Agora Talks: Documentary Development Support

The talk titled “Documentary development support: How to apply to Creative Europe MEDIA and the Cash Rebate Programs of EKOME” was carried out on Thursday, March 17th, at Warehouse C, as part of the 24th Thessaloniki Documentary Agora Talks. The talk focused on the ways in which the filmmakers can present their creative vision. The members of the panel were Eleni Chandrinou – Producer, Member of the GFC Board of Directors (Greece/Belgium), Anna Kasimati – Head of Creative Europe MEDIA Office (Greece), and Stelios Kraounakis – Head of Funding Programs, Development Department, Investment Incentives and Funding Direction EKOME (Greece). 

Firstly, Stelios Kraounakis had the floor. “We receive one application for each project and it is about one production or co-production. We have to main motives. The first is more popular and related to the 40% discount in costs for chosen expenses that occurred in the region of Greece and the 30% transferable tax discount from all chosen expenses for audiovisual productions. We must be very clear on this, the financial motives managed by EKOME, support the production cost of audiovisual projects that are produced entirely or partially in Greece, and ae applied in all cross-border production and co-production programs. Your application should include specific required documents such as contracts, production timeline, administrative fees, budget – since we are part of the public sector – cultural criteria and crew list. These are not the only documents we as for, but they are the main ones and if you fail to submit them, your application cannot move forward to being reviewed by the board. Your application should be submitted up until 10 days before the beginning of production activities. EKOME confirms the legal status and the fact that your application fills the criteria within the deadline of 15 working days. It takes approximately two months to get approved, from the day you submitted the application and that depends on how many times we ask for additional documents. The more we ask for, the longer the process takes. Regarding the working expenses for productions that take place exclusively in Greece, they relate to the equipment and studio rental, intellectual property rights (music, script) and the application expenses. The applicant has to be a Greek production company or a foreign production company with a branch that is taxable in Greece. For anything new regarding your application, it means that it has to be reviewed again in order to get approved. Let’s stress out that in 2022, we had 21 suggestions for new creative projects”, he said in relation.

Anna Kasimati carried on the conversation, by mentioning the following: “Our offices support the film industry. They promote, support and distribute films. The budget for the 2022 programs will be 1.450.000 euros. What is our program funding? Among others, festivals, audiovisual projects, TV projects, films and sales. Your applications are submitted on our online platform. First, you have to sign up and then move on with your application. The board includes consultants and independent experts. The positive or negative results and comments are sent to the applicant. For instance, we cannot fund reality shows, projects that promote certain organizations or institutions, and anything related to pornographic or racist content. For the funding of documentaries, European Safe Development has been introduced, which addresses production companies that can develop three or five projects at once. The deadline for submissions is on the 27th of April. For a company to be considered, it has to have a so-called track record and to have been active since 2018, which should be available for promotional reasons”.

Eleni Chandrinou discussed the process one should follow in order to apply to the Greek Film Centre. “Before each application, you should be well familiar with your project. The basic instruction before sending your application is to read the instructions and to follow them (logline in maximum two or three sentences, link to the trailer, one-page summary, content/motive description, six-page treatment, episode description in case the project is a TV show). If we ask for one or two pages, do not submit more. Always keep in mind that some people will wake up in the morning and sit down to read your submission and it will not be the only application they will review that day. Your documents are the outcome of your work, with which you have been occupied for possibly many years. So think of the person reading them and try to make their life easier by being precise with what you want to present. Explain why you do what you do”, she noted initially.

“You have to know the project’s strong points and highlight them. Do not be modest. Do not take it for granted that the person that will review your application will understand for instance, the reason why you decided to include or not include interviews in your documentary. Your material is very important because you have to make the person who reads it fall in love with it and to charm them with it. To make them feel what you feel. These are the main instructions. You also have to be familiar with your company. To present a development strategy that will help your company. Because the projects you chose will help your company evolve. What makes it so special that will lead the project to universal acclaim? There needs to be a careful planning of the production. You also need to consider your audience when developing your project.”

To a question from the audience about when the production of a film begins, Ms. Chandrinou mentioned that “it starts from the treatment, the script, the casting, the location, the research. Your project will compete against others and that’s why it needs to be powerful. First you have to present your ideas, and if there is a famous person that has already showed interest, that is an element that elevates your work even more”, she concluded.