Magazine article Variety

Cash & Cachet

Magazine article Variety

Cash & Cachet

Article excerpt

Capital region lures foreign shoots with subsidies, prod'n expertise and top facilities

The region of Berlin-Brandenburg not only boasts a long history of film production, but it is also the modern hub of the German movie industry and the main attraction for international productions that shoot in the country.

Many foreign filmmakers have been lured to the region by generous subsidies, the expertise and facilities of Studio Babelsberg and the bustling metropolis of the German capital, not to mention the scenic expanse of the surrounding state of Brandenburg, with its lush meadows, winding rivers, placid lakes, dense forests, villages that date back to the Middle Ages and lavish country palaces from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Berlin and Brandenburg have film-friendly administrations eager to host major international productions, not to mention the second-biggest regional film subsidy in the country. Coupled with federal funding support and a large of local production companies ready and willing to partner on international projects, the Berlin-Brandenburg region has plenty to offer foreign film teams, as long as they have a German co-producer or production partner.

While other German states offer comparable or even greater film support, notably Bavaria and North Rhine- Westphalia, a deciding factor for many largescale productions that come to shoot in Germany is Studio Babelsberg, located miles from downtown Berlin.

"Of course everybody wants to attract big-budget productions, but it depends on what these productions are looking for," says Kirsten Niehuus, managing director of regional funder Medienboard BerlinBrandenburg. "If they need really big studio space, the only studio that can offer that is Babelsberg. Cologne has studios, but they are smaller."

Studio Babelsberg is not only a major facility but also a key co-production partner for international filmmakers looking to shoot in Germany.

Recent co-productions that have lensed at Babelsberg and received local funding include Tommy Wirkola's "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton; Roland Emmerich's "Anonymous," featuring Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave; and Jaume CoUet-Serra's "Unknown," starring Liam Neeson.

"Cloud Atlas," whose producers include Berlinbased X Filme and A Co., also shot largely at Babelsberg, with the studio providing production services, stage rental, set construction, props and set dressing for the production.

The ambitious pic by the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer, which stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, secured some $11.2 million from a total of six funding sources, the German Federal Film Board (FFA), the Federal Film Fund (DFFF) and four regional funders, including Medienboard.

The Medienboard itself has an annual budget of some $36 million, more than half of which is slated specifically towards feature film production.

Niehuus points out that the Medienboard's support system has grown considerably in recent years, adding, "We are a well-equipped fund that can be combined with all different funding (schemes) in Germany. That has been done for many productions, including 'Cloud Atlas.'"

Federal government programs include the FFA with its $125 million budget, and the Federal Culture and Media Office (BKM), with $123 million, including the $75 million-a-year DFFF rebate incentive. Unlike the other subsidy programs, the DFFF offers a 16% rebate on total spend in Germany, capped at $12.5 million.

The DFFF in particular has been key to attracting major productions to Babelsberg. …

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