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Film incentive bill to bring back Hollywood productions suspended

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A new cinematographic bill proposes state incentives for local and foreign filmmakers in the form of an up to 20% write-off of the money they choose to spend in the Czech Republic. Jasmina Torbati from the Audiovisual Producers’ Association (APA) participating on the putting together of the bill told E15 that the incentives have a strong psychological impact in the process of deciding on the location of the shooting.

A preliminary proposal of the bill suggests part of the consumer tax revenue should be passed to the State Fund for Promotion and Development of Czech Cinematography. The Culture Ministry expects that some CZK 1.5 billion could be given back to filmmakers every year.

Applicants would be required to put together a statement on the cultural contribution their project is going to bring, whether it takes advantage of historical locations and so on. The costs would be then be considered by an auditor and the final decision on returning the part of the budget would lie with another body, such as the Cinematography Fund for example, E15 writes.

Michal Mejstřík, member of National Economic Council (NERV), told Hospodářské noviny that “it has been estimated that the introduction of the incentives might increase spending in the Czech Republic of both local and foreign film crews by CZK 3.5 billion”. He added that the net profit of the stimuli could be estimated to reach hundreds of millions of crowns a year.

The new bill is now heading to intradepartmental discussion. However, due to collapse of the government, it remains unclear when it will reach the lower house. Czech Republic is thus facing the departure of the big Hollywood film crews, which prefer to take advantage of a more favourable conditions offered by Hungary and Romania. Czech Republic has thus lost potential clients in the productions of Hellboy and the Chronicles of Narnia sequels two years ago.

APA data shows that the volume of foreign film commissions fell by more than 70% between the years 2003-2006. Foreign productions spent more than CZK 5 billion in the Czech Republic in 2003.

Ludmila Claussová, head of the Czech Film Commission office, told Hospodářské noviny that dozens of filmmakers showed interest in shooting in the Czech Republic at a film location fair in Los Angeles this year; however, none of them were big Hollywood productions. Claussová explained that the Czech Republic also has a big advantage thanks to its top-quality film studios, but without incetives, this might not be enough keep bringing in filmmakers.

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