EU Support for Creative Documentaries

The importance of the EU MEDIA Programme for the creative documentary can not be underestimated. Since 1990 the countries, who are members of the EU (plus now also countries like Norway, Switzerland and Croatia), have been able to achieve funding for the development of documentaries as well getting non-repayable grants through the so-called TV Broadcasting scheme, where the applying production companies can get a financing that can go up to 20% of their production budget.

A list has just been published announcing ”the winners” of the March application deadline for the mentioned TV broadcasting. 17 documentaries are on the list, only 3 feature films and 3 animation! Must say something about the international potential of documentaries as no films projects are selected if they do not have a good handful of broadcasters committed on paper to either a coproduction or a prebuy of the finished film.

It takes a lot of energy, markets and pitching sessions to get these necessary commitments, that often are only from 2-10.000€ for a pre-buy of a film project, but if you have the good handful of projects you are eligible for the MEDIA support, which is a fine addition to local film funding. Example: The Danish Film Institute has a yearly budget for creative documentaries of around 3.5 mio.€. In this round MEDIA support was given to 3 Danish companies with a total of around 400.000€ (Final Cut with 160.000€ for Freemen, Zentropa with 130.000€ for The Ambassador and Danish Documentary Production with 116.000€ for Love Addiction (director Pernille Rose Grønkjær, director of award winning ”The Monastery”)). Danish documentaries have big budgets, in other countries it is much less – great it is, on the list, to see a very promising film project, “Larger than Life” (photo) about the Latvian theatre phenomenon Alvis Hermanis to be directed by Latvian Gints Grube. He and his company Mistrus Media achieved 16.000€, which is almost 20% of their budget.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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