Czech Film Commissioner: foreign productions will return, development remains strong

Pavlína Žipková, photo: archive of Czech Film Commission

The Czech film industry expects to see a 75 percent drop in production by year’s end due to the coronavirus pandemic. The cinemas are closed, the production of foreign blockbusters and TV series have been suspended, and local filmmakers are all but restricted now to doing studio work. But it is not all bad news. Czech Film Commissioner Pavlína Žipková says development work is still pouring in, and most if not all big-money productions will likely return.

Pavlína Žipková,  photo: archive of Czech Film Commission
“Czech filmmakers can work in the studios, but outside there is no chance – everyone has to wear facemasks, so how would that work with actors? So, basically shooting exteriors is out of the question completely, if you need action.

“If someone wants to take a camera and shoot scenes of beautiful, empty Prague, they can do that. But that’s about the only thing that can be produced these days. We did that – sent a photographer out to capture the empty streets of Prague, because it’s stunning and probably this will never repeat.

“Before the quarantine was ordered, I know there were a lot of small crews on the streets, trying to take advantage of that fact. But such things can only happen fast – there were no prepared scripts; they were students or really short films.

“But what is quite strong these days is the development part of the process. We haven’t stopped since this whole thing started because there is an enormous amount of material being developed. The studios are focusing on that at the moment. They send us synopses and want us to find locations. So we’re preparing packs of reference pictures for the movie or TV show.”

Last year, film incentives from the State Cinematography Fund attracted 80 productions and generated some 9 billion crowns. Was that a record amount? And how does it look for this year?

“It was a record, yes. As for this year … we don’t know. All the foreign productions have left, but they will most probably come back because if in the middle of the process you would move somewhere else, it would be even more costly. So, these productions should return.

As far as money from the Czech state to mitigate the economic impact, is there anything specifically for the film industry being negotiated? Or is it like other industries in this respect?

“It’s just like the other industries so far, but we are preparing materials for the ministries of Culture and Finance, trying to find a way to support the film industry, to support cinemas and distributors specifically.”