Who may submit an application? ||
Film producers may submit an application. The film producer is defined as a person who is responsible for the production of a film right up to delivery of the final product - or share responsibility, in case of a co-production - and is actively involved in the production. Even if a number of co-producers working on a co-production fulfill the application requirements, the application must be submitted by only one co-producer. The co-producers must reach an agreement on this matter and provide the DFFF with a joint declaration to this effect when submitting their application.
Applicants must have a legal residence or registered place of business in Germany. Should applicants have a legal residence or registered place of business in another member country of the European Union or in another state that is a signatory to the agreement on the European Economic Area, then they must have a branch office in Germany.
If the film is produced by the German subsidiary or branch office of a producer with a place of business outside the European Union or outside the member states of the European Economic Area, then all criteria for qualifying for funding must be met by the German subsidiary or branch office. The application can only be submitted by the German subsidiary or German branch office.
Applicants must have produced, either as a company or a person, at least one feature-length film ("reference film") in Germany or in another member state of the European Union or in a state that is a signatory to the agreement on the European Economic Area within five years preceding submission of the application.
The reference film must have been commercially released in German cinemas with at least 45 prints, or at least 20 prints if the production costs were less than two million Euros. For documentaries 8 prints are sufficient.
If funding is sought for the applicant`s debut film, the only reference required, is approval for funding by the office of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM), the FFA or a film board in one of the German states.
Which films qualify for grants? ||
Grants can be awarded to any full-length film with a running time of at least 79 minutes, or at least 59 minutes for children`s films, providing the following criteria are fulfilled:
Production costs must amount to the minimum of:
Feature films: One million Euros
Documentaries: 200,000 Euros
Animated films: Two million Euros
Production costs are to be calculated according to the principles of cost-efficient business management, which are specified in a supplement to the funding guidelines of the BKM.
At least 25 percent of the production costs must be spent in Germany, or only 20 percent, if the production costs are more than 20 million Euros. For German production costs of 15 million Euros and above, there is no minimal percentage. Contributions in kind are not considered for the calculation of the minimum amount of production cost.
Costs for indispensable exterior filming abroad are not taken into account for the minimum amount of German production costs. There are a number of special aspects to this issue that are dealt with in the chapter „What is considered as German cost of production".
What is the maximum amount of funding? ||
The grant ceiling per film is four million Euros. Upon request by the producer, this grant ceiling can be extended to a maximum of ten million Euros. In order to qualify for this increased funding, the German production costs must reach at least 35 percent of the total cost or the film has to achieve two-thirds of the total possible points in the test of characteristics. The advisory board decides on such requests for increased funding.
Grants can amount to up to 20 percent of the approved German production costs. When calculating funding, the approved German production costs will only be taken into consideration up to an amount corresponding to a maximum of 80 percent of the production costs (upper limit).
Should the German production costs end up higher than originally anticipated, they can be adjusted by a maximum of eight percent compared to the original German production costs listed in the application, subject to available financing. Despite subsequent increases in German production costs, only a maximum of 80 percent of the production costs may be used as a basis for calculating grants.
A German production company produces a feature film
1st example of calculation:
Production costs: 4 million Euros
thereof German production costs: 4 million Euros
Approved German production costs: 3.5 million Euros
Upper limit: 3.2 million Euros (= 80 % of the production costs)
(upper limit) 3.2 million Euros
Grant: 640,000 Euros (= 20% of the upper limit)
2nd example of calculation:
Production costs: 4 million Euros
German production costs: 3.5 million Euros
Approved German production costs: 3 million Euros
Upper limit 3.2 million Euros (= 80 % of production costs)
Calculation threshold 3 million Euros
(Approved German production costs)
Grant: 600,000 Euros (= 20% of the approved German production costs)
How much of the production costs need to be covered by applicant’s own investment? ||
Applicants must invest at least 5 percent of the production costs through their own contribution in accordance with Section 34, § 1 through 4 of the Film Funding Law (FFG). The FFA executive board can make exceptions for a producer`s first two feature-length films and documentaries.
Which other requirements need to be fulfilled? ||
The application must be filed timely, at least six weeks prior to the start of shooting.
In principal, shooting or animation work must not start before the official notification of the grant.
Proof must be supplied that the theatrical exhibition is covered by an unconditional legally binding distribution contract. This contract must stipulate a theatrical release, following these regulations:
- At least 45 prints
- For grants less than 320,000 Euros at least 20 prints
- For a documentary, minimum 8 prints
- For grants more than 4 million Euros, at least 200 prints
- If the film is also intended to be broadcast as a television miniseries and this miniseries being at least 20% longer than the version for theatrical release, at least 200 prints as well
Distributors who act as the contracting party for the applicant need to have released at least three feature-length films with 15 prints in German cinemas in the 24 months preceding submission of the application. The DFFF keeps a list of distributors who meet these criteria.
Within a year of completion of the film, it must be shown proof that the film has been released theatrically.
The film must comply with the holdback period pursuant to § 20 of the FFG. The holdback period for TV broadcasts can only be curtailed if the executive board is giving approval.
In principal, shooting or animation work must not start before the official notification for funding. However, it must begin within four months after receiving notification of the grant.
The film must be completed within the indicated project timeline.
At the date of notification of the grant 75 percent of the total financing must be confirmed.
Within three months after receiving notification of the grant the total financing must be shown proof for.
In accordance with BKM guidelines, a test of characteristics is conducted. There are specific point systems for feature films, animated films and documentaries. In the first part, the questionnaire focuses on the cultural content and creative talents, while the second part deals with production.
Applicants are required to supply a print of the film in an archivable format to the German Federal Archives (film archive).
At least one final version has to be produced in the German language, whereas a print with German subtitles suitable for the cinema will be sufficient.
In addition one final version of the film must be produced with German-language audio description and with German subtitles for the hearing-impaired.
What are the rules for international co-productions? ||
Applicants working on international co-productions must cover at least 20 percent of the production costs or five million Euros for productions with costs of over 25 million Euros.
When it comes to grant applications for co-productions involving a producer located outside of the European Economic Area, applicants must have produced a reference film solely or as a co-producer with a majority share. In exceptional cases, the FFA executive board can waive the majority share requirement if there is no doubt as to the applicant`s occupational aptitude.
For co-productions that are produced according to the European Convention, the eligibility test is exclusively conducted with respect to the point system in Appendix II of the European Convention.
International co-productions have to comply with all the conditions of funding requirements.
You will not receive a grant if the German contribution is merely of a financial nature, in other words, if the German partner does not share responsibility for the content of the film and is not actively involved in the production process.
What are German production costs? ||
German production costs are expenses that arise in Germany for film-related services provided by companies or their employees, staff or freelancers.
Essential for recognizing services provided by individuals as German production costs (i.e. their wages, salaries and fees) is the fact that they are subject to German tax liability, limited or unlimited.
When it comes to company bound services, it must be shown that the companies in question have their headquarters in Germany or have a branch office in Germany and, at the time when the services were provided, had at least one permanently employed staff member on their payroll who works in Germany. All services listed on the invoice have to be fully delivered in Germany. Invoices have to be issued by the Germany based company.
If the screenplay contains compelling reasons for shooting exterior scenes abroad, which cannot be shot in Germany, or can only be shot in Germany at a disproportionately high cost, then the accrued expenses qualify as German production costs. However, the following two restrictions apply:
Expenses must meet the criteria for services provided by individuals and companies; the limit is 40 percent of the total number of shooting days. For example, if there is a total of 30 shooting days, then twelve shooting days abroad (= 40 percent) may be counted. Nevertheless, during this period, only the expenses that were incurred in Germany can qualify as German production costs. The ceiling of 40 percent of the total number of shooting days does not apply to documentary films.
Note: The expenses approved here are not taken into account when calculating the minimum amount of German production costs.
Which costs are not taken into account when calculating the subsidy? ||
The following items are not approved when calculating the grant:
costs for film rights and rights for other pre-existing works (incl. pre-existing music), except fees for the script on which the film is based, up to 3 percent of the German production costs but maximum 150,000 Euros; for documentaries, archival material up to 30 percent of the German cost of production,
legal consulting fees,
travel and transport expenses for actors,
actors` fees, if they exceed 15 percent of the German production costs,
contingency reserves of which no deliveries or services have been paid at the time of final auditing,
Deferments and contributions in kind.
These items cannot be taken into consideration when ascertaining the approved German production cost; however, they are used to establish the total cost and the German production cost.
Can different sources of funding be combined? ||
A combination with other sources of funding is only possible up to the European allowed limit for funding of max 50 percent of productions cost, or up to 80 percent for economically challenging films.
When is the payment being made? ||
The funding process begins when the application is submitted by the film producer to the DFFF.
If the evaluation process leads to a positive result, the FFA will issue a notification of a grant.
The disbursal generally takes place after the production has been completed. The FFA can also make payments by installments to be disbursed according to the progress of the production (33 percent at the start of principal photography and closing of the financing, 33 percent when the rough cut is completed, the remainder after the final cost analysis has been audited).
If installment payments are required, a film completion bond or a financial guarantee corresponding to the approved amount of funding must be provided for a grant exceeding two million Euros. In this case, a financial guarantee according to Section 31 FFG is not applicable.
The DFFF funding is a grant and non-repayable. However, if the conditions are not met, the notification of the grant becomes null and void.
Can applications be re-submitted? ||
Applications for the same project may be re-submitted twice.