Hungary’s sweeteners, which went online in 2003, are credited with driving millions in foreign production coin to the country and were studied by most of the small country’s neighbors.
Productions such as “Hellboy II” and, more recently, John Madden’s “The Debt,” Kevin MacDonald’s “The Eagle,” Mid Atlantic Films’ “Monte Carlo” and period pic “Bel Ami” have added to the incredible growth in the production sector — arguably too much growth for the market to bear, according to some producers — leading four major studios to set up shop or expand their facility offerings.
Paid out in the form of 20% back on local spend subject to a culture test, following a point system approved by the European Union, the rebates require partnering with a local firm. These remain in place.
But the Motion Picture Public Foundation (MMKA), the national film support org, slashed spending dramatically until it was announced the org will itself shut down, leaving behind a $35 million debt and a scandal.
Hungarian born, Hollywood-based producer Andrew Vajna was brought in to help restructure the system. On May 3, he unveiled the Hungarian National Film Fund as the MMKA replacement. It will receive some $11 million for funding this year, although some of that will service MMKA debts.
Doling out those funds will be the responsibility of panels of industryites. Vajna says three or four films will receive coin 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 be able to back 12 films next year.
STUDIOS & FACILITIES UPDATE
Korda studios:Korda Studios (kordastudio.hu) is sought after for its modern technology and soundstages, having hosted Neil Jordan’s Showtime cable series “The Borgias.”
Other Options: Raleigh Studio Budapest (raleighstudios.com), part of a group with U.S. studios, offers 2 million feet of modern production space plus backlot and post facilities. Mafilm (mafilm.hu), Stern Film Studio (crweb.hu/stern), plus the other major new entry to the market, Astra Filmstudio (astrafilmstudio.hu) are also popular choices.
RESOURCES & CREW DEPTH
That said, the system operates regionally so that Czech crews may be hired on for a major Hungarian project and vice versa.
POST & VFX
Raleigh, a recent addition to the fold, offers color correction, sound sweetening and other post services using the latest technologies. Astra specialized in vfx plus effects machine rental, Korda has slick new post and vfx suites plus sound and fast wired connections.
National Film Office
Miklos Taba, director
THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Under an EU rule, the expenses eligible for rebates need not be spent just in Hungary, allowing for a rebate that can reach a level of 25% of production costs.