How does the film financing model actually work?
FISA – Film Industry Support Austria is the subsidy programme of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, designed to support the production of cinema films with an annual budget of EUR 7.5 million. Funding is possible for national productions, Austrian-foreign co-productions as well as service productions.
The funding process is overseen by Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws) as well as Location Austria, the national film commission of Austria. For its part, aws has overall responsibility for evaluating the pre-requisites for granting economic support as well as coordinating the administrative processing of the funding. Location Austria is responsible for carrying out the Cultural Test stipulated by the EU as well as evaluating general and film-specific aspects of the submitted projects, in particular of service productions.
Funding recipients and the project to be supported by FISA are required to fulfil certain pre-defined quality criteria. One important pre-requisite is the Cultural Test. In this case, it must be pointed out that there is no legal entitlement to funding. Financial support is given on the basis of the available budgetary funds in line with the “first come, first served” principle.
How much is the grant?The non-repayable grant amounts to 20 per cent (up to 25 per cent for service productions) of the production costs eligible for support but must not surpass 15 per cent of the total annual grant budget. The basis for calculating the extent of the grant is a maximum of 80 per cent of total production costs.
What do service productions need to consider?
Service productions must provide evidence that at least five shooting days will take place in Austria (for fiction films only). The total production costs of a fiction film must be EUR 8 million (documentary: EUR 1 million) with a minimum Austrian spent of EUR 1 million of eligible production costs. The non-repayable grant amounts up to 25 per cent of the production costs eligible for support but must not surpass 15 per cent of the total annual grant budget. Productions costs eligible for support refer to those film-related deliveries and services in Austria which are performed on behalf of the film production company or its employees, free-lance employees or self-employed people. A film project may be submitted as a service productions if it fails to meet the preconditions for approval as an Austrian-foreign co-production. To qualify for support, a service production must meet at least two criteria and score at least 33 out of 66 points in the Cultural Test.
You need an austrian service producer to file the application. If you intend to submit an application for a service production, get in contact with Location Austria prior submission.
What do co-productions need to consider?
Co-productions need to comply with the respective intra-national film treaty. If no such agreement exists, the project has to have an Austrian financial-, licensing-, artistic-, and technical contribution of 20 per cent of the total production costs. Austrian-foreign co-productions should be provisionally approved by the Federal Ministry for Digital, Business and Enterprise by the time of submission.
How can my company qualify for support?
- Applicants are independent film production companies with evidence of sufficient professional qualifications and experience in artistic terms and with respect to the film industry. The professional qualifications of the funding applicant will be evaluated in the light of the scope and type of project to be funded.
- The registered headquarters of the applicant must be in Austria. If the applicant has established his headquarters in an EEA member state, he must at least have set up a subsidiary in Austria or a company for the sole purpose of producing the film project.
- The applicant must have produced and commercially distributed at least one comparable feature length cinema film in Austria or another EEA member state in the last five years prior to the filing of the application.
- The applicant is responsible for producing the film until the point at which the completed film is delivered. He must contribute actively and content-wise to the film production process, and bears organizational and business responsibility for producing the film. With regards to a co-production, the applicant must be at least co-responsible for the contents of the film production, and actively participate in producing the film. (service productions excluded)
How can an application be filed, and what is the basis for funding decisions?
Applications can only be submitted online (german only). It is absolutely necessary to submit all required application documents as well as to show clear confirmation that financing of the film project has been secured.
Applications can be submitted on an on-going basis without having to adhere to any particular filing deadlines. Projects for which shooting (for service productions: the start of shooting in Austria) is begun before submission of an application will not be eligible for support.
In particular, the application must include the following:
- Information on the applicant (film producer) as well as the crew and cast
- Documents and information materials describing the project, legal status, schedule
- Statement by the producer concerning the artistic and economic targets
- Precise calculation of production costs, financing plan
- Distribution agreement or Letter of Interest (service productions excluded)
The applications received are ranked on the basis of the date of complete application. Grant award decisions will be made by the Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs within seven weeks upon receipt of a complete submission only after availability of financial coverages. Once approval has been granted the shooting must begin within a period of six months. Funds will generally be disbursed in three instalments: upon the start of filming, upon the submission of a rough edit, and after verification of the final costs.
Which criteria does my film have to fulfil?
- The film must pass the Cultural Test as stipulated in the funding guidelines.
- The cinematic release must have a minimum length of 79 minutes, whereas children’s films are required to have a minimum length of 59 minutes.
- In case of a feature film a minimum of 5 shooting days in Austria is required.
- In case of co-productions as well as national productions: minimum of total production costs of EUR 2.3 million for feature films and of EUR 350,000 for documentaries.
- In case of service productions:
a) minimum of total production costs of EUR 8 million for feature films and of EUR 1 million for documentaries and
b) minimum of EUR 1 million eligible spent in Austria.
- The contents of the film must not violate the Austrian Constitution or any valid laws in Austria, or violate human dignity, offend the religious or ethical feelings of viewers or glorify violence.
Service productions are excluded from the following criteria:
- The producer must bear at least five per cent (cash) of the total production costs or the Austrian share of the total production costs.
- One final version of the film must be produced in German. To meet this criterion, it is sufficient to produce one version with German subtitles suitable for being shown in a cinema.
- Release of the film in Austrian cinemas has to be verified within one year after the film production has been completed. The typical embargo periods stipulated in Austrian regulations apply.
How can my film pass the Cultural Test?
The Cultural Test consists of four categories, “Cultural Content”, “Film Practitioniers”, “Production Criteria” and “Exploitation”. The film is granted one or more points each time it fulfils one of the criteria contained in the above mentioned parts.
A fiction film only passes the Cultural Test if it fulfils at least four criteria in the “Cultural Content” part and at least one criteria in the “Exploitation” part and has been awarded at least 43 points out of 86 points.
A documentary film only passes the Cultural Test if it fulfils at least two criteria the “Cultural Content” part and at least one criteria in the “Exploitation” part and has been awarded at least 32 points out of 86 points.
For service productions the Cultural Test consists of two categories, “Cultural Content” and “Production Criteria”. A film only passes the Cultural Test if it fulfils at least two criteria in the category “Cultural contents“ and has been awarded at least 33 points out of 66 points .
What are eligible production costs?
Production costs include the expenses approved in Austria under the cost sheet formula commonly used for film support purposes. Calculation of production costs shall not include purchase tax (deductible input VAT).
Productions costs eligible for support refer to those film-related deliveries and services in Austria which are performed on behalf of the film production company or its employees, free-lance employees or self-employed people.
A decisive factor in recognizing staff-related expenses as eligible is that these salaries, wages, fees and remuneration paid in Austria are subject to limited or unlimited tax liability in Austria.
For company-related services, it must be verified that the company providing the services has its headquarters or a subsidiary in Austria. The invoiced services must be fully rendered in Austria, and the invoice must be designated for the company based in Austria.