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Many specifics are considered before the decision about where to shoot TV, film, or commercial productions, including bureaucracy or red tape hurdles, diversity or accessibility of the proposed location, studio space availability, talents’ ability or willingness to travel, and access to quality, efficient local area crew professionals.
Naturally, tax incentives are always considered because the right tax structure can make or break the decision about where to shoot. According to The Hollywood Reporter, producers always look for financial enticements to make decisions about location.
According to “U.S. Master Multistate Corporate Tax Guide,” U.S. State governments understand that producers are drawn to appetizing financial incentives such as tax credits.
New Mexico’s early efforts and huge tax incentives over the past eleven years have attracted about forty larger projects each year—adding about USD1 billion in revenues to the state’s economy. California announced its willingness to become more competitive as a result. Producers tend to choose New Mexico because the state has on-the-ground resources available (e.g. about 3,000 professional crew) to make the decision to film in the state an easy one. New Mexico’s gorgeous natural environment is also a compelling reason for some producers to choose the state.
Louisiana is another attraction location: producers can achieve up to thirty percent tax credit on qualifying expenditures in the state, such as payroll expenses for both Louisiana residents and non-residents. Texas is also open for this business in a big way: it recently tripled the state’s incentives.
View: United States Film Locations
Canada, like the United States, is one of the planet’s most welcoming destinations for producers.
The country’s talent base (including a large base of modestly paid and talented television and film industry professionals), infrastructure, and compelling tax incentives make Canada a natural fit for many. Canada offers both state and federal tax incentives. For instance, the refundable tax credit equals sixteen percent of labour which qualifies. State programs add value to expenditures and/or labour costs.
For example, British Columbia’s state-offered Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC) is equal to thirty-three percent of qualified labour here whilst Ontario’s version is favourably calculated to save producers twenty-five percent of qualified production expenses incurred there. Although Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia also have attractive tax incentives, Vancouver in British Columbia and Toronto in Ontario offer technologically state-of-the-art facilities for production.
Similarly, both Quebec and Ontario offer generous incentives for animated and VFX productions. Quebec has a large local talent base of animators, cartoonists, and special effects professionals.
The United Kingdom continues as Europe’s largest production centre and hub.
The appealing tax relief system (made more appealing in April 2014) was increased to twenty-five percent from twenty percent on qualified £20m budgets and higher. The minimum threshold to participate in incentives was also increased to twenty-five percent from ten percent. The changes also resulted in the relaxing of the government’s determination of which types of productions can be eligible for this support. For instance, VFX products benefit from the new parameters.
Some local areas also offer additional incentives, such as Screen Yorkshire, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Ireland’s decision to increase tax credits to thirty-two percent from twenty-eight percent has been favourably received by production companies. “The Tudors” and “Vikings” were previously produced here.
View: UK Filming Locations
Germany is one of the United Kingdom’s fiercest competitors for big budget productions in Europe.
The country offers both national and local/regional inducements to film here: Germany’s Federal Film Fund, (DFFF) created in 2007, has achieved results. However, the fund levels were recently lowered ten million euros to a current level of sixty million euros per year. Bavaria’s regional fund can offer an incremental return to producers who film there.
Like Canada and the United States, Australia’s federal and state-regional incentives seek to attract film productions from all over the world.
These tax incentives offer cash rebates to producers on the basis of qualified production expenses in Australia. The federal incentives include thirty percent post, digital and visual effects offset; forty percent producer offset, and sixteen and one-half percent location offsets. Regionally, Screen New South Wales (Screen NSW) has a fund of about AUD8m per year for allocations. Since Sydney is usually considered to have the best studios in Australia, this regional fund is the one many producers check out first.
Victoria (Melbourne), Western Australia (Perth), and other incentives are available, too.
Currency changes (as the Australian dollar improves against some other national currencies) and the incentives and enticements offered by other countries has caused some to say that Australia’s annual project levels are declining year-to-year. The Australian national government hasn’t bowed to proposals to increase the location offset figure from sixteen and one-half percent to thirty percent but did increase the incentive fund size to AUD20m. According to recent announcements, the Aussie government is willing to entertain producers’ proposals on an individual basis. For instance, 20th Century Fox obtained an AUD12m additional allowance as part of the incentive to shoot “The Wolverine” on location in NSW.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the capital and intention to build a top caliber film business.
Two years ago, Abu Dhabi Film Commission was the first to offer production incentives to international producers from the EMEA. This thirty percent cash-back production rebate includes music videos, films, television productions, commercials, and even travel (airfares booked on Etihad Airways) and accommodation expenditures. The only minor catch is that producers must offer to train and/or hire interns during production here.
Eastern Europe remains in active pursuit of more production activity, but producers say it’s a complicated economic and political environment.
Czech Republic announced a twenty percent rebate that, after total calculation, was less than this figure. Accordingly, producers say that it’s best to check the levels of incentive funds available before making a commitment to any the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, or Bulgaria. Market experts say that Lithuania’s twenty percent tax rebate is worth evaluating first.
View: Eastern European Filming Locations
South Africa intends incentives to attract larger budgets (films, television, and post-production) to the country in order to encourage new jobs whilst increasing SA’s creative talent and skills levels.
Film and tv production incentives were changed a bit two years ago: a twenty percent reduced tax on production expenses of foreign producers filmed in the country (budgets equivalent to USD 1.3m or greater). Larger incentives apply with post-production or co-production commitments to the country.
Mauritius offers a thirty percent tax incentive geared towards the international market. They’re also looking for co-production treaty offers with European, UK, Southeast Asia and South African partners. Because Mauritius’ landscapes are similar to those of South Africa, the country hopes its attractive incentives will encourage production project commitments.
Last year, the Malay national government launched film and screen production incentives to the international marketplace via “Film in Malaysia Incentive,” or FIMI.
The incentives include a thirty percent cash rebate on QMPE (or qualified Malaysian production expenditures). Pinewood announced a studio opening in the country, which reflects the Malaysian government’s statements of extraordinary support to filmmakers and producers.
The prime benefits of Spain and the Canary Islands are cost efficiency and effectiveness.
Producers say the film studios in the region are good but not “state-of-the-art.” The Canary Islands offers a tempting rebate of thirty-eight percent for both film and television productions. Investors may also benefit from the special tax incentives in place.
View: Filming Locations in Spain
According to Variety, Colombia is the leader in LatAm’s production development and outreach to international producers.
A forty percent filming incentive is offered to film companies and television producers pending at least five hundred thousand dollars in the country. Producers also receive twenty percent cash rebates on transportation, accommodations, and meals taken in Colombia.
The incentive fund is currently worth approximately fourteen million dollars. Some observers say that the fund seems geared to small or mid-level budgets.
The New York Times says that China’s national Film Agency seeks co-production treaties and distribution opportunities.
However, television and film producers note there are frequent hurdles in getting projects approved in mainland China and Hong Kong.
National, regional, state, and even local governments want to attract filmmakers and producers to their locations. This information should be considered an overview of incentives and rebates offered around the world.
It’s always important to read the fine print and obtain counsel when negotiating credits and incentives with international partners.