You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Germany remains a fav for co-productions

Berlin Film Festival 2013

Germany’s well-earned reputation as one of the world’s leading co-production countries continues to attract international projects despite growing competition from neighboring European states.

The country has remained a favorite destination for co-productions thanks in large part to generous financial support — the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), which the government increased by $13 million to $117.5 million in November, coupled with some $290 million in additional production and development subsidy coin from federal and regional offices — state-of-the-art facilities and an industry that boasts a keen international outlook.

The DFFF alone funded 35 international co-productions last year to the tune of $23 million, including Ron Howard’s Formula 1 drama “Rush”; Bille August’s “Night Train to Lisbon”; Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac”; and Brian De Palma’s “Passion.”

Alfred Huermer’s Integral Film in Munich and Said Ben Said’s Paris-based SBS Prods., which co-produced “Passion,” are also partnering on “The Keep,” based on Jennifer Egan’s contemporary gothic novel; it’s set to shoot in Germany later this year.

Studio Babelsberg is also co-producing Wes Anderson’s upcoming pic, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which is set to film on location in the city of Goerlitz and around the state of Saxony.

The Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg is providing more than $600,000 in support for the film, which is also expected to land additional coin from the DFFF and regional funder MDM.

The producers of “Rush,” which include Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures, partnered with Berlin-based Egoli Tossell and Action Concept in Cologne on the production.

Tobin Armbrust, Exclusive Media’s president of worldwide production and acquisitions, had nothing but praise for his German co-producers and the top-notch crews.

“The only question was how to navigate the various regional subsidies and try and get the most bang for the buck (but) “our (local producing) partners were very helpful in trying to figure out which regions were most efficient to shoot in, where we could get the best rebates or subsidies and which were best suited the production,” he says. “That was something we were always concerned about, simply because it was unknown territory for us.”

Armbrust says the local producers were not only crucial in helping to secure the most subsidies, they also provided production services on the ground for what he calls “an incredibly complicated film” that had lots of stunts and period shooting.

With a budget of about $55 million, “Rush” received some $4.3 million in federal and regional coin. While much of the film was shot in the U.K., about a third of the production took place in Germany and post is being done in Berlin.

Similarly, Brazilian director Karim Ainouz’s upcoming trans-Atlantic love story “Praia Do Futuro,” starring Wagner Moura and Clemens Schick, also proved the ideal co-production.

Produced by Berlin-based Hank Levine Film and Coracao da Selva in Sao Paulo, the pic tells the story of a Brazilian lifeguard who travels to Berlin after falling in love with a German tourist.

The production secured some $680,000 from the DFFF and regional funds as well as financial backing from Brazil.

Local producers applaud the country’s efforts to attract international productions.

Mathias Schwerbrock of Film Base Berlin produces his own projects and provides production services for foreign companies shooting in Germany.

He is currently serving as line producer on the Berlin shoot of Bill Condon’s Wikileaks film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruehl (which will shoot mainly in Belgium) and on Marjane Satrapi’s upcoming “The Voices,” a dark drama about a mentally disturbed man convinced that his house pets are talking to him. The latter, a $12.5 million co-production between Mandalay Vision and Studio Babelsberg, is set to shoot here in April and expected to secure regional and federal coin.

Schwerbrock, who co-produced Farhan Akhtar’s Bollywood hit “Don 2,” starring Shah Rukh Khan, is also partnering with Paris-based Bliss to co-produce Indian-born director Prashant Nair’s “Umrika,” a comedy about a man in search of his brother who left their small Indian village for a better life in the U.S. That pic will shoot entirely in India with post-production set for Germany and France.

“As a line producer and as a co-producer, I’m really happy with the support of the Medienboard (Berlin-Brandenburg) as well as of the DFFF. It’s really needed to attract productions here. Every international producer or financier is now asking, ‘What’s the soft money I can source in my destination?’ It’s either Belgium or Ireland or the U.K. or Germany or France or Italy — you have the tax credit everywhere now. Decisions are made on how much soft money you can source internationally.”

Eager to boost international co-productions and attract projects to Bavaria Studios in Munich, Bavariapool Intl. Coproductions, a joint venture between Bavaria Film and Telepool, recently inked a co-production agreement with Paradox Entertainment. The companies partnered on Peter Howitt’s thriller “Reasonable Doubt,” starring Dominic Cooper and Samuel L. Jackson, which Grindstone Entertainment is releasing in the U.S.

While the film did not shoot in Germany nor tap German soft money, Bavariapool provided equity and brought Wild Bunch Germany on board for German rights.

It’s the first of five films Bavariapool and Paradox are planning to produce together. Their next project is the $13 million English-language thriller “Black Butterfly,” which initially had Nicolas Cage attached but is now being recast and will likely shoot this summer in Germany. Regional fund MDM is backing the production with $1 million.

Bavariapool’s Frank Buchs says competition for big budget international co-productions around Europe is growing, especially in countries like Italy, which offers a 25% deduction in costs for international productions, and Belgium, where rebate incentives can provide even higher savings.

“This is actually why we’re fighting so strongly for our German market here, to bring projects to Germany. It’s competitive around the world. Everybody is opening their wallet in a way, so you have to convince your partners that you want to have them in Germany, you have to have the correct options.”

Streaming brings boost to Berlin | Berlin films deliver diversity, box office | Lanzmann’s films bear witness for the future | Kosslick opens doors to global talent | New blood keeps EFM healthy | Big-name auteurs pepper Berlin lineup | Nonfiction payoff is for real | Germany remains a fav for co-productions

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content