After the success of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s « Winter sleep » and its « Palmes d’or » last year in Cannes, its Denise Gamze Erguven’s movie « Mustang » that brings the turkish cinema to the Croisette of Cannes and in the French movie theaters. The latter has already made 100 000 entrances for its first week of exploitation in France.
It is to be underline that both these movies are French-Turkish coproductions, testifying of the cultural and financial exchange between the two countries.
We now propose to study the specificities of the French-Turkish cinematographic coproductions.
The rise of the cinematographic production in Turkey
At first glance the cinematographic production in Turkey can seem to be in its infancy but it is to be enhanced that is development has started and is now unavoidable.
Therefore the past few years the production volume of Turkish features films has increased from 16 in 2004 to 87 in 2013, embodying the rise of the Turkish cinematographic production.
On the other hand the number of theaters in Turkey is constantly growing and the cinema attendance is slowly but steadily increasing. It is to be pointed out that the national movies have a great success in Turkey and represent more than 50pc of the entrances, which is outstanding.
Such developments of the number of cinema halls and mostly of the cinematographic production can notably be explained by the creation in 2005 of a « General Directorate of Sinema » within the Ministry of Culture. Indeed, in the same time a script development, production, post production fund has been created, whereas before the Turkish production did not benefit from any state support but only from private investors or from a few TV pre-purchase of broadcasting rights. This public film funding, supports film related activities with an average of EUR 13.3 million per year, which is a pretty low budget but already supports next three decades of films a year and provides a non-negligible support for local production (from 150 000 to 250 000 euros per project). Moreover, the requirements are quite low and in particular the granting of fund assumes no localization of the expenditure giving a great freedom to the movie producers.
Nonetheless private investments remains very important for the cinematographic production and in this sense Attila Dorsay stated that « there is enough available money » and « to produce a movie you only have to go to a financial group ».
However, these private funds are mostly turned to commercial production and for the confidential film the Turkish director Reha Erdem points out that "the co-production is essential and allows the movies to find international broadcasting facilities that keep them alive."
Shooting in Turkey has undeniable economic advantages as highlighted the Turkish Film production company Gölge, Turkey has "very cheap production infrastructure, and technicians crew that can be hired for 12 hours a day, very cheap and easy to take transportation modes "and the Turkish authorities tend to facilitate filming permits for foreign producers.
Finally since 2010, Turkey has developed tax incentives to attract foreign investments consisting in a reimbursement of 5 to 25% of the taxes. To give just one example, for the movie Argo, Ben Affleck was reimbursed of $ 300,000 on a budget of $ 44.5 million.
French-Turkish coproduction agreement:
In France, the development of French-Turkish movie projects benefit from a coproduction agreement since 1993. As a consequence, such movies can be considered as national production in both countries and therefore can be eligible for all the advantages of each country.
The conditions of this agreement are pretty common: « The proportions contributed by the respective producers from both countries shall be between 20 and 80 % per co-production film.», a general balance must be maintained between the two countries’ respective contributions and the movies shall be « made by directors, technicians and performers that are either nationals or residents of France, or nationals or residents of Turkey, or nationals or residents of a country of the European Economic Community ».
This status notably allows the producer to submit application files for the « Aide aux cinémas du monde » (Support for World cinemas) scheme of the French National Center for cinematography, which is the main fund with regard to international coproductions. « Mustang » and « Winter sleep » have both benefit from this fund support such as two films in 2014 : the « Versets de l’oubli » to be shot in October 2015 and « Memories of the wind ».
The maximum amount of funding of this support is €250,000 per project and cant exceed 50% of funding for the French part of the project. This rate can exceptionally be raised to 80%, notably for film with a budget lower than € 1 250 000. When you know that the average budget for Turkish films is € 700 000, a funding up to € 250 000 is more than substantial.
As a matter of fact Turkey is one of the countries outside the European Union with which France co-produced the most movies, including some Turkish-majority project to which French producers provide financial and technical support.
International supports for coproductions :
The Eurimages support fund of the Council of Europe, support for co-production, distribution and movie theater is a key system for co-productions with Turkey, indeed 86 films co-produced with Turkey have been supported since 1990, among which we can find unsurprisingly "Mustang" and "Winter Sleep" which receives an amount of € 450,000. In 2013 & 2014 Eurimages provided its support to three new French-Turkish coproduction projects, for an average granted amount of € 290 000, further stressing the importance of this support system within the context of coproductions.
Turkey has also joined the Europa Cinema’s network that aims to enhance the promotion and circulation of European movies and to promote the programming in the movie theater of the projects supported by Eurimages. Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s « Mustang » has won the Europa Cinemas Label as Best European film in the Directors’ Fortnight section and therefore will receive support for its promotion and incentives for exhibitors to extend the film’s run on screen.
It is also interesting to mention the creation of a support fund for German-Turkish coproduction in 2011. This fund has been developed between two German regional institutions for the movie financing (Medienboard Berlin-Brandebourg and Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein,) the Turkish Ministry of Culture and tourism and the coproduction market « Meetings on the Bridge » taking place during Istanbul International Film Festival. This agreement aims to ensure a joint economic support for the German-Turkish films at an early stage of their production with an annual budget of € 500 000.
As Germany and France also benefit from both a coproduction agreement and a specific fund for coproductions, it is not surprising that a lot of tripartite coproductions between France, Germany and Turkey are developing in order to benefit from the good relationships between these three countries and from the support system and advantages of each country.