Hollywood Backs Icelandic Film Industry In Fight Over Government Funding
Here in the US we have Hollywood, a center of filmmaking so cemented into the global economy that it seems no economic crisis can cripple it. However, in many, many other developed nations, films are made in part from support from government funding. This is true of Spain, The United Kingdom, and Iceland to name a few. But THR reports that the government of Iceland is currently considering cutting film funding by a whopping 40%, and Hollywood is responding with outcry. Directors like Clint Eastwood, Darren Aronofsky, Terrence Malick, and producers like David Beniof, Chris Newman, G. Mac Brown, and Beau Marks have all signed a petition that declares they side "with the entire film community in Iceland, in their efforts to maintain the current levels of government support for filmmaking." The petition and its big names are calling for the Icelandic government "to reconsider their current plans to cut the budget of the Icelandic Film Fund."
Now, you might think, what business is it of Hollywood's if Iceland wants to spend less on their film industry? Well, you might be surprised to learn that Iceland has been popping up in quite a few major American film and television productions of late. Portions of the Aliens's prequel Prometheus, Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, Aronofsky's upcoming biblical epic Noah, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, Marvel's Thor: The Dark World, and Ben Stiller's comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty have shot there, as has HBO's hit series Game of Thrones. This means each of the directors and many of the producers of this project have ties to Iceland, and colleagues there that they mean to support. Because cuts this deep are expected to result in the loss of 200 jobs for the tiny island nation.
Iceland, not unlike the US, is still recovering from the 2008/2009 economic crisis, and so spending cuts may well be inevitable. But why it's so shocking that the film industry is being hit--and this hard--by them is that this business has shown a massive boom in film production of late. Production turnover in the nation shot up to 248% in 2010, so why cut them off at their knees?
It's unknown if the support of so many Hollywood heavyweights will make a difference to Iceland's government. But frankly, it doesn't look good. This is actually the second time in just three years the government has proposed cutting film funding. Even with the incredible rise in the industry's output, they voted to slash Icelandic Film Fund's budget by 25% in 2010.
In the States, Government funding in film is a hot topic, in large part because people assume Hollywood needs no help in making massive movies. Well, that's not exactly true. To learn more on how the US government helps fund the American film industry, check out our exclusive interview with Win Win producer Mary Jane Skalski. For more on how Iceland has impacted Hollywood, check out Iceland's Official Film Commission.
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