There is an urgent mood at the offices of the Berlin Film Commission. Unification has brought massive increases in its responsibilities and in the amount of funding needed to keep afloat an industry which has grown nearly two-thirds overnight.
As a result, believes commission topper Hans Robert Eisenhauer, Berlin has about 12 months to restructure its film and media policy.
“What we must understand,” Eisenhauer says, “is that we were always the junior partners. East Berlin always had a bigger film and tv industry. For example, DFF [former state-run East German tv network] was making up to 100 telepics a year, and the DEFA studios were turning out up to 15 features a year. We employed maybe 2,500 people – it was 10,000 in the East. This gives you an idea of how much money we need to keep the ball rolling.”
A slice of a slice
To this effect, Eisenhauer has applied to the Berlin government for another 10 million marks ($6.7 million) in funding. The Berlin government is subsidized by the central government in Bonn, so for Eisenhauer it’s a case of getting a slice of a slice of the pie.
“The political will is there,” asserts Eisenhauer, “but the question is where the money is going to come from. I can only hope that media policy will be given priority.”
As a location, Berlin has certainly received a boost with unification. “We have double the number of exterior locations now,” says Eisenhauer, “and the biggest studios in Europe outside our front door.”
The sprawling DEFA studios in Babelsberg contain about 10,000 sq. meters of stage space as well as sound studios and 32 editing rooms. DEFA will be actively trying to hustle business for the studios during the Berlin fest. Though the complex is not actually within the state of Berlin, says Eisenhauer, there is no problem spending Berlin subsidy financing on the Babelsberg lot.
“The only problem that might arise when shooting at these studios,” says Eisenhauer, “is one of communications. I also usually advise outside producers to engage an international consultant, perhaps as a line producer.”
The European Film Prize will be held in Berlin in 1991; Eisenhauer hopes the event will concentrate attention on Berlin and encourage investment.
“If there is no investment,” he says, “we will lose a lot of talent. People will move to where the work is. If we don’t have enough money, there is no way we can become one of the major European film and tv centers.”
The film commission had intended to share a stand with the European Film Prize at the Berlin fest’s market to promote Berlin as a location. According to Eisenhauer, however, these plans had to be shelved due to a lack of coin.