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Finland: Subsidy, refund programs offset lack of tax perks

Location: Europe - Finland

In common with other Scandinavian countries, Finland does not offer any rebates, tax incentives or other sweeteners to attract or encourage production, but it does have an effective public subsidy and a working VAT refund system.

Some money is available from TV channels — YLE, MTV3 in particular — for co-productions

The Finnish Film Foundation is the key funder and the only body to give money for minority co-productions.

Regional funds, such as the Lapland film commission, also channel soft money into productions shot on location in their areas.

Funded through the country’s public lottery — a popular way of raising money for cultural projects across European countries — the FFF will spend $35 million this year supporting film.

Minority co-productions attracted funding of just under $1 million last year. Spending priorities this year include more than $27 million for television and film productions, with the rest of its budget going to distribution support, children and youth films and grants to film festivals and other events.

Some $2 million will be spent on supporting the digitization of cinemas.

There are moves to bring in an incentive system, something industry body Favex (Finnish Film and Audiovisual Export) is lobbying for and the FFF backs.

The group wants a package of rebates worth up to 30% of a project’s budget to be included in the program of the government elected at last month’s general election.

The plan is backed by Finland’s vibrant gaming industry — the country is home to Rovio, famous for its Angry Birds app and others — which are keen for a funding source to help keep intellectual property in Finland rather than seeing it traded for outside investment at development stage.

STUDIOS & FACILITIES UPDATE
Big players: Helsinki’s Angel Films, founded in 1992, is Finland’s biggest studio and rental house. The company hires out crew, technicians and drivers. Media Centre Lume, part of Helsinki U. of Art and Design, is another top facility and television companies also offer facilities.

Other Options: Regional film studios, such as Villila Studiost in western Finland, are also available. Villila is a film and television production complex that offers studio facilities, location scouting and support, crews and in-house production facilities. Based in the city of Nakkila’s historic mansion district, the studios offers a range of facilities and services, including location scouting and crews. It has a large soundstage, wardrobe, post production and screening facilities.

RESOURCES & CREW DEPTH
State of the art equipment is widely available for hire. English is well spoken by virtually every Finnish film professional and there are around 200 companies offering equipment and resources. Estimates for the number of crew available vary between 2,200 and 10,000, depending on the level of qualifications and service required.

POST & VFX
Everything a production needs can be found in Finland — “up to the most complicated 3D and CGI services,” says Petra Theman of industry body Favex.

The Majors: There are around 10 major production houses with Talvi and Generator among the leaders. Talvi specializes in digital cinema, high-end VFX and convergence — combining digital technologies and digitized content to give lower costs for content creation and distribution. The company did the color grading for last year’s Cannes Cinefondation winner, “The Painting Sellers” by Juho Kuosmanen. Generator worked on Jalmari Helander’s “Rare Exports,” along with Finland’s Fake Graphics, which did the special effects.

FILM COMMISSION CONTACTS
There are five regional commissions, which can be contact via a one-stop website that’s being formally launched at Cannes.

FilmFinland
+358 400 888 454
Email: info@filmfinland.fi

THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Technologically accomplished, English speaking professionals are widely available, although the country lacks the the scale, size and availability of studio facilities present in other parts of Scandinavia.