France has asserted itself strongly as one of Europe’s best filmmaking options, maintaining a 20-percent French Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP) and possessing over 80 studios to choose from. According to the Île-de-France Film Commission, filmmakers can benefit from the 130,000 multilingual crew (speaking English, Chinese and Japanese), which plays a major role in the country’s ability to sustain several productions at one time. The Éclair Laboratory and Quinta Industries provide state-of-the-art postproduction facilities, and the Duran Duboi Studio and BUF Compagnie offer full-CGI animation.
The city of Paris remains a cinematic darling, as every street corner is lined with grand historic sites that strongly encourage filmmaking at popular locations, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Palace of Versailles and Sacré-Cœur Basilica. More than 920 shoots were produced in Paris in 2010 (an increase from 850 in 2009) with guests like TV’s “Gossip Girl” confirming the city’s status as a capital of cinema. “[While] foreign filmmakers prefer iconic exteriors, such as Montmartre, the bridges of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, the French are turning to more modern premises,” notes Michel Gomez of Mission Cinéma.
The French Film Commission is currently pioneering regional aid that will support postproduction, allowing the completion of important projects that would not take place without it, including experimental works and formats difficult for young filmmakers. Commission Chair Safia Lebdi introduced the amendment that was adopted in December 2010 to increase the funds dedicated to postproduction, bringing the budget from 300,000 euros to 950,000 euros. “We must continue to support postproduction [and] we must keep our talent and invest in the new generation,” says Lebdi. She also called for the necessary convergence of world cinema and for the industry to be more environmentally friendly while supporting the transition to digital cinema.
Australia has attracted major motion pictures, such as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Bait, Australia, Frost/Nixon and X-Men Origins: Wolverine with its Australian Screen Production Incentive administered by Screen Australia. The Producer Offset is one of three offsets created to increase production and improve Australian’s economy. It offers a 40-percent rebate on the qualifying spend of qualifying Australian films and a 20-percent rebate for other qualifying media. The two remaining programs are the Location Offset: A 15-percent offer on the QAPE (qualifying Australian production expenditure) of a large-budget non-Australian film and the PDV Offset: A 15-percent offer on the QAPE that relates to post, digital and visual effects production. And local state and communities provide additional incentives.
Still benefiting from the enhanced 3D technology and postproduction expertise gained during its work on Avatar, New Zealand is again going full-steam ahead with The Hobbit, now green-lit by Warner Bros. for production at Peter Jackson’s Stone Street Studios. Weta Digital is also currently working on postproduction for Rise of the Apes (starring James Franco) and Peter Jackson and Stephen Spielberg’s film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.
The New Zealand Film Commission administers the Large Budget Screen Production Grant, which currently provides a 15-percent uncapped cash grant for qualifying expenditures for a minimum spend of NZ$15 million. A separate incentive can be accessed for projects that spend a minimum NZ$3 million on Post/Digital/Visual Effects production. (Only one incentive can be eligible per project).
Film Commission CEO Graeme Mason is ecstatic about the recent local and international success of Boy, the second feature from Director Taika Waititi (Eagle vs. Shark), which broke all domestic box-office records and rose to international critical acclaim.
Park Road Post (pictured above) and the recently built Rubber Monkey Studio in Wellington cater to all filmmakers’ postproduction needs, and there are strong rumors that James Cameron will return to New Zealand towards the end of 2011 with the preproduction of Avatar 2.
Although production has decreased, a favorable exchange rate on currency with the U.S. and the Canadian Production Services Tax Credit program still puts Canada in the international production competition. The refundable federal-tax credit is equal to 16 percent of the qualifying labor paid to Canadian residents with no caps. Several provinces around the country have created individual labor-based and spend-based tax-incentive programs above and beyond the federal program that can add up to 70 percent altogether.
Check individual websites for film commissions like Alberta Film, which offers between 20 to 29 percent of all eligible expenses (equal to a 36- to 53-percent labor-based tax credit) coupled with no provincial sales tax; SaskFilm, which contributes a tax credit of up to 55 percent of eligible labor on each project to attract film and TV projects to Saskatchewan; and the Quebec Film and Television Council (QFTC) that attracts filmmakers interested in a 44-percent cash rebate.
Singapore’s emerging cinematographic stronghold also posted record film and TV production outputs last year, capitalizing on the millions poured into creating the most comprehensive cinematic ecosystem in Asia. Comprising funding schemes, co-production initiatives and a number of government-to-government agreements, Singapore’s overall incentive market of professional crews and high-tech postproduction facilities provide the full package for foreign filmmakers.
Neon Sign, Bait, The Harvest and Cooktales are the latest films to be funded under the Media Development Authority’s International Film Fund and aided by a healthy US$50 million deal signed in 2010 between MDA, CJ Entertainment, Bang Singapore and Asia Media & Technology Capital. The fund is designed to enhance international co-production arrangements with Singapore production and co-production companies shooting in the country by co-investing up to S$5 million in each selected feature film.
MDA and Scrawl Studios also recently signed five new co-production deals amounting to US$13.5 million (S$19 million) involving international partners from Canada, France and Taiwan. These projects include Almost Extinct with Canada’s CCI Entertainment and Hunter the Wereboy with France’s Planet Nemo Animation. Other notable collaborations include MDA and Tiger Gate Entertainment (a joint venture of Lionsgate and Saban Capital Group) and MDA’s film development initiative with Fortissimo Films.
Thailand has had its ups and downs, but international production increased substantially from foreign films. The Thailand Department of Tourism Director-General Supol Sripan announced on January 4, 2011, statistics of the Thailand Film Office that showed that 578 productions were filmed in Thailand in 2010, earning the country Bt1.87 billion baht ($60 million) in 2010. This is twice as much as the Bt900 million ($30 million) earned in 2009.
“Foreign filmmakers consistently note the availability of [Thailand’s] top-quality equipment, exotic locations and multilingual/cultural Thai crews that work extremely hard,” says Thailand Film Office Director Wanasiri Morakul.
In December, 2010, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visited the set of Warner Bros.’ and Legendary Pictures’ The Hangover Part II, which was filming in Bangkok and employed over 450 local crewmembers and 100 Western crewmembers who stayed at over 12 different hotels around town. Close to 200 production vehicles were hired, including vans, trucks, motor homes and mobile offices. The production shot for 40 days in Thailand, 38 on location and two in MoonStar’s sound stage.
The Prime Minister discussed tax incentives and rebates for foreign film productions filming in Thailand, which had already passed the Thai Cabinet and were being considered for final implementation. Line Producer Chris Lowenstein encouraged him to try and have the incentives fully approved by May 26, 2011, which is the targeted release date for the film, before Cannes International Film Festival and the AFCI Locations Trade Show/Produced by Conference. The Prime Minister was keen on the idea of setting a specific date ─ especially near the movie’s worldwide release date ─ as a marketing platform.
With such high competition, every country must be ruthless with their marketing and advertising agendas while forging good relationships with their government legislatures to attract more productions.