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A SHORT INTRODUCTION INTO
THE GERMAN FILM FUNDING SYSTEM

Due to historical, cultural and economical reasons Germany has established a quite strong and diverse system of film funding possibilities. They are granted and surveyed by a number of federal and regional Film Boards. The total of annual funding budgets amounts to approx. 200 Million US-$ ( a bit more than "Titanic").

Film Funding schemes exist in the following areas:
- script development
- pre-production funding
- production funding
- distribution aid
These fundings can apply for documentary as well as feature films. There are special funds for low-budget films, first-time-director films, children's films and also for TV-movies. Some Film Boards prefer the funding of more culturally orientated films, some look more on the commercial value.
Various film awards are additionally granted , its prize monies have to be invested in the next film projects.

The financial character of the granted fundings varies. A minor part e.g the awards is given as a non-repayable grant. Most of the fundings have to be repaid nevertheless with favourable conditions. There is no interest on the loans and usually they have only to be repaid partially from the returns of exploitation after recoupment of cost.

A speciality is the so-called "reference" funding money granted by the German Federal Film Board (FFA), which a producer can automatically draw for his next film project when his last film was seen by more than 100.000 visitors (50.000 visitors, if the film has a special rating). Some regional Film Boards collect the repayment of supported films on special accounts for the producer, s/he can use for next projects.

Most of the regional Film Boards require a so-called "Länder-Effekt" of the granted monies. A certain percentage of the funding, which exceeds usually the granted sum (e.g. 150%) has to be re-invested in the region for instance to pay labs, studios, cast, production facilities, hotels etc..

The use of all fundings are generally strictly controlled. The production accounting and the bills are controlled after end of production by independent chartered accountants. They also examine the fulfillment of the afore-mentioned "Länder-Effekt".

German Film Funding is also available for international co-productions. There are certain requirements to watch. The involved German producer has to get a minmum participation in rights and the provision of technical and artistic input. These requirements are dependent from the nationality of the co-production partners and the existence of so-called co-production treaties between Germany and the respective countries involved.

For an overview of the existing German and European funding institutions go to funding institutions@film-law

© 1999 Thomas G. Müller