One cloud over the future of Czech film incentives has lifted with an announcement by the new administration that it plans to keep them rolling out next year to the tune of $18.4 million.
Culture minister Jiri Besser’s news, in the Czech press Tuesday, is a good sign considering the sharp budget cuts going around in other sectors, said Czech Film Commission topper Ludmila Claussova.
The state budget has yet to be approved, a process expected to wrap up well before year-end, but, said Claussova, “We have a new government and they have picked it up and want to continue it.” The sweeteners, as a component of the Czech budget, must be renewed annually in Parliament, a factor which has had backers and observers jittery since June.
Although the 2011 coin, which goes to fund 20% rebates on production spends in the Czech Republic for films meeting a cultural checklist, is 25% less than the amount approved for this year, the effect will be greater. That’s because 2010’s incentives weren’t approved until mid-year — so only $15.3 was actually doled out to applicants for the first year.
Some 16 projects have been approved so far, mostly Czech productions with shooting spends well under $6 million, but three larger-scale foreign shoots have also passed the test: George Lucas’ WWII story “Red Tails” and “Mission: Impossible 4” and TV miniseries “Borgias.”
Besser said he expects the cabinet, urged on by new finance minister Miroslav Kalousek, to approve the film incentives.
State officials have been won over by the healthy flow of applicants and productions since the sweeteners were announced, said Claussova, indicating the policy can help relieve the slumping economy. “It supports dozens of professions — not just the film profession,” she added. “It stimulates employment.”
Thus far 38 projects in total have applied and passed the cultural test, making them eligible for the coin.