EFBC fears state bank involvement

BERLIN — Helkon Media and the state of Brandenburg have set up a joint company, Mediavision Babelsberg, to manage Babelsberg Studios’ trouble-plagued $60 million FX Center.

The FX Center, which opened in March under the management of post-production outfit Company B, ran into trouble when some $1.35 million earmarked for construction could not be accounted for.

Company B has since been dissolved.

Mediavision, held in a 60/40 split by Helkon and state company KBB, will begin operations in September. Thilo Seiffert will handle the Center’s business management, while a top digital-effects producer from the U.S. is being sought as a second managing director in charge of creative projects.

Oversight dispute

But the creation of the joint-management entity has been criticized by the European Film Center Babelsberg (EFCB), which officially owns the FX Center. An EFCB spokesperson said Brandenburg officials created the new management company without the EFCB’s authorization.

KBB is run by the Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg (ILB), and EFCB officials have expressed fear that the state bank wants to push the EFCB out and take over the FX Center.

Indeed, officials at the ILB have said the FX Center can be operated without the EFCB, and if the EFCB were to file for bankruptcy, the FX Center would automatically fall into the hands of the ILB.

KBB is convinced that any financial losses suffered by the Center can be regained under Mediavision’s management.

Helkon’s involvement also means the production company and distrib will bring not only its own pics to the Center but also international projects, say KBB execs.

Helkon execs would not comment on their involvement in Mediavision.

When the FX Center, which is located on the Babelsberg Studios lot in Potsdam, first opened, it was hoping to attract overseas business to the studio. The facility comprises about a dozen small high-tech companies, including sound studios, animators, multimedia experts, software developers and other production outfits.

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