South Africa Drops Cap on Film Cash Back Scheme

Government hopes to attract big budget international productions with 15% tax back program.

COLOGNE, Germany – South Africa has gotten rid of the cap on its film rebate scheme, opening the way for more big budget productions to shoot in the region.

South Africa’s "cash back" program had been capped at 20 million Rand ($2.5 million) per project.  But under the new program, which went into effect this month, there will be no upper limit on the rebate productions can claim. Any international production qualifying for the scheme can claim the 15 percent rebate on the entire local spend for its South African shoot.

South Africa increased its tax rebate cap late last year, in part due to pressure from international producers who want to shoot more in the country. DNA Films' Dredd starring Karl Urban and Lena Heady broke new ground for a foreign production in South Africa. The 3D live action update of the 1995 sci-fi thriller was shot at the new Cape Town Film Studios and reportedly spent around $20 million in the region.

To qualify for the rebate, a foreign production needs to shoot a minimum of four weeks in South Africa, accounting for at least 50 percent of a film’s principle photography and spend a minimum of 12 million Rand ($1.5 million) in the region. The rebate will apply to feature films, documentaries, animation, TV-movies, mini-series and long running dramas.

Producers have to apply for the rebate before the start of principle photography and must have at least 25 percent of the film’s budget in place as well a distribution deal.

South African films and South African co-productions have a lower barrier to qualify and will receive a more generous rebate. Local productions and co-productions have to spend at least 2.5 million Rand ($317,000) in South Africa and shoot for two weeks or more, an amount equal to at least 50 percent of a film’s principle photography schedule. Local and co-productions will receive a 35 percent rebate on the first 6 million Rand ($761,000) spent and 25 percent on the remainder.