Doling out Hungary’s film funds will be the responsibility of panels of industryites under plans drawn up by the country’s film commissioner, Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna.
The Hungarian National Film Fund will replace the MMKA, a public foundation that drew political fire last year after running up debts of more than $35 million.
Five-member panels will be selected by the HNFF board, of which Vajna may be a member. They will decide which projects get government coin, with more emphasis on development and scripts.
Details of the revamp — on which Vajna has been working since he was appointed at the beginning of the year — emerged after he met with some 100 industry figures, including directors Karoly Makk and Istvan Szabo, in Budapest on Monday.
The new org will get around $11 million for film funding this year, although some of that will service MMKA debts.
Vajna told Variety that three or four films will receive funds this year, although it’s not clear if these will be new projects or pics already promised funding under the old system.
He hopes the fund will back up to 12 films next year, with each receiving up to $800,000 or half its budget. The fund may also cover up to 90% of a film’s budget in return for a share of box office receipts. The figure includes Hungary’s 20% tax rebate for films, Vajna said.
Money will also be available for P&A, and Vajna hopes to bring in a venture capital fund to help support the effort.
Around $5 million is also available for projects through the Ministry of National Economy, and Vajna hopes his new body will be brought in to administer projects backed via that channel.
There will also be money to support apprenticeships to train a new generation of technicians and creative and support for university training programs.
Vajna said: “The plans are still awaiting government approval. Film industry professionals can submit ideas for discussion before that.”
Hungarian producers have welcomed the new structure, although there are concerns that Vajna’s personal tastes may influence funding decisions.Producer Gabor Kovacs, of Film Partners, whose credits include “Bibliotheque Pascal” and “Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project” said, “As a producer I agree that we should fund only eight to 10 films a year, but that means that two thirds of Hungarian filmmakers are going to starve and that worries me.”
He was also concerned that Vajna would play too strong a role in selecting members of the film funding panels.