Serbia Seeks Pre-Conflict Film Glory With Increased Incentives

The country's Ministry of Trade and Agriculture is ramping up the programs to lure international movie productions.

Before the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, the republics of the former Yugoslavia were a popular place to film movies thanks to varied terrain, a cosmopolitan population, crews that spoke English  and low prices for everything from materials to craft services.

Serbia, part of the former Yugoslavia, attracted about $30 million in productions in the past year, but now wants more.

On Friday the Serbian Ministry of Trade and Agriculture ramped up its film incentive program to attract more international productions. For those who spend over 2 million Euros  and qualify, there will be a 15% rebate on goods, products and services purchased in the country. There is also a new 12% rebate on labor, both Serbian and foreign as long as they are paid in Serbia during production and register to pay local taxes on the income.

Producers must apply before November 15 and shoot at least in part during 2011. The program may be extended to 2012 but that is not yet decided. TV commercials are not eligible.

The Serbian film commission estimates that their country already costs a quarter less to shoot in than others such as those in western Europe. “With existing cost savings of up to 25%, our excellent crews, our equipment and our locations, we were able to attract  the attention of international producers,”  Serbian Film Commissioner Ana Ilic said in a statement Friday. “With the Serbia Film Incentive, the rationale for filming in the country became that much more compelling.”

Among productions that have shot in Serbia in the past year was Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus starring Gerard Butler and Vanessa Redgrave, Europa Corp’s Lock Out featuring Guy Pierce and Maggie Grace and James McTeague’s The Raven with John Cusack. In 2007, the Brothers Bloom, directed by Rian Johnson shot there, starring Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz and Mark Ruffalo.

There is no cap on how much the Serbian government will spend, but ultimately that may depend on how many productions apply and are accepted.

The film commission can be reached by emailing <> .