Support for the film industry in Turkey was previously regulated by the Regulation on Supporting the Motion Picture Movies published in the Official Gazette dated 13 November 2004 and numbered 25642 (“Previous Regulation”) 1 which was based on Law No. 5224 on the Evaluation, Classification and Supporting of Motion Picture Movies (“Law”)2. On 15 October 2019, The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism (“Ministry”) abolished the Previous Regulation by publishing the Regulation on Supporting the Film Industry (“Regulation”)3 based on the same Law.
The enactment of the Regulation has been followed by several changes over the past two years. Most recently, the Regulation on Amending the Regulation on Supporting the Film Industry (“Amending Regulation”) entered into force with its publication in the Official Gazette on 15 October 20214 setting an exception for foreign motion picture movie productions in Article 9(5) of the Regulation restricting the number of applications for support in a single year.
In this article, we briefly touch the main concept of the Regulation in addition to the recent developments that came into force with the changes brought about both by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Amending Regulation.
What Is the Scope of the Regulation?
The Regulation that came into force towards the end of 2019 introduced some rules for public financial support provided by the Turkish government to actors in the film industry. The Regulation mainly governs the principles and the procedures for the development and strengthening of the Turkish film industry.
One of the significant innovations that has been introduced by the Regulation is that it clearly lists the types of support provided by the Ministry and addresses the provisions regarding the support in detail. Accordingly, the types of support covered by the Regulation are as follows:
- Animated Movie Productions
- Documentary Film Productions
- Distribution and Promotion
- First Feature-Length Fiction Movie Productions
- Short-Length Film Productions
- Project Development
- Scripting and Dialogue Writing
- Feature-Length Motion Picture Movie Productions
- Domestic Movie Screenings
- Foreign Motion Picture Movie Productions
All types of support within the scope of the Law are non-refundable according to Article 9(3) of the Law.
Application criteria and amounts of financial support vary for each type of support listed above. Other than domestic series, productions can only receive financial support in the amounts specified in the relevant provisions between 13-25 of the Regulation, while the maximum amount of support that can be given to domestic series projects is determined by the Ministry.
The Support Board and the Commission for Supporting Series and Foreign Movies
In parallel with the Previous Regulation, the Regulation stipulates the establishment and the working principles of the Support Board (“Board”) who evaluate applications, determine who, among the applicants, will receive support and how much support will be granted in relation to the types of support listed above, other than for series and foreign motion picture movie productions.
The Commission for Supporting Series and Foreign Movies (“Commission”) evaluate support applications for series and foreign motion picture movie productions. The crucial point here is that the series that receive financial support within the scope of the Regulation are limited to domestic series that are sold abroad and contribute to the promotion of Turkey. In addition, to receive foreign motion picture movie production support, there is a requirement to shoot the movie partially or fully in Turkey.
Both the decisions of the Board and the Commission come into force with the final approval of the Minister.
Terms of Application
Article 9 of the Regulation requires applicants intending to benefit from the financial support to be either a natural person residing in Turkey or a legal person operating in Turkey. Applications are made by submitting an application form to the Ministry. Article 9 of the Regulation strictly prohibits making several applications for the same type of support in the same application period. Furthermore, applicants cannot receive support for more than one project in a single year (excluding foreign motion picture movie productions as we will detail below). The Board and the Commission does not consider applications for projects of the same type that have been rejected twice before. However, it is possible to apply again in the following year for projects that are not eligible for support following an amendment made to the Regulation on 3 October 2020.
The Board evaluates applications within the budget of the Ministry by taking into account criteria such as (i) the originality of the project, (ii) the cultural, artistic and aesthetic value of the project, (iii) the contribution of the project to the promotion of Turkey and its national culture, (iv) the national and international circulation potential of the project, (v) the previous work of the applicant, including national or international achievements, if any, (vi) the experience and achievements of the project team in the relevant field, (vii) the budget and financial plan, and (viii) compliance with human dignity and constitutional principles.
Obligations of the Support Beneficiaries
According to Article 27 of the Regulation, beneficiaries of public financial support are obliged (i) to fulfill all obligations and responsibilities within the scope of Law No. 5846 on Intellectual and Artistic Works5, (ii) to act as the addressee for all kinds of issues arising from the writing, production and publication of the supported project and (iii) to compensate all damages suffered by the Ministry in this regard.
Moreover, the Regulation does not allow beneficiaries to transfer obligation to complete the supported motion picture movie to third parties. If the obligations specified in the relevant legislation or in the contract are not fulfilled, the person who has been granted the public financial support must then repay the total amount together with interest within one month.
Amendments Made During the Covid-19 Pandemic
On 28 January 2021, some amendments were made to the Regulation to address the problems caused by Covid-19 in the film industry.
In general, the total amount of financial support available and payment methods vary according to the type of the support requested. However, following the amendment made during the pandemic, some projects were given the opportunity to receive the entire amount of support in a single payment. This provision only applies to support for the (i) first feature-length fiction movie productions, (ii) feature-length motion picture movie productions, (iii) co-productions, (iv) post-production, (v) distribution and promotion, and (vi) domestic movie screening. Parties who request financial support in a single payment, are required to submit a letter of guarantee to the Board equal to the amount of support requested. The letter of guarantee must be prepared in accordance with Article 10 of Law No. 6183 on the Procedure for Collection of Public Receivables6.
The amendments made during the Covid-19 pandemic also simplified the conditions set under Article 23 of the Regulation for receiving financial support for domestic movie screenings. Firstly, it reduced the number of movies that the beneficiaries are required to screen within one year of the signing date of the support contract. Accordingly, movie theaters benefitting from the financial support are obliged to screen at least six films (instead of twelve) within a year, each for a minimum of one week and a total screening period of at least 12 weeks. The movies should be screened at least three times a day, with at least two of them being after 4 pm. Secondly, it became sufficient to screen the movies in movie theaters with a capacity of at least fifty seats rather than being regularly screened year-round in movie theaters with a capacity of at least sixty seats. However, the movies must be screened for commercial purposes in both cases. As a last revision in this regard, half of the total amount of support, which was previously paid in full after the completion of all movie screenings, is now paid upon the signing of a contract to reduce the negative effects of the pandemic on movie theater owners.
According to the last sub-provision of Article 23, which remains unchanged following the pandemic amendments, the annual amount of support cannot exceed 30% of the revenue obtained from the full ticket amount in the event that the movie theater operates at full capacity for three sessions.
What Does the Amending Regulation Change?
The Amending Regulation, which came into force as of the date of its publication on 15 October 2021 in the Official Gazette, adds an exception to the application limit set in Article 9(5) of the Regulation in terms of foreign motion picture movie productions.
Prior to the amendment, applicants of all types of support could not receive financial support for more than one project in the same year. However, following the addition of a clause to the end of Article 9(5), this limitation no longer applies to foreign motion picture movie production support applications. Therefore, foreign motion picture movie productions can receive financial support for more than one project in the same year.
One of the striking points in the Regulation is that the maximum amount of financial support that can be granted to domestic series projects is determined by the Ministry, instead of being limited to a fixed amount as in other types of support in the Regulation. In an environment where it is claimed that the domestic series industry is afforded greater importance than the film industry, the fact that the Ministry can allocate large amounts of support to domestic series in comparison to other projects may cause criticism in practice.
All in all, the Regulation is broad in scope and is of critical importance to the film industry in Turkey, as it provides financial support for industry development. There have also been significant amendments regarding application criteria for foreign motion picture movie productions in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, which entered into force in January 2021.
With thanks to Aysu Gürbüz for her assistance on this article.
1 The Regulation on Supporting the Motion Picture Movies published in the Official Gazette dated 13 November 2004 and numbered 25642, https://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2004/11/20041113.htm#15
2 The Law No. 5224 on Evaluation, Classification and Supporting of Motion Picture Movies published in the Official Gazette dated 21 July 2004 and numbered 25529, https://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/mevzuat?MevzuatNo=5224&MevzuatTur=1&MevzuatTertip=5
3 The Regulation No. 33892 on Supporting the Film Industry published in the Official Gazette dated 15 October 2019 and numbered 30919, https://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/mevzuat?MevzuatNo=33892&MevzuatTur=7&MevzuatTertip=5
4 The Regulation on Amending the Regulation on Supporting the Film Industry published in the Official Gazette dated 15 October 2021 and numbered 31629, https://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2021/10/20211015-1.htm
5 The Law No. 5846 on the Intellectual and Artistic Works published in the Official Gazette dated 13 December 1951 and numbered 7981, https://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/mevzuat?MevzuatNo=5846&MevzuatTur=1&MevzuatTertip=3
6 The Law No. 6183 on the Procedure for Collection of Public Receivables published in the Official Gazette dated 28 July 1953 and numbered 8469, https://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/mevzuat?MevzuatNo=6183&MevzuatTur=1&MevzuatTertip=3
Co-authored by Aysu Gürbüz
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