Country Focus: Sweden
Sweden - Regional Film Funds (March 2005)
by Annika Pham
16/03/2005 - Regional Film Funds in Sweden
With as Film i Väst a model not only in Sweden but all over Europe, regional film funds in Sweden have become a crucial part in the financing of local films, and as a new Film Law is being drafted by politicians, the whole Swedish industry is lobbying the government to make sure regional film financing will be included in the 2005 Film Agreement.
Sweden is as famous today in the film world for its grand master Ingmar Bergman and the new talented enfant terrible Lukas Moodysson as for one of its regional film fund: Film i Väst nicknamed Trollywood because of its production center in Trollhättan which welcomes a dozen feature films from top Scandinavian directors every year including Lars von Trier, Moodysson and Joseph Fares.
Film I Väst is undeniably the ‘Star’ regional film fund in Sweden, co-financing as much as 50% of the Swedish yearly film output. But apart from Film I Väst, 18 other Regional resource centers for film and video are spread all over Sweden, providing support in three key areas:
-production of local feature films from upcoming directors as well as short films and documentaries
-exhibition and distribution of those regional films and video works through festivals and other distribution networks,
-educational projects in film and media within those regions.
The regional resource centers can act as producers or co-producers as long as the projects have a clear connection with the region.
Three ‘film production centers’ in Sweden are also awarded extra public money each year to develop feature films in those regions: Film I Väst, Filmpool Nord and Film I Skåne. These three film production centers can act as co-producers on the condition that the projects are partly or totally shot in the region and that local support to producers -in personnel, technical and financial help- are being used.
Last December 2004, the Swedish Film Institute allocated a total of SEK 18.2M to the regions: SEK 15,4 M was awarded to the 19 regional resource centers and SEK 2.8M to the three film production centers (SEK 950,000 each). The six regions that received over SEK 1M from the SFI are Film I Väst (SEK 3.1M), Filmpool Nord (2.2M), Film I Skåne (1.9M), Film I Västernorrland 1.3M), Film I Värmland (1.3M), Film I Dalarna (1.1M) and Reaktor Sydost (Southern regions of Blekinge, Kalmar and Kronobergs) (1M).
Foreign producers can access all those regional funds as long as their Swedish co-production partner has invested 20% of the production cost in the project and that the contribution of Swedish artists is of obvious importance.
Information on how to apply for regional film support can be obtained directly at the SFI (where the applications are made), from the regional film centers where the project will be based, or from the eight regional film commissions that are also at hand to provide support and facilitate contacts with the local technical infrastructure.
Report on regional film funds
Over the last five to seven years, regional film financing has become an alternative or a complement to state subsidies for Swedish producers, playing a crucial role in the financing of local films. And as the government is drafting the text for a new Film Law –set to become effective by the end of 2005- the SFI, acting as a spearhead to the whole Swedish film industry, has been lobbying hard to make sure the Swedish government understands the importance of film activities for the economic and cultural development of each region and includes regional film financing in the 2005 Film Agreement.
In such as context, the SFI has taken the initiative to commission a pilot research project called “Film and regional development –policies and practicalities in the Nordic region”. Financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the study will make the first inventory of regional film activities in Sweden and in the Nordic region and will analyze the connection between film and regional development in the Nordic countries. Available next autumn, the report will be presented during an international conference set to take place in Stockholm at the Swedish Film Institute.
FILM I VÄST
Under the aegis of Tomas Eskilsson, Film I Väst (FiV) has become a key player in the Swedish film industry and in the Nordic region as a whole. Since its creation in 1992, the regional resource and production center in Sweden’s Western Götaland has co-produced 100 feature films including all Lukas Moodysson, Josef Fares films as well as Colin Nutley’s Under The Sun, Lars von Trier’s Dancer In The Dark and Dogville [trailer], Bille August’s A Song For Martin, and Thomas Vinterberg’s It’s All About Love [trailer].
Over the last few years, 50% of all films shot in Sweden have been co-produced by FiV, and in 2004, 18 feature films were made with FiV investment including this year’s Guldbagge winner Dalecarlians [trailer, film focus] by Maria Blom, Josef Fares’ new film Zozo [trailer] in post-production, and Lars von Trier’s ambitious Manderlay [trailer], a true European co-production between Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, Holland, and the UK.
Criteria for investment from FiV include artistic quality, commercial potential, contribution to the infrastructure and building of competences in the region.
Established in the municipality of Trollhättan where its head office and two studios are based, FiV has a total annual budget of 7.55 M€ thanks to backing from the Västra Götaland region (4.3 M€), local municipalities (0.75M€), the Swedish Film Institute (0.3M€), the EU Regional Development Fund (0.25M€) and FiV’s own earnings.
FiV’s main activity is the support to feature films with an annual budget of SEK 48M (5.3M€), but the regional fund also supports TV drama productions, short films and documentaries, film distribution in Sweden and the development of new talents in the region. Furthermore, thanks to Eskilsson’s vision and energy, FiV has now established the region as a real hob for film and media related companies as some 153 ‘member companies’ have opened an office in Trollhättan and in the neighboring municipalities, including the successful production outfits Zentropa Entertainment, Memfis Film and Sonet Film.
Last year was a turning point for FiV which most certainly reached its goal to become “Europe’s most dynamic and vibrant film region”, in Eskilsson’s own words. Indeed, last September saw the grand opening of its new film studio of 1150 square meters, with thousands of guests who listened to the inaugural speech from the Swedish Finance Minister Bosse Ringholm who commented: “with this new studio, FiV can become an important export market as foreign producers can now come over here”. The new studio called Josef Fares after the Lebanese-born director of Jalla Jalla! and Kopps is already fully booked until the summer.
Last September was also important for FiV’s position within Europe as the regional fund was voted “Best European example” at the European Audiovisual Conference-New Horizons in Utrecht. FiV was presented as one of the most innovative examples of how local and private money have been able to build a strong regional film industry in Western Götaland, and how public money have been used to establish long term relations with production companies and talent.
BR> In the future, FiV intends to increase its co-production activities with international partners by offering a complete post-production chain in Trollhättan within the Fall, and by building inter-regional co-operations with non Scandinavian production partners. (see the attached interview with Tomas Eskilsson)
FiV financial contributions and co-production regulations
FiV will provide up to one third of a film’s budget if the film is shot in Western Sweden.
Film and TV productions are selected by the Managing Director of FiV who then reports to the Board of Directors of FiV.
The selection is made based on the artistic quality, public appeal and commercial prospects of the project. Films for children and young people are given priority, as well as films for which the main producer has an office in the region.
The producer is asked to prove his experience in feature film production and the project itself will be considered only if it can have a positive impact on the film industry and employment in the region.
The main producer has to bear full responsibility for the economic and general management of the project and for budgets over SEK 8M, he will have to secure some form of completion guarantee.
Foreign producers seeking co-production financing from FiV must have a Swedish co-producer (other than Swedish broadcasters SVT and TV4).
FiV will not invest in films that have started principle photography, unless very substantial rights are acquired.
For further details on co-production rules and regulations, see Fiv website: www.filmivast.se
Q & A with Tomas Eskilsson, Head of Film I Väst
Cineuropa : You’ve succeeded in making Film i Väst a major co-production partner in Sweden and in the Nordic countries. What is your strategy to attract non-Scandinavian film & TV producers to the western Götaland region in Sweden?
Tomas Eskilsson: In order to attract more international co-productions, our goal is to complete the infrastructure for film production in the region which is already strong in sound post and visual effects. We will do this by offering a complete post-production chain by this autumn.
We also want to continue to build interregional co-operations like the ones Film I Väst already has with Germany (Hamburg), the UK and South Africa, with the objective to strengthen links between our family of production companies and production companies in other specific regions for co-production purposes.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Cine-Regio network?
Cine-Regio will hopefully contribute to the following:
-To strengthen the regional perspective in the European film industry and there by contributing to pluralism and better possibilities for European films to reach success in their home territory and across Europe.
-To be an advocate for ‘film regions’ in contacts with EC
-To contribute to exchange and develop regional film and media strategies
-To open possibilities for interregional co-operation in different fields.
FILM I VAST (Sweden)
Head of fund: Tomas Eskilsson
Annual budget for feature film: SEK 48m (€5,3m)
Max amount awarded to a feature film: one third of the budget
Feature films supported in 2004: 18