The film town of Babelsberg is flourishing. The media companies at the traditional location were able to record a total turnover of one billion last year. This is the result of a study conducted by the Berlin market research institute House of Research and the Potsdam company Transfermedia on behalf of the Mediatech Hub Potsdam.
However, the media location Babelsberg must be promoted in a targeted manner in order to maintain its competitiveness. For the study, 49 local companies were interviewed, as well as ten experts.
According to the study, the five most important companies at the location account for the largest part of the total turnover. The “Big Five” are the public broadcaster Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) with an estimated 484 million euros, the television company UFA with 300 million euros, the Studio Babelsberg (100 million euros), the German Broadcasting Archive Foundation with an annual budget of 13 million euros and the German Film Orchestra (four million euros). Together they employ about 1000 people.
The authors of the study also highlight five innovative companies that are successfully asserting themselves on the market with exceptional technology products. They count Rotor Film, a provider of image and sound post-production, as one of the “Innovative Five”.
In addition, Volucap, the operator of a self-developed special studio in which three-dimensional images of people are made for virtual reality products. Filmwerte GmbH maintains the “Filmfriend” streaming platform, which supplies 535 libraries with films and series.
The start-up Dark Bay operates the largest permanently installed LED studio in Europe, in which actors act in front of virtual backgrounds. The current Netflix series “1899” was filmed there. Halostage offers a similar product. The start-up builds mobile LED studios. According to the study, these five innovative companies together have an annual turnover of 13 million euros. 80 employees work there.
Of the 145 media companies based in Babelsberg, 130 are medium-sized. They employ a total of 3,400 people and turn over 325 million euros a year. 28 percent of these companies are active in the value chain of film, television and streaming. 23 percent are IT service providers. According to the study, however, there are very few technical service providers and hardly any companies from the areas of animation, sales or gaming.
Medium-sized companies are mainly small companies. 70 percent have a maximum of ten employees. Skills shortages are a problem, but most positions can be filled. There is a lack of qualified people, especially in the trades, for example in production design and construction.
Virtual reality experts are also needed. Medium-sized companies are looking to the future with confidence: 65 percent of those surveyed assume that the number of their employees will increase in the next two years.
According to the study, the most important training centers for the film city are the University of Potsdam, the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, the Hasso Plattner Institute, the Electronic Media School and the Erich Pommer Institute. The authors expect a growing shortage of skilled workers and therefore call for closer cooperation between educational institutions and companies in the future.
65 percent of the companies surveyed do not have their own space for studio or production, 68 percent have no rooms for post-production. Office space is used for the most part.
Half of the companies assume that they will need new space in the next two years. Two thirds of them will be looking for small areas of up to 250 square meters. The authors of the study conclude that a total of around 15,000 square meters of commercial space is required.
That could lead to an oversupply, because a lot is being built in Potsdam. Several current construction projects in the Babelsberg district total an area of 132,000 square meters. There are also similar construction projects in other parts of Potsdam.
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For this reason, insiders quoted anonymously express the fear that Babelsberg could become an office location. And that mainly corporations settle there that have no connection to the media industry.
The authors of the study write: “The location will not be able to use the planned 150,000 square meters of new space in Babelsberg alone. An intelligent settlement initiative is needed to keep it as a media location.” The aim must be to create an “ecosystem” that strengthens Babelsberg over international competitors.