The Czech Republic benefited from $156.2 million from foreign productions shooting in the country last year, slightly down for the first time since 2009. This year’s productions include the just-wrapped movie “Ophelia,” starring Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts.
The $10.3 million drop in revenue from foreign productions for 2016 has local producers looking hard at tweaks to the incentives system, while also considering whether the country could be reaching capacity for highly trained crews because of constant demand by international projects.
The Czech government has secured annual funding of nearly $40 million and locked in the system for the next three years, said producer Vratislav Slajer of Bionaut Films, in addition to ensuring that companies can apply for the 20% cashback on spends whether or not their project falls neatly into a calendar year. The base amount of the production spend to qualify a company for the incentives has also been lowered, he says, currently at $655,000 for features and about half that for TV episodes.
But an ongoing issue is whether the steady stream of cable TV productions such as “Knightfall,” and “Genius,” along with features such as “Ophelia” could be stretching Czech resources to their limits.
“Capacity is filled in some areas,” Czech producer Radek Docekal of Milk and Honey Films said. But he adds that during the slow growth period caused by initial snags in the incentives system local companies have invested in infrastructure and crew training. He predicts the benefits of that long-term planning will be visible in three to four years.
Producer Petra Ondrejkova of Amazing Production points out that top Czech crew talent is also getting hired abroad, causing a drain in Prague. “Foreign producers actually take talent away,” she said. “We are a small country.”
A continuing challenge will be creating conditions to make the country’s internationally respected crews stay home, she added.