The European documentary industry objects to MEDIA funding changes
- More than 40 European associations and guilds have issued a statement objecting to changes in Creative Europe – MEDIA funding regulations for documentaries
The Documentary Association of Europe (DAE), European Audiovisual Production Association (CEPI), Federation of European Screen Directors (FERA), Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA), International Federation of Film Distributors' Associations (FIAD) and European Producers Club (EPC), along with 35 national European associations and guilds, have issued a joint statement objecting to the changes to the funding of documentaries in the 2021-2027 framework for the new MEDIA programme.
Entitled "European Creative Documentaries, the Leftovers of the New MEDIA Programme", the statement singles out three technical modifications meant to simplify and standardise the programme rules, and which will have major consequences for creative documentaries in Europe.
The first point concerns development funds which will now only be awarded to projects that begin filming, at the earliest, ten months after the deadline for submission of the application for support – as opposed to eight months from the date of submission, as was the case previously. The signatories point out that this new deadline is incompatible with the production schedules of single creative documentaries, which are inherently shorter than those of fiction and animated titles, due to the need to react quickly to the rapidly changing reality of world events.
The second contested change is the transformation of the “single project” into a new “co-development” tool, under which every production company must now co-apply with another production company from another country. It specifies that the leading company should have distributed a project to at least three countries other than its own since 2014, while it previously used to be only one. The signatories believe that this unfairly affects the ability of companies from low-capacity-countries to lead a project.
Finally, the third point concerns the "TV programming" support, where previously, funds for audiovisual production logically distinguished between the fiction and animation genre, benefiting from a maximum co-financing rate of 12.5 % of total eligible costs from the MEDIA fund, and the documentary genre with a maximum rate of 20%. From now on, this support will be subject to a single maximum rate of 15%, applicable across the board to all genres, which is a welcome increase for fiction and animation, but for the already underfunded documentaries, this means their potential support will be further reduced, the statement says.
"While we don't think Creative Europe is trying to attack the place of documentary in the European independent audiovisual sector, it is clear that non-fiction professionals have not been consulted in a meaningful way for these regulation changes," says Brigid O'Shea, co-director of DAE. "We hope that DAE can be an open channel between the documentary community and policy makers in Brussels, ushering in a new era for collaborative and efficient relationships."
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