Czech Republic Lures Filmmakers Again
The Czech Film Commission is the filmmakers’ first contact with the Czech Republic. It lures foreign film and TV projects, improves the communication between production teams and local authorities. The commission recommends suitable locations, helps to understand the filmmaking conditions and legislation, guides through the incentive programme. It currently encourages the opening of regional film offices and presents the Czech film industry in the prestigious magazine Variety, as well as at film festivals from Cannes to Los Angeles. Since 2017 it has been a department of the State Cinematography Fund.
At the start of the millennium the Czech Republic ranked among the world top film destinations. “This fact has always fascinated me, because no other Czech industry is so successful. Unfortunately, no authorities paid attention to this in 2004, the constant interest of filmmakers was taken for granted. In contrast to the Czech government approach, our neighbouring countries started introducing incentives. The first one was Hungary and today they have about thirty ateliers within five studios. They are strong competitors now,” says Ludmila Claussová, Czech Film Commissioner.
About twenty years ago the Barrandov Studio was truly unique, located on the Barrandov Hills, it represented a real beacon for filmmakers. At that time, in 2003, the volume of the foreign production was over five billion CZK. When the surrounding countries started introducing incentives, the Czech film income went down. In 2008 foreign production teams spent only 705 million CZK in our country. Some workers were made redundant and there was no interest to invest in new technology.
Incentives are for both Czech and foreign projects
The film incentives were finally pushed through, they were launched as a government programme in 2010. With a new scheme, the Czechs gained their competitive edge again. The audiovisual law was approved in 2012 and in 2013 the incentive programme was transferred under the State Fund administration. The system is for filmmakers, who register their projects in the incentive programme, and if they meet all the conditions, they are eligible for a rebate of 20 % expenses spent in the Czech Republic. The incentives are for both Czech and foreign projects. “It is important to understand how much the filmmakers spend, how many local people they employ,” adds Ludmila Claussová.
The incentives function properly and they serve their purpose – the Czech Republic is back on the list of the world most sought-out filmmaking locations. The annual expenses of production teams are currently about four billion CZK. “The Czech Republic is in the spotlight again, work is rolling in and there is even a lack of people in certain positions. Moreover, there is nothing to beat the beauty of Czech historic locations, Czechs are handy craftsmen and creative artisans. We know how to make magnificent costumes, our decorations are amazing, we have outstanding stunt men, lighting and sound engineers,” explains Ludmila Claussová.
Filmmakers are contacting regional film offices
The recent trend of incoming foreign production teams contributes to the development of audiovisual production on a regional basis and is connected with the growing number of regional film offices. They work mostly within local tourism departments, some are operating directly under local information centres or destination management companies. They know their region well and are able to provide filmmakers with handy information and contacts. They simply make filming easier. “Nowadays the Czech Film Commission is cooperating with eight offices, which they have also helped to establish in the last five years, one more is about to open in Brno. We are delighted to hear that Czech filmmakers have got used to contacting them regarding interesting locations tips, the offices link them to regional authorities or local suppliers,” states Ludmila Claussová. Currently, there are regional film offices in Karlovy Vary, Jeseníky, Brno, East Bohemia, Liberec, Northern Moravia, Ústí nad Labem, Vysočina and Zlín.
A filmmaker does not usually look for a specific place but for certain motives. The deputy of the film office, who knows their region well, can recommend locations that comply with the filmmaker´s requirements. Outside Prague there are popular castles of various styles and historic towns, which it makes the regions popular for historical films. For example, northern production teams fell in love with the beauty of our country, Danes filmed expensive series about the war with Prussia called 1864 or film Tordenskiold in Swedish and Norway co-production. Those films were made within the walls and surroundings of Czech castles, for example Kroměříž, Ploskovice, Kačina, Křivoklát, Kost, Lednice or Český Krumlov.
Furthermore, in 2016 three major foreign series were filmed in our country – Genius, Britannia and Knightfall, German TV production team filmed Martin Luther series. Even filmmakers from distant India were interested in the Czech Republic, filming of a Bollywood hit The Ring with an Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan took place in our country, artists from Hong Kong came to film The Adventurers with Jean Reno. Year 2017 is promising likewise, great production teams are about to launch their shooting, These days, British and American co-production team is in full swing, working on The Aftermath film, starring Keira Knightley.