“From now on it went downhill”: While the industry celebrates the contact with the audience at the Munich Film Festival, the fear of shooting interruptions on the many summer television sets is creeping into the film production offices today. In the last few days and weeks, some productions have had standstills and cancellations due to corona, simply because one or more cast members or crew members have tested positive for corona.
In an interview with this newspaper, Björn Böhning, chairman of the producer alliance, puts the costs for a canceled day of shooting at “high five-digit, easily six-digit sums” because all trades, including the caterer, then claim a loss. Previously, these losses were covered by the Contingency Fund 1 for cinema films and high-end series via the federal government and television productions by the counterpart of the federal states, the Contingency Fund 2. But now the protection of television productions ends. “First of all, we are very happy that the federal government is extending default fund 1 until March 31, 2023,” says Böhning and is still unhappy. One of the most renowned producers, Michael Polle (“Babylon Berlin”), warns in an interview with this newspaper that a large number of production companies, especially medium-sized ones, could be hit if Default Fund 2 is not extended. “The perceived disappearance of Corona increases the risk of infection enormously and is forcing productions to be interrupted more and more frequently. Nobody has that in the cross in the long run, ”said Polle before deregistering himself with Corona. “The fact that we are increasingly having production downtimes and at the same time no security is an incredible thing. I think it’s reprehensible that insurance companies don’t cover the risk of corona like the flu. That is their original task, to carry the insurance. It would be the most normal thing in the world to step in during a Corona failure. But as long as that is not the case, we need state support – also because we need some time to talk intensively with the insurance companies about it.”
The insurance companies don’t pay
In a letter addressed by MDR director Karola Wille and Björn Böhning to Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth at the beginning of June, they assure us that the funds are only an “ultima ratio”, but: “As you know, an economically viable insurance solution is being developed despite the relatively small amount Damage ratio remains difficult. No insurance company is currently willing to cover corona risks, as has been the case up to now with endemic diseases such as the flu. This is also due to the fact that the large reinsurers are not currently assuming these risks.”
A request from this newspaper to the largest reinsurer Munich Re (also insures Allianz or R&V) confirms the assessment. “The coverage decision of primary insurers and reinsurers are fundamentally independent of each other,” says Munich Re spokeswoman Irmgard Joas. “Like war, for example, the risk of a pandemic is a potentially ruinous major risk from the insurers’ point of view. The principle of risk spreading, which is fundamental to insurance, does not work for these accumulation risks, so they cannot be borne by the private sector. For this reason, Munich Re still does not offer cover for the risk of a pandemic in film insurance either. In the past year (balance sheet year 2021), Munich Re recorded worldwide losses of more than 1.8 billion euros (this also includes film projects) due to the cancellation of events alone.”
That doesn’t sound nice. The extension of default fund 2, which as of today only Berlin and Hamburg are doing, is all the more urgent. “Our most urgent request is addressed to the other federal states to also extend the default fund 2, this applies in particular to the high-production states such as Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia,” says producer association boss Böhning. Overall, so far very little help has been used “which shows that extreme attention was paid”. If the mixed situation does not change and if only the two city-states extend Default Fund 2, Böhning predicts a new type of “locational competition”: “As a consequence, this means that the productions, not just films, but also TV shows, Countries that no longer provide security will go to countries that offer it – just to have safe production conditions.” A Munich producer who has had to cope with two corona cases so far but has not sought any help has another solution in mind . “Also with regard to insurance, it would only be right and desirable if we declared the pandemic situation over. Who will find the exit, who says that corona can finally be treated like flu from an insurance point of view?”
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