Industry leaders urge reform of production fund

The Czech film incentives may have turned around the precipitous falloff in foreign production that’s dogged the local sector since 2003, but those incentives must be increased if they’re to really generate coin, says the head of the Czech producers association.

The $17.8 million in sweeteners have been “very interesting” for foreign producers, according to Helena Uldrichova, managing director of the Audiovisual Producers Assn., but the fund for the year is used up by late spring.

“There shouldn’t be any ceiling,” Uldrichova said, adding that the APA is pushing for amendments to the 2009 program based on its success in bringing in projects such as Tom Cruise starrer “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.”

As for setting the incentives into permanent law as other countries in the region have, she said, “It’s a question for the Culture Ministry and for our politicians.”

Bizzers don’t expect Czech lawmakers, who resisted the idea of offering incentives until two years ago, to set them in stone any time soon. Rather, they are renewed each year as a portion of the overall budget.

It’s frustrating for proponents of the program, who cite the recent tubthumping trip of foreign affairs minister Karel Schwarzenberg to Los Angeles.

His tour generated good buzz, says Ludmila Claussova of the Czech Film Commission, but a Paramount project crossed the Czech Republic off its list after learning the incentives for 2011 are already used up. “They decided not to even scout locations,” she said. Meanwhile, biz at home is also suffering, according to statistics released by the APA, which noted a 39% drop in box office for the first quarter of 2011, despite an increase in screenings to 102,260, up 10%, for the same period.

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