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Shoot @ Sight

Location versus budget… It’s a filmmaker’s eternal dilemma. Rohini Nag brings you a few fabulous destinations that don’t pinch. And for deeper insights into why they work, Q&As with the government agencies concerned. Here are some tempting facts and figures you might like to save for future reference

NORWAY
(Sigmund Elias Holm, Film Commissioner, Western Norway Film Commission)
What benefits does the film commission or the government offer?

Western Norway is regularly featured as the world’s most spectacular and iconic landscape, and still it’s fresh and new on the big screen. Best of all, it’s free. In Norway, no permits are needed for shooting in public places and landscapes.

The Western Norway Film Commission offers free location scouting services, tailor-made to match the needs of the project and the vision of the director. We assist international productions eyeing to shoot in the region, free of charge, and invite serious companies from abroad.The Film Commission also helps international producers get in touch with Norwegian partners and companies. In recent years, the film commission has supported Indian projects such as KV Anand’s Tamil films KO and Maattrraan.We have the local expertise required for a successful shoot, and can consult on regional funding for suitable projects.

As a member of the Scandinavian Locations Network, we can also act as a gateway to 11 other film commissions in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Amali thumali (KO) song are the most spectacular locations ever used in an Indian film, and contributed significantly to the blockbuster’s success.

We are ready to welcome more Indian productions to the exotic locations of Western Norway and are confident that featuring our backdrops will bring results in the box office and boost the audience’ appeal. This is evidenced by Anand’s decision to return to Western Norway with Maattrraan after the success of KO.

The road network is well developed and makes it possible to go from summer to winter, from city to mountains, within an hour. The easy access to our wild and extreme locations, combined with the flexible and professional approach of Norwegian crews and line producers make filming in Western Norway a comfortable experience. English is our working language, the people are welcoming and local communities eager to host film shoots. It is easy to get permissions and clearances, which will delight directors wary of bureaucratic procedures.As a Northern European country, Norway is not cheap but our spectacular landscape can bring enormous benefit to ambitious films looking for high screen value.

Do you offer any special rebates?

The Western Norway Film Commission helps producers and production departments get in touch with local partners, and special rebates can be negotiated. Scheduling your shoot in the shoulder season to the main tourist months in July and August, when tourist crowds are fewer, can offer some serious advantages when it comes to negotiating with hotels and service providers.
What tax incentives are offered, if any?Are they different for large production companies?    

SWEDEN/DENMARK 
(Mikael Svensson, Film Commissioner, Oresund Film Commission)

What benefits does the film commission or the government offer?And how will the Film Commission help Indian film producers and production houses, in particular, if they want to shoot in the region?

The Oresund Film Commission (OFC) Southern Sweden and Greater Copenhagen has been set up to deliver free advice and assistance to international film projects shooting in the region. OFC offers invitations to serious companies from abroad.

English is the working language and there is a high production value. Known as an innovative and exciting centre for the production of moving images, the region of Oresund is emerging as a smart location choice for international film productions in Europe. Shooting in the region, you will benefit from a sophisticated film industry infrastructure.

• OFC offers invitations to serious companies from abroad

• It offers comprehensive information on filming opportunities in the region

• It also arranges recce trips, where we can provide free lodging and free location scouting

• It has an extensive Online Location Database of more than 1,200 images from the Oresund region

• Customised information and consulting services addressing the needs of individual productions, including location scouting and budget consulting

• Introduction to valuable contacts among filmmakers, authorities, locations, distributors and others

• Project management support and assistance to film crews shooting in the region

• Streamlined shooting-permit procedures – permits are generally very cheap and if you shoot in the countryside without disturbance, shooting is free

• Due to not having ordinary tax Incentives, we offer discount packages, including accommodation, car rental, catering and much more

• We assist in local PR and marketing support, thanks to close cooperation with the local mediaOFC can also offer access to other Swedish, Scandinavian and European organisations. It is a member of the Sweden Film Commission, Scandinavian Locations, European Film Commissioners Network (EUFCN) and Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).

According to you, what makes this destination exquisite for an Indian film?

The region prides itself on unique locations bursting with Scandinavian spirit. Here, in the very heart of Scandinavia, where Sweden and Denmark cross borders, the past meets the future and nature goes hand-in-hand with technology, making the Oresund region an ideal location for any film production. The pastoral landscapes of Southern Sweden are bound to take your breath away while Scandinavia’s largest city, Copenhagen, is just around the corner.

Whether your desired backdrop is sleek design and architecture in a contemporary European city setting or fairytale scenery and medieval villages tucked in lush fields, the Oresund region will suit your needs.

You will find royal castles and hi-tech empires, dark gothic scenery and light-blue seafront vistas, bustling modern cityscapes and ancient Viking grounds. All this is in the vibrant Oresund region embracing the area of Southern Sweden and Greater Copenhagen.

Scandinavian summers are noted for their over-abundance of light. The Oresund region has nearly 17 hours of daylight in the summer. Winters, conversely, dim to as little as 7 hours of daylight.A world-class filmmaking infrastructure has been established in the Oresund region, to service not only the domestic industry, but also the growing number of foreign productions that have based their operations here. Here, you will find everything you need, whether film equipment, sound stages, labs and telecine facilities or state-of-the-art post-production – all at your disposal while filming in Southern Sweden or Denmark. And, of course, Scandinavian quality is always to be counted on.

Why should an Indian filmmaker go to Southern Sweden and Greater Copenhagen to shoot?

Shooting in the Oresund region is always great value for money. Our extensive experience in delivering high-quality films within small-budget frames, typical of smaller national markets, has encouraged strong project management and improved budget control skills while good business practices will ensure that you will always get the agreed product at the agreed time.Known to be one of the most flexible professional workforces in the world, Scandinavian crews deserve nothing short of admiration. Their efficiency and multiple skills will make for great production value, allowing you to use smaller teams, while their easy-going attitude is guaranteed to keep the spirits up even under pressure. And don’t bother to bring a translator – fluent English is spoken on the sets.

High production standards may have won the Oresund region the reputation of an ideal film-location but it is the wealth of creative talent that has put the region in the spotlight and gained it international acclaim. Names like Ingmar Bergman, Lars Von Trier, Lukas Moodyson, Jan Troell and Thomas Vinterberg speak for themselves.World-famous crime series are also produced in the region like Wallander with Kenneth Branagh in the lead role, The Killing and The Bridge which is now being remade both in UK and the US.An important feature in the film landscape of the Oresund region is the company, Connecting Bollywood, in Malmö, which works as a link between Indian producers and Scandinavia. Connecting Bollywood was an important factor when 1920 – Evil Returns was shot. The company is a perfect bridge between the Indian and Scandinavian film industry
What tax incentives are offered, if any? Are they different for large production companies? Are there any special rebates that can be availed?

There are no tax Incentives or rebates in Scandinavia although you can get the VAT of 25 per cent back when you present receipts of the money spent in the region.There are National Film Funds in both Sweden and Denmark but to be eligible for them, you have to have a local co-producer.       

• OFC treats every project individually to assure the best package deals

• Film i Skåne is the Regional Film Fund where you can apply for support

• Film i Skåne acts as co-producer and invests equity in feature films and TV series that are shot in Skåne

• Due to the absence of ordinary tax incentives, we offer discount packages, including accommodation, car rental, catering and much more

• We assist in local PR and marketing support, thanks to close cooperation with the local media
Can you share some interesting anecdotes about film production in Southern Sweden and Greater Copenhagen?

A couple of years ago, we had a visit from Vishesh Films. They were taken care of by one of the most experienced location scouts in the region Ms China Åhlander. At the same time, Swedish Television decided to make a short documentary about the day in the life of a location scout. The team accompanied the scouting and visited a lot of locations, and, at the end of the day, they went to see the Oresund Bridge. Ms Ahlander stopped the car and pointed to the bridge while the camera turned towards the Vishesh people. They were all asleep!That was the end of the documentary.
Name the Indian films shot in Southern Sweden and Greater Copenhagen?

In 1992, late Dev Anand shot his film Pyaar Ka Taraana in Copenhagen. That was the year before the Film Commission was set up. We had a few Indian companies here for a recce last year. The production company ASA Productions and producer Vikram Bhatt decided to shoot 1920 – Evil Returns, the sequel to their horror movie 1920 here in Southern Sweden. There have been quite a few Indian recces here from others too.In the small town of Ystad, film productions have become a part of everyday life, and since 2003, over 40 episodes of 90 minutes about inspector Kurt Wallander have been shot. A couple of years ago, BBC chose to shoot English remakes of the series and just shot episodes 7-9.Thanks to this, Ystad has seen an increase in Swedish, German and British tourists, and every year, the city arranges an International Conference on Film Tourism called Mixed Reality Scandinavia.Hopefully, we can start noticing some Indian tourists after 1920 – Evil Returns has been released.

Krakow, Poland
(Rafał Orlicki, Director of Krakow Film Commission. Film Commissioner, Krakow Regional Film Fund CEO, Manager of Culture. Deputy Director for Film Production in Krakow Festival Office)
What benefits does the film commission or the government offer?

The Krakow Film Commission can help producers at each stage of filmmaking. We can help you find suitable locations. Our website has a database of more than 400 locations from Krakow and the Malopolska region. We also offer location scouting. Our Film Commission can also provide help on the set.

We have been collaborating with the municipal office and public services for years, and assist in getting permits required for shooting in Krakow and Malopolska. The Krakow Film Commission also works in partnership with a vast network of companies from the film industry and supporting sector (hotels, catering and transport, insurance). You can find the companies providing services on the set as well as during post-production. The Krakow Film Commission also provides financial support via the Krakow Regional Film Fund to film productions that can contribute to the promotion of Krakow and Malopolska. Factors that determine whether we want to co-produce with foreign producers are: placement of the plot or shooting locations in the region and, of course, the film’s artistic value.
According to you, what makes this destination exquisite for an Indian film?

Krakow’s Main Market Square is the second-biggest market in Europe (except Red Square in Moscow). Krakow citizens believe that their city is unique. This is of course truth. But, at the same time, Krakow’s visual variety resembles many of the world’s cities. It can play Paris and is often called ‘The pearl of the Renaissance north of the Alps’. Because our region through the centuries has been home to many foreign visitors, one can find architecture of German, Italian, French, Austrian and most of all Jewish pedigree. Krakow fortunately escaped the ravages of World War II and almost all historic buildings are untouched.

Apart from Krakow, the Malopolska region offers exceptional mountain landscapes: from the rocky Tatras to those covered in forests; and inhabited vast lands of Beskid Niski. Our region is also famous for its wooden architectural legacy. Wooden churches located in the south of Malopolska are on the UNESCO World Heritage’s list. Here, one can also find open-air museums, which are readymade locations representing historic rural and village architecture.
Why should an Indian filmmaker shoot in Krakow?

Famous director Andrzej Wajda once said that Krakow is a city ‘made for film’. Furthermore, there is a special link between Krakow and India – the city is known for its powerful chakra. We believe that every film can be set in Krakow or the Malopolska region due to the variety of places, styles and ages. Polish audiovisual industries are still developing and gaining knowledge, knowhow and potential. We are still undiscovered for worldwide film producers and maybe this magical secrecy is why our productions are always well-made and profitable. We assure polished services, professional insider help and financial support.
What tax incentives are offered, if any?

Are they different for large production companies?The only tax incentive is the return of VAT. In addition, creative industries often supply productions. For example, the Krakow Film Commission provides a Krakow Regional Film Fund. A subsidy for the film production can be given (under specific rules) to any producer making a movie in the Malopolska region.
Can you share some anecdotes about film production in Krakow?

Before the crew of Aazaan arrived in our city, they wanted Krakow to double for Prague. However, when they started to shoot, the producer decided that Krakow will simply play Krakow and there was no need for it to pretend to be the capital of the Czech Republic. Krakow affects everybody who comes to our city in a unique way.
Are there any special rebates that can be availed?Even though we do not have any rebates, we can help the producer to obtain better prices for the renting of pubic as well as private locations in Krakow and the Malopolska region. The Krakow Film Commission cooperates with many local companies, which provide accommodation, catering and other production services at lower costs.
Name the Indian films shot in Krakow?   

The Krakow Film Commission has worked with Indian producers on Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai directed by Shree Narayan Singh, Aazaan directed by Prashant Chadha and The Rhythm directed by Vivek Kumar. We also provide administrative support for advertisements shot by Indian  crew, such as Fujitsu Siemens’ Magic directed by Manav Menon, waterer Desert directed by Vinod Vijay and three other adverts produced for the MTS brand Chef, Musician, Artist directed by Vinod Vijay.
Are there any post-production funds provided by the Film Commission?

Every year, the Krakow Film Commission as an operator of the Regional Film Fund in Krakow organises the Competition for Film Production Support, whose goal is to support film productions related to Krakow and the Malopolska region. The competition is financed with the resources of the Regional Film Fund in Krakow, established thanks to cooperation between the Malopolska region, the City of Krakow and the Krakow Festival Office. The competition’s prize is an invitation to negotiate a co-production contract, on the basis of which the competition winner and the Krakow Festival Office become the film’s co-producers.

The winner may be granted financial and possibly in-kind contributions that may reach a maximum of 50 per cent of the film production costs. The support can be for pre-production, production and post-production costs but the applications can be submitted only for films with full budget or which have not been shown to the public before the date of application. The Regional Film Fund in Krakow has organised four competitions for Film Production Support, with a total of 137 projects submitted, 17 of them were supported, including: 9 feature films, 6 documentaries and 2 animations.

Finland
(Päivi Söderström, Executive Manager, Finland Film Commission)
What benefits does the film commission or the government offer?

The Finland Film Commission, together with regional film commissions in Finland, assists in finding the best locations and first-class services for the needs of foreign productions. The film commissions offer free-of-charge help in location scouting and information on different film production-related services in their own areas. They can help in negotiations with local financiers such as municipalities, companies and tourism authorities.

The Finland Film Commission assists in finding production service companies, co-production partners or post production companies as well as cinematography equipment rentals or other services the film crew might desire.International co-productions are eligible for production support from the Finnish Film Foundation when a Finnish co-producer is involved.
According to you, what makes this destination exquisite for an Indian film?

Finland has a great many faces, from untouched wilderness to urban jungle; from Arctic Tundra to unrivalled green archipelagos. Finland offers diverse and unique landscapes and filming possibilities throughout the year, with unique natural conditions – from the midnight sun and summer heat to snow and extreme cold. It is a sought-after winter filming location as a result of its reliable snow and ice conditions. Highly skilled Finnish crews ensure that your shooting runs smoothly and on time, despite weather conditions.Due to the country’s high latitude, the angle of the sunlight is lower, creating a unique light ambience and magical hours that seem to last for an exceptionally long time. Twenty-four hours of daylight in the midsummer months allow for longer shooting days.

Why should an Indian filmmaker shoot in Finland?

Indian filmmakers can find locations and an ambience that is exotic from an Indian perspective, as described above. Finland is known as a safe country with a well developed infrastructure, good services and advanced technology. Finland has airports throughout the country and the public transport system is comfortable and reliable, ranked among the best in Europe. A well-maintained and dense road network makes filming in the wilderness easy, as does the advanced infrastructure and remarkably good data-connection coverage.

Filming locations in wild nature are within easy access from hotels and other services. Shooting permits are usually easy to get and inexpensive, and in many cases not needed at all.Professional Finnish crews can typically work in smaller numbers due to their ability to multitask and ‘can-do’ attitude. Labour conventions allow longer shooting days compared to some other European countries. Nearly all Finnish people have good knowledge of English language. Working in Finland and with Finns is straightforward, reliable and effective. All this creates savings in the production budget.
What tax incentives are offered, if any?Are they different for large production companies?

There are no tax incentives in Finland at the moment, but there is the possibility of a VAT refund (up to 23 per cent) on purchases in Finland. Filmmakers can also negotiate limited regional funding in certain cases.

Brussels

(Pierrette Baillot, Film Commission Manager, Brussels Film Office)

What benefits does the film commission or the government offer?

Many high-profile Belgian production companies are located in the Brussels Capital Region. In Brussels, there is a variety of sources of finance for audiovisual projects, linked to different regional settings:

The communities give financial support for various stages of the production process; scriptwriting and development, production, promotion, theatrical distribution and broadcasting – on the basis of cultural criteria.

• French Community (Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel)

• Flemish Community (Flanders Audiovisual Fund)

• The region, on the other hand, is involved in the industrial development of audiovisual practice by subsidising projects.

• Wallonia and Brussels (Wallimage/Bruxellimage)

• Flanders (Flanders Audiovisual Fund)

On a national level, the tax shelter offers tax benefits to Belgian companies or enterprises that invest in an audiovisual work – short and feature films, TV fiction and documentaries.

Brussels producers have access to the main European sources of financing –  Eurimages of the Council of Europe and the MEDIA programme of the European Commission. In Belgium, broadcasters are important partners in financing. Both public and private broadcasters are obliged to invest part of their resources in independent productions, either by co-producing or via pre-sales.

For foreign producers interested in accessing support of the above-mentioned institutions, the best and easiest way is to first find a local producer via the Belgian producers’ associations.

And we, the Brussels Film Office, for free, help in every step of shooting: permits, locations research, hotel and transport booking, finding local technicians, post-production companies, etc.

According to you, what makes this destination exquisite for an Indian film?

Very rich range of locations, from green and romantic parks to typical old medieval streets, business headquarters… Brussels provides a vast selection of locations that can enhance a film’s production value.

Why should an Indian filmmaker shoot in Brussels?

Legendary Belgian hospitality is one reason filmmakers should choose Brussels, which is located in the heart of Europe. Once you are here, you can easily visit Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin or London, which are all at a distance of 90 minutes.

Can you share some anecdotes about film production in Brussels?

Every producer comes back and actors love to work here.

Fiji

(Florence Swamy, Acting CEO & Manager, Fiji Audio Visual Commission)

What benefits does the Film Fiji (formerly Fiji Audio Visual Commission) or the government offer?

Fiji offers several incentives for filmmakers. These include tax waivers for cast and crew, a facility that allows filmmakers to raise funds locally and tax benefits for companies operating out of Studio City Zones. The Fiji government also offers (and administered by Film Fiji) a very attractive Film Tax Rebate, which is 47 per cent of Qualifying Fiji Production Expenditure (QFPE). The rebate has already begun to yield its expected results with increased interest not only from Hollywood but from Bollywood as well. We’ve also just hosted, quite successfully, a feature film from the UK and five films from Bollywood, all utilising the film tax rebate.

A recent change in the rebate laws includes the removal of the requirement that a film must spend a minimum 35 per cent of its total production budget in Fiji to qualify for the rebate. Now, films can shoot part of their script in Fiji and still qualify for the 47 per cent rebate provided they meet the minimum QFPE of FJD $ 250,000 (approximately USD $ 125,000).

The maximum rebate the Fiji government can pay out per film has is FJD $ 11.75 million and there is currently no restriction on the number of films that can apply for and get the rebate from the Fiji government in any one year, as long as the paperwork and other compliances have been properly concluded.

Another significant change in Fiji’s rebate law is the new FJD $ 50,000 minimum QFPE for television commercials. Earlier, television commercials had to spend the same minimum QFPE of FJD $ 250,000 as feature films to qualify for the rebate, despite their smaller budget.

In addition to allowing for the refund of the 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) paid in Fiji towards the making of a qualifying Fiji film in Fiji, the Minister for Finance may waive or reduce the 15 per cent withholding tax charged against remittance of salaries of non-resident cast and crew who work in Fiji on a qualifying film, provided these cast and crew are from countries which do not have a Double Tax Agreement with Fiji.

With salaries and air fares of foreign cast and crew (100 per cent of the travel is on Air Pacific, Fiji’s national airline; 15 per cent on any other airline), offshore equipment hire and cartage to Fiji, and specified amounts for post-production, producers’ fee, costume, make-up and props specifically included as QFPE, Fiji’s film tax rebate package has just become one of the most attractive incentive packages offered anywhere in the world today.

In addition to the incentives mentioned above, production companies may file returns for VAT (Value Added Tax) paid on the purchase of local goods and services. Also, a 15 per cent withholding tax payable on the salaries of foreign cast and crew may be waived or reduced by the Minister for Finance, if such cast and crew are from a non-DTA (Double Tax Treaty) country. This applies at present to production companies from India as we do not have a DTA with India at present.

According to you, what makes this destination exquisite for an Indian film?

Fiji is a great filming location. It offers a fantastic range of locations – from remote, tropical isles and thick lush jungles, grasslands, sand dunes to bustling towns, cities, pubs etc. The diversity in the genres of films produced recently proves that Fiji can be used for worldwide settings.  We have an established history of filmmaking in Fiji:  Blue LagoonCast AwayEco-ChallengeAnacondaSurvivorBoot CampCelebrity Love Island (UK), ContactPirates Island (Australia), Bul aQuo (UK), Kaha Dilhi Kaha Lahore (India) and many others. Production companies are using Fiji for its beautiful beaches, waterfalls and jungles but they have also used it for its urban centres as well.

Most people are unaware that Fiji has vistas of metropolitan cities, colonial towns, and so much more. It has doubled for locations such as New York, Borneo and Chennai, India. We have British colonial buildings which have stood still in time. Fiji also has large sand dunes, a location that can be used for a desert location.    

Fiji also has some locations which are truly unique to it. The 180thMeridian crosses one of the many islands in the Fiji group, Taveuni. What this means is that half the island is today and the other half, yesterday.

Fiji has the best dive spots on the Astrolabe reefs, great surf (cloud break on around Tavarua Island) and fabulous beaches, isolated but accessible islands, lush jungles with tropical flora and fauna. There’s also flora and fauna which are unique to Fiji. For instance, the red prawns on an island called Vatulele, which come up to the surface of the lake they’re in when sacred words are chanted, the crested iguana etc.

Are there any special tax benefits for a large production company?

No. All film production companies must meet the minimum investment requirements and other conditions for rebate.

Name the Indian films shot in Fiji?

Kaha Dilhi Kaha Lahore – Picture Thoughts Productions Ltd; Super Model – Maruti Films; Table 21 – Next Gen Productions and 3G – Next Gen Prodcutions.

Are there any post-production funds provided by the Fiji Audio Visual Commission?

Not directly but post-production allowances are permitted as a qualifying Fiji production expenditure. These allowances vary depending on the film’s budget:

• F $ 75,000 in post-production expenditure is allowed if budget up to F $ 3m

• F $ 100,000 in post-production expenditure is allowed if budget up to F $ 5m

• F $ 150,000 in post-production expenditure is allowed if budget up to F $ 7m

• F $ 200,000 in post-production expenditure is allowed if budget up to F $ 10m

• F $ 250,000 in post-production expenditure is allowed if budget is more than F $ 10m

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