NEW FEATURES OF THE MOSCOW FILM COMMISSION PRESENTED IN CANNES
On May 12, 2018 the Russian Pavilion at the 71st Cannes International Film Festival hosted the presentation of the Moscow Film Commission.
The presentation of the interdepartmental authority within the Moscow Government created to facilitate filming on location in Moscow was delivered by the Deputy Head of the Moscow Department of Culture Vladimir Filippov, ROSKINO CEO and creator of the Moscow in Motion project Katya Mtsitouridze, acclaimed photo artist and Moscow in Motion co-creator Anton Lange, Moskino President Igor Ugolnikov, Secretary-General of the Moscow Film Commission Svetlana Maksimchenko, Valeriy Kupeyev of the International Department of the Moscow Film Commission, with the participation of the special guest, AFCI Executive Vice President Jess Conoplia.
The speakers illustrated the strategic aims and first year results of the Moscow Film Commission. Several ambitious pilot projects created to promote Moscow as a filming destination and facilitate the process were presented to the audience, including a state-of-the-art website, a comprehensive industrial database adapted for international colleagues, an AR smartphone app, a photo project by Anton Lange and a short film showcasing Moscow’s top locations. All of these tools and enterprises were initiated by Katya Mtsitouridze and implemented by Roskino in less than a year.
The main challenge was identified during the last Cannes festival: the number of international projects filmed in Moscow has been annually decreasing because of multiple administrative hurdles that make things too difficult for directors and producers. Therefore it was decided to attract Russian and international productions to the capital through the establishment of the Moscow Film Commission aimed at facilitating and fast-tracking red tape issues. From now on there is a single entry point for any filming permits a Russian or international crew might need.
Just over a year ago Roskino CEO Katya Mtsitouridze approached the Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin with the film commission initiative that was soon greenlighted. With the support of the Mayor the film commission is now fully operative and the Moscow Government undertakes to facilitate filming needs and streamline the permitting procedures.
Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO:
‘Our Roskino team jointly with our international colleagues of DDA communication agency came up with a slogan: Shoot Moscow in Moscow! The international film professionals used to have security and economic about the Russian capital. As it is, today’s Moscow is one of the world’s most comfortable and welcoming cities, the rest is history. On top of that, the favourable exchange rates make Moscow a competitive low-cost filming destination. Locations of Budapest and Prague fail to render its unique metropolitan spirit while Moscow, once you are there, offers many sites that look like other world capitals and lend themselves favourably for shooting. Unfortunately rebates for international film crews are still on their way. However, the Moscow City Government and the Moscow Film Commission it established offer preferential treatment as well as discounts at local top notch production services and equipment rentals. These favourable conditions mean that shooting in Moscow ultimately pays off even when compared with cities that have a working tax refund system.’
Pilot programs started already in 2017 and on February 21, 2018 the Moscow Film Commission was formally established by Moscow Government decree, with the Deputy Mayor Leonid Pechatnikov as President, the Head of the Moscow Department of Culture Alexandr Kibovsky as Vice President, and Moskino CEO Svetlana Maksimchenko as Secretary-General.
During the two meetings held in April the MFC decided to endorse 11 projects: Attraction 2 by Fedor Bondarchuk, Empire V, Victor Ginzburg’s adaptation of a novel by Victor Pelevin, Van Cliburn by Chad Hartigan, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Gleb Panfilov’s adaptation of a short novel by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Frenchman by Andrei Smirnov, Survivor by Andrey Sokolov, Children by Alyona Zvantsova, 7 Dinners by Kirill Pletnyov, Portrait of a Stranger by Sergei Osipyan, Ghost by Alexei Mamedov, and Moscow Mysteries by Aleksandr Barshak.
Valeriy Kupeyev of the International Department of MFC dwelt on the production opportunities Moscow has to offer. He mentioned that international colleagues often asked him if filming in Moscow was safe. About 10 years ago, Kupeyev admitted, international crew could have negative experiences but since then things have changed. And yet big international projects set in Moscow end up being film in other regions: for instance, A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) was made in Budapest while Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) was shot in Prague.
Valeriy Kupeyev, MFC International Department:
‘We would like our international colleagues to realize that today Moscow offers a lot of opportunities: architectural settings range from classical to modernist, there is the legendary metro and spacious stages, we have all the necessary equipment, post production studios, English-speaking talents of various ethnicities. Moreover, prices are lower than in other regions and municipal authorities endorse filming.’
Svetlana Maksimchenko, Moskino CEO, Secretary-General MFC:
‘It is essential for us to promote the image of Moscow as a diverse metropolis that can turn both ancient and futuristic. We place no restrictions on the creative side of the projects. Quite the contrary, we try to open up previously inaccessible locations. For instance, just recently we managed to secure Vasilyevsky Spusk, the part of Red Square that descends towards the river, for the crew of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. We even obtained the temporary closure of a part of the Kremlin embankment. Аnother example: some episodes of Frenchman were filmed on the Teatralnaya square in front of the Bolshoi and inside the Moscow Metro. And we are not going to stop there. In a short while our website will offer a comprehensive database of locations and certified film services available in Moscow. This selection will facilitate the work of international producers that was previously hindered by the uncertainty of choice. I must also mention that in full compliance with international standards the consultancy and services of the MFC are offered completely free of charge. As for the pressing issue of the Football Cup, no one could even dream of filming during such events before, and now it is made possible.’
The MFC offers location scouting, contacts of certified productions, assistance in setting up filming (instant follow-up within 1 working day) and obtaining permits for all kinds of city locations including sensitive and restricted sites such as the Moscow Metro, the Kremlin embankments, the city parks, etc.
The MFC has already joined the AFCI, the worldwide network of film commissioners that rely on State support to attract film productions to their regions.
AFCI Vice President Jess Conoplia shared some of her Moscow experiences:
‘I have been to many places around the world and I have to admit that Moscow is one of the most beautiful, clean and safe cities I have seen. My MFC colleagues demonstrated the resources they have and I believe that the city has all that is needed for quality, safe, and cost-efficient filming. I am much impressed by the commitment of the municipal authorities to the cultural agenda. The support of the Moscow Government is extremely valuable.’
In order to promote Moscow and its multitude of diverse locations Roskino CEO Katya Mtsitouridze initiated Moscow in Motion, a multimedia project that combines photography, an action short, and an AR smartphone app.
The audience of the pavilion greeted the Moscow in Motion premiere with applause. The action short was filmed in a variety of restricted and sensitive locations made available by the municipal and federal authorities. Katya Mtsitouridze, the project’s general producer, set up filming with the Roskino team and Stereotactic studio. The endorsement of the Moscow Government, the Departments of Transportation, Culture, and Media were instrumental in arranging complicated episodes and sets in restricted locations. The Ministries of Defence, Emergencies, Foreign Affairs and Interior along with the Federal Security Service and the Federal Security Guard Service provided helicopters, armoured vehicles, and special forces units. The short is meant to demonstrate the various prospects Moscow has to offer including the Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow City business district and the Tretyakov Gallery, the Luzhniki Arena, several waterways, intricate road junctions, Moscow Central Railway, the Triumhpal Arch, the Russian State Library, and many other sites.
Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO:
‘We worked very hard to make this film and we have gained a unique experience that demonstrated the strengths and the weaknesses of setting up filming in Moscow. Permitting is the most difficult part but luckily Roskino could rely on the support of the city government, the Ministry of Defence and Interior, the Federal Security Service, the National Guard, and other authorities that managed all the issues in manual mode. In future we have to establish a clear and functional system, otherwise the bureaucratic hurdles might scare away our international colleagues and get negative publicity for the MFC. However I am sure that the commitment and expertise of the MFC team will improve things greatly. I have to mention the positive experience that the crew, myself and my co-producer Sergey Yakhontov had of working in the Kremlin. Our warmest thanks go to the management and the team of the Presidential Press and Information Office, the Commandant of the Kremlin and the Federal Security Guard Service that arranged everything in a few days and helped us to set up filming with zero inconvenience. They are all properly credited and thanked both in the film and the photo album.’
One of the top Russian professionals, the internationally acclaimed photographer Anton Lange is attached to the photo part of the project. Hundreds of city locations were made available by the Moscow Government and personally by the Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. The project will feature images of all seasons. Roskino intends to publish a 400-page photo album and a compact production guide to facilitate location scouting for international productions.
‘Oddly enough, the most difficult thing to shoot is the city you live in. Katya suggested the subject, Moscow in Motion, and it proved fascinating. I am proud to be a part of this ambitious initiative and the wonderful Roskino team.’
All the images will be available in the Locations section of the MFC website that was also presented in the Russian pavilion. The design, infographics and content of the website were highly appreciated by the industry professionals.
Markus Blunder, Dreamrunner Pictures Producer and CEO
‘I am thrilled with the presentation. The photo project is beautiful, and the Moscow film has not only spectacular settings but also a great sense of humour. The website offers exhaustive information and a selection of locations and explains how to get support. All of it helps international producers to overcome their biases and start shooting Moscow in Moscow. Actually, I like your slogan. I had three experiences of filming in Moscow over the last 10 years but I mostly dealt with private productions. Hope things will get easier now.’
Roskino commissioned by the Moscow Department of Culture created the MFC website that is currently in test mode. It will be launched shortly after final approval. The website provides a full production toolkit including unique comprehensive databases of internationally oriented local productions, top notch equipment rentals, and English-speaking talents with their representatives. Roskino jointly with the Moscow Department of Transportation and Infrastructure established a clear set of rules and regulations concerning shooting in various city locations including waterways and road junctions that comes complete with a reliable timeline for obtaining the necessary permits. The website also provides the necessary details on visas, filming permits, and the MFC itself.
Jerome Paillard, Marché du Film Executive Director:
‘We are happy to welcome the MFC presentation at the Marché du Film. Last year we witnessed an initiative, and this time we were impressed by the results of great effort. The Moscow short is worthy of any festival in the world. I wish our Roskino and MFC colleagues good luck and lots of good projects!’
The Moscow in Motion AR smartphone app presented jointly with the film uses over 200 episodes of Soviet and Russian film classics shot in the Russian capital for its virtual tours. Everyone is welcome to plunge into the unique atmosphere of the chosen film and visit the locations used by acclaimed directors over the years. The list of featured movies includes the Oscar-winning Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears as well as the latest national blockbuster Going Vertical, aka Three Seconds.
Igor Ugolnikov, producer and Moskino President
‘The main goal of the film commission is to present the Russian capital in international films as diverse, bright, beautiful and modern as it is. In order to achieve this goal we are ready to facilitate the work of international crews in every way. The Roskino team made an enormous amount of work in a very short amount of time. It has been less than a year from initial idea to implementation and we already have the brilliant campaign, the film, the book, and the photo project. The Moscow Film Commission is already in the center of attention, and we were able to welcome many international collegues to our presentation. We already have plenty of requests, and now we have to prove the MFC is really working. Our beautiful city deserves all of it, especially since the initiative is endorsed by the Mayor of Moscow.’
The Russian delegation is brought to Cannes by ROSKINO with the support of the MInistry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Government of Moscow, owing to the strategic partnership of Aeroflot Russian Airlines PJSC.