Manuela Strihavka, photo: Innovation Salzburg/Benedikt Schemmer

27. August 2022

Film location Salzburg: created for the camera

Manuela Strihavka has been a member of the Salzburg Film Advisory Board since 2002 and has been its chair since 2009. We interviewed her on July 27, 2022, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary celebration of the film location and the Media Summit.

20 years ago, the office of Filmlocation Salzburg was founded and state funding was established. You have been involved from the beginning. How has the film location Salzburg developed?

The film location Salzburg has grown with Red Bull Media House, Servus TV, the ORF Landesstudio, many smaller and larger production companies, and also with the university of applied sciences.

In 2002, when the Filmlocation was founded, the projects were not yet tailored to Salzburg. Over time, the film and television projects, in combination with funding, have changed qualitatively and have become better tailored to Salzburg and the international market in terms of location, script, and marketability. The hype surrounding series, crime and local crime dramas have also enlivened the film industry in Austria. We have tried to bring series that are usually produced with larger German-speaking broadcasters to Salzburg, such as “The Dead of Salzburg”. As a result, wherever filming takes place, hotels, personnel, film personnel, and the appropriate infrastructure are needed. This is ultimately the overall economic benefit on which this film funding is based.

So, in recent years, film and television productions have become an important economic factor for the region?

Film is a wonderful historical document, an art form, but also an economic factor, which must be emphasized again and again. In collaboration with our colleagues in Vienna at FILM in AUSTRIA, we have tried to bring international, large-scale projects to Salzburg. Nicolas Cage and Robert Downey Junior have visited us in a Hollywood-style way. The benefit of a flagship project like “Knight and Day” in 2010 was discussed very controversially in the media after it was announced. Wilfried Haslauer was Deputy Governor at that time. He recognized the opportunity and provided an extraordinary budget. The rest is Salzburg film history. The entire city was a stage, everyone worked together great. In terms of numbers, of the 300,000 euros invested in “Knight and Day,” 1.5 million euros in added value were generated. This does not even take into account the tourism value. In this film, 20 minutes of Salzburg were seen as Salzburg. Cameron Diaz, in her film role, says the legendary line, “I’ve never seen something so beautiful!” All of this was sensational and a relief and confirmation for us at the same time.

What does the film location need in the future?

Salzburg is the second most important media location in Austria after Vienna, measured by added value. It would be great if that could be expanded even further. In the near future, we will be missing professional workers. In recent years, many major projects have moved away and people have moved with them. If, through the new funding model that is set to come into effect nationwide in January 2023, we have the opportunity to attract productions of all kinds, for whatever distribution channels, it is essential to have professional workers available.

How do streaming providers like Netflix and others affect the location?

So far, our financial possibilities regarding the film location have unfortunately been very limited. When the new federal funding model comes into effect nationwide at the beginning of 2023, which thinks ahead, international productions may submit projects to us. I think that Salzburg can certainly benefit from this because it is created for the camera. I have the vision and desire to give such productions the opportunity to knock on our door by improving education and financial resources. This will start something that will have positive effects on the film location in Salzburg.

What advice would you give to young or old filmmakers?

Personally, I think it’s important to do something professionally that is related to oneself. Of course, it’s important to have a theoretical education and to learn the skills, to get “hands on” and learn the craft. Having visions, but being grounded in the day-to-day operations of a film production, a broadcasting environment, is something that I would recommend. And being courageous. Because great ideas are only as good as their execution in the end.

What is it like to work with and in the film industry?

Everyone in the team is important. Honest, mutual respect is something very important that I can pass on to young people. In a good atmosphere, productivity is higher. We should all relax a little and look at ourselves in the mirror of finiteness and in our relationships with others. But now I’m digressing. That’s a characteristic of our time, higher, better, further; I think it’s often the simple ways that lead to higher, better, further, and above all deeper – in thinking, feeling, and doing.

Regarding the Film Funding Salzburg:

The aim of the Film Funding Salzburg is to promote the cultural and film economic development of Salzburg and to support film and television productions that also promote the economy in Salzburg. It is aimed at national and international film producers and screenwriters who want to carry out a film or TV production in the state of Salzburg. It is not bound to any genre. The condition is that the production strengthens both the economy and in particular the film industry with increased employment opportunities in Salzburg (Salzburg Effect and Salzburg Film Industry Effect). Additionally, the film must be internationally marketable, for example films that are produced for the entire German market or that are distributed internationally.

On January 1st, 2023, a new funding system will come into effect, which will refund up to 35% of the funds invested in Austria – for international films, TV and streaming projects as well as for domestic projects. In addition, there is a non-repayable subsidy of 30% for projects realized in Austria. If ecological criteria are also met, the funding increases by another 5%. There is also a bonus of 25,000 euros for projects with a high proportion of women. Unlike previous constructions, the system is not capped to prevent the depletion of funding pots during the year.

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