The new law pumping money into the Czech film industry

Cash-strapped Czech filmmakers have found a new source of income for at least the next three years. Last Thursday, President Klaus signed a so-called digital amendment, which will secure income from advertisements shown on Czech public television. The subsidies will be available until analogue broadcasting is switched off, which is going to happen in October 2010. Altogether they should amount to at least 425 million crowns (24 million US dollars). I spoke to Tomas Baldynsky from the State Fund for Support and Development of Cinematography and asked him what changes are in store:

“One of the less important things in that law is very important for us, for filmmakers or for the Fund for Cinematography because it grants - for a limited amount of time - a new income to the Fund, which is approximately 150 millions per year. It is a really substantial sum of money. It will help the Fund survive the difficult years that filmmakers faced. Our former sources of money were really insufficient and they were declining. So this was really help at the eleventh hour.”

So what are your formal sources of money and what is the new source?

“Well, the former sources of money, or not former, because we have them still but they are weakening, are the film rights or copyrights for the films that were made in this country before the revolution, during the time of state cinematography, which we are selling to DV and DVD companies but the interest in these movies declines as they get older.”

“The new source of income will come from Czech Television which has a certain amount of advertising time which should bring us 12.8 million crowns per month.”

Now what do you plan to do with this money? Do you plan any substantial changes to the way the fund operates?

“We do plan changes, but there is another bill which is being proposed, the Bill on cinematography, which will substantially change the behaviour of the fund, so this is a sort of intermediary period. We are planning changes so as to meet the bill and to cope with the new amount of money. We have to find new films to invest. We also need to invest in areas where we didn’t invest in the past, for example in the digitalisation of our catalogue or in preparation for the digital cinema. But the information is very new and we didn’t want to make any steps before the bill was signed.”

Do you plan to support more projects or will you rather support fewer projects with more money?

“This depends on the decision of the council that hasn’t yet been made. But my personal view is that it is better to invest more money in fewer projects because you give them more possibility to be really made.”