Finnish film producers on strike in order to increase the government support
Statement of Finnish Film Producers
September 3, 2007
We, the signatories, producers of Finnish feature films, declare as of this moment a production strike, which concerns our film projects that are still pending.
We start this strike because Finland’s Minister of Culture Stefan Wallin has not kept his promise.
When the current government was formed, the film professionals in Finland believed the agony of the latest decade to be over, because film was especially mentioned in the Government Programme as an area of focus. We got even more faith when the Minister of Culture promised in June to increase funding by 1,2 Million € for the next year.
Our joy wasn’t long lasting. Now, a couple of months later, the amount of the government support for film from the lottery funds in the 2008 budget is exactly the same as in 2007: the increase, instead of the promised 8%, is zero.
What makes it especially stupid not to keep the given promise, is the fact that the money used to make one film returns to the state, in the form of taxes from sold tickets and paid salaries, sometimes even a double profit. This being the case, can anybody claim that producing films implies risks for the state economy?
We want to stress the fact that the maximum support granted for a single film has not increased in ten years. However, during the same period the production costs have doubled. If the government sticks to this short-sighted film policy, what kind of films does it want us to produce? Around ten films a year settled with compromises, with topics that have been chosen in the hope of high admission figures?
We are very angry about the fact that while film production is given zero increase, the National Opera receives another Million. It is of course only a drop in the total governmental and communal support for the opera which is around 50 Million €. Compared to that, the 13,5 Million € for films feels like an insult.
We are also annoyed by the fact that the state supports every ticket sold to the National Opera with 160 €, which is twenty times as much as the support for one cinema ticket.
During the last ten years, domestic films have had a market share of 15–25% in Finland. We are proud of that. We would have even more to give, but isn’t it unreasonable that one film needs an average of 150 000 sold tickets to reach break even? This is the situation when all normal sources of funding and forms of support have been used; we are thus speaking of the risk taken by the producer.
We would have been forced to give up a long time ago if we had stayed helpless when facing the lack of money. We have learned to find more money with hard work and professional skills. While the National Opera gets 500 000 € from the market, feature film producers collect ten times as much (5 Million €) every year from their co-operative partners for the benefit of Finnish films.
This annoys us, too: when the state moves the statutory library appropriation back to the state budget, as should be done, it starts simultaneously to use the lottery funds for the same kind of statutory expenses, in this case the government transfers for theatres and orchestras. If this money were included in the general budget, the lottery funds would be quite sufficient for us and others.
We, the signatories have agreed amongst ourselves that we will not start new film projects before the Minister of Culture keeps his promise and film receives an increase of 1,2 Million € next year.
Our demonstration is not directed against The Finnish Film Foundation, distributors or cinemas, and especially not against the audience. Therefore we promise to complete for the audience the films that have received support this year.
What if there will be no increase of support? In that case we feel that the government can take the total amount of film support in 2008 and give it to the National Opera that tumbles in its own troubles.
Helsinki, September 3, 2007
Aleksi Bardy (Helsinki-filmi), Jörn Donner (Jörn Donner Productions), Jesse Fryckman (Bronson Club), Matti Halonen (FS Film), Jarkko Hentula (Juonifilmi), Tahvo Hirvonen (Pettufilmi), Riina Hyytiä (Filmiteollisuus), Petri Jokiranta, Tero Kaukomaa (Blind Spot Pictures), Aki Kaurismäki (Sputnik), Timo Koivusalo (Artista Filmi), Nina Koljonen (MRP Matila Röhr Productions), Johannes Lassila (Also Starring), Peter Lindholm (Petfilms), Jenni Lähteenmäki (Suomen Filmiteollisuus SF), Auli Mantila (DO Films), Ilkka Matila (MRP Matila Röhr Productions), Ilkka Mertsola (Sputnik), Kai Nordberg (Making Movies), Claes Olsson (Kinoproduction), Liisa Penttilä (Edith film), Mika Ritalahti (Silva Mysterium), Harri Räty (Lasihelmi Filmi), Marko Röhr (MRP Matila Röhr Productions), Lasse Saarinen (Kinotar), Satu Sadinkangas (Suomen Filmiteollisuus SF), Rimbo Salomaa (Kinotar), Kari Sara (Dada-Filmi), Markus Selin (Solar Films), Hannu Tuomainen (Cinemaker), Juha Wuolijoki (Snapper Films)