How Polish Film Institute can help you with your production – Interview with Robert Balinski – International co-productions Project Manager at PFI
Here is my Q&A session with Robert Balinski from Polish Film Institute about Polish film industry, international co-productions, grants and other film funding or help opportunities. Find out how PFI can help with your film production!
A.S. How has the Polish film market developed over the last decade? How many independent and professional productions are being made every year?
R.B. The Polish film market is stable and steadily growing. There are about 40 feature fiction films produced each year with about 10-12 films in co-production primarily with other European countries. The market share of Polish films varies between 20% and 30% and the share of art-house films in the Polish market is constantly growing. This is due to the fact that the quality of Polish films is getting better and better. The biggest box office success in 2013 has for the moment been “Traffic Department” by Wojciech Smarzowski with 1 million tickets sold.
A.S.What production or co-production opportunities for international filmmakers are there in Poland? (both the independent and professional international film industry). How does the Polish Film Institute encourage international co-productions? What kind of support to international filmmaker and producer groups does the PFI offer?
R.B. First of all by co-financing and promoting Polish films and talents. The success of films made by the young generation of filmmakers is improving their chances of having their next film co-produced (it is however not the policy of every producer to co-produce “Baby Blues” and “In The Name Of” , both presented at the Berlinale 2013 were entirely Polish films.) Since 2005, PFI has co-financed 90 first full-length feature films!
PFI is also supporting many activities aiming at project development. We are co-financing ScriptEast and ScriptPro, last year in Poland we hosted the Torino Film Lab, Sources 2 and Doc Incubator. We have a common co-development fund with Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg and Mitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung. We support producers actively looking for co-producers at international festivals and pitching sessions. We also prepare other events aiming to promote directors, producers and their projects like the Producers Network in Cannes or Focus on Poland at the CineKid For Professionals market in Amsterdam.
PFI is also open to minority co-productions and allocates a relatively big part of its budget to them. We support around 4-6 minority co-productions per year and can give up to half a million euros for a single project.
A.S. I receive a lot of inquiries from the global community of filmmakers and producers about opportunities to fund a film in Poland. Are there any international funding programs for foreign filmmakers provided by PFI? What are the standard conditions for receiving the funds?
R.B. There is no separate fund dedicated to co-production. All projects of any particular genre (fiction, documentary or animation) have separate funds and compete against each other within that genre with or without financing from abroad. We give grants to about 4-6 MINORITY co-productions per year but the competition in this field is extremely high as quite often famous directors, international stars or well-known production companies are involved.
A.S. Can you give examples of those names and film projects co-financed by PFI? :)
R.B. Sure, Golden Globe nominated and multiply award winner “Carnage” by Roman Polanski (starring Judy Foster, Kate Winslet, Christopher Waltz), Oscar nominated and multiply award winner “In Darkness” by Agnieszka Holland (starring Robert Więckiewicz, Benno Furman), Cannes winner “Antichrist” by Lars von Trier (starring William Dafoe), Tribeca Film Festival winner “City Island” by Raymond De Felitta (starring Andy Garcia, Ezra Miller) “Nightwatching” by Peter Greenaway (starring Martin Freeman, Emily Holmes)..Do you want me to keep going? :)
A.S. Those are great examples! :) Which film production studios in Poland would you recommend to international producers and filmmakers considering co-productions?
R.B. I would say that the best recommendation for producers are their films. If you want to find a good producer take a look at the most successful Polish pictures of the year and you will have one.
A.S. A frequent case:) I am a foreign filmmaker and have a script ready to go to production and am looking for producers. What would your advice be on how to sell the script to Polish producers or studios?
R.B. Feel free to ask us! We will tell you (based on synopsis) how similar projects in the past went on the Polish market, what in our opinion has a chance to convince producers and what convinced the experts of the Institute to give a grant in the past.
If you are at a big festival, such as Cannes or Berlinale, you can visit our stand where we can talk directly about your projects and you can meet Polish producers in person.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you should attend industry events at big Polish festivals in Wrocław, Warsaw, Krakow and Gdynia and talk to the people directly and see their films.
In any case, we encourage you to check information on our website pisf.pl (available also via mobile app).
A.S. How would you recommend the Polish film industry to international filmmakers and producers? What are the qualities and advantages?
R.B. The famous Polish DOPs and creativity of artists and crew on set are not the only advantages of Polish filmmaking industry. It is important to stress that we are not only doing contemporary art house movies. Each year big-budget movies in the range of 4 to 5 million euros are produced which prove what cinematography is capable of. The entire industry is getting highly innovative and technically sophisticated. Big historical dramas with impressive budgets like “Warsaw 44” by Jan Komasa or “Influence” by Łukasz Barczyk, both in post-production, are made with a strong emphasis on visual effects and their post-production is handled in Polish studios. “Congress” by Ari Folman was partly made in a Polish animation studio. A third of “Suicide Room” was made in 3D animation and was also entirely created here. “Another Day of Life”, a Polish-Spanish co-production, combines a live action documentary film with an animated adaptation of the book by Ryszard Kapuściński.
I would say that Polish cinema has many faces and it’s the diversity that makes it so inspiring. Polish cinematography had gone through a weaker period from 1990 to 2010 and everybody was looking for a “new wave”of Polish cinema. The new generation of filmmakers have finally found their voice and each one is different.
Polish cinema is… courageous. Only strong and courageous people make films like “Ida” by Paweł Pawlikowski, “In the name of” by Małgorzata Szumowska, “Lust for life” by Maciej Pieprzyca, “Papusza” by Joanna and Krzysztof Krauze or “Floating Skyscrapers” by Tomasz Wasilewski.
A.S. Thank you Robert for all info:)
Robert Balinski is International co-productions Project Manager at Polish Film Institute
If you have questions or project to discuss, feel free to contact Robert via e-mail at robert.balinski (at) pisf.pl