Gov’t to make spot Czech of film biz

Producers claim over $200 mil in foreign film investment

PRAGUE — Czech government officials have agreed to support an independent study of the domestic film industry.

Decision was made at the Czech Film Committee’s second meeting, attended by a dozen politicians and producers.

The Czech minister of culture was quoted in local reports as saying he didn’t believe the Czech Assn. of Film Producers statement that upwards of $200 million is coming into the country annually from international film production.

Producers believe an independently produced report should prove their claims. Prague City Hall is supporting the report along with the Ministry of Local Development, the Ministry of Culture and the Barrandov film studio.

In recent years, Prague has seen an upsurge in film production, including the upcoming “Van Helsing,” “Hellboy,” “The Prince and the Freshman” and an untitled Mandy Moore project (formerly known as “First Daughter”); the currently shooting “Brothers Grimm” and “Tristan and Isolde”; as well as “XXX,” “Blade 2,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “The Bourne Identity.”

More immediate results emerged from the meeting, including an agreement by Prague Mayor Pavel Bem to work on quicker turnaround for location permits (which currently require a 30-day waiting period) and to ease location prices.

Local producers, including Petr Keller of Partnership Pictures (which provided services for “Hellboy”) and Matthew Stillman of Stillking (“Van Helsing,” “XXX,” “Tristan and Isolde”) expressed optimism over the politicos’ receptiveness. “It seemed like they finally understood what we are trying to do,” said Keller.

APA president Pavel Strnad also noted the first step in creating a Czech Film Commission, with a preliminary office opening Dec. 1. A fully functioning commission should be operating under the Ministry of Culture by Jan. 1, 2005.

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