Film New Europe will be regularly reporting on news and events happening in Serbian film industry. In one of the first interviews their correspondent Tara Karajica talked to Serbia Film Commissioner Ana Ilic about challenges but also future of film industry in Serbia and Film in Serbia brand.
FNE: What was the biggest challenge in creating the Serbia Film Commission?
Ana Ilić: Creating the brand Film in Serbia and developing a strategy for positioning Serbia internationally as a viable filming destination has been a very exciting adventure. In the beginning, we knew how much Serbia had to offer in terms of production expertise, talent, infrastructure and locations, but there was absolutely no place where you could find information on any of that. So, we began with a simple idea to gather all the information and start the promotion, but we soon realised we needed an organisation behind the brand.
So, we built the Serbia Film Commission from scratch and with very little support from the government, but with great enthusiasm from the industry. There were 16 founding members – film and TV producers. Within five years the SFC grew to 80 members, many new partners and support from various sponsors and donors. We also joined two major international associations of film commissions – the global Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) and the European Film Commission Network (EUFCN), and have become members of their boards.
Serbia is the only country from southeastern Europe to be on the Board of Directors of the AFCI, but by far the biggest challenge was getting an incentive programme adopted by the Serbian government. There was no understanding of film and TV production as a business and economic endeavor that can be hugely impactful on the overall economy of a country, generating revenues, jobs, tourism promotion…
It took a lot of hard work, many studies and analyses, numerous media appearances and interviews and a great number of meetings with different Prime Ministers, ministers and government officials before the momentum was built and in August 2015 the government finally passed the incentive regulation.