ZAGREB: Croatia has announced that it will build a new film studio near Zagreb to accommodate its rapidly growing business as a services provider for both domestic and international productions.The new initiative has been introduced by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, together with local producers and the Ministry of Culture.
According to information unofficially confirmed to FNE from several reliable sources, the studio will be built in Velika Gorica, near the Zagreb airport. A few years ago, the possibility of building Pinewood Studios facility near the coastal city of Zadar was announced, but the project was cancelled.
“We once had the world famous Jadran Film studio in Zagreb, which served both the Croatian and foreign film community. My instinct tells me that building something similar today will allow even more foreign filmmakers to stay in Croatia, but the instinct for such things is not enough. That is why we are launching a comprehensive cost-effectiveness study at the European level to determine what is the long-term demand and whether we are competitive, which model of financing would be the most cost-effective for the Croatian state, and what size of the studio is needed, the one that primarily serves the independent and European film or the one that would serve the needs of the largest international productions”, Chris Marchich, Head of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, said at a round table held during the Pula Film Festival.
He also pointed out that a structured plan for additional education for domestic filmmakers is needed before the first shovel will hit ground on the site of future studio.
It is now up to the Ministry of Culture, as well as other state and local bodies, to formally start a project that would include the launch of a public tender for a production company or a consortium that would be contracted to develop and run the studio in a public - private partnership.
Croatian producers are eagerly supporting this initiative. “Unlike our domestic projects who can rarely afford many days in the studio, service productions have bigger teams, bigger budgets, bigger needs ... They spend a up to a third of their recording time in a studio, which we cannot offer, so they go to other countries. This trend needs to be stopped by providing not only outdoor and indoor filming opportunities, but also postproduction facilities”, said producer Hrvoje Matasović.
Following the introduction of tax rebates for international filmmakers and the successful campaign of Filming in Croatia project, work of Croatian service providers is growing unstoppably.
According to Anto Bajo from the Institute of Public Finance, with the arrival of foreign productions, the number of employees in this branch jumped from 395 people in 2012 to 1,196 people in 2018.
At the same time, the number of local extras jumped from 1,753 to even 4,500 per year, while the intensity of their engagement in Croatia is currently 346 filming days a year.
The Institute of Public Finance has analysed the effectiveness of state incentives in the film industry as evidence for further investment in the sector. “For each dollar of paid incentives, as much as 90 percent is returned to the state budget through value added tax and income tax. The positive effect of such investments is already felt in a number of sectors. A relatively small number of Croatian filmmakers grouped around several very agile production houses in Croatia attracted projects whose total added value is reaching one 13.5 billion EUR”, Anto Bajo pointed out.