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SYDNEY– The Australian government has promised AUS$20 million ($19.6 million) to boost its film locations incentive program as a precursor to an increase in the Location Offset should the value of the Australian dollar remain high against foreign currencies, particularly the U.S. dollar.
Announcing the one-off investment on Wednesday, as part of the government’s $230 million Creative Australia national arts policy, Federal arts minister Simon Crean said the “new incentive fund is in addition to our investment in securing The Wolverine, and the current negotiations with Disney to secure 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo.”
Australia’s main locations incentive consists of a 16.5 percent tax offset. The industry has been lobbying the centre-left government to increase that to 30 percent in the last 12 months, but Crean has been considering an increase in the incentive only on a case-by-case basis.
Twentieth Century Fox was successful in getting an increase in the incentive reportedly worth around $12 million for The Wolverine, which was shot in Sydney last year.
Locations agency Ausfilm welcomed the new funding saying “the additional AUS$20 million fund to encourage major international production will provide a significant boost to the Australian film industry and the wider Australian economy.”
“We have already seen a renewed interest in Australia as a preferred location following the one-off grant provided by the Federal Government to The Wolverine, and the substantial benefits such a production brings,” said Ausfilm CEO Debra Richards.
“The increasing number of production incentives now offered worldwide and the strong Australian dollar have made it very difficult to attract major international production, which can locate anywhere in the world. An attractive Location Offset together with what Australia has to offer with world class crew, locations, state of the art studios and award winning post and visual effects houses, will make us extremely competitive internationally and will also bring the offset in line with the post and digital and visual effects (PDV) offset already increased to 30 percent by the Federal Government in 2011,” added Richards .
She said Ausfilm will continue to work with its industry members to ensure international film studios, particularly in the U.S., are again choosing Australia as a foremost location for their big budget productions and post-production work.
The new arts policy has been unveiled six months out from the country’s next general election and comes a day after the government announced a range of media reforms it hopes to get through the parliament in the next three weeks. The Labor government is running well behind in the polls and is widely expected to lose the election on Sept. 14.
In Creative Australia, the government also announced funding for a range of new digital media programs, including the creation of an online production fund, aimed at the production of premium Australian content for online delivery, to be managed by Screen Australia, which would partner with telecommunication providers, broadcasters and online providers for the projects; and an immediate investment of $9.8 million over four years for screen production for digital platforms including television.
It also said it would undertake a comprehensive survey of the screen sector, including games companies this year, to inform policy development and industry planning.
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