Czech film producers have started a working group to establish a Czech film commission and are prepared to move ahead with the project even without financial support from local and national governments.

"The commission we are setting up at this stage is essentially a private one," said Matthew Stillman, head of local production house Stillking Films and one of the organisers of the group, speaking at a press conference following the first meeting of the Czech Film Committee during the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Facing competition from other territories such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Romania - many of which offer tax incentives to lure incoming productions, which the Czech Republic does not - producers are seeking to bolster and protect the local film industry.

The new body is likely to receive funding from the Czech Association of Film Producers, headed by local producer Pavel Strnad (Year Of The Devil) of Prague production house Negativ.

The involvement of the trade body is significant as production facilities companies like Stillking, which service foreign clients in film production, have previously been lobbying for a film commission on their own.

Signs of a new interest in incoming production on the part of Czech government authorities has heartened producers who have often complained of official indifference to filmmakers' needs. Pavel Bem, the mayor of Prague, was on hand for the meeting at Karlovy Vary, as was an official from CzechInvest, the Czech government's investment promotion agency.

Bem offered words of praise for the cash and publicity that foreign productions, like XXX, Blade 2 and this year's Van Helsing, have brought to the Czech capital.

Stillman said the Czech Film Committee will consist of three working groups: One to analyze the financial benefits of incoming production to convince the government of its value to the economy, a second to establish the formal and legal basis of a Czech film commission to help with location permits and act as a liaison between producers and state authorities, and a third to promote Prague as a location abroad.

With US producers still enticed by Prague's cheap skilled labour, the Czech capital's production boom continues even as filmmakers complain about a lack of soft-money incentives.

Terry Gilliam's Brothers Grimm began principle photography last week, while ongoing shoots include Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy, Alcon Entertainment's untitled First Daughter project with Mandy Moore, and Montecito Picture Co's untitled European road movie.