OUTCOMES OF THE FIRST STAGE OF THE ROSKINO PROGRAM AIMED AT MFC PROMOTION
Roskino supported by the Moscow Government and the Moscow Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, with the personal endorsement of the Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, has successfully established the Moscow Film Commission (MFC) and launched the international promotion campaign of the new structure that plays a key role in showcasing the resources of today’s Moscow and reaffirming Russia as a dynamic country with a rich heritage that is open for international cooperation.
In 2017 Roskino CEO Katya Mtsitouridze approached the Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin with the film commission initiative that was soon greenlighted. The project aimed at attracting national and international film and TV crews to the capital enjoys the full support of the Mayor and the city government.
The Moscow Film Commission was formally established by Moscow Government decree of February 21, 2018, with the Deputy Mayor Leonid Pechatnikov as President, but a number pilot programs kicked off already in 2017. The Moscow Government undertakes the management of administrative issues and permit facilitation. The main goal of the Moscow Film Commission is to support Russian and international film and TV companies in setting up filming in Moscow, facilitate organizational and and production issues, offer consultancy in location scouting, streamline permitting and assist in access to restricted locations.
Katya Mtsitouridze, Roskino CEO:
‘In preparation for the establishment of the Moscow Film Commission we performed a feasibility study and analyzed the experience of over 40 film commissions around the globe, in Europe, Asia, and North America. The structure and competences of film commissions may vary from city to city. In the UK, for instance, it is first and foremost and economic tool geared towards generating income and stimulating the national business by attracting large-scale international film projects that spend up to $1 bln a year. 75% of this amount remains in London.
The impressive locations and world class professionals available in Moscow enhance the international capacity of the Russian capital. However, global productions need a reliable, trustworthy source of information as well as credible partners. The fact that the MFC is represented by Roskino adds weight to the new structure since we have been working on comprehensive solutions aimed at worldwide promotion of Russian film industry for 8 years. We enjoy the reputation of a solid and reliable partner, and we hope that with time the promotion efforts jointly with the performance of the new structure will make the MFC a desirable partner for international productions.
Strategically speaking, it is worth while for Moscow to compete for projects that are considering London or Paris (two capitals with a comparable price level, albeit with a working system of tax rebates) rather than Bucharest that attracts middle- to low-budget projects from Europe and the US by extra low production prices and huge rebates. Romania offers studio pavilions and specialists at very low rates, it is even more cost-efficient than Prague or Budapest.
Bulgaria is a direct competitor of Romania. Nearly all the big international projects shot in the country are produced by Millenium, a company with in-house studios and production base. Legendary Entertainment also works in Sofia, especially when the project requires a significant workforce. Over the last few years Bulgaria hosted a number of large-scale Hollywood projects such as 300: Rise of an Empire, London Has Fallen, Mechanic: Resurrection, and a number of others.
The film commissions of France are a completely different story. The country has a network of 38 film commissions based in various cities including Paris. Each one has a different set of rules but the whole network is coordinated by a centralized structure, Film France. All members of the organization can tap into a pool of experts, enjoy marketing support through booths at various markets and film events, access various databases and software, and enjoy harmonized promotion efforts. In other words, Film France has two kinds of clients: foreign productions and local film commissions. The agency is financed by the same National Center for Cinema that is behind the national film productions.
Franck Priot, the international consultant of the Moscow Film Commission, has held the position of Chief Operating Officer of Film France from 2005 to 2015. The coordinated efforts of Franck and his lean team enhanced by a steady State support allowed major Hollywood productions to return to France over these 10 years. I am very happy that our friend Jérôme Paillard, Executive Director of the Cannes Marché du Film, could kindly recommend Roskino as a long-term reliable partner so that Franck was able to join us and offer his precious advice for the creation of the Moscow Film Commission.’
In the period of 2017–2018 Roskino supported by the Moscow Government took action to attract international film and TV crews to Moscow and promote the positive image of the city as a unique, comfortable and safe filming destination with a plethora of diverse locations and world-class productions. The promotion campaign of the Moscow Film Commission unfolded at all the major global film events, thus enhancing the tourist appeal of the Russian capital.
The PR campaign of the Moscow Film Commission was implemented at the following international events:
American Film Market (AFM), Location EXPO (November 1 – 8, 2017, Los Angeles, USA)
FOCUS, The Location Guide, an international trade event and location show for film, television, and commercials (December 5 – 6, 2017, London, UK).
Berlinale and the European Film Market (EFM) (February 15 – 25, 2018, Berlin, Germany)
FILMART, Hong Kong international film and TV market (March 19 – 22, 2018, Hong Kong, China)
MIPTV global TV and digital content market (April 9 – 12, 2018, Cannes, France)
71st Cannes Film Festival and Marché du Film (May 8 – 19, 2018, Cannes, France).
Katya Mtsitouridze, Roskino CEO:
‘The digital sector is of primary interest today as it is the most dynamic part of the market. Apart from Amazon, Lucasfilm and other giants we met a lot of producers working on Youtube-oriented projects, making Instagram and Facebook videos. They have real production budgets and professional crews for creation of branded content or magazine videos. Most of them have an experience of working in Kiev or Minsk but not Moscow. They reacted very favourably to the recent information on the advantages of Moscow, the available sites, and production security. Now we have to do our part, and I am talking not only of the Moscow Film Commission but also of the local production companies. We have to meet the highest international standards, adjust our prices and respect our obligations. In our industry the word of mouth and the personal experiences are paramount.’
A Location Expo was launched at the American Film Market in Los Angeles in November, 2017. Over 60 film commissions, facilities and government agencies from around the world offered their production incentives to the global film companies. This is where the Moscow Film Commission was first presented to the American audience. The international industry professionals took a great interest in the opportunity. Th Roskino team held over 65 meetings that resulted in dozens of requests for detailed and updated information on Moscow filming regulations. In follow-up of these meetings 11 international companies have expressed interest in working with the Moscow Film Commission and the Russian productions.
The Moscow Film Commission had its own booth at the Focus Location Expo that took place in London in December, 2017. The event was aimed at international film and TV professionals. In two days the Roskino team scheduled and held over 40 meetings with major film and TV production companies. The MFC booth attracted over 500 professionals. As a result of the meetings, a keen interest in the MFC was registered among global film, drama, and leading commercial producers. The booth was especially popular with location managers and scouts that collect information on potential new locations. Negotiations were held with a number of leading global film commissions, including colleagues from Paris, Prague, Budapest, and London. Exchange of experiences took place and possibilities for future cooperation were explored. The MFC representatives met production associations and reached an agreement with the UK Production Guild to collaborate on setting up filming in Moscow.
The European Film Market at the 68th Berlinale in February, 2018 showcased major global production companies and associations. The program included a special pre-production section, and the Moscow Film Commission booth debuted in the European framework. The Roskino team assisted by the international consultant Franck Priot scheduled and held over 60 meetings. As a result, 31 companies expressed an interest in co-producing projects in Russia and exploring the possibilities of the Moscow Film Commission. An agreement was reached with ANICA, the leading Italian production association, to promote the MFC, Moscow locations and production services among Italian content providers.
At FILMART, the biggest film and TV content market in Asia that took place in Hong Kong in March, 2018 the MFC was showcased at the Roskino – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand among the leading European, Asian and American film and TV productions and film commissions. Over 45 meetings with leading film and TV professionals were scheduled and held during the market. As a result, 23 global companies expressed an interest in exploring the possibilities of collaboration with the MFC and the Russian film and TV productions.
At the MIPTV digital and TV content market that took place in Cannes in April, 2018, the MFC was once again showcased at the Roskino – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand. The television professionals were as keen about Moscow as the film people. The representatives of HBO, Starz, FremantleMedia, CBS, Amazon, BBC and other major players took the information on the MFC and its services into account. 34 meetings with industry professionals were scheduled and held at the content market.
The 71st Cannes International Film Festival and Marché du Film that took place in May, 2018 was the biggest global entertainment event of the year second only to the Olympics. The Roskino stand at the film market featured a special MFC corner that attracted a lot of global production professionals. The Roskino team jointly with the international consultant Franck Priot scheduled and held over 35 meetings with international producers and productions. As a result, 24 companies expressed an interest in collaboration with the MFC and the Russian colleagues.
The Moscow Film Commission was presented in the Russian Pavilion on May 12, 2018. Roskino CEO Katya Mtsitouridze demonstrated the key features of the original MFC website and the Moscow in Motion multimedia project she had co-created and produced. Moscow in Motion combines a series of 450 images of Moscow locations shot over the year by the cult photographer Anton Lange, a location guide targeted at international producers, the Moscow in Motion action short, and the Film Moscow AR smartphone app. Svetlana Maksimchenko, MFC Secretary General, informed the audience of the functions and strategic goals of the structure. The presentation was attended by over 200 global industry professionals. As a result of the promo campaign co-organized with the DDA communication agency the MFC corner enjoyed a great attention.
Anton Lange, Moscow in Motion co-creator:
‘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 have been a part of this ambitious initiative and the wonderful Roskino team. Every time we went out to shoot our enthusiasm was boosted. We were happy to participate in a landmark project that captured the soul, the pace, the mood, the details, and the character of our favourite city throughout the four seasons of the year. In fact, we created not only an instrument for global film and TV professionals but a chronicle of city life for a wide audience of Moscow citizens and tourists. In spite of the many tricky aspects that had to do with the weather and the complicated permitting process we were enjoying the project immensely, and I hope the international professionals will be able to appreciate our unique album of 420 original images in the nearest future.’
The website of the Moscow Film Commission has been created by Roskino to offer comprehensive information on the MFC services, local production companies, available locations, and production incentives at governmental and private level. The website targets the global film, TV, media and entertainment community. It will be launched shortly as a part of the Moscow municipal web portal.
The website of the Moscow Film Commission created by Roskino features:
- a map of over 500 unique locations complete with brief notes on every site featured in the series of images created by the photographer Anton Lange at the commission of Roskino from August 2017 to August 2018. The images showcase the locations in all seasons; - a comprehensive, regularly updated database of world class film and TV productions open for international cooperation;
- a comprehensive, regularly updated database on state-of-the-art equipment rentals;
- a database of English-speaking talents and their representatives;
- a clear set of filming rules and regulations established by the Moscow government;
- organizational information on logistics, transportation, crew visas and other red tape details;
- live weather updates;
- Moscow in Motion action short shot in various restricted sites of the city;
- contact details and application form.
Franck Priot, MFC international consultant:
‘It is worth noting that while the choice of countries and locations generally lies with the producers, the advice of location managers, directors, and writers is also taken into consideration. Financial factors play a key role but personal experiences and connections should not be underestimated. Over the past 10 years very few international productions really got to shoot in Moscow. Therefore very few producers, let alone the audiences, are aware of today’s reality of the Russian capital. They do not know what the city looks like and have no clue about ultramodern locations such as the Moscow City business district or the Zaryadye park.
There is lack of transparent system of production insurance and completion bonds, lack of information on local production companies who could assist in setting up filming, lack of awareness of financial regulations and specific aspects of the climate (for instance, what is the best season for shooting where), lack of understanding of the difficulties that may arise in the process and the structures to turn to in order to solve the problems. All of these issues come along with the lack of reliable information about the costs. Moscow is known as a super expensive city for expats, so producers tend to assume that for filming it is more expensive than other European capitals. These obstacles stop international producers from coming to shoot in Moscow. The Moscow Film Commission intends to solve most of these problems by informing the global community of the available options and offering support on the spot.
However at the moment the MFC is not fully operative. The next step is to create a working system of rebates and other financial incentives conforming to international standards. The implementation of such a program will make the international promotion of the MFC much more efficient. At that point Moscow will be able to compete with cities like Prague, Budapest, Bucharest and Sofia that have hosted 50% of the Hollywood and British film and TV productions over the last 10 years. In these capitals the tax rebates vary from 20% to 40% depending on the project budget. Until the rebate system was introduced in France in 2009 Paris saw as few international productions as Moscow does today. All the industry professionals that were interested in Moscow wanted to find out more about the regulations, the permitting timeframes for various objects, and the climate patterns in various cities including Moscow. When the producers and location scouts were introduced to the work of the fabulous Anton Lange they immediately asked if there was a website where all these images were available. However, the filmmoscow.com website we have been promoting on every platform and printed product as agreed with the Moscow Department of Culture offers no clue about all the above issues. It does not even have the basic information on the structure and advantages of the Moscow Film Commission. All of this content, apart from the filming regulations, is available at the original Roskino-created website I have tested on my global colleagues. The feedback I got allows me to conclude that the sooner the website is launched and becomes available for global audiences the sooner we can expect a maximal result of the extensive research and massive promotion effort that were put into the establishment of the Moscow Film Commission.’
In total, from August, 2017 to August, 2018 the Roskino team scheduled and held 247 meetings with representatives of 60 nations, including the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Israel, China, Austria, Italy, France, Korea, Germany, the Scandinavian countries and many others.
As a result, the MFC received 131 requests for cooperation. The proposals came both from independent producers and major entertainment companies. It proves that global productions are ready to include Moscow locations in their future projects provided they get favourable offers from the Moscow Film Commission.
In follow-up of the meetings Roskino created a fact sheet for Russian companies interested in international co-productions with an annotated list of foreign companies potentially interested in filming in Moscow. The list is available in an annex and the contact details can be requested from Roskino.
AMERICAN FILM MARKET
November 1-8, 2018
A Location Expo was launched at the American Film Market in Los Angeles in November, 2017. Over 60 film commissions, facilities and government agencies from around the world offered their production incentives to the global film companies. This is where the Moscow Film Commission was first presented to the American audience. The international industry professionals took a great interest in the opportunity. Th Roskino team held over 65 meetings that resulted in 30 requests for detailed and updated information on Moscow filming regulations. In follow-up of these meetings 11 international companies have expressed interest in working with the Moscow Film Commission and the Russian productions.
US production and distribution company interested in partneships with Russian production. Planning to attend the Moscow Film Festival. Ready to consider collaboration with the MFC on location scouting and permitting.
BOUTIQUE EDITIONS LTD
British publishing group behind the Location International magazine, a publication available at all the major trade shows (Locations Trade Show in LA; Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; Berlinale; MIPTV and MIPCOM; Sundance Film Festival; AFM). Yearly outlet issued in April, in the run-up of the Cannes festival. Interested in international promotion and ready to partner both with the MFC and the Russian film and TV productions.
CINEMA AND VIDEO INTERNATIONAL
Italian bilingual publication distributed mainly in Italy and at some international markets (in the English version). Has a big section dedicated to locations and film commissions. Offer promotional opportunities to the MFC and Russian productions.
Major US production focusing on film and TV content. Currently developing a WWII project. Ready to consider a partnership with the MFC to cast English- speaking talents and set up filming, interested in co-production opportunities offered by local companies.
US financial consultancy and invest management company based in Massachusetts. Interested in partnership with the MFC, require filming and permitting regulation and more info on the MFC organizational structure. Ready to offer consultancy to Russian producers looking for international cooperation opportunities.
International Miami-based legal advisors with a focus on film and TV production. Interested in partnering with the MFC, waiting for more details. Advised to get in touch with line producers working in Eastern Europe. Ready to work with Russian productions.
One of the top US companies focusing on development of original feature film and television scripts. At the moment the portfolio of projects in development includes several stories set in Moscow. After a general presentation of the MFC functions a formal request for production support can be expected. The company would like to get more information on the opportunities offered by the MFC and the filming regulations.
SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Shanghai International Film festival. Interested in partnership. Invites an MFC representative to visit the festival. Ready to discuss the possibility of signing an MOU.
Polish production that is currently developing a project set mainly in Moscow. Interested in the MFC support for permitting and location scouting. Ready to work with Russian productions.
TAKE ONE PRODUCTIONS
A US company that is developing a co-production project that may be partially set in Moscow. Willing to send more info and discuss the possibility of partnering up with Moscow for filming support and location scouting. Interested in finding a Russian production capable of setting up filming in Moscow.
A US company producing a film starring Eric Roberts. Looking for a Russian distributor. The film is currently in post production. Interested in working with the MFC on their future Moscow-related projects. Need more information on the opportunities offered by the MFC support, financial incentives and potential discounts at local production studios.