Written by James Peak on Mar 26, 2010. Posted in Incentive News

Italy booming after new incentive

Since new EC Treaty state aid rules kicked in fully in the summer of 2009, Italy has been in the middle of a production frenzy, as producers get wise to both national and regional incentives available for their pictures.

The new state provisions cover the whole country, as the Italian Film Commission explains:

“The new law provides for tax credits of up to USD6.5 million for producers. The law also provides for the sheltering of profits, not only for film production and distribution companies, but also for companies not previously operating within the film sector. The limits for these shelters are USD19.5 million for 2010.”

Maurizio Sperandini, Vice Director of Production at the renowned Cinecitta studios in Rome explains:

“It took a while and it was frustrating to see incentives in Germany, the UK and Malta attract projects that could normally choose our locations. It’s working well now and allows productions to save money very fast. Producers can save up to 25% of the money spent in Italy with a cap of EUR5 million per film. The most important and successful aspect of the incentive is that it is calculated on a monthly basis, meaning that foreign productions save cash flow just five weeks after their incentive application.”

Maurizio explains that the testimonials from productions very happy with their savings have brought lots of repeat business from the USA and globally:

“More productions are coming, more recce trips, more requests and email contacts.”

Dorian Van Demme’s The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie, is currently shooting in Venice using these incentives. Also, in Autumn 2009, Focus’s suspense-thriller The American, starring George Clooney, finished shooting in Rome, and in the medieval hill town of Castel del Monte, Abruzzo.

The new EC incentives do not necessarily take the place of regional aid. Instead, they supplement Italy’s old regional incentive programmes, run locally by regional commissions. The IFA recommends that producers contact local offices to find out what extra help they can get. To filmmakers prepared to do their research, what is on offer is as different and enticing as the Italian landscape itself.

With 20 regions of incredible range and quality, Italy has balmy Mediterranean resorts, the sophisticated Riviera coast, centres of Renaissance culture like Rome and Florence, and the pastoral idylls of Umbria and Campania. Italy can do snow, with the Italian Alps and the mountainous spine of the Appenines, and history, using the medieval fortresses, castles and beautiful hill-towns of Tuscany and Abruzzo. In each of these varied and culturally rich regions, producers will find regional film offices who will bend over backwards to help secure the right locations for their films.

The Abruzzo film commission, for instance, offers the usual services producers would expect in any country with excellent, well-maintained filming infrastructure and production services. It can help with package deals with local hotels and restaurants, and open doors to locations. But it also commits to “reducing all the financial burdens of filming related to applications for permits and other bureaucratic requirements.”

The Friuli-Venezia Giulia (FVG) Film Commission, which covers the city of Venice, has a well-ordered website which points to unusual locations like dams, quarries, iron works and giant caves, as well as the usual beaches, piazzas, mountains and urban landscapes. Importantly, the FVG has its own cash fund which allows producers to apply for up to EUR140,000 to aid their productions, provided 70% of the filming is done in the region, and 150% of the grant is spent in the region.

The regions do much to welcome filmmakers, but there is more good news nationally as well. Maurizio Sperandini has news for producers thinking of coming to Italy:

“We have another important incentive in Italy that has only just started two months ago. From January 2010 foreign productions that shoot in Italy have VAT exemptions too.”

Italy’s regions now make sense as filming locations. The quality has always been there, and now they are affordable too.

If you are considering Italy for your production, the Italian Film Commission’s website has contact information on all of the local film offices .

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