FILMING IN SLOVAKIA
Can you describe what are the main goals of the Slovak Film Commission and how it supports Slovak audiovisual industry?
In 2018, the Slovak Film Commission (SFC) was established as a special organizational unit of the Audiovisual Fund. From June 1, 2018, I became its manager, based on the recommendation of a selection committee made up of representatives of the fund, the Slovak Film Institute and production associations. Under my leadership, a platform was created that actively presents the possibilities of filming in Slovakia, monitors the activities of film professionals intending to strengthen their position on the market, and continuously works with domestic and foreign producers who want to shoot in Slovakia. The primary goal of the SFC includes increasing opportunities for non-state investment in audiovisual production in the Slovak Republic, developing film infrastructure and promoting Slovakia as a "film-friendly country". The secondary goal is to support tourism in the regions. Since its launch, SFC has also been promoting the greening of the film industry and has created an enviro platform for film professionals where they can find useful information on how to film audiovisual works to reduce the environmental impact.
SFC established active cooperation with Slovak organizations and institutions operating in the film industry, as well as with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic, the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic, and the Institute of Circular Economics. SFC became a member of the European Film Commissions Network (EUFCN) and Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).
How is SFC achieving these goals?
One of the first activities was creating the brand of the commission and its visual identity. A new logo, promotional materials (leaflets, catalog), SFC’s website were created and SFC’s profiles were established on the social networks Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter for the presentation and promotion of SFC. There is a location database and a directory of companies and film professionals on the SFC website, which serves as a base for communicating with those interested in filming in Slovakia. At the same time, a list of "Made in Slovakia" was created - a summary of foreign films that were filmed in Slovakia.
The SFC’s website www.filmcommission.sk was launched in February 2019 and represents a comprehensive presentation of Slovakia as a film-friendly country. It contains information about the country, its borders and surrounding countries, its climatic conditions, filming and business infrastructure, and it also has a presentation of attractive locations and the film industry professionals. It is available in 2 languages (English and Slovak) and serves as the main source of information about the Slovak audiovisual industry. Those interested in filming in Slovakia will find a database of film infrastructure in Slovakia, information on successful foreign projects filmed in Slovakia, contacts of production companies, rentals, post-production companies, animation studios, sound studios, information about accommodation facilities, transport and more. This online database is regularly updated by SFC.
What media outlets does SFC use to present its activities and information to film professionals and the general public?
SFC regularly contributes with various information or current events connected to filming in Slovakia on social media, informs about its activities and keeps in touch with domestic and foreign film professionals. At the same time, it tries to reach potential new partners. For these purposes, SFC chose to communicate through the most popular social networks - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Its profiles on social networks were established in 2018 and the number of its followers is gradually increasing with the development of its activities. Most original contributions are published, which relate to locations in Slovakia, shooting of audiovisual projects, film professionals, or upcoming events. The space is also dedicated to environmental activities and events that the SFC has accomplished or organized as part of the Green Screen project.
Paid advertising is also a part of the presentation of Slovakia as a film-friendly country. The advertisement was published in the following print and internet media targeted at film professionals: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Location Guide, Makers, the English edition of the magazine Film.sk, catalogue of Slovak Film Institute.
SFC regularly informs domestic and foreign media about its activities and the current situation of the film industry through interviews or by providing specific information. The media with which the SFC has worked so far have been: FNE (filmneweurope.com), Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International, The Location Guide, LA Times, TASR, Kapitál, The Slovak Spectator, Kinorama, Refresher.
What key activities do you consider the most important in almost 4 years of operation of the Slovak Film Commission?
SFC serves as the first contact for questions about film infrastructure in Slovakia, where foreign filmmakers will receive comprehensive information in one place, making it easier for them to get the initial communication. The SFC established contacts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as with some Slovak embassies abroad (for example, India and the USA). Thanks to its proactive approach, SFC has established above-standard relationships with several independent producers, US film studios and representatives of streaming platforms. SFC also has above-standard cooperation with several foreign film commissions and with the European network of film commissions (EUFCN). In 2020, the SFA nominated the city of Banská Štiavnica for the EUFCN Location Award competition. Banská Štiavnica eventually became one of the five finalists of this competition, which helped to raise the interest not only of the city but also Slovakia as a film-accessible and hospitable country with interesting locations and attractive financial incentives for filming foreign projects.
SFA is also working intensively on the establishment of regional film offices in Slovakia. Negotiations with the Košice self-governing region should lead to the establishment of a regional film office in Košice in the first half of 2022.
Thanks to its membership in the EUFCN and the AFCI, the SFC has gained the opportunity to connect with foreign partners, exchange best practices, interconnection of databases, gain access to information, and opportunities for further training of staff and development of a film commission. These institutions also support the activities of film commissions in cooperation with public institutions in Slovakia and the European Union, support the film industry, organize training workshops and conferences, and analyze the needs of film producers and other film industry professionals.
Thanks to the establishment and expansion of the activities of the SFC and its involvement in the international project "Green Screen", the Slovak Republic has gained a significant position in the international context and has significantly intensified professional foreign contacts in the field of audiovisual culture and industry.
Zuzana Bieliková, Film Commissioner
Take a look at the photo report from the filming of Van Helsing series for Netflix in Slovakia.
Photo by @photo_by_mayohirc