Belt-tightening at the ORF, Austria’s state monopoly TV, has led to a noticeable decrease in Austria film production.
“It’s a period of transition we’re going through right now,” according to Martin Schweighofer, a member of the Austrian Film Commission. “The infrastructure is in a weak spot at the moment.”
A major change in management at the ORF a year ago, along with a mandate to make the ORF economically competitive in advance of the coming of private television to Austria before the end of the decade, have led to the slowdown.
Heavily dependent on financing from the ORF, production companies this year don’t have the funds for films. Austria, with a population of 7 million, offers no possibility for films to earn back their costs domestically, especially when films have to fight for theater space with 300 imported films per year, about half of which are U.S.-made. Only the top three or four films can pull in 300,000 admissions.
Other subsidy funds haven’t increased to fill the ORF gap. The Austrian Film Institute money will stay constant at around $10 million, while the Vienna Film Financing Fund (WFF), which handed out about $8 million per year over the past two years, looks unlikely to match that figure this year.
The Austrian film recession is having further impact on film crew members, who are leaving the country for greener pastures.