Pubcaster's coin boosts local pix prod'n

GDYNIA, Poland — With ad dollars shrinking, competition rising and license fees covering less of its annual budget, pubcaster Polish TV (TVP) has expanded revenue sources, becoming the biggest local movie producer.

At the recent Gdynia Festival of Polish Feature Films, TVP was all but ubiquitous. It was a producer on 75% of all Polish films made in the past year — with the investment of nearly $30 million — along with its own uncounted resources. That adds up to 7% of TVP’s entire annual budget.

Homegrown bias

“This is a kind of business for us,” said TVP president Robert Kwiatkowski. “After the first wave of U.S. production on TV, people returned to local production.”

Even an old Polish film will outperform imported product, boosting advertising income. Meanwhile, TV household license fees, now under $3 per month, make up less than 30% of TVP’s income and the fees’ contribution is dropping off at a rate of 8%-10% per year.

Under the direction of Slawomir Rogowski, TVP’s film production division is changing its philosophy.

“We have a special production line for debut films, but on the other hand, we support the super-productions,” said Kwiatkowski, referring to the new high-budgeters gaining favor with audiences. “Epic productions and low-budget films are the surest bets.”

At the other extreme, TVP and Kodak are sponsoring Generation 2000, a series of six one-hour debut movies. The Super 16mm films have budgets in the $200,000 range.

“The main point of the project is to find new, young energy,” Rogowski said.

Only 18 months in his post, Rogowski’s imprint will be strongly felt over the course of the next year, when TVP’s productions will consist of the one-hour debuts and big-budget films.

One film that falls in between these poles is Krzystof Zanussi’s Gdynia fest winner “Life as a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease,” into which TVP put $300,000. One drawback to features as opposed to telepics is that the pubcaster will have to wait two years before airing such works as “Life.”

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