Domestic audiovisual industry experiencing major crisis
Postponed film releases, halted filming of feature films, documentaries and TV series and huge losses for dozens of film companies and thousands of people working in film industry and the related areas. The representatives of Audiovisual Producers' Association (APA), uniting more than 100 production companies, summarize the situation connected to the measures taken to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
According to APA, the film production decrease might reach as much as 75% by the end of the year. In this context, it´s important to realize that only 40 % of investments into audio-visual production in the Czech Republic goes to film professions, while 60% is channelled to non-film areas. So next to producers, directors and cinematographers, many non-film professions are currently unable to do their work.
Filming of many Czech projects at home and abroad was cancelled. Family series Children by the creators of the popular TV series Vyprávěj and The Manor House/První republika, the series Ulice and Ordinace v růžové zahradě 2 were postponed, as well as filming of the new feature film by Olmo Omerzu, the last year´s winner of Czech Lion for the best film.
Location scouting and shooting preparations of the long-awaited coproduction film Alma and Oskar – love story of the painter Oscar Kokoska and the widow of Gustav Mahler were shut down too.
International productions have been strongly affected by the situation. Projects from UK, Germany, Denmark and USA produced for Netﬂix, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros, ZDF, BBC, Amazon, Sony Pictures and Disney were filming in the Czech Republic before introduction of the measures preventing the spread of coronavirus. „We know about several international projects which will be cancelled, some projects will return to the Czech Republic. Some countries react to the crisis by planning to introduce special incentives for filmmakers, with the aim to support domestic film industry and to be able to re-start their own economy. In UK, they are already introducing these incentives,“ says Magdaléna Králová, director of APA.
Film incentives provided by the Czech Film Fund attracted almost 80 international films and TV series to the Czech Republic, bringing investment of almost 9 billion CZK/ 331 m EUR to the Czech economy. Among the largest projects starting production in 2019 was also the second season of Amazon´s production Carnival Row, starring Ornando Bloom. This project, reaching the record-breaking domestic spent of almost 1, 7 billion CZK / 62, 6 m EUR, was halted too. International part of the film crew of another Amazon´s and Sony series The Wheel of Time left Czech Republic and the crew of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for Marvel Studios might not be coming back.
The operation of post-production studios is limited too. „We expect the situation will impact the postproduction market too, as the cancelled and postponed projects were the basis of our planned work for the second half of this year. Computer animation films shouldn’t be marked by any decrease this year, as they are not dependent on filming and larger projects are long term, made in more than 2 years,” said Tomáš Srovnal from postproduction company PFX.
The cinemas are closed too, which means big damages for distribution titles recently released or waiting for release. Coronavirus stopped the distribution of the documentary Caught in the Net / V síti dealing with the taboo topic of children abuse at Internet. After 2 weeks after its release, it became the best attended documentary ever, with 300 000 viewers.
„The current situation harmed the society-wide debate and hampered the system changes, which started to come in thanks to the film, not to mention the economic impact. We´ll certainly pick up the threads somehow, it is a timeless topic and we believe the film will return to cinemas and schools and the whole debate will continue. However, it will be hard to follow up on the unique momentum we managed to create,” says Rada Urbancová from Aerofilms distribution company.
3Bobule with Tereza Ramba and Kryštof Hádek didn´t make it to the cinema distribution at all. Long awaited Charlatan by Agnieszka Holland with Ivan Trojan in the lead role, premiered at Venice IFF, will have to wait for its Czech premiere – originally planned for 24 March. The same is the situation for the documentary My Father Antonín Kratochvíl, a portrait of one of the most famous Czech photographers.
Animation, as one of the main domestic creative industries isn´t affected so seriously as other branches, says Michal Podhradský from Animation People studio: „In animation, it´s much easier to adapt to such limitations and work in a home office regime. The world economics are trying to focus on creative industries, and especially animation, which doesn´t suffer so much from seasonal fluctuations and is not so dependent on climate or other conditions.”
„Audiovisual area is a cross-sectional industry, reaching across many fields. It´s necessary to help it overcome its temporary shutdown to be able to later start production in the maximum possible extend and thus become one of the anti crisis measures, helping Czech economy to restart itself. Culture has always helped to take people´s minds off things in difficult situations. That´s why we believe, Czechs will want to be back in cinemas, watch their favourite TV series or a documentary dealing with a subject they are interested in, or see a commercial for their favourite drink,“ adds Magdaléna Králová from APA.
„The impact on audiovisual industry is currently similar to all other areas, including creative and cultural industries, with small and medium sized companies being affected most. Audiovisual production requires other services - not only in the area of cultural and creative industries, but also in the field of renting, crafts and various industrial branches, including accommodation and catering services. Film industry is a cross-section industry and that’s why it is necessary to strategically prepare for the situation after the epidemy. Audiovisual industry should be given the opportunity to restart its economic chain of purchases, deliveries and sub deliveries,” says Helena Bezděk Fraňková, director of the Czech Film Fund.