FNE Spoke to Zuzana Bieliková, Head of Slovak Film Commission


    BRATISLAVA: Zuzana Bieliková was appointed Head of the newly established Slovak Film Commission (SFC) on 1 June 2018. She spoke to FNE about her goals and her short-term plans, as well as the incentive scheme operating since 2015.

    Zuzana Bieliková, Head of the Slovak Film CommissionFNE: What are the goals of the Slovak Film Commission?

    Zuzana Bieliková: Our goal is to put Slovakia on the map as a competitive film country with suitable conditions for international audiovisual production and to become a supportive organisation for domestic professionals by creating business opportunities. The secondary objective is to help film tourism in various regions. 

    FNE: Why should foreign productions come to shoot in Slovakia?

    Zuzana Bieliková: Slovakia is relatively “undiscovered” by international filmmakers, which might be a big plus for location scouts and producers, offering beautiful and picturesque natural and historical sites. Slovakia’s mountains and wildlife are unique, and the modern and industrial architecture could be used for stories set in modern days or in the recent past.

    In Slovakia nothing is too far away, making location simply affordable in terms of time and money spent. Local currency is the euro, so there's no need for converting currencies as is the case in the neighboring countries. Slovakia is a production friendly country, nurturing generations of skilled filmmakers, who are good in English and other foreign languages.

    FNE: Slovakia’s 20% incentive scheme established in 2015 eased its requirements starting August 2017. The minimum expenditure level was cut from 2 m EUR to 150,000 EUR for a single feature, documentary or animated film, and to 300,000 EUR for a project involving at least two such films or a TV series. What has been the impact of these changes?

    Zuzana Bieliková: These changes were made based on the feedback from the film industry professionals. They have facilitated the availability of this support for many producers, even for smaller projects and for a variety of genres.

    FNE: Does Slovakia plan any other changes regarding incentives in the near future?

    Zuzana Bieliková: Not in the near future. We are following the changes in the neighboring countries, however our aim is not to compete regarding to the percentage but rather to offer simplicity and transparency in the process, so that the producers can easily see the real contribution they will receive from the cash incentives programme.

    The process is simple and clear and there are no hidden fees. We will continue to follow the situation in this field and the respective changes in the future will be made upon the possibilities of the Slovak government and the competitive position of Slovakia.

    FNE: How important is it for Slovakia to coproduce with neighboring countries?

    Zuzana Bieliková: We share not only common history with our neighbors but also cultural background, traditions and language and therefore coproductions between the countries in our region are very natural and lead to enrichment of the population of all countries.

    The traditional coproduction partner for Slovak producers has always been the Czech Republic, but in recent years the number of coproductions with Poland and Hungary has grown. The first film coproduced with the Ukraine was released in 2017. Thanks to these types of coproductions, there is a potential for cultural exchange, but producers see it also as a chance to exchange know-how between the filmmakers and to create films with higher production value, which wouldn’t be possible to achieve relying only on the finances from the domestic sources.  

    FNE: What are your plans for the rest of 2018?

    Zuzana Bieliková: The plans for 2018 include the preparation of promotional materials, creating a location and production guide and establishing relationships with relevant organisations and institutions. The Slovak Film Commission will promote Slovakia as a film-friendly country with all its advantages that are offered for potential foreign film producers looking for local services or coproduction partners.