Berlin: Portugal, Georgia, Ukraine, Switzerland Promote New Production Incentives

Berlin city scape Getty - H 2016
Courtesy of Getty Images

Rebates of 20 percent-25 percent were touted at the European Film Market.

Film office and other representatives of several countries were in Berlin over the past week to tout new production incentives at the European Film Market amid increased competition for Hollywood and other international shoots.

Portugal included a proposal for a new incentive, a refundable tax credit, in its budget that was set to be approved this week. Full details will be developed following the budget’s approval, but Portuguese representatives promoted the move at EFM. Portugal has watched neighboring Spain nab lucrative foreign shoots thanks to its own incentives.

“This is a long-awaited development, after many requests, both from national professionals and from the international filmmaking community, and should allow Portugal to improve its position in the global film locations market,” said culture minister Joao Soares.

Meanwhile, the parliament in Ukraine is expected to pass a draft law on state support for the film industry in the coming months. It calls for cash rebates of up to 25 percent for foreign filmmakers.

Based on a "first-come, first-served" premise, up to 1.5 billion hryvna ($55 million) will be available annually, Philip Illienko, head of the Ukrainian State Film Agency, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Although parts of the country are out of bounds for filmmakers -— particularly Eastern regions where the Ukrainian army is battling Russian-backed separatists — Illienko said the country was safe to film in.

"Kiev at night is certainly safer than Paris — you can walk in the middle of the night in complete safety downtown. And there are great locations in Kiev, Lvov, Odessa and the Carpathian Mountains far from the conflict zone," Illienko added.

During EFM, the country was highlighting its “geographical and historical locations” and “well-developed infrastructure” with studio stages, over 80 production companies and more than 20 post-production companies.

Georgia was the first former Soviet republic outside the Baltic area to develop an incentives scheme. Last year, it announced plans for a 20 percent-plus cash rebate and has been promoting its "Film in Georgia" initiative in Berlin.

Formally launched late last month, an additional five percent on top of the standard rebate is available for those films that signal that they have been shot in Georgia; for example, showing its flag or well-known buildings. There is no expectation that films should cast the country in a positive light, though, David Vashadze of the Georgian Film Commission tells THR. "The application process is fully online and you can apply with a script and a treatment. Funds are released within 90 days of presenting audited accounts of in-country spend," he explained.

Georgia also offers architecture that reflects a mixture of European Asian and Soviet style, and has landscapes ranging from snow-covered mountains to desert to seaside within a few hours' drive of each location.

The scheme has already attracted two projects — a Bollywood movie and a pilot designed to appeal to a U.S. network show.

Gela Andrew Suli, the pilot's Georgian producer, said he got involved in Marisa Romanov (working title) after its creator Miranda Spigener contacted him. Suli, who was born in Georgia but grew up in the U.S. before returning to run the state-owned Georgian Film Studios (Gruzya Film) for 18 months, said the noir/thriller/fantasy pilot "strongly resonated" with him. The plot revolves around an American journalist who travels to Georgia, where she unravels the mystery of her family roots.

Switzerland also used EFM to announce its new incentive scheme, offering producers a rebate of 20 percent.

The Federal Office of Culture scheme, available only via Swiss production companies, is capped at $610,000 per production and has a total budget this year of just over $3 million.