Estonian Film Institute Director: Series production needs more contribution

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Edith Sepp. Source: ERR

If no extra money is found in next year's state budget for films and the film industry needs to agree to the €4 million allocated, it will be enough to make only one feature film, Edith Sepp, director of the Estonian Film Institute (EFI) told ETV's current affairs show "Esimene stuudio".

Sepp said that film directors are seriously worried about the possible reduction of state funding, and a fall from €7 million to €4 million would mean a serious setback for Estonian film, which has otherwise made a leap in quality.

Sepp noted that after the Estonian Republic 100 Film program was granted €9.2 million, there had been major strides in quality and the public came to the cinema to watch Estonian films. The reduction in funding would take Estonian film back ten years in terms of budget, she said.

"Last year, €3 million was actually given to overcome the deadlock that Estonian film had reached after Estonia's 100 programs. So that we can produce normal Estonian films with a normal budget. We realized that this money is for us forever and ever. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a communication error, this year we have to apply again for €3 million, so that next year there will be €7 million in the budget," Sepp said.

This week, the Estonian Film Directors' Guild sent a manifesto to the media, according to which, Estonian film culture is waiting for the inevitable extinction due to the 42 percent reduction in funding.

Sepp said that together with the film directors, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) also went to explain the situation. Work has been done in the same way with the Minister of Culture Anneli Ott (Center), who has been taken to the Cannes Film Festival and the Lille TV series market, Sepp said.

"If we stay with that €4 million, then next year we can only give money to one feature film director so he can make the film," Sepp noted.

Sepp said that the goal of EFI is to support Estonian author's cinema, which does not survive on the market independently. "We are talking here about the author's cinema, Estonian directors who make Estonian films. Yesterday we were asked by our main producer what the amount would be for us to flourish. He said that it is €10 million for the production of Estonian films. This year it is €7 million. In fact, we are not asking as much. The average European feature film budget is somewhere around €2 million," Sepp said.

The film pavilion should also be funded by the state

Recently, the Riigikogu Culture Committee also added the Tallinn Film City to the list of culturally important cultural objects, while the Riigikogu will make the final decision on financing.

Sepp said that the film pavilion is needed in order for Estonian films to remain at the same high level as has been achieved so far. If no money is received from the state, the city of Tallinn will build the town, Sepp said. However, with little funding, Estonian filmmakers would remain orphans in one way or another.

"The problem is not who pays for it. It's an investment and filmmakers have to pay for it. It means that our own filmmaker, he doesn't have enough money to make a film at all in the Estonian film pavilion. It would be a very big loss. We would only import films, we attract them to Estonia to use our super, high-tech pavilion - it would be a very big loss for Estonian film art," Sepp said.

Sepp said that it must be understood that the audiovisual sector has a very big future and it is worth investing in it. In addition to feature films, it's also worth investing in the production of series.

"We could contribute to this, not only by watching the content that is fed to us through Netflix, but we could also participate in the production of the films and series that Netflix shows," Sepp said.

Sepp said that the development of the series would be included in the €4 million currently planned for next year's state budget for the film.

"We want Estonian film producers to be able to develop their series because there is money to produce series in the market, but we will not get close to it. Film and TV are approaching each other quickly," Sepp added.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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