EXECUTIVE REPORTVISIT TO CRIMEA, MAY 2011ASSESSMENT OF POTENTIAL FOR CRIMEA ASINTERNATIONAL FILM INDUSTRY LOCATION HOSTAND...
EXECUTIVE SUMMARYBACKGROUNDCrimea, Kiev and Moscow have been an axis of film-making for a very long time. Micro-climates,v...
MISSION STATEMENTTo renew and refresh the Crimean film industry and create a new globally-accessible multi-location venue ...
Plan 2As an alternative to an initial attempt to get a foreign funded pilot up and running, a locally-drivenalternative mi...
ASSETS & ADMINISTRATIONAll the following constitute assets / administrative challenges:Hotels and field accommodation, tra...
S.W.O.T. ANALYSIS                     STRENGTHS                                           WEAKNESSES   History of Crimea ...
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Crimea film development report executive summary - ivor benjamin 07-10-2011

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Crimea Film Development Report - Executive Summary - Ivor Benjamin 07-10-2011

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Crimea film development report executive summary - ivor benjamin 07-10-2011

  1. 1. EXECUTIVE REPORTVISIT TO CRIMEA, MAY 2011ASSESSMENT OF POTENTIAL FOR CRIMEA ASINTERNATIONAL FILM INDUSTRY LOCATION HOSTAND FOR INWARD INVESTMENT TO CRIMEANFILM AND TOURIST INDUSTRIES1) Executive Summary, Credits & Notes2) SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats)Ivor BenjaminChair – Directors Guild of Great BritainTrustee – Directors Guild Trust
  2. 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARYBACKGROUNDCrimea, Kiev and Moscow have been an axis of film-making for a very long time. Micro-climates,varied geography and many historical sites and buildings give Crimea a unique and diverse range offilm locations - and Mediterranean weather for most of the year puts it on a par with other major filmlocation venues such as: Hollywood, Hawaii, New Zealand and UK. Sebastopol is a fabulous “cityon the sea” waiting to be discovered by Western film crews (and stars) and has a local (military)airport; Simferopol has good transport links and is central.Yalta Studios was famous as the historical centre of Soviet film-making in Crimea, but the studiosbacklot and offices are now run down, barely usable and are being sold for redevelopment; theirsound stages in town (which may have been too small and poorly equipped for modern film-makinganyway) were sold for property re-development years ago. The company who run the studios (YaltaFilm) have made little investment over the last 15 years and what equipment and resources remainrange from out-dated to antique. (1)The rewards for attracting location filming, especially from Hollywood, are huge. The “Pirates of theCaribbean” 4-film franchise has typically filmed in 3 or 4 exotic locations for each film, but mostlyin Hawaii – where the reported spend for “Pirates 4 – On Stranger Tides” was $85 million US. (2)“The Hobbit” (two films) has started a 2 year shooting schedule in New Zealand with a budget of$500 million US, of which around $200 million US (guesstimate) will be spent on location shooting.Competition is naturally fierce – new studios in Malaysia are currently being built by Pinewood UK(3) , new studios have just been built in Spain and Canada, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Hungaryand Romania are all trying to take a “piece of the pie” through a mixture of tax incentives, stronglocal film skills and low labour costs for well-trained staff.CURRENT SITUATIONYalta Studios is gone – do not mourn it’s departure, it creates the opportunity for a clean slate andfresh start; I do not believe we should put any emphasis on a revival of Yalta as a central venue forfilm production in Crimea – it is not a good idea for many reasons, but most importantly it is nowwell-established as a major Black Sea tourist resort, and is effectively full to capacity in terms ofaccommodation and resources for 4 to 5 months of the year.In general terms, the local situation in Crimea has massively improved since Central Televisionfilmed the first 3 series of “Sharpe” from 1992 to 1994 - and was forced to leave because of acholera outbreak in Simferopol 1994-95. Film-making skills are now based mostly in Kiev, wherethere is plenty of sound stage space (approximately 15-20,000 square metres). Transport links to andfrom Kiev are good, as are Crimean roads and local air transport; there is a military airport atSebastopol and good helicopter services. The local tourist infrastructure is still a little old-fashionedand quite inward-looking, with some notable exceptions like the Palmeira Palace Hotel outsideYalta. Outside of the better hotels, English is not spoken widely in Crimea yet (at least in the partswe visited), and this is a significant stumbling block.There seems to be strong support in the Crimean government from Mr Jorgi Psarov (Deputy PM) fora fresh look at attracting foreign filmmakers to Crimea and both Kiev Studios and the UkrainianSociety of Tourism are open to involvement. It is a certain fact that becoming a major filminglocation attracts international tourism as well as providing a big boost to the local economy. Withfilm crews easily boasting 200 or more in their ranks, local small businesses stand to gain as muchfrom the industry as larger, directly-related companies such as hotels, caterers or car hire operations.© Ivor Benjamin, June 2011 Page 1 of 5
  3. 3. MISSION STATEMENTTo renew and refresh the Crimean film industry and create a new globally-accessible multi-location venue for international film and television.PROPOSAL FOR EXECUTIONI believe you require a single, non-government organisation (NGO) to advertise, attract and manageforeign film-making and inward investment in film in Crimea; an appropriate model would be theBritish Film Commission. (4) A Crimea Film Commission would operate in a very similar way andalso take charge of ensuring the very highest quality of support for incoming projects, frominterpreters and “fixers” to quality of service in accommodation, transport and staff hire. I alsobelieve that a local Crimea Film Festival would serve as a vehicle to attract foreign film industryvisitors, boost local economy and help develop young film-makers and service industry personnel.I suggest the following basic plan:Plan 1Short-Term (2012-2013)1) Set up a consultation to establish the requirements and remit of the Commission, using a widerange of suitable contributors and with strong input from Kiev Studios, (cost approx. $50,000 US)then:2) Set up a paper exercise to run the arrival and supervision of a medium size foreign feature filmproject with a local spend of approximately 2.5 million Euros and a total budget of around 6 millionEuros;3) Open the Commission for business in late 2012 / early 2013.4) Attract a suitable project, preferably with a European / US element to run as a pilot project to ironout all possible problems and challenges;5) Develop a local film festival for summer/autumn 2013, perhaps run bi-annually to begin with.Medium-Term (2014-2016)5) Establish good relations with suitable investment partners and develop business plan to expandthe operation to include a film studios based in Yalta and start strong local commercialfilm/television-making enterprise catering to Russian-speaking audience. Content does not have tobe exclusively drama – documentaries and other recorded media formats will also suit a commercialmodel.Long-Term (2017 Onward)6) Build a well-equipped studio facility (sound stages, post-production, VFX, set building etc.)somewhere between Sebastopol and Simferopol, away from roads and flight paths to reduce strainon Kiev and make Crimean film industry specific and strong. Use the Pinewood “professionalvillage” model, attracting film professionals and their companies to populate and work rather thanusing a conventional “film studio business-with-employees” (Hollywood) model.© Ivor Benjamin, June 2011 Page 2 of 5
  4. 4. Plan 2As an alternative to an initial attempt to get a foreign funded pilot up and running, a locally-drivenalternative might be to find a Russian sponsor and do a major sponsorship/promotion deal as Fedexdid with the film Castaway, (where Fedex received a major level of product placement in return forfunding the majority of the production). It may be easier to gain this investment as an initialproject; it will still serve to test local resources, logistics and infrastructure if undertaken with thesame production values as a medium budget UK pilot / feature and may be a sounder businessproposition, though it still requires proper planning and research.The Russian film industry produces around 100 feature films a year, but many are government-funded and vanity projects; there is not yet a clear model for commercial production like Hollywoodor Bollywood, though there are a quarter of a billion Russian speakers worldwide. This represents alargely untapped market for commercially-driven Russian-language feature films that could beproviding bread and butter income (as Kiev Studios does with TV mini-series / soaps / game showsetc.) while building a Crimean / Ukrainian film industry that can compete on international stage.This also predicates an effective film distribution market / mechanisms (not yet researched) and adevelopment plan for growing and marketing a “back catalogue” of product which can become astable long-term income source. (the model on which Hollywood’s success has been founded).If this pilot proves a success it can still be used as a basis for attracting international productions;everyone will be happier if it has been done before, albeit for a different end user. It will also allowany mistakes to be made in a less public way ... and there will inevitably be mistakes in such a newventure.Short-Term (2012-2013)1) Set up a consultation to establish the requirements and remit of the Commission, using a widerange of suitable contributors and with strong input from Kiev Studios, then:2) Set up a paper exercise to run the arrival and supervision of a medium size Russian feature filmproject with a local spend of approximately 1 million Euros and a total budget of around 2 millionEuros;3) Open the Commission for business in late 2012 / early 2013.4) Attract or mount a suitable Russian feature project, perhaps with a European / US financeelement, to run as a pilot project to iron out all possible problems and challenges;5) Develop a local film festival for summer/autumn 2013, perhaps run bi-annually to begin with.Medium-Term (2014-2016)5) Establish good relations with suitable investment partners and develop business plan to expandthe operation to include a film studios based in Yalta and start strong local commercialfilm/television-making enterprise catering to Russian-speaking audience. Content does not have tobe exclusively drama – documentaries and other recorded media formats will also suit a commercialmodel. One should bear in mind that the Russian speaking market is effectively a quarter of a billionstrong and currently underserved in terms of feature films, though TV mini-series appear to beabundant. Seek foreign partners and begin to market Crimea for location filming to foreign filmproductions (See Plan 1).Long-Term (2017 Onward)6) Build a well-equipped studio facility (sound stages, post-production, VFX, set building etc.)somewhere between Sebastopol and Simferopol, away from roads and flight paths to reduce strainon Kiev and make Crimean film industry specific and strong. Use the Pinewood “professionalvillage” model, attracting film professionals and their companies to populate and work rather thanusing a conventional “film studio business-with-employees” (Hollywood) model.© Ivor Benjamin, June 2011 Page 3 of 5
  5. 5. ASSETS & ADMINISTRATIONAll the following constitute assets / administrative challenges:Hotels and field accommodation, travel agencies, transport, equipment hire (film/technical andgeneral/power generation), technical expertise and staff capacity, catering, translation andinterpreters, legal and financial, national, regional and local government tax incentives and otherfinancial initiatives, customs and immigration, policing and security.CONCLUSIONThe major Hollywood companies are the biggest players and the biggest spenders on the worldcinema and television stage; I believe they will love Crimea for the range of locations, the weatherand especially for “discovering” new tourist / location venues like Sebastopol. BUT – Hollywood isa tough and pragmatic business; they are primarily interested in financial incentives – so, can youmake it a “New Prague” (5) ? Well-staffed, well-resourced and equipped, cheaper and better thananywhere else with good tax breaks and incentives? And, for such a project to work, there must be areally excellent package on offer, planned with military precision and great style, with no slip-ups –a bad reputation travels instantly on the Internet and can seldom be undone, but a good reputation isliterally worth millions. A local Crimea Film Festival can help define and locate the region in theminds of international film-makers – but it too requires excellent planning and execution.Secondarily, in the absence of a strong and coherent commercial Russian feature film industry, thereis the potential for establishing a Russian/Ukrainian-based film industry with a Crimea – Kiev -Moscow axis to capitalise on an existing and very large Russian-speaking audience.Ivor BenjaminOctober 2011CREDITSMy thanks to:Larissa Kazachenko (Southern Tour Ltd)Alexei GolubovichTim LewinSeamus Mirodan -Executive Producer Stingray Films; Associate Producer, Insight News TVMaxim Ponomarenko CEO Palmeira Palace HotelIgor Sokolovsky –CEO, Kiev StudiosAnatoly Pakhlia – President, Ukranian Society of TourismNOTES (1) Yalta Film own a small warehouse of usable lights, stands and cables, but little else of value.(2) http://tinyurl.com/6zg6xmq(3) http://tinyurl.com/y9y4foo(4) www.britishfilmcommission.org.uk(5) The film industry in Prague became the darling of Hollywood and European film-making for a while, as facilities and film technical expertise were good and wages and costs very low. With increasing popularity and saturation of capacity, especially of staff, this slowly changed, and with no central control, for a while the city priced itself out of the market.© Ivor Benjamin, June 2011 Page 4 of 5
  6. 6. S.W.O.T. ANALYSIS STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES  History of Crimea as USSR film location  Local film crafts and skills eroded  Many micro-climates & varied geography  Project requires strong leadership  Excellent range of historical sites  Kiev is a long way from Crimea  Good weather for most of year  If Kiev operates at capacity – is any spare?  Good transport links (road, air)  Kiev Studios technology not cutting edge  Kiev Studios quite modern  Yalta Studios effectively gone (they have  Access to Kiev Studios sold their sound stages in town, we are  Steadily improving infrastructure unsure of ownership and commitment to  Some potential for local private finance requirement for massive investment)  Political will in government  English not spoken widely  Possible access to EU/UN funding  Yalta tourist season conflicts with film-  Strong tradition of tourism making requirements for accommodation  Sebastopol is “undiscovered jewel” and access - makes film-making over  Land between Sebastopol and Simferopol summer (4-5 months) impossible suitable for big studio / sound stage builds  Yalta geography probably unsuitable and too  Local economy is hungry for work expensive for new big studio / sound  Still some film professionals around in stage builds Crimea, plenty in Kiev  Whole project needs strong and careful  Ukrainian film-makers have good reputation planning abroad (recent Cannes award winner in from  Whole project needs support across a range Ukraine) of government departments, NGOs and businesses  Lack of flexibility in financial institutions?  Lack of flexibility in tourism industry?  This is a medium to long-term project – no easy fixes  Plenty of competition from other countries with more advanced film-making facilities OPPORTUNITIES THREATS  Build up local film crafts and skills again  Someone else does it first!  Support film infrastructure  Commitment and enthusiasm dries up  Bring in significant foreign currency before long-term project completes  Establish a Crimean Film Commission successfully  Elect a Crimean Film Commissioner  Lack of funds  Establish a Crimean film industry, boost  Lack of strong leadership Ukrainian film industry  Lack of “joined-up-thinking” – stakeholders  Establish Crimean film studios disagree or fall out with each other  Establish commercial film-making tradition  Lack of spare capacity in film industry  Potential cinema / TV drama audience  Conflicts with tourist industry (esp. Yalta) = ¼ billion Russian speakers  Perceived competition with Kiev Studios (or  Learn lessons from experiences of film- Moscow) might cause a breakdown of making & studios in Prague / New Zealand / ability to attract appropriate skills – what UK. is in it for them?  Create “prestige tourism” in Sebastopol and  Insufficient tax / financial incentives to attract elsewhere in Crimea top films  Tailor tax / financial incentives to best attract  One big fail will ruin reputation for rest of top films project  Use foreign film production to re-skill and  Perception of Ukraine abroad as risky or train local work force and filmmakers dangerous  Develop strong local training with links to centres of excellence in other countries (Russia, UK, Canada, USA, New Zealand)© Ivor Benjamin, June 2011 Page 5 of 5

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