Skady Lis: “One of the main benefits of co-productions is the access to financing sources nationally produced films do not have”

18 September 2018, 19:52

On September 18 at KYIV MEDIA WEEK international media forum, Skady Lis, co-producer and founder of  Getaway Pictures (Germany), presented a report dedicated to financing cinema and co-production in Europe.  

Before Getaway Pictures was founded, Skady Lis worked for X-Filme Creative Pool, a studio of Tom Tykwer, Dani Levy, and Stefan Arndt. The films Skady Lis worked on include very diverse genres: from historical biopics to melodramas and romcoms; an absolute majority of them were co-produced. It is worth noting that the first co-production the producer worked on was The Mongol, a historical drama by Sergey Bodrov Sr. co-produced by companies from Russia, Kazakhstan and Germany. This film is not the only co-production with Russian film studios in Lis’s portfolio: 2012 saw the premiere of Lost in Siberiafilmed in Murmansk and Saint Petersburg.  

Today the finished projects of the studio feature Funny Games by Michael Haneke, Goodbye Bafanaby Bille August, winner of Berlinale Peace Award, Posthumous dramedy by Lulu Wang starring Brit Marling in the lead role, and an almanac from a well-known series Berlin, I Love Youbased on eleven scripts by different authors which became a German film co-produced by the USA among others. 

Among the main sources for financing European independent cinema Lis singled out grants from  Eurimages, Media subprogram in Creative Euroрe, tax benefits and rebates offered to international producers, and a network of local, regional, and national film funds.

According to the speaker, today it is obvious that international co-productions have many more chances to be seen on as many territories as possible than nationally produced films. Besides, co-productions have access to financing channels not available for nationally produced films. For example, when Lis worked on Goodbye Bafana (co-produced by France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and South Africa with the involvement of the UK, total budget 10 million EUR), film producers gathered the budget “bit by bit” from more than 20 different sources. 

As for the strategy for the film Berlin, I Love You, now in preparation for the premiere, it was totally different. Getaway Pictures producers presented a fully developed project to two American production companies which allocated the remaining sum (the total budget of the film is about 8 million EUR).  

According to Skady Lis, if the project is “hot” and has to be done quickly and also if the producer is convinced of its future successful box office, it is simpler and better to work according to the second scenario. That is, one should directly ask, say, American producers for the remaining financing instead of “piecing the puzzle” from scores of different sources in many countries. In the situation when financing is done from multiple sources, it is better to hire a collecting agent: this person will make sure each co-production party keeps preliminary arrangements about the amount and time limits of project financing. Further control over expenditures and distribution of revenues is also the agent’s responsibility. Besides, it is essential to find a professional sales agent when you are still in the early stages of project work. This decision will save a lot of hassle and help realize the film’s commercial potential to the fullest – on different territories and platforms.