable source of filmmaking support. Selected projects included the historical film Il Boemo by director Petr Václav and the romantic comedy Wishes for Santa by director Marta Ferencová. The largest single support amount (CZK 1.7 million) was awarded to the film Nikola Šuhaj by director Vladimír Morávek. Of the seventeen applications in the call for screenplay support, seven projects succeeded in the end, to which CZK 500,000 was distributed.

The Zlín Region’s Audiovisual Support Program has been running for three years now. Last year, a total of CZK 6 million was awarded to five film projects chosen by a commission appointed by the Zlín Region Council from a total of 14 grant applications. The winning projects include the feature film Two Words as a Key by director Dan Svátek. The film, which received CZK 2 million, will build on the director's previous work The Smiles of Sad Men, and will again be an adaptation of a Josef Formánek book. The program also recognized work for children, which has a long tradition in the region. The animated film Tonda, Slávka and the Genius by director Filip Pošivač received support in the amount of CZK 2 million.

In addition to this program, the Zlín Region also offers support through the FILMTALENT Zlín Endowment Fund. Last year, it supported 21 projects by young filmmakers with subsidies totalling CZK 1.375 million. The funds were obtained from the 23rd annual auction of film clapperboards, a traditional part of the Zlín Film Festival, the 60th edition of which took place at the beginning of September 2020. This fund could serve as an inspiration for regional support in other regions, which are currently looking for systematic resources.

The Prague Film Fund announced a total of two calls in 2020. In January, the historical film Terezín Spa received support in the amount of CZK 1 million. The film, a Czech/Italian/Slovak co-production, will be helmed by Italian director Gabriele Guidi. In previous year's second call, the Fund supported a total of six projects that were filmed or will be filmed in the capital city. A total of CZK 4.7 million was awarded, with three documentaries and three feature films received support. In total last year, the Prague Film Fund provided assistance to seven projects with financial contributions totalling CZK 5.7 million.

The situation in other regions

In addition to these film-oriented funds, it is also possible to obtain funding through general regional subsidy programs. Subsidies in the order of hundreds of thousands of crowns were distributed, for example, in the Pilsen Region, which does not yet have a separate fund to support audiovisual production, but it is possible to apply for an individual subsidy via the regional subsidy portal. The condition is the requirement to shoot in the region.

Some regions did not announce new audiovisual calls previous year, but projects that received grant support in 2019 were already filmed. For example, in the Moravian-Silesian Region, the short film Trophy (from the FAMU atelier) and a horror thriller by director Emil Křižka called Edge of Break were shot, to which the region contributed within its Support for Filming AV Works in the Moravian-Silesian Region grant program. The program, which offered support totalling CZK 5 million, was announced in 2019 for projects with planned implementation in 2019–2021. This year, the region plans to announce a new program.

North Bohemia also launched its pilot program to support film production. The Support of the Audiovisual Industry in the Ústí Region program should be announced in the first quarter of 2021. The South Moravian region plans to continue to support development and production in 2021. Ivana Košuličová from Brno Film Office says: "The South Moravian Film Fund will have CZK 10 million at its disposal in 2021, and we plan to announce a call for production in the spring."

How filmmakers help on the location of filming

We're certain that all negotiations in the regions will be successful in 2021. Efforts to support regional film industries make sense not only from the economic and cultural points of view, but also because they help to balance the “Prago-centrism” that some believe our culture suffers from.

In addition to the already mentioned economic return, local support for the film industry is needed more than ever during the covid pandemic. “For example accommodation facilities and restaurants have suffered a major blow from the coronavirus. Filmmakers can help by staying on the shooting location. An important aspect of the positive effect of film productions in the various regions is the fact that they spend money on services at the filming location, all the way down to crew personal expenses, such as at restaurants. The knock-on effect of film tourism is also significant. These are all reasons why the regions should continue to strive to preserve subsidy programs and create them where they have hesitated thus far," says Žipková.

Should you have specific questions about existing funds and subsidies, we recommend that you contact the individual regional film offices directly, a list of which can be found here. For advice on developing a new support fund, contact the Czech Film Commission directly.