Changes in Eurimages Regulations
We spoke to Eurimages representative in Poland Irena Strzałkowska about the upcoming changes in regulations of the Eurimages fund.
New regulations of Eurimages will be introduced on January 1, 2011 regarding applications for co-production financing. The first of these refers to securing project financing.
According to the new regulations, applying for Eurimages funding will require evidence proving that at least 50% of the financing is confirmed in each territory of the co-production. The deadline for the first round of applications is January 14, 2011. After this deadline no further financing documentation will be accepted from producers. Until now, securing 50% of financing was not a prerequisite for applying. Weeks passed between the application deadline and the publication of the final list of applicant projects, during which time producers received a second deadline for submitting missing documents confirming 50% of financing. Based on the new regulations, if 50% of financing is not secured by January 14, then the project simply cannot apply. This will shorten the document analysis stage from eleven to seven weeks.
Another change in Eurimages is the option of starting the shooting period before the project has been assessed and received financing.
We voted on introducing such a possibility in order to enable producers to begin filming (in the event of unavoidable and duly justified reasons) up to half of the total scheduled shooting, after submitting a written request and receiving permission from the Secretariat. In each case, filming is at the producer’s own risk; producers must acknowledge the fact that the Eurimages funding they applied for might not be received, as the selection process is a competition. This particular point does not apply to animated films, which have a different set of regulations. It is a very flexible approach to the regulations. I believe producers should be happy with this solution. After all, they can best assess the financial condition of their project.
What was the situation before these changes?
It was also possible to get permission for early shooting. Producers had the right to apply to the Eurimages Secretariat, stating that filming at a particular time is essential because of the sun, because of the snow, when they have to film seasonal shots, or have a star actor available for only ten days etc. Unfortunately this was a rather vague statement in the regulations. Each time it was a decision at the discretion of the Executive Director, who granted a given number of shooting days.
The new regulations also include provisions limiting resubmissions of projects.
Until recently, it was possible to submit an application, withdraw it, then resubmit an amended version. Under the new regulations this last stage is no longer an option. A project can now be withdrawn once and resubmitted once. This measure was introduced because a number of projects were continuously submitted and withdrawn due to changes in producers, financing structure, shooting schedules, co-operations partners, or directors. Such cases are quite common in the film industry. But once an application is submitted to the Eurimages Secretariat for analysis, each document has to be analyzed thoroughly. If a project is withdrawn and resubmitted, the entire analysis procedure must also begin from scratch. Of course, we want to allow some leniency towards new project that appeared in the second half of 2010. At the December session, I will propose that the first two sessions in 2011 be treated as a transitional period. A project that was submitted for the June session and then withdrawn, resubmitted for the October session and again withdrawn, when being submitted for the next session will have the option of being resubmitted once more, thus being treated as a transitional production. I hope we are able to introduce this measure. I would like to remind producers that reasons for withdrawing and resubmitting a project must be very precisely stated.
The last of the changes that will be introduced next month for producers applying for co-production financing is the requirement of producing a digital master copy within the film’s budget.
The old requirement was only for a 35mm master print. Distribution today also allows digital copies. It is thus a requisite of our times and the effect of introducing new technologies. I would like to add that Eurimages also has a programme for digitizing works that received our financing during production. This applies mostly to older films from the 1990s and early 2000s. Several Polish projects also received financing through this programme.
How will producers react to these changes?
Some of them will probably be unhappy and object to certain changes, but most of these decisions will make the work of the Secretariat and delegates much easier. They might not agree with these changes, but the changes are essential and often also make the work of the producers easier. For every change that we introduce, I consult with KIPA [Polish Audiovisual Producers Chamber of Commerce], in order to have Polish producers fully informed of the exact scope of pending changes.
Eurimages was established in 1989. Today it has 34 member states throughout Europe. Poland became a member in 1991. Over the past 20 years, did we make the best of the financing opportunities for film production using Eurimages funding?
Yes and no. The total outcome is of course on the plus side, because many wonderful films have been made thanks to Eurimages support, which more often than not helped close the film’s budget. But I still think we don’t make the best of the opportunities of financing through European funds. Polish producers have become more active with regards to the MEDIA programme, because they finally started to believe in it. But when it comes to Eurimages, it depends. It is not an easy competition; this provides top financing, the last 17% of the budget, which is often crucial for a film. In the early days producers were afraid of the paperwork, but today bureaucracy is everywhere. The fear of paperwork is completely irrational. If we look at the Operational Programmes of the Polish Film Institute and at the programmes of Eurimages and other institutions, the documents are quite similar, except maybe for being written in a foreign language. In fact, we can often be an interesting partner for foreign producers. Many films in Poland are made as international co-productions, and I’m glad the Polish Film Institute introduced a programme for minority co-productions, for foreign-language films. Of course, this should be carried out by a Polish producer, so that the Polish film industry can also benefit from the programme.
Translated by Karolina Kołtun