Portugal Launches New Rebate Program to Attract Film and TV Shoots

Miradouro de Sao Padro, Lisbon, Portugal - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of José Manuel/Portugal Tourism

A new fund will offer 25 percent cash rebates.

In an effort to attract film and television production, Portugal is introducing a new incentive program, offering substantial rebates of 25 percent of the cost of production up to €4 million, or nearly $5 million, per project.

In the case of projects that are determined to have special cultural relevance to Portugal, have significant impact on cinematography in Portugal, chose to shoot in low-population areas or employ actors or technicians with disabilities, rebates of 30 percent are available.

For 2018, the rebate fund, which was approved in January, will total €10 million ($10.32 million), rising to €12 million ($14.78 million) in subsequent years. The program is being managed by the Portuguese Film and Audiovisual Institute (ICA) and is supported by a fund under the auspices of Portugal Tourism.

To promote filming in Portugal, Secretary of State for Tourism Ana Mendes Godinho recently visited Hollywood, meeting with studio representatives to spread the word about the advantages of filming in her country, where the climate and available daylight shooting hours resemble those of Southern California.

“Portugal has been a little bit sleeping in the past years in terms of the film industry,” she admits. “So we decided that we wanted to have the best incentive in Europe, and we reached this new financial instrument, which is a cash rebate. We want to be the best and the most competitive country in Europe for filming.”

The new program replaces a tax incentive program that was instituted in 2017, since it was decided that a cash rebate program, paid out in installments, was more attractive than a tax incentive.

In promoting Portugal, Godinho is emphasizing the variety of its geography, its many historic settings, the fact that much of the population speaks fluent English and “the costs of production are one of the lowest in Europe.” The country is also offering a one-stop shop that will facilitate the necessary permits. Adds Godhino, “We also say Portugal is the California of Europe.”

Recent productions that have filmed in Portugal include Terry Gilliam’s upcoming The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, starring Jonathan Price and Adam Driver, and, Godhino notes, several Bollywood productions are currently eyeing production starts.