The key objective guiding local governments is to transform the opportunities of an activity which is typically of an immaterial nature into a flywheel of industrial development, intervening at every stage of the production chain, in the knowledge that audiovisuals have an extraordinary capacity for “illuminating” regions generating significant socio-economic spin-offs, the direct and indirect effects of which are not easily measurable.
The study that I coordinated for the Fondazione Rosselli, commissioned by Luce Cinecitta under the supervision of the Dg Cinema of the Mibact (Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities) had a dual purpose: to provide customers with an exhaustive picture of the functions and activities carried out by the FCs, and also place the same at the service of the State and the Regions involved in the process of reforming the various levels of sector government.
For this reason it was also considered useful to dedicate an important part of the work to relations between the State and the Regions by including the opinion of a number of experts of national and European importance each from their own perspective. On the other hand, we also wanted to respond to the requirement expressed by the National Coordinator of FCs to take a (moving) photograph of the resources generated by audiovisuals in the regions in which the said FCs operate.
The figures in the study unequivocally demonstrate that the impact generated by productions that have invested in the regions thanks to the support of these agencies can now be found in every territory.
In 2012 domestic and foreign productions spent a volume of resources directly in the region which can be estimated to be at least 260 million Euros, compared to regional public funding quantified at a total of 56.3 million Euros.
In the same year, out of the 1,064 productions which filmed in the regions for a total of 3,874working days, around 300 obtained technical-logistical support, benefitting from the provision of hospitality services, rather than the obtaining of permits, location hunting and various types of consultancy.
At least half of the 300 projects which received assistance also benefitted from grants covering/closing their financial plan at conditions that regarded expenditure in the region or the use of local workers.
The first estimates for 2013 indicate a growing trend in the dual sector of assisted and financed productions, despite the expenditure-restricting policies of local governments and the difficulties encountered in certain places in terms of the discontinuity of and uncertainty about available resources.
To date we can count a total of 24 film funds which, in various ways, support audiovisuals (including some incoming funds) which are mainly supplied by the ordinary budgets of the regions to which they belong, with the exception of some southern regions where it is also possible to access EC structural funds and/ or other resources negotiated within the context of Framework Program Agreements between Mibact-Mise funds and the regions involved (Sensi Contemporanei).
Almost all the funds monitored involve providing support for the production not just of theatrical works (feature films, documentaries, shorts) but also dramas (TV movies and series, long-running series) or other audiovisual genres (commercials, video games, multimedia applications).
Some funds have been activated in favor of specific types of works (documentaries or animation), others are dedicated exclusively to different stages of the production chain other than production (development, training, distribution).
One element that is common to all the instruments monitored is the presence of specific territorial restrictions that fluctuate between 100% and 200% of the contribution disbursed and can include the utilization of local resources.
Regional interventions now amount to more than a fourth of the national total and clearly exceed the amount of direct national contributions (excluding the contributions on takings) destined for cinema by the relevant Directorate-General through the single fund for entertainment (Fondo Unico per lo Spettacolo) (which, in 2013, amounted to little more than 22 million Euros).
Bruno Zambardino is Lecturer in Economics and Cinema/TV Organization, La Sapienza Rome University