A collective of Central Baltic organisations has received a €2m European Union funding grant to promote the region to international film productions.
Dubbed North Star Film Alliance, the initiative combines companies and agencies from the Estonian, Finnish and Latvian film industries.
The grant comes from the Interreg programme, which is funded by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund.
North Star Film Alliance is led by Estonia’s Production Services Export Alliance – the company behind the €6m production facility project Tallinn Film Wonderland (read more below) – and it is partnering with the City of Helsinki and the Film Services Producers Association of Latvia.
Associated partners are the Estonian Film Institute, the National Film Centre of Lativa, and Finland’s Tekes funding agency – the three organisations that govern the individual countries’ film tax credits.
One of the goals of the initiative is to promote those tax credits, to help international producers understand and access the credits, and to potentially allow them to access all three on a production.
Ultimately, the key aim of the venture, which will cover a three-year period, will be to attract more international film productions to the three countries involved.
North Star Film Alliance plans to put a focus on targeting productions from Canada, USA, Japan, South Korea and China.
One of the initial parts of the project overseen by North Star Film Alliance will be to commission a market analysis of Estonia, Finland and Latvia, to highlight what the region has to offer to international productions, and what current weaknesses can be addressed.
The organisation said that the region’s current strengths are: Finland’s experience and technical capacity, the upcoming Estonian studio complex and highly digitalised business environment, and Latvia’s existing backlot and reasonable cost level.
Tallinn Film Wonderland update
One of those weaknesses is a lack of major facilities.
This is being addressed by the aforementioned Tallinn Film Wonderland project, the €6m enterprise which Screen revealed during last year’s Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
Liina Maria Lepik, CEO of the company behind the project, updated Screen with the news that the majority of the funding is now in place.
Adding to a €1m funding grant from the Estonian government’s business development programme Enterprise Estonia will be €250,000 raised from the partners on the project and €1.2m from a private real estate investor. The remaining funding will be raised from bank loans, which are currently being secured.
Lepik also revealed that Tallinn-based architecture outfit Kuu Architects has won the tender to design the project and has mocked up some initial designs.
The team behind the project say that it will be the largest film studio in the Baltic region – the plan is now to make a 4,500 square-metre facility with three sound stages as well as more public ventures such as an open-air cinema.
Construction on the project could begin towards the end of 2018, with a view to completion by mid-2019.