Any producer who would like to enter into co-production with a Polish producer has several options as regards sources of funding:
Polish Film Institute (PISF, Polski Instytut Sztuki Filmowej)
The most important institution is the Polish Film Institute, which was established in 2005. It provides support for both majority and minority co-productions. The following 3 types of co-productions are recognised by the Institute:
– a majority co-production – 50% of Polish participation in the project,
– a minority co-production with a Polish director or one of directors,
– a minority co-production with a foreign director.
Support is provided for animated feature films, medium-length films and series in the development phase. When it comes to the production and post-production phase, applications must be submitted before the shooting starts. It is the Polish co-producer who receives funding to be distributed.
In the case of a minority co-production, one of the conditions must be met: an animation director, storyboard maker, production designer/character designer must come from Poland. Additionally, 30% of the animation must be created in Poland. Should anyone wish to make a different kind of contribution to the production, this must be confirmed by the director of PISF.
A new programme, Tax Rebate, was introduced in 2019. It allows one to recover up to 30% for the project. Creators of animated feature films that are over 60 minutes long and series consisting of at least 10 episodes can apply for the project. Polish co-producers must spend at least PLN 1 million (about EUR 225,000) or PLN 500,000 (about EUR 115,000) on services. For a project to qualify, it must meet requirements such as placing the story or parts of it in Poland or another EU country, production or post-production should take place in Poland, and Polish creators should be involved in it.
Regional Film Funds
There is a well-developed network of regional film funds in Poland and their operations encompass most of the Polish regions. There are currently 11 operating funds. In the case of Lower Silesia, Łódź, Małopolska, Masovia, Silesia, Podkarpacie and Poznań, the regional film commissions work alongside the film funds.
In general, the Polish regional film funds seek film projects by announcing competitions. One basic condition for entering a project for a competition is that it is related to a city or town in the region or to the region itself either in its theme and/or its setting, or through the participation of local people and companies in its production. Support is also contingent on the expending of at least 100% of the funding within the region; in some cases, the sum to be expended is 150%. The competition organisers are interested in consolidating and enhancing the positive image of the city, town or region, which is why projects intending to use distinctive locations, sites and buildings receive the most favourable assessments.
The Polish regional film funds differ in terms of the budgets they manage, the form of support they provide and the sums which must be expended in the city, town or region during the production of the film. Support most often takes the form of the institution managing the fund participating in the production as a co-producer with its own financial contribution or contribution in kind. Other forms of support are non-repayable grants or refunds. All the Polish film funds provide support of up to 50% of the film budget, although in the case of documentaries and animated films, the funding may be higher.
The regional film usually announce the competitions once a year, with the assessment of the projects and allocation of funding taking anything from sixty to one hundred and twenty days. Foreign producers are preferably as partners to Polish producers.
Eurimages provides financial support for the production of full-length features and animations and for documentaries with a running time of more than seventy minutes. The main condition attached to applying for funding is that at least two producers, from at least two of the countries belonging to the Fund, are participating in the project.
Co-producers from countries which are not members of Eurimages may participate in a project, provided that their combined share in the co-production does not exceed 30% of the film’s budget.
Co-producers’ collaboration must also display artistic and/or technical cooperation. The criteria born in mind when assessing the projects are the nationality and/or residence of the heads of departments, in other words, the director, screenwriter, composer, director of photography, sound engineer, editor, art director and costumes, as well as of the actors playing the main roles. The location of the sound stages and shooting locations and the companies providing film-related services, including post-production services’ is also taken into account. Artistic criteria include the quality of the script in terms of story and theme, originality of content and subject matter, characters and dialogue, narrative structure, director’s intention, cinematic vision and choice of genre; and the contribution of the creative team, including their experience and track record. The production criteria include the film’s festival and box-office potential. The financial requirements are also crucial; a co-producer applying for funding should provide formal confirmation, in the form of agreements, letters of intent and bank statements, that the financing for at least 50% of the project’s budget has been arranged. This half of the budget includes the co-producer’s in-kind contribution, which should not, however, exceed 15% of the film’s costs.
Eurimages provides support in the form of a conditionally repayable, interest-free loan. It may not exceed 17% of the total production cost of the film and the sum of 500 000 euro.
The MEDIA sub-programme is part of the European Union’s Creative Europe initiative for 2014-2020. The initiative has a budget of EUR 1.46 billion.
The MEDIA sub-programme supports various activities within the audio-visual sphere. It offers non-repayable grants to producers, distributors, sales agents, the operators of new digital technologies and VoD platforms, and the organisers of training programmes, festival, film fairs and other industry events. In the next few years, this will take place under the following operational programmes:
- Development (EUR 17.5 mln). Support for producers in making feature, animated and creative documentary films intended for cinema, television and VoD platform distribution.
- TV Broadcasting (EUR 11.8 mln). Support for the production and distribution of high-quality television films intended for the European and global market, including co-productions, artistically ambitious, high-quality European feature series, as well as sequels and further seasons of series which have already been produced. The maximum sum for a grant is EUR 1 million.
- International Co-Production Funds (EUR 1.5 mln). Facilitating the production and distribution of international film projects by means of support provided through international co-production funds.
Polish-German Film Fund
The Polish-German Film Fund has been created by the Polish Film Institute, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM), Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (MBB), and the German Federal Film Board (FFA). Its annual budget usually amounts to 500,000 EUR. Eligible for funding are:
- development (co-development) projects of full-length features, animations and creative documentaries;
- full-length feature, animation and creative documentary projects as well as productions of full-length low-budget films – here also debuts and innovative films.
To be eligible for application, it is necessary to sign a project development/co-production agreement by at least one Polish producer with at least one producer with seat in Central Germany or in Berlin-Brandeburg. There are no territorial restrictions for German producers in case of development application. Participation of producers from third countries is possible.
The funding is granted from the Polish side in the form of a subsidy. The maximum funding usually is:
- 70,000 euro for project development
- 150,000 euro for film production
The production cost shouldn’t usually be higher than 750,000 euro.
Each co-producer receives part of the subsidy proportional to their financial contribution in the total cost of the project development/co-production, which has to be determined in the co-production agreement. Financial contribution of each producer in the total cost of the project has to constitute at least 20% of the total cost including the subsidy.
During the realization of the project a significant part of the total cost to the amount of the subsidy has to be spent in Poland and in the region of the relevant German fund (regional effects).
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