FNE at Finale Plzen 2018: Plzen Industry Days Examines the Maturing State of Czech-French Coproductions

    My Sunny Maad by Michaela Pavlátová My Sunny Maad by Michaela Pavlátová

    PLZEN: Czech-French coproductions appear to be entering a mature stage, judging by the comments of participants discussing collaborations between the two countries. And in many cases, Czech producers are taking the lead.

    Guillaume de Seille of Arizona Films offered his take on coproducing with the Czechs. “The average commercial potential for a French-Czech coproduction is not that big.… Young, edgy productions get more attention abroad.“ He added, “We French producers tend not to jump into productions too early.“ He is more likely to be involved in the post-production stage and stays away from getting involved in the production/shooting phase of a film.

    De Seille also offered a pair of examples of Czech producers taking the incentive in finding French coproducers. One involving young Czech producers who approached him while in development with their film, and when that didn’t work, they returned to him when they entered post-production. Another involved a Czech producer who took a chance in coming on to a film that originally had no Czech element, and was successful in finding financing.

    Artemio Benki of Sirena Film is another example of the Czech side moving coproductions forward. The French-Belgian producer runs a production company based in Prague that seeks out French coproduction partners. Benki noted that Czechs bring more advantages than just lower priced crews. “Czech technicians are on the highest level in Europe,” he said, noting that it’s not just the low prices that attract foreign productions to Prague. While some have worried about the influx of international productions and service companies taking crews away from domestic producers and raising crew prices, he observed that the abundance of work meant that young crews were becoming more capable and accomplished, even though they might choose higher paying foreign service crew positions over local productions.

    Benki offered advice to young Czechs in their negotiations with French partners: “Try not to give up the rights to the French territory automatically.” It’s important to know the French revenue streams, he advised. 

    De Seille, who occasionally acts as sales agent for a film he has produced, when he can’t find an appropriate buyer, said that doing so allows the production to retain all the revenues of the sales. He added, “The beauty of my position is that I am eligible for two Eurimages rounds,” production and distribution. His advice for Czech producers had a different take: “Czechs don’t travel enough…. I think it’s part of the job of producing.”

    Negativ Film Productions producer Petr Oukropec has teamed up with Ron Dyens of France’s Sacrebleu Productions to coproduce the first feature animated film of Michaela Pavlatova, My Sunny Maad,. The two companies had coproduced her Annecy award-winning short film Tram. Oukropec noted the film will be a true 50/50 coproduction, with half of the Czech funding already in place. Dyens said the 2 M EUR film should be finished in time for Cannes in 2021. The animation coproducers in attendance agreed that a longer time-frame was involved for animation films, with Dyens observing that the editing of the film should be done before beginning the production of the film.

    Most of the coproducers were in the process of building longer term relationships. Many were already working on their second coproduction with the same partners, or actively awaiting the next project from their former partner.