Summary of The Finnish Film Foundation’s briefing for producers on June 16, 2020

July 21, 2020

The Finnish Film Foundation organizes annually briefings aimed at producers regarding current issues and including a Q&A session. In the summer of 2020, the briefing was organized as a Facebook live due to restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemia. The video of the event, subtitled in Finnish, can be watched on our Vimeo page.

We invite questions and comments anytime, via email or our feedback form.

Support during the pandemia

The audiovisual industry has suffered during the pandemia, and, together with the Ministry of Education and Culture, we have tried to find ways of alleviating the situation. We were granted one million euros for the support of cinemas and film festivals that take place during the spring. In the beginning of the summer, we got five million euros additional support for new production.

Productions that were supposed to be filmed during the spring and/or summer would also need more support now that shooting has become more expensive due to hygiene and other regulations. Some films’ theatrical distribution had to be postponed, and they would also need support for their re-launch.

In order to address these needs, we are looking for additional funding and ways to be more flexible with our support guidelines.

The five million euros will be handed out via our normal support schedule. The projects are evaluated with the usual criteria, with the added emphasis on employment opportunities. The money has been granted to us as a means of reviving the industry, and employment is one of the grounds for the support.

We are also going to start monitoring how the productions supported by us advance employment. It is well-known that the audiovisual industry is a significant employer, but is important to gain knowledge on how it employs and on the numbers of the employed.

With our current support funds, it has been challenging to support drama series. We have focused on the development stage so that the funds would be used effectively. Now with these additional funds we can support also drama series in a more substantial way.

Both the slate support and 50/50 production support schemes will continue. The grant announcements have not yet been released but the deadlines will be around the same time as usual, towards the end of the year.

Sustainability in the film industry: environmental protection

Both environmentally and socially sustainable development in the Finnish film industry will have a significant role in the upcoming target program of The Finnish Film Foundation.

Environmental targets have been part of the Foundation’s operation since last year. We joined the Ekokompassi process for managing our environmental footprint. We will be audited towards the end of the year and will then have the Ekokompassi certificate.

It has been great to notice how the industry has activated in environmental issues. The Foundation is happy to be part of the green roundtable organized by APFI. The roundtable is planning, for example, how to produce a localized carbon footprint counter for productions as soon as possible.

After the summer holidays, we will send production companies a brief survey which will chart how environmental issues are dealt with in productions at the moment. We will also survey attitudes regarding possible support actions that could be built around sustainability.

The aim is to create an instrument that can help us follow the development of sustainability and the effects of possible future support systems. The survey is developed by the writers of Ekosetti, Kaika Astikainen and Anne Puolanne.

Sustainability in the film industry: equality

In June, Cupore released a study commissioned by The Finnish Film Foundation as part of our program for promoting equality in the industry. The study looked at how professionals graduating from film schools are employed and what challenges there are between different groups.

According to the study, there is still a lot of inequality and gender-based discrimination in the field, as in the rest of our society. Certain professions in the film industry are heavily divided by gender. After the holidays, The Foundation will invite the industry’s trade unions to discuss what actions can be taken to correct the situation.

The participants in the study had graduated in 2005 or after. This means the experiences recounted in the study are from the past 15 years, unfortunately very current still. We have a lot of work to do, but in terms of equality, the industry has also progressed in the last few years.

The Finnish Film Foundation’s support agreements have for a long time included a clause obliging the employer to carry their responsibilities towards their employees. If they do not do so, we can cut the funding for the production in question.

The Foundation has also started collecting information on diversity in front of the camera as well as behind with a new production report (a mandatory supplement of the final report). We have already received some feedback on it, and we plan to improve it further.

During the preparing of the production report we already took into consideration the criteria of the European Audiovisual Observatory. As a model, we used production reports from other European countries collecting similar information. We have also consulted the Central Statistical Office of Finland on their views of such indicators.

We hope that the report is not too hard to complete. We do not aim to profile individuals or even individual companies. The report collects data broadly regarding the industry as a whole. It is vital information to us so that we can follow how diversity develops in the industry. As a public funding body, it is of utmost importance to us that Finnish cinema reflects our current society in its diversity both in front of the camera as well as behind it.

Like all other data collected by The Foundation, the information given with this report is handled with confidentiality. It is never given to third parties nor published so that individuals could be identified. Since the report is uploaded to the online support system (and not sent by email), it complies with the GDPR demands. The Foundation’s privacy statements can be found on our website.

Some producers have asked for guidance on how to collect the data from the crews. Some information may feel private. Partly for this reason, and because productions are very different from one another, we cannot give detailed instructions. It is better that for each production the employer makes plans on how to collect the data so that the privacy of the employees is not compromised.

The Foundation cannot start collecting the data on its own either. We make approximately 80 production support decisions a year, and we do not have the resources for the work required. Furthermore, collecting the necessary data simply by watching the films is not possible.

The information collected with the report will be published only en masse. Key figures depicting the development of the industry as a whole can be found in the future in our Facts & Figures publication, for all to use.

Using The Foundation’s logo and the animated logo

In April, we published the new animated logo for The Finnish Film Foundation. Similar logos have been in use for our sister organizations around Europe. Especially now that the agreement between the film industry and Veikkaus ended, meaning the Veikkaus trailer is no longer in use, we wanted to have our own animated logo to demonstrate to the public at large how meaningful the public funding system is.

The animated logo should be added to the beginning of all films – besides series and international minority co-productions for which it is enough to add a mention of the support granted. Documentaries and short films need to use the animated logo.

The animated logo can be added to the opening credit sequence to where the production company or other financers have their logos. It is to be used on all platforms, making visible how widely Finnish films are distributed. The animated logo is a requirement for those productions that have received production support starting this year, but productions supported earlier may also use it.

The animated logo can be used without sound or edited to meet the style of the credit sequence. However, the logo and the text need to be legible, meaning that the animated logo needs to be on the screen long enough. There are three language versions: Finnish, Swedish and English.

The instructions on using The Foundation’s logo are alsostill valid. All productions that have received production support must mention the support and use our logo in their end credits. We ask you to check that you are using our most current logo which can be downloaded from our website. Productions that have received development support or marketing and distribution support are also obliged to mention the support and use The Foundation’s logo in the end credits.

The logo should be used also in all marketing materials where the funders are mentioned.

Questions sent in advance

”Is The Foundation going to give additional support to nationally significant festivals suffering from the pandemia?”

The Foundation gave additional support to the three festivals that suffered from the pandemia during the spring. As for the festivals taking place later this year, it depends on how the pandemia situation develops. If the festivals can take place as usual, there may not be need for extra support. In any case, we would need the government to grant us funds for it.

The normal festival support granted at the beginning of this year will not be collected back even if the festival would have to be cancelled. Our hope and aim is that the festivals can produce even finer events next year.

”Is it possibly to apply for additional funds for the costs caused from the pandemia? If so, what will be the schedule?”

As mentioned, we are looking for a solution on how to support those productions that are suffering because of the pandemia. In principle, we do not give more than one production support decision to one project. If we can give additional support, it will be granted based on actual costs.

”How much of the five million euros is going to be directed to documentary films?”

The additional funding is handed out through our regular support procedures and it has not been allocated to any genre in particular. The projects need to be feasible and have a decent funding plan. The idea is to hand out the funds in the last two meetings of the year and, if there are still funds left, possibly in the first meeting of 2021.

There was also a question about what kind of scenes between actors can be done in a production to be shot in August.

The Foundation is not a labour protection authority, so we cannot give advice on safe practices in shootings. The Finnish Actors’ Union, the Trade Union for Theatre and Media Finland, The Union of Journalists in Finland and the Audiovisual Producers Finland have given a joint statement on June 12 regarding the procedures in shootings. The guidelines can be found on these organizations’ websites.

Another question was about possible changes in the 50/50 production support.

The criteria of the 50/50 support was last updated in 2016. We are currently conducting an evaluation on how the support functions and weather the goals set for the support have been reached. There may be some changes but the evaluation is still in process.

“How does the LOC (Letter of Commitment) process work now that the decisions are made by the board? How long can the LOC be valid?”

LOC decisions are made four times a year, just like production support decisions, as the LOC is in reality a preliminary production support decision. Therefore it must be a decision made by the board. Normally, LOC is valid for six months but the time period may be something else as well.

If the producers need to extend the LOC, we can renew it with a permission from the Chair of the board. In such a case, the content of the LOC cannot change, meaning the information about the production, its budget and the support sum needs to remain the same. If the production has changed in some way, the LOC needs to be renewed in a board meeting. As there are only four production support decision meetings per year, we have tried to create a process where issues can be dealt with in-between the meetings with the permission of the Chair.