Russian film commission faces challenges

Tax incentives will depend upon support from the government

MOSCOW -- The road towards establishing a national film commission in Russia (HR 5/17) may turn out to be a long and difficult one.

It still remains unclear what tax incentives could be offered to foreign crews shooting in Russia and when that could happen. "We realize that getting tax incentives for foreign crews is a crucial issue," Alexei Sokhnev, head of the expert and analytical department at Russia's culture ministry, told THR. "And we are going to work in that direction, but this is a long process, given the finance ministry's strict stand on any tax privileges. But it's the same anywhere, look how much time it took to adopt tax incentives in the Czech Republic."

Industry players agree that the success of the national film commission would largely depend upon cooperation from various state institutions. "The creation of favorable conditions that could attract foreign crew to shoot in Russia, including tax incentives, will mainly depend upon support from the government," Stanislav Yershov, general director of the Moscow-based Gorky studio complex and one of the initiators of the national film commission idea, told THR.

Another major challenge is getting the country's regions to participate in the proposed scheme, which would also involve direct co-production agreements between Russian regions and regions of foreign countries. While authorities in St Petersburg, Russia's second major film production center, have issued regulations making operations of foreign film crews easier, Moscow, where the majority of the country's film industry is focused, still has nothing similar.