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.