The following are answers to frequently asked questions, from filing an application to the final audit of your project.
FAQs on making an application
FAQs after award of the grant
FAQs on making an application
1. Are you entitled to make an application?
The producer and co-producer of a film are entitled to make an application. If several co-producers of a co-production fulfil the application conditions, they must agree who will make the application.
The applicant must be resident, commercially domiciled or have a business establishment in Germany.
The applicant must have commercially released at least one feature-length film (the reference film) in German cinemas within the five years prior to application, as an entrepreneur or individual. At least 45 prints of the reference film must have been commercially released where the production costs exceeded EUR 2 million and at least 20 prints where the production costs did not exceed EUR 2 million. Eight prints are sufficient for documentary films.
If you have not released a film for the cinema within the last five years, or you are applying for the grant for a first work, the award of a grant from the BKM, the German Federal Film Board (FFA) or a film funding agency of one of the federal states of Germany will suffice as a reference.
2. Can you apply for a grant for your film?
You can apply for a grant if your film fulfils the following criteria:
The film has a screen time of at least 79 minutes, or 59 minutes in the case of children’s films.
The total production costs (excluding deferrals) amount to at least EUR 1,000,000 (feature films), EUR 200,000 (documentary films) or EUR 2,000,000 (animated films).
Filming or animation work has not yet begun.
At least one final version of the film must be made in German. A subtitled version is sufficient.
Since 1.1.2013, at least one accessible final version must be produced.
The film must not be violent or pornographic and it must not violate laws in force in the Federal Republic of Germany.
A binding agreement by an appropriate distributor who qualifies as the necessary referee must be available.
At least 25% of the costs must actually be incurred in Germany.
At least 20% of the financing must come from Germany.
The requisite points and criteria of the cultural characteristics test must be fulfilled.
3. When does the application have to be submitted?
An application may be submitted at any time of the year, but must be submitted at least six weeks before filming commences. At this point, 75% of the finance need not yet be in place. Between 50% and 75% is sufficient.
4. Can filming begin prior to notification of award of the grant?
Filming may not begin until the notification of award of the grant has been issued. In justified exceptional cases, an application may be made for advance commencement of filming or animation work. Click here for the relevant form. The application must be filed in good time before filming commences. Approval requires observance of the six-week period for submission of the application for a grant.
5. When is a project certificate from BAFA required?
You will only require a project certificate from the German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) if you are producing in accordance with the EU Treaty and you wish to apply its cultural characteristics test. The certificate is issued by the German Federal Office for the Economy and Export Control.
The Member States which have acceded to the EU Treaty are also listed here.
6. What must be taken into account for the purposes of the distribution agreement?
The condition for the grant is a legally-binding, unconditional agreement with a distributor who qualifies as the necessary referee in accordance with the BKM Guidelines.
When issuing contracts, please note that
the theatrical rights in Germany may not be sub-licensed to third parties
the holdback periods in accordance with FFG must be observed
the minimum number of prints in accordance with Section 6 of the Guidelines must be guaranteed.
The minimum number of prints is 45 for feature and animated films, and 20 for grants of less than EUR 320,000. Substantiation of a minimum number of 200 prints is required for grants of over EUR 4,000,000.
At least eight prints of documentary films must be released.
7. How much may the producers' fee be?
The maximum allowance for the producers' fee is 2.5% of the total production costs (without prior allowance for the fee), but not exceeding EUR 125,000.
The following example shows a specimen calculation.
Total production costs: EUR 3,250,000
Including the producers’ fee of: EUR 80,000.
EUR 3,250,000 - EUR 80,000 * 2.5% = EUR 79,250)
The maximum allowance for the producers' fee in this example amounts to EUR 79,250 and can only be calculated in this amount.
As the maximum allowances for producers' fees and overheads on international co-productions are different in the respective countries, these allowances can initially be included in the total production costs (GHK I).
During the processing of the application, the calculated producers' fees are then capped at the applicable maximum rate of 2.5% or 125,000 €, respectively. The total production costs II (GHK II) are derived from this calculation and are also shown in the notification. They then form the basis of calculation of the maximum upper limit of 80%.
8. What must be considered in the case of multiple inputs by the producer?
In the event of an additional service or multiple inputs by the producer, co-producer or proprietor, sole or majority shareholder in the production company, account must be taken of specific approaches to fees.
Director’s fee: 4% of the total production costs (without prior allowance for the fee)
Line producer: 2.7% of the total production costs (without prior allowance for the fee)
Each further fee: Capped at 20% of the fee
Inputs in kind: 25% reduction
9. How are the German production costs calculated? (Annex 12 of the application)
“German production costs” means all the costs incurred for production in Germany, i.e. all goods and services covered by German invoices or contracts. These also include the costs of the fees of the German members of the cast and crew and the staff costs of foreign cast and crew for the period of filming in Germany.
Method of calculation:
Total production costs (total from Annex 11 of the application)
less all items covered by foreign invoices
= German production costs
The following do not qualify as German costs:
Foreign cast and crew abroad
Foreign equipment in Germany
In the calculation of the German production costs, it is not who pays the costs, but whether German costs are involved which is crucial.
10. How are the approved German production costs calculated? (Annex 13 of the application)
“Approved German production costs” means all German costs less the items listed in Section 14 of the Guidelines. In addition, the costs incurred in Germany for filming on location abroad may only be charged up to 40% of the total filming days. In the case of documentary films, the upper limit of 40% of the total filming work lapses.
Calculation method using the example of a feature film:
German production costs (total from Annex 12 of the application)
less all items in Section 14 of the Guidelines
less the costs incurred in Germany for filming on location abroad in excess of the approved filming days.
= approved German production costs
The costs of the German crew, German actors, German technical costs, properties, costumes, etc. incurred for filming abroad may only be grant-aided for approved filming on location abroad. Preparation, development and travel days abroad are not grant aided.
Under Section 14, the following costs are not included in the approved German production costs:
Costs for rights to stock and to existing works (books, pieces of music, etc.)
Costs of finance
Travel and transport costs for actors (however, accommodation costs in Germany are approved)
Allowances and provisions
Excess contingency, provided that it is not written back into approved German production costs before the end of the project.
The following costs can only be accepted up to a certain limit in the approved German production costs:
Script: up to 3% of the German production costs or a maximum of EUR 150,000
Actors’ fees (main and supporting cast and extras): up to 15% of the German production costs
For documentary films only: archive material up to 30% of the German production costs
Please note that travel and transport costs can only be approved for crew members if you fly from or land in Germany and book through a German travel agent (German invoice).
11. What are the production costs actually incurred in Germany or what is the so-called minimum amount? (Annex 14 of the application)
At least 25% of the total production costs must actually be incurred in Germany. However, costs incurred in Germany for filming abroad may not be added.
All costs incurred in Germany for filming abroad must be deducted from the German costs of filming abroad. This includes all fees, the film stock, and equipment rented in Germany and taken abroad. Travel costs for filming abroad must also be deducted. No allowances and provisions may be included in the production costs actually incurred in Germany.
Method of calculation:
German production costs (total from Annex 12)
less all costs incurred in Germany for filming abroad
less all allowances and provisions
= actual amount of the production costs incurred in Germany
12. How is the grant calculated?
The grant can account for up to 20% of the approved German production costs. In general, however, an upper limit of 80% of the total budget from which the maximum grant can be calculated applies.
|1st specimen calculation:|
|Production costs (HK):||EUR 4 million|
|German production costs:||EUR 4 million|
|Approved German production costs:||EUR 3.5 million|
EUR 3.2 million
|Calculation threshold (upper limit):||EUR 3.2 million|
|2nd specimen calculation:|
|Production costs (HK):||EUR 4 million|
|German production costs:||EUR 3.5 million|
|Approved German production costs:||EUR 3 million|
EUR 3.2 million
|Calculation threshold (approved German production costs)||EUR 3 million|
The maximum grant per film is EUR 4 million, or EUR 10 million under exceptional circumstances and on application. The German production costs must amount to at least 35% of the total budget or the film must achieve at least two-thirds of the possible total points in the characteristics test. The advisory board will decide on such an application.
13. What is the amount of the trustees' fees?
The trustees’ fees for audit of the final costs total 2% of the approved grant, up to a total grant of EUR 500,000. An additional audit fee of 0.25% applies to a grant exceeding EUR 500,000, up to EUR 4 million, and for a grant exceeding EUR 4 million a fee of 0.5% applies. Trustees' fees count as approved German production costs.
14. What must be considered when filming abroad?
A substantiated application for approval for filming abroad must be made if this is planned (Annex 21 of the application). Such an application may be made informally and must be submitted together with the application for a grant. Depending on the type of film, filming on exterior locations abroad may or may not be approved. A maximum of 40% of the total filming days may be approved for feature films.
This upper limit does not apply to documentary films. 100% of filming on location abroad may be approved.
No animation work abroad will be approved for animated films.
This means that the costs of the German cast and crew, film stock and equipment, and properties and costumes hired from Germany may be added to the approved German production costs in the proportion of filming days on location abroad. Preparation, development and travel days abroad will not be grant-aided. The flights of crew must take off from or land in Germany and be booked through a German travel agency in order to be approved. Daily allowances may only be approved if they are paid into a German bank account or paid in Germany.
15.What must be considered when working with a foreign cast and crew in Germany?
Fees and incidental wage costs of foreign cast and crew members will be approved in full for the period in which they are working in Germany, as they have limited liability for tax in Germany in accordance with § 49 EStG.
The place of performance of the service is decisive for approval of such costs. Should the foreign co-producer employ cast and crew members working on filming in Germany, such costs may be approved if the corresponding contracts of employment and evidence of payment are submitted for the final audit.
16. How much is the producer’s financial contribution and how is it calculated?
The financial contribution is calculated in accordance with Section 63 and 64 of the German Film Grant Act (FFG). A financial contribution equivalent to at least 5% of the production costs must be substantiated.
With international co-productions, the German proportion of finance will be used as the basis of calculation.
If a public service TV station participates in financing and if a co-production proportion is expressly itemised net of VAT in the broadcasting contract, the co-production contribution by the TV station may be deducted in order to obtain the calculation threshold for the producer’s financial contribution.
Total production costs
- Contribution by international co-producers
- TV contribution to co-production by the public service broadcaster
= Calculation threshold
5% of said calculation threshold must be provided as a financial contribution, which may be financed by equity, debt or own work capitalised.
Debt, i.e. loans with an unconditional repayment obligation
Own work capitalised
This includes deferrals for fees for services performed by the film producer as:
A reduced financial contribution may be approved for a producer’s first two feature-length films on application.
17. What must be considered in the case of international co-productions?
For international co-productions, the applicant must guarantee financial contribution of at least 20% of the production costs, or EUR 5 million for productions with costs of more than EUR 25 million.
For a joint production involving a producer domiciled outside the European Economic Area, the applicant must provide evidence of a reference film which he has made alone or as a co-producer with a majority stake.
For co-productions made under the EU Treaty, the cultural characteristics test is conducted solely on the basis of the points system for which Annex II to the EU Treaty makes provision.
The production overheads are calculated on the basis of the German share of financing in the case of international co-productions.
You will not receive a grant if the German contribution consists merely of financial involvement, without the German parties sharing any responsibility for the content or being actively involved in production.
18. Can repeat applications be made?
Should you have to withdraw your application for a grant or should your project have been formally rejected, you have the opportunity to re-apply twice for this project. It is important that filming has not yet begun.
19. Can grants be combined?
A combination with other grants is only possible up to the admissible grant limit under European law of up to 50% of the production costs, or up to 80% for small, complex films. In other respects, all European grants (except MEDIA and Eurimages) are included in the calculation of the maximum rate.
Should your project have a grant proportion of over 50%, please have one of the German federal state promoters issue a confirmation that a small, complex film is involved.
20. How are grants treated under fiscal law?
Grants from the DFFF are real grants within the meaning of the administrative stipulation on application of the VAT Act and are thus not liable for VAT (Paragraph 10.2 of the VAT Application Order (UStAE) on Section 10 of the [German] VAT Act (UStG)).
21. What is an SME (KMU)?
Small and medium-sized enterprises ('SMEs') are defined in the EU recommendation 2003/361. You can also find this definition in Annex I to the Block Exemption Regulation (BER) No 651/2014 of the European Commission.
The category of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (‘SMEs’) is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million
|Company category||Staff headcount||and||turnover €/year||or||Bbalance sheet €/year|
|Micro||< 10||≤ 2 million||≤ 2 million|
|Small||< 50||≤ 10 million||≤ 10 million|
|Medium||< 250||≤ 50 million||≤ 43 million|
These ceilings apply to the figures for individual firms only. A firm that is part of larger group may need to include staff headcount/turnover/balance sheet data from that group too.
FAQs after award of the grant
1. When is the grant paid?
The grant is paid either after the final project audit or in instalments. A request for payment may be made informally. The IBAN and BIC of the project account must be stated on each request.
If payment by instalments has been approved for the project, the grant will be paid in three stages. Please send the following documents to the responsible funding consultant to request the respective instalment:
1st instalment (33%) when filming begins and finance is in place
An original signed notification
First daily report
Evidence of finance in place (100%)
Please refer to your notification for the list of documents required. Promises of grants, binding deal memos for distribution and global distribution and the broadcaster’s data sheet are sufficient for payment of the first instalment. All the final contracts must then be submitted for the second installment.
2nd instalment (33%) upon completion of the rough cut
Evidence of acceptance of the rough cut (by the broadcaster, distributor or producer)
Last daily report
Submission of all the final contracts (distribution agreement, broadcasting contract, loan agreements for the grants, global distribution agreement, etc.)
3rd instalment (34%) after audit of the final costs
Declaration of agreement with the audit report
Confirmation by the distributor of the cinema release, stating the number of prints. Should the film not yet have been released in cinemas, confirmation of the planned cinema release will initially be sufficient.
Viewing DVD to audit the cultural characteristic test
Evidence of delivery of a German version of the film to the German Federal Film Archive (may also be supplied later)
Notification of the export contribution to Mrs Jule Wolff, FFA (Exportbeitrag@ffa.de)
Click here for further information on the conduct of the final audit.
2. How do I request payment of the instalments?
The payment of instalments will be made using the corresponding payment form and after submission of the necessary documents. The IBAN and BIC of the project account must be stated on each request of payment. The payment form can be obtained from the website's download area or from one of the funding consultants. Confirmation must be given upon an instalment's payment that the disbursed funds will be used promptly, or within the next 6 weeks at the latest.
3. What deadlines have to be observed for the project?
The most important deadlines are the deadline for conclusion of finance, commencement of filming, completion of the final German version, cinema release and the deadline for the final audit. Please note that these deadlines are binding and that award of the grant will lapse if they are not met. An application may be made for an extension in justified exceptional cases. To do so, please contact the funding consultants in good time, or Mrs Anja Geißen for an extension of the deadline for the final German version and the cinema release.
Finance in place:
100% of the finance must be substantiated 3 months after issue of the award.
Commencement of filming:
Filming must commence no later than four months after notification of award of the grant.
Completion of the final German version:
This involves a date chosen personally by the producer and stated on the application form. In the case of international co-productions, it must be noted that substantiation of the German version is involved.
Should you be unable to meet the deadline, an application may be made for one extension. Please note that the grant notification will automatically expire if the deadline is exceeded again!
The film must be released in cinemas no later than one year after completion of the final German version. The deadline can only be extended through an approved exemption given by the FFA CEO.
Your project should undergo a final audit one year after completion of the final German version. All the important information on the final audit can be found here.
4. What is the accessible version?
The accessible version is the final version of the film with a German audio description and German subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
5. How is an application for reduction of holdback periods made?
Approval may be granted for reduction of the standard holdback periods, provided that nothing conflicts with the demands of the film industry. Applications can be made continuously, but no earlier than after a successful cinema release. Please submit the application in good time, so that rapid handling of the application may be guaranteed.
Should you have received a grant from the FFA or DFFF for your project, you can make a joint application for the reduction of holdback periods on this application form. This must be sent to Mrs Stefanie Schütt at the FFA (Grosse Präsidentenstrasse 9, 10178 Berlin).
6. What must be taken into account for the final audit?
Your project must undergo the final audit no later than one year after completion of the final German version. For this purpose, you must send various documents to the DFFF and the auditors. The respective funding consultant for the project will be pleased to answer any questions you may have about the final audit. You will find detailed information on the process and a list of the documents to be submitted here.
7. What is the export contribution?
In principle, every producer is obliged to pay an export levy if a film was produced with FFA or DFFF funding and sold abroad. The export levy is generated from all revenues as a result of foreign sales as well as sales agents' minimum guarantees, even when these are part of a film's financing.
The levy amounts to 1.5% of the net revenues, up to a maximum of € 50,000.
The export levy is the direct contribution by the film industry towards the financing of German Films Service + Marketing GmbH and its activities. The export levy has had to be reported directly to the FFA since 2013. It is levied directly from the producers and no longer via the sales companies as was previously the case. Please contact Jule Wolff for more information about the export levy (Exportbeitrag@ffa.de).