The European Union’s support for the development of independent producers’ projects will receive an extra €4m annually from 2014 as part of Creative Europe’s MEDIA sub-programme.
Speaking at this week’s Baltic Event in Tallinn, Virve Indren, Head of Development at the Brussels-based Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), explained that the annual budget available for single project and slate funding for animation, creative documentaries and fiction projects will increase by €500,000 to €17.5m.
Support for TV programming and video games
In addition, the budget for supporting TV broadcasting – whose title is renamed TV programming and aims “to encourage the production and distribution of high quality works for the European and international TV markets” - will be hiked up by €1m to €11.8m annually.
Development support for television programming has been rejigged to strengthen the European co-produced drama series. “We want to focus attention on the quality of the project and its European dimension and financing,” Indren said. “The maximum support allocated for big series has been raised to €1m, and sequels as well as second and third seasons of existing drama series will now also be eligible for funding.”
The focus here will be on supporting independent producers who will have to have at least three broadcasters attached in order to be supported. However, a broadcaster cannot be a majority co-producer in a project and its financial share cannot exceed 70% of the total financing.
Moreover, there will be a completely new dedicated support strand for the development of video games with an annual budget of €2.5m.
Two levels of contribution envisaged here: €10,000-€50,000 for concept development of a game and €10,000-€150,000 for project development to a playable prototype.
“We had been supporting video games in the past [in MEDIA 2007], but they had to be linked into an audiovisual project. Now we can also support stand-alone games.”
Simplified application process
Indren pointed out that the change from MEDIA 2007 to Creative Europe would see a simplification to the application and funding processes for development support.
As from the next call for project development, applications will be paperless via e-forms, with the production companies first having to register at the EU’s company portal before submitting to Brussels. The soon-to-be established Creative Europe Desks will organise information campaigns to explain the new procedure.
Moreover, under the new regime, single project applications will receive fixed amount lump sums, ranging from €60,000 for animation through €25,000 for creative documentaries to €50,000 for fiction projects with production budgets over €1.5m (€30,000 for projects with budgets under €1.5m).
“We will have a small clarification in the guidelines at what stage an application should be made for MEDIA support,” she said. “A project should not enter into production before eight months from the date of submission.”
There will be two deadlines for applications for single projects: the first one at the end of February 2014 and the second one on June 6.
“This funding is aimed at projects intended for cinema release, TV broadcasting and also commercial exploitation on digital platforms,” Indren added.
On slate funding for three to five projects, the maximum support allocated will be €200,000, but there will be a lower limit of € 150,000 for creative documentary slates.
“In order to apply for slate funding, we have tightened up the guidelines,” she explained. “A company needs to have produced a previous work which has been distributed in the last two years in three foreign countries.”
“There will be one deadline for slate funding as this a company funding aimed at long-term support, and this deadline is expected to be toward the end of March 2014.”
Automatic ‘bonus’ points
Another innovation in the new MEDIA sub-programme for development support is being launched following an analysis of the results of the current MEDIA Programme: automatic “bonus” points will be introduced for applicants from countries with a low production capacity, projects targeted at a young audience under 16 years of age, or for projects intended for co-production with a company established in another country with another official language.
“For us, the most important priority in the projects will be their quality and creativity, and, as a European programme, we should have projects which have international distribution potential,” Indren pointed out. “Throughout Creative Europe, there is the idea of audience reach, so producers should think about who their audience is for a project.”
The guidelines for the first call of projects applying for development support under the new MEDIA sub-programme are expected to be published “in the next two weeks and definitely before Christmas.”
According to Indren, the EACEA expects that it will have a total 1,200 applications in 2014 for its single project, slate or video games categories and select 260 to receive the €20m available.
As for television programming, it is envisaged that there will be 170 applications, with 50 selected for the €11.8m provided.