GOTEBORG: The Nordisk Film and TV Fund saw the level of money it allocated to TV surge in 2014 as local producers increasingly look to the small screen, according to CEO Petri Kemppinen.

“TV drama is so strong at the moment,” Kemppinen told ScreenDaily during the Gothenburg Film Festival (Jan 23-Feb 2).

“We are discussing strategies for the future and it is pretty clear that TV is absorbing talent that used to be making films.”

The pan-Nordic funding body, which has recently backed films including Thomas Vinterberg’s The Commune and Michael Noer’s Gothenburg-opener Key House Mirror, is now allocating a larger slice of its €10m annual budget to TV productions as TV applications grow and public demand for series increases:

“Around 40% of the production spend went to TV,” explained Kemppinen, who became CEO of the Nordisk Film & TV Fund in Nov 2013. That growth looks set to continue.

“In previous years it was 30% but this number continues to grow,” he added. “It could reach 50-50.”

Among the TV shows recently backed by the Fund is Iceland’s biggest ever TV series Trapped, which is being teased to industry at Gotehnburg’s Nordic TV showcase TV Drama Vision, and is directed by acclaimed film director Baltasar Kormakur (The Deep, 2 Guns)

However, due to local broadcaster policies it will be hard for the funding split to shift much higher than 50% in TV’s favour, said Kemppinen.

“I don’t see it growing more than that unless broadcasters change their policies because the number of drama productions and slots remains relatively small,” he said.

As in many markets, mid-range independent film productions are the ones that face the squeeze.

Local film distributors and exhibitors are also feeling the pinch. According to Kemppinen, theatrical admissions declined in all Nordic markets in 2014, except for Iceland. 

“We are asking ourselves: is this because of the strength of TV dramas or is it something else, the general squeeze on time, for example,” he said.

Among the Fund’s initiatives aimed at stimulating film production is the inaugural Nordic Genre Boost programme, which will provide workshops and development support to selected regional genre scripts, which will be pitched to industry during the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund.

The Nordisk Film & TV Fond, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, supports between 35 to 40 feature films and TV dramas [which rose to 14 projects last year, according to Kemppinen] and around 20 documentaries each year. 

The Fund’s €10.3m budget is split between the Nordic Council of Ministers, the five Nordic film institutes and 11 Nordic broadcasters.