New adventures of independent film in CR VIIWritten by Andreas Kreuzer
With all the previously mentioned aspects it is now necessary to look at the new categorization and hierarchy of Czech cinematography. The basic category needs to be the non-professional film which will overlap all the entrance quality and can also include the category of school films. Then there needs to be the middle quality, or a indie film category which if profiled for the most advanced and most ambitious film makers of the non-professional camp and which should be partially connected to the professional film. Next to this can exist the student film in parallel and then the tip of the iceberg, which is the purely professional cinematography.
The new categories and hierarchy of cinematography (in Czech Republic)
Non-professional film category
This category is considered to be the entry filter for all the ages and artistic qualities. Its purpose is to offer the necessary enlightenment and motivate the creators to cross into the next category, let it be the student of indie film. The main priority is to monitor this category, appeal for the preservation of its output for the archivation and education purposes, hold regional competitions for it with the option of advancing into the national round and offer educational events.
It is expected for this category to use the proper licenses for the music, sound and other audiovisual elements which have to have an option for a special license in the field of non-professional art. This category is in fact already establishing itself and tries to replace the amateur one, without a proper conception, however. Those are the films of all the creators without the film education who aren't professional in the audiovisual field.
School film category
The works originating from all the educational institutions and associated subjects which are not primarily focused on film production, usually led by a teacher which does not have education or experience in the field and does not use professional equipment. It could be the result of works in optional courses and classes such as informatics or Czech language etc. Necessary musical or audiovisual licenses are also expected to be used properly in this category and there should be a licenses keeping such projects in mind, price-wise. This category was not considered by the film community as it was often merged with the student films, although both are two distinct fields - film school works and works of schools of different purpose. It should not be included into the activities connected with the non-professional culture as it rather falls into the jurisdiction of Ministry of Education.
Non-commercial with possible profit
Student film category
This category includes the works of film school students under the professional leadership of educated professors who have access to professional equipment. These works still bear the characteristics of a non-profit product so it would be desirable to measure this kind of film on par with the independent film. The author of the student film or the school has to have all the authorship rights sorted out, meaning that they should have all the rights for the film or at least have a license for use on the Czech Republic territory. However, this category should not be included in the support fund program for the non-professional culture. Although it does fall under the jurisdiction of the support funds of the Ministry of Education.
Independent (indie) film category
This category envelops all the creators who want to create a film for non-commercial purposes. It is not a film created on demand and there is no contractor or subsidiary. The primary goal is to reach an artistic result regardless of the film's life after its completion. It doesn't exclude the possibility of planned or additional salary for the creators in case of higher artistic qualities which would make for a better chance of distribution. This includes licensing rewards or money from festival awards. The creators may also be people educated in the field, they can be semi-professional or former professionals. It shouldn't be people who primarily fall into the professional film makers category who's films are realized for profit. That includes freelancers and commercial subjects.
The proposal to define authorship of independent non-commercial film:
The author of an indie film can be any citizen or foreigner permanently residing in Czech Republic. It could also be a film school student whose film is not a part of film education and is not directly supported by the school, also a professional course graduate or a professional who creates a film outside a job for their employer but not based on their business license as a film making freelancer. An independent film cannot be the one defined by the nature of business laws for the professional field. The author of an independent film can also be a non-profit legal entity or a freelancer in other field(s) than film making. To fulfill the criteria of an independent non-commercial film, the author has to have all the copyright licenses in order through the standard procedures, at least inside the Czech Republic. Like the commercial subjects who fall under the jurisdiction of the inspection agencies (tax office, social security administration), the independent author has to prove their licenses used in the film making process. It especially includes the technical elements of the production (hardware, software), or they have to have them obtained through contracts with a subject owning them. The author should also have proper contracts for all the artistic performers and keep track of the budget or other paperwork required by the inspection agencies working for or co-working with the support providers.
The proposal to define the prerequisites for non-professional film support:
A recipient of a support is a person, a citizen of CR, who carries out a film making endeavor without any intention for profit and/or doesn't belong to an educational institution (except for education courses). Also a person who is not defined in a business registry (unless it's a side job). Any non-profit legal entity may apply for a support as well.
Professional film category
This category is clearly defined by active individuals who receive salary for their services in film industry. This category stands on its own, is being driven and controlled by the market and party endorsed by the government cinematography development funds. It includes the film schools graduates regardless of whether they do it as a second job, television employees, freelancers and audiovisual production company owners. This category is not eligible for supports for non-professional activities.
Financing of an independent film
By separating the non-commercial independent cinematography and spreading an awareness this problem doesn't quite end yet. It will be necessary to convince the state, specifically the Ministry of Culture, to create a support program for it. The ideal would be something under the Fund for Support and Development of Czech Cinematography. If we consider the Czech MoC's concept for film industry support between 2011-2016, we'll find out that this category should be endorsed by the Fund. The text already works with the word "independent", albeit missing the non-commercial character. "If the state should support the independent film production, as well as the other European countries, it should have a bigger control over the supported films' budgets. It is necessary to keep in mind this is about supporting the independent film production, not the independent film producers as business companies. This fact is yet another argument for a new transparent law regarding cinematography," as the concept puts it. "The independent film genres (shorts, animation and documentary) distribution is problematic as they, compared to the feature films, don't earn enough money to cover the production expenses (distribution DVDs, film screening copies)." As the Ministry admits. "In the recent time there is no system support of these non-commercial genres and it is not clearly defined how much they should be supported."
It is without a doubt that the low budget independent non-commercial production should be included in the support program and the credit of its producers will be just as important as that of the professionals. Logically, the deciding jury should include a people who are very well familiar with independent film. The conditions for the applicants should be adjusted in many ways, though. For example, there should not be any demand for minimal distribution, the budget could include the deposit of voluntary work as well as gifts and sponsorships. There should also be a defined form of control over a budget regarding citizens who are not legal entities.
Czech television, as a public medium, supports and co-produces Czech films and should also take this category into consideration. It should open the gates to it through a so-called outsourcing of some programs (esp. documentaries, portraits, telltales), or at least give space to these films in its broadcast programming, student films included. It should at least partially work on educating these creators as well as the art academy FAMU which shouldn't just blindly overlook the efforts and evolution of the artists who are not under their direct curriculum.
From the manifest of the Czech Ministry of Culture:
Cinematography is not just a cultural value, it is also a source of historical and contemporary information about our society. It offers a complex historical and sociological witness, telling of the cultural identity of the country and the variety of its inhabitants. It is an important means allowing us to recognize the past and the present and have educational impact on our young generation and beyond.
- expand the Czech film industry,
- build a functioning system of government financial support.