Germany’s network of film funds has made the territory a key international co-producer.

With a total of $434.1m (€350m) available for film and TV projects each year, Germany’s film funds have made the territory a major international movie-financing hub.

Producers can tap a range of funds for each project, including the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) — a national incentive programme launched in 2007 to attract inward investment — and a network of eight major regional funds.

Each regional fund has conditions regarding local spend, and all international productions require a German co-producer. Projects supported range from arthouse titles to the $100m epic Cloud Atlas.

Apart from production, the funds also support areas such as project development, promotion and distribution.

National funds

The German Federal Film Fund (DFFF)

Annual funding $74.4m (€60m)

Since 2007, the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) has backed 527 projects — 332 German productions and 195 international co-productions — with a total of $367.8m (€296.6m), generating an overall German spend of $2.2bn (€1.8bn).

Administered by the German Federal Film Board (FFA) in Berlin, the DFFF backs only production. Funding is awarded as a grant, capped at $5m (€4m) per film — rising to $12.4m (€10m) in exceptional cases. Producers must invest a minimum of 5% of production costs from their own funds.

A grant is awarded if German spend is at least 25% of the total budget. There is no specific regional spend requirement. The current programme closes at the end of 2012 but the DFFF will continue beyond this date, with the budget to be set after negotiations with the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Films backed recently Cloud Atlas, Passion, Lore, Die Andere Heimat, Tarzan 3D, Mr Morgan’s Last Love, Praia Do Futuro, The Physician, Night Train To Lisbon


German Federal Film Board (FFA)

Annual funding $126.4m (€101.9m)

The German Federal Film Board (FFA) is financed by the film and television industry via levies on exhibitors, video distributors, TV channels and other content programmers and grants project funding to German productions and co-productions with foreign partners as conditionally repayable loans.

If a film is then successful and meets threshold criteria, a producer may receive automatic ‘reference’ funding from the FFA to be invested in a future project. There is no regional spend requirement.

Films backed recently Cloud Atlas, 096, Exit Marrakech, The Cut, Lore, The Taste Of Apple Seeds, Amour, Wadjda, Tarzan 3D, Paganini, Only Lovers Left Alive


Regional funds

Film- und Medienstiftung NRW

Annual funding $44.3m (€35.7m)

Based in Düsseldorf

The NRW fund has until recently been Germany’s largest regional fund, but Bavaria’s FFF Bayern is now looking to take this title. The fund requires film projects to show they contribute to the cultural quality and commercial viability of German cinema. The producer is obliged to spend 150% of the conditionally repayable loan awarded in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Films backed recently Hannah Arendt, The Physician, Cloud Atlas, Nymphomaniac, 1001 Gramm, Rush, Layla Fourie, The Cut


Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg

Annual funding $35.9m (€28.9m)

Based in Potsdam-Babelsberg

Located on the Babelsberg Studios lot, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg is the first stop for projects in the region. While the federal state of Brandenburg plans to cut its annual contribution by $497,000 (€400,000) from 2013, the fund’s other main shareholder, the city of Berlin, has indicated it intends to increase its support by $658,000 (€530,000) in 2013, and a further $969,000 (€780,000) in 2014.

The producer is obliged to spend 100% of the conditionally repayable loan awarded in the region. On co-productions, only the German co-producer may apply.

The Medienboard is also a partner in the German-Turkish Co-production Development Fund, the German-Russian Co-Development Fund and the German-Polish Co-Development Fund as well as artist-in-residence programmes in Berlin, Hong Kong and India.

Films backed recently Cloud Atlas, The Cut, Kokowääh 2, Third Bank Of The River, Frau Ella, Schutzengel, Holy Motors, In The Fog, Night Train To Lisbon


FFF Bayern

Annual funding $35m (€28.2m)

Based in Munich

In response to competition from Germany’s other leading production hubs NRW and Berlin-Brandenburg, Bavaria plans to provide an additional $2.2m (€1.8m) in 2013 and 2014 for FFF’s budget and create a $7.5m (€6m) programme to attract international productions.

Applications for production funding must be accompanied by a German distribution contract. At least 1.5 times the loan must be spent in Bavaria. In co-productions, only the German co-producer may apply.

Producers can also apply for production or distribution funding from the Bavarian Bank Fund (BBF) which awards production loans of up to $1.2m (€1m) on the recommendation of FFF Bayern to projects that expect exceptional commercial success.

Films backed recently Cloud Atlas; Tarzan 3D; Paganini; Exit Marrakech; 3096; Lauf, Junge, Lauf; Hanni & Nanni 3; Herz Der Holle; Jesus Video 3D


Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM)

Annual funding $19.9m (€16m)

Based in Leipzig

Germany’s Saxony-Anhalt region grabbed the headlines when Helen Mirren spoke of “Sexy Anhalt” during the shoot for Michael Hoffman’s MDM-funded The Last Station. The region has increased its support for local producers by another $310,500 (€250,000) in 2012 and 2013.

The amount spent in the region must be equal to or greater than the allocated funds. An application must state in detail what production costs will be spent in Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt respectively.

MDM is also a partner in the German-Russian Co-Development Fund and the German-Polish Co-Development Fund.

Films backed recently Cloud Atlas, The Physician, In The Fog, The Last One Turns The Light Off, Children Of Sarajevo, Lore, The Judgment, Michael Kohlhaas


Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH)

Annual funding $14.6m (€11.8m)

Based in Hamburg

The fund that brought Bend It Like Beckham to Germany continues to attract shoots, such as Karim Ainouz’s Praia Do Futuro and Jon Baird’s Filth. Producers are obliged to spend 150% of the funding awarded in the Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein region. Feature films with budgets of more than $993,000 (€800,000), will only be supported if they show promise of commercial success in the cinema or have special cultural significance for Hamburg and/or Schleswig-Holstein. FFHSH is also a partner in the German-Turkish Co-production Development Fund.

Films backed recently Banklady; Cool Water; The Taste Of Apple Seeds; A Most Wanted Man; Niko 2 — Little Bother, Big Trouble; Praia Do Futuro; Lore


MFG Baden-Württemberg

Annual funding $16.3m (€13.1m)

Based in Stuttgart

The fund has focused on supporting animation and visual effects in the region — Pixomondo, which won an Oscar for its VFX on Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is based here — and on helping kickstart the careers of new film-makers coming out of the Film Academy in Ludwigsburg. General conditions for support are the artistic quality of the project, decided by a funding committee, whether it has cultural or other connections to Baden-Württemberg or is of economic interest to the region. An economic interest exists if at least 120% of the funding is spent in the region.

Films backed recently Cyrilson Retires, The Nun, Lore, In The Dark Room, Die Schwarzen Brüder, Jesus Loves Me, Scherbenpark, A Dangerous Method



Annual funding $15m (€12.1m)

Based in Hanover

Particularly interested in applications from projects suitable for the international market and/or co-produced by European partners. The producer must spend at least 125% of the Nordmedia support in Lower Saxony and Bremen. In the case of co-productions, only the German co-producer/partner may apply.

Films backed recently Ostwind; The Cut; In Embryo; König Von Deutschland; Niko 2 — Little Bother, Big Trouble; Doll, The Fatso & Me; 5 Jahre; Tarzan 3D; Polluting Paradise



Funding $24.8m (€20m) over four years (2010-13)

Based in Frankfurt am Main

Managed by the Wirtschafts und Infrastrukturbank Hessen (WI Bank), which allocates loans to culturally and commercially attractive productions on behalf of the federal state of Hessen. Funding is available for production only, and projects must spend at least 100% of the support granted in the region.

Previous projects include Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Tropical Malady and Uwe Boll’s Alone In The Dark.

Films backed recently Ostwind, Lore, Babycall, What A Man, Das Haus Der Krokodile, In Darkness, Yoko, Sleeping Sickness