Country Focus: Sweden
Scandinavia - Coproduction in Nordic Countries (March 2005)
by Annika Pham
16/03/2005 - Coproduction in Nordic Countries
The majority of feature films made in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland are co-productions between two or more of those territories relying heavily on production subsidies from the local film institutes and sometimes from the Nordisk Film & TV Fund.
For films with budgets over €2.5m aiming at a wider international audience, Nordic producers have to look else where for co-financing as they cannot rely on the small local markets to recoup production costs. Economic rather than creative reasons justify their international co-production choices. In Denmark for example, almost half the films produced last year were co-productions with European partners, including Lars von Trier’s Manderlay [trailer] competing this year in Cannes, a truly European co-production between Denmark, France, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
Conversely international producers who make films in the Nordic countries usually do so mostly for artistic reasons as there are few real financial incentives in place to attract foreign shoots (apart from Iceland which offers a 12% reduction on all production costs spent in the country by an Icelandic or foreign producer). If they do, they can access public subsidies from the local film institutes and the few existing regional film funds if their project qualifies as being from one of the five Nordic countries.
One of the main conditions is for the project to be made as an official co-production with one of those countries. Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden have signed the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production.
Denmark, Iceland and Finland have one bilateral co-production treaty each with France; Sweden has three bi-lateral agreements with Italy, France and Germany, and Finland and Norway have signed a Treaty with Canada on film and TV co-production. The UK has just decided to end the bilateral co-production agreement with Norway signed in 1983.
Here under are a few facts and figures for Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, the three major producers in the Nordic countries as well as summary information on possible financial support for foreign producers.
Admissions 2004: 16.6 million
Local films market share 2004: 23.3%
Swedish films that premiered in 2004: 33
Production support for feature films in 2004: SKK191 million (€21m)
Under the current 2000 Swedish Film Agreement covering the period 2000-2005, Swedish producers get support from the Swedish Film Institute (SFI) as development and/or production support. The SFI’s own funding comes from the Swedish government, broadcasters the Swedish Film Producers Association contributions, as well as a levy of 10% of the box office receipts collected by the Swedish Exhibitors Association.
In 2004, Swedish producers had around SKK126 million (€14m) in advance production subsidies and nearly SKK 65 million (€7m) in box office-related subsidies.
Subsidies from the SFI are allocated to Swedish films, ie films with a Swedish producer or involving a substantial proportion of Swedish actors or other performers. A film by a foreign producer may also be regarded as Swedish provided at least 20% of its production costs are financed by Swedish capital and a substantial proportion of the actors or other performers are Swedish.
Sweden also has a VAT return system offering a 25% discount to foreign filmmakers, and some regional film funds (notably Film i Väst) that can bring as much as a third of the film’s budget as equity financing (see attached article on Film I Väst).
The SFI and Swedish trade bodies and broadcasters are currently negotiating the terms of the new Film Law which will regulate the whole Swedish film industry from 2006 to 2010.
Admissions 2004: 12.5 million
Local films market share 2004: 25%
Danish films that premiered in 2004: 18
Total budget Danish Film Institute 2004: DKK 357,8m (€48.3m)
Production support for feature films in 2004: DKK 144 million (€19.4m)
The objectives and total budget for the Danish film industry were defined in the Danish government’s Film Policy Accord 2003-2006. The state-funded Danish Film Institute earmarked around DKK 640m (€86m) for the development, production and marketing of feature films during that period, including a production volume of 65-85 Danish-language Features and 15-25 foreign-language international co-productions with Danish involvement.
There are two main production funds available for majority Danish productions:
-The Consultant Scheme promoting the continuous production of quality Danish films or co-productions. Feature films can get between DKK5m-10m (€600.000-€1.6m) for a project usually at script stage.
-The 60/40 Production Scheme is for films with a bigger commercial potential. Subsidies amount to 60% maximum of the production budget and in case of co-production, 60% maximum of the Danish share of the financing of the film.
For minority Danish co-productions (Danish share max 20%), the maximum grant from the DFI is DKK 3 million (€400.000).
The regional film fund Filmfyn is another co-financier of Danish films and co-productions. It was launched in 2003 with a total budget of DKK17m (€2.2m) for three to four feature film productions each year until 2006. Seven films have been supported so far including the current local hit Adam’s Apples [trailer, film focus] by Anders Thomas Jensen.
Admissions 2004: 12.1 million
Local films market share 2004: 14.8%
Total budget Norwegian Film Fund 2004: NOK 270 million (€33.7m)
Total feature films support 2004: NOK 190 million (€23m)
Number of feature films supported in 2004: 29 (including 10 co-productions)
Norwegian films that premiered in 2004: 18
The Norwegian Film Fund (NFF) provides as much as 50% of total production costs of a feature film, with a NOK 7 million (€800.000) cap. Support is conditionally repayable loans. Box office bonuses are awarded automatically to any film released in Norway, reaching as much as 55% of ticket revenues. The ceiling is calculated in relation to the producer’s investment and risk.
Films must be certified as Norwegian to receive NFF support. Minority Norwegian co-productions are also supported by the fund.
For instance Bent Hamer’s Norwegian/US/DE/DK co-production Factotum [trailer] selected at the Directors’ Fortnight this year, received a NOK 4.8m (€590.000) support from the NFF towards its NOK 17.3m (€2.1m) budget.