Germany

Local industry brings in international productions

The scoop: Federal-regional support is not only indulging local filmmakers, it’s also making it easier and increasingly attractive for international productions to shoot here.

Much of the credit goes to the government’s $80 million-a-year German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), which has bolstered local and international production well beyond initial expectations.

The German Federal Film Board (FFA), which administers the fund, is reporting boffo effects on the nation’s film industry. This year the fund has slated $75.3 million for 81 projects that will generate $500 million in economic benefits for the local industry.

When added to $210 million in federal and regional subsidy coin slated for production of features, documentaries, TV movies and shorts as well as script- and project-development aid and distribution grants, local filmmakers don’t have much to complain about.

German money also is readily available to big international productions — just ask Bryan Singer and the Wachowskis.

The DFFF provided $6.5 million for United Artists’ Tom Cruise starrer “Valkyrie,” while Warner Bros.’ live-action “Speed Racer” is getting $12.3 million — the largest amount allocated to any production.

Most recently, “The International,” Tom Tykwer’s political thriller starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, got $5.4 million towards its budget.

The fund has so far granted $57.5 million to 62 domestic and international productions and has $20 million lined up for another 19 films.

Introduced this year to help the local industry after the government nixed private tax-shelter film funds, the DFFF grants productions that shoot in Germany a 20% refund on local spend.

Of Germany’s nine federal and regional subsidy bodies, the five biggest federal financiers include the FFA and the BKM, which together put up some $70 million annually towards production, development and distribution, followed by North-Rhine Westphalia’s state org Filmstiftung NRW ($42 million), the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg ($30.3 million) and Bavaria’s FFF ($28.3 million).

Some subsidies are also supported by bank funds and special credit lines set up to attract productions to specific regions, such as Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg and Hamburg.

Studio Hamburg this year unveiled a $26 million credit line for English-language pics budgeted at between $15 million and $20 million, providing 20% to 30% of the total budget.

Studio Babelsberg, located just outside Berlin, has seen its revenues skyrocket thanks in large part to DFFF-financed productions. The company is expecting revenue to reach nearly $140 million this year compared to only $22.4 million in 2006.

In addition to acting as a local co-producer on many international pics — a necessity to apply for fund money — Babelsberg offers a one-stop shop for filmmakers that includes 270,000 square feet of stage space, a four-acre backlot, production services and set construction at one location.

Bonus: Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures offers everything from initial location scouting to location and production management, crew and equipment support. It will set up a co-production structure, secure subsidy and finance, and handle the accounts and payroll for the German portion of productions.

Shot there: “Black Book,” from Paul Verhoeven; “Adam Resurrected,” by Paul Schrader; “Flame & Criton,” from Ole Christian Madsen

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