“Lights, came­ra, action!” in the film regi­on of Brandenburg

Film shoots start­ing, reforms to the film fun­ding sys­tem, and films as a powerful eco­no­mic fac­tor - A look ahead to 2024

Gla­mour, crea­ti­ves and con­flicts - this year’s Ber­li­na­le was held in poli­ti­cal­ly dif­fi­cult times and ended with con­tro­ver­si­al state­ments about the con­flict in the Midd­le East during the gala awards cerem­o­ny. Howe­ver, befo­re this, fes­ti­val-goers were trea­ted to a wide ran­ge of films over 10 days. Direc­tor Mati Diop recei­ved the Gol­den Bear for her docu­men­ta­ry Daho­mey with its anti-colo­nia­list mes­sa­ge. Apart from pro­vi­ding a show­ca­se for the inter­na­tio­nal film indus­try with such guests as Mar­tin Scor­se­se, jury pre­si­dent Lupi­ta Nyon­g’o, Cil­li­an Mur­phy and Isa­bel­le Hup­pert, the Ber­li­na­le also sho­ne a spot­light on the film indus­try here in the capi­tal regi­on. Mat­thi­as Glasner’s Dying recei­ved the Sil­ver Bear for Best Screen­play, and Pots­dam-based direc­tor Andre­as Dresen’s film From Hil­de, With Love about the resis­tance figh­ter Hil­de Cop­pi cele­bra­ted its world pre­mie­re as one of the Com­pe­ti­ti­on titles during the Berlinale. 

This was also an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the film regi­on of Bran­den­burg to be show­ca­sed at the Ber­li­na­le again. Last year, 100 film and tele­vi­si­on pro­duc­tions were shot in the sta­te of Bran­den­burg. Dr. Ball­ouz, Brow­ser Bal­lett, Dop­pel­haus­hälf­te, GZSZ, Löwen­zahn, Poli­zei­ruf, In Got­tes Namen, the second sea­son of Kleo, Frit­zie – Der Him­mel muss war­ten: if you’d like to know which films and series were shot last year and whe­re this took place, you can find this out by scrol­ling through the 2023 film map.

Film pro­duc­tions com­pe­ting for loca­ti­ons and funding

“Alt­hough the film pro­duc­tion sec­tor may be con­cen­tra­ted in and around Pots­dam, the effects of a suc­cessful media land­scape can nevert­hel­ess be felt throug­hout the who­le regi­on. I’m plea­sed that Bran­den­burg con­ti­nues to be a natio­nal­ly and inter­na­tio­nal­ly important film hub who­se diver­se pos­si­bi­li­ties for shoo­ting are regu­lar­ly used by major indus­try play­ers. This means that all of the regi­ons in the fede­ral sta­te are now bene­fiting from this deve­lo­p­ment,” Brandenburg’s Minis­ter of Eco­no­mic Affairs Jörg Stein­bach said.

In his address, Stein­bach also cal­led for a suc­cessful con­clu­si­on to plan­ned reforms of the film fun­ding sys­tem. The cur­rent law expi­res at the end of 2024. The­re haven’t be any tax incen­ti­ves until now. Film pro­duc­tions go to Buda­pest, Pra­gue or the stu­di­os in Lon­don becau­se of low pro­duc­tion and per­son­nel cos­ts as well as favoura­ble film fun­ding con­cepts. A com­pe­ti­ti­ve con­cept is nee­ded on both a natio­nal level as well by the film regi­on of Bran­den­burg. The fact that the reform is urgen­tly nee­ded hasn’t escaped the atten­ti­on of the Sta­te Minis­ter for Cul­tu­re Clau­dia Roth. The curr­ent­ly exis­ting fun­ding sys­tem has been cri­ti­cis­ed for its exces­si­ve bureau­cra­cy, inef­fi­ci­en­cy, limi­t­ed resour­ces and num­e­rous conditions. 

Roth pre­sen­ted the draft reform two days befo­re the begin­ning of the Ber­li­na­le. The three main ele­ments are as fol­lows: that film fun­ding will in future be admi­nis­te­red cen­tral­ly by the Ger­man Fede­ral Film Board (FFA); the­re will be invest­ment obli­ga­ti­ons for strea­mers and other VOD ser­vices; and tax incen­ti­ves. Nego­tia­ti­ons are now under­way with the fede­ral sta­tes, but not all of them have yet come to the point whe­re they are sup­port­ing the key issues paper. The plan is for the new fun­ding sys­tem to come into force at the begin­ning of 2025. 

Film as an eco­no­mic factor

The Medienboard’s review of the past 30 years of its fun­ding acti­vi­ties shows how suc­cessful film fun­ding has been in the capi­tal regi­on. “The fact that the capi­tal regi­on has beco­me Germany’s No. 1 film hub and inter­na­tio­nal­ly one of the most sought-after film loca­ti­ons is thanks, on the one hand, to the crea­ti­vi­ty of the film­ma­kers and, on the other, to the poli­ti­cal and finan­cial sup­port from the two fede­ral sta­tes,” says Medienboard’s CEO Kirs­ten Niehuus.

No less than 16 Medi­en­board-backed films and series were scree­ned in the offi­ci­al pro­gram­me of this year’s Ber­li­na­le. In past three deca­des, pro­jects recei­ved total fun­ding of 690 mil­li­on euros which in turn resul­ted in around three bil­li­on euros being spent on film shoots in the regi­on - from Ger­man award-win­ning films such as Good Bye, Lenin! and The Lives of the Others to inter­na­tio­nal hits such as Home­land, Bridge of Spies, Grand Buda­pest Hoteland Tri­bu­te von Panem. Accor­ding to the Medi­en­board, it’s “lights, came­ra, action!” 15 times every day. This trans­la­tes into a 5.5-fold regio­nal effect: every euro as sub­s­idy gene­ra­tes 5.5 times as much invest­ment in the region. 

Stu­dio Babelsberg’s upturn in for­tu­nes after US strikes

Film­ing has also resu­med on the Babels­berg stu­dio lot fol­lo­wing the strikes in the US film indus­try. Andy Welt­man, CEO of Stu­dio Babels­berg AG, would also like to see a reform to the film fun­ding sys­tem. Last year’s strikes by the screen­wri­ters and actors left their mark on the film stu­di­os in Babels­berg, mea­ning that they didn’t hand­le any major pro­duc­tions shoo­ting the­re. Howe­ver, 2024 has now seen Hol­ly­wood coming back with direc­tor Wes Anderson’s new film The Phoe­ni­ci­an Sche­me and the thril­ler Con­trol with actor James McAvoy.

But Bran­den­burg its­elf can also pro­vi­de the back­drop for films - from the his­to­ric old town to the hip, tren­dy neigh­bour­hood. Kirs­ten Nie­hu­us: “Nowhe­re else are the­re so many dif­fe­rent loca­ti­ons so clo­se tog­e­ther that you can spend the same day shoo­ting a bathing sce­ne at a lake, a fire on a sound stage and then a par­ty sce­ne at night in a Ber­lin club.” So this means the capi­tal regi­on can now look for­ward to hos­ting the crews of direc­tor Wolf­gang Becker with The Hero of Fried­rich­stra­ße Sta­ti­on, The Phy­si­ci­an 2 by Phil­ipp Stölzl or Yel­low Let­ters by İlk­er Çatak. The lat­ter had com­pe­ted for an Oscar in the Best Inter­na­tio­nal Fea­ture Film cate­go­ry with his film The Tea­chers’ Lounge.

Films are an eco­no­mic fac­tor in the regi­on, a crea­tor of new jobs, tou­rism and a dri­ver of inno­va­ti­on for other sec­tors - the Media­Tech Hub Pots­dam pools this exper­ti­se and sup­ports other sec­tors in ope­ning up new busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties. The more media-dri­ven our lives beco­me, the more influ­en­ti­al and inno­va­ti­ve media tech­no­lo­gies are in all areas. 

Image Cre­dit: Stu­dio Babels­berg AG

About MTH Blog

The media technologies of the future are already being used today – not only in the entertainment sector, but also in a wide variety of industries. Christine Lentz meets up with tech enthusiasts, established companies and researchers for our monthly MediaTech Hub Potsdam blog to tell the stories behind the innovative business models.