A future-oriented film policy

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- The range of films on offer should be broad, varied and of high quality. The public should have access to films regardless of where they live, and irrespective of what platform they want to use. By placing greater emphasis on universal design, we will also make sure that content is available to everyone, said Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey when presenting the government’s white paper on film on Friday.

Kulturminister Thorhild Widvey på talerstolen på Filmens Hus i forbindelse med pressekonferansen om filmmeldingen.
Credit: Elisabeth Fjørtoft/Kulturdepartementet

Meld. St. 30 (2014-2015), white paper on a future-oriented film-policy (available in Norwegian only)

- Naturally, our aim is for all films to reach the broadest possible audience; nevertheless we also want to support ambitious, artistic film-making. The achievement of our overall objective is dependent on the existence of a professional film industry with a sound financial base. This is where the greatest challenges lie, and where we need to focus our development efforts. What we need is a robust and sustainable film industry capable of exploiting the potential offered by digital innovations, observed Minister of Culture Widvey.

With these objectives in mind, the government is taking steps to encourage the development of film and the film industry.

The main measures are:

A progressive grant system

The government will make the system of film grants more future-oriented, equipping it to meet change and industry challenges. Regulations will be simplified and made more flexible, so that they do not distinguish between platforms or formats. There will be fewer rules, greater flexibility and less detailed management. The Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) will be given greater powers to adjust the schemes proactively and dynamically in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

- We will set up a fast track scheme for established production companies. This will cut down on unnecessary bureaucracy and stimulate necessary consolidation in the industry. While we want more focus on films’ earning potential across all platforms, there should be room for both artistically ambitious film-making and films with a stronger market orientation.

Everybody should have access to film culture. Subtitling requirements will be expanded to all formats, not just cinema films. We are also proposing increased use of audio description, starting with all cinema films, added Thorhild Widvey. 

Incentive scheme

Norway aims to be an attractive location for foreign film productions. Due to the high level of costs and a lack of incentive schemes in Norway, several major national and international film productions have been moved abroad. The Norwegian film industry’s level of professionalism will benefit from international partnerships.

The government is therefore continuing its work to introduce an incentive scheme in 2016. The scheme will have a rebate-style structure, and be based on a frame allocation from the state budget.

While it will not be possible to combine grants from the incentive scheme with NFI production grants, incentive scheme grants can be combined with grants from regional funds. The scheme will boost regional development in Norway by facilitating increased production in the regions and stimulating demand for goods from other regional industries.

The government proposes establishing a branch of the NFI in Bergen, with responsibility for administering the incentive scheme.

Strong regional film hubs

The government wishes to promote robust film hubs in the regions, with greater diversity of expression and more diverse target audiences. This is important both to encourage diversity and to ensure that power is distributed equitably.

The regional film fund pilot scheme from 2008 will be replaced by a permanent grant scheme based on governmental grants to two or three consolidated regional film funds. The measure is designed to ensure robust regional funding and that regional film industries reach critical mass. Consolidation is a prerequisite for the creation of regional hubs capable of competing with the established film industry centred around Oslo.

A national policy for the dissemination of film

In accordance with industry wishes, the government will introduce an integrated national policy for the dissemination of film. In the government’s view, communicating cinematic culture is an important part of Norwegian film policy. The field of film dissemination should be subject to a higher priority, by means of clearer objectives and policy instruments.

The special tax payable to the cinema and film fund will be integrated into the national budget, and all the fund’s revenues will be channelled into a new grant scheme to fund measures to promote cinematic culture. NFI will administer the scheme.

Grants to make film accessible to the public and to disseminate cinematic culture through film festivals, cinematheques and dubbing will be continued. The same applies to grants to ensure that children and young people have access to cinematic culture (film in the Cultural Rucksack scheme). A new grant committee will be set up and will be responsible for distributing grants to film festivals and cinematheques. NFI will function as the committee’s secretariat.

An effective film administration

NFI’s remit will be clarified and focused on core tasks. The institute will be given greater flexibility and responsibility in implementing Norwegian film policy and managing film grants. Efforts to increase the level of efficiency and use of e-management will be stepped up.

The NFI’s role as implementer of Norway’s national film policy will be refined, with certain tasks being phased out or transferred to other organisations.