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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 do the Western Norway Film Commission or the government offer?

The Western Norway Film Commission offers free location scouting and ongoing assistance for international productions shooting in the magical fjords, mountains and coastal cities of Western Norway. The Film Commission also acts as a co-production liaison, and helps international producers get in touch with Norwegian production partners.

Through the Norwegian Film Institute, the government has a generous subsidy for Norwegian films, amounting to around NOK 400 million a year. The larger part of the subsidies is geared towards indigenous productions but there are also openings for international producers with strong artistic projects to get support through a Norwegian co-producer.

What makes this destination exquisite for filming?

The mesmerising fjords of Western Norway will spellbind even the most demanding audience. Western Norway is regularly featured as the world’s most spectacular and iconic landscape, and it’s still fresh and new on the big screen. Best of all, it’s free. In Norway, no permits are needed to shoot in public places and landscapes. The road network is well developed and makes it possible to go from summer to winter, from the city to the mountains, within an hour. The easy access to our wild and extreme locations, combined with the flexible and professional production approach Western Norway a breeze.

Why should a filmmaker shoot in Western Norway?

Simply because there’s no place like Western Norway – the spectacular landscape can bring enormous benefit to projects looking for high-screen value.

What are the tax incentives?

The VAT is refundable for international productions through a local producer. As of 2011, Norway doesn’t have any further tax incentive, although efforts are being made to address this, and we are at the stage where the Government has issued a White Paper on this matter.

Norway also offers a brand new top-financing grant scheme, focusing on cinema from southern countries (non-European and non-US projects). The new fund is called Sorfond, and has about NOK 4 million per year. Projects are selected for grants based on artistic performance and cultural integrity.

What sets Western Norway apart as far as filming is concerned?

The first thing that strikes international film directors, cinematographers and crews working in Western Norway is the special natural light.Norway is different from most other European countries, as during the summer months, it doesn’t get dark at night.

The subtle nuances of light, darkness, contrast and colours captivate cinematographers working in the Norwegian summer for the first time, and many end up on very early morning vigils!

Are there any special rebates that can be availed?

The Western Norway Film Commission helps producers and production departments get in touch with local partners, and special rebates are possible to negotiate. Placing your shoot in 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.

IRELAND

Louise Ryan, Marketing and Communications Executive, Irish Film Commission

What benefits do the  Irish Film Commission or the government offer?

Ireland’s success is built on talented Irish producers, directors, writers, cast, crew and service providers, backed by consistent Irish government support and a tax incentive for film and television worth up to 28 per cent. Bord Scannán na hÉireann, the Irish Film Board (IFB), is the national development agency for the Irish film industry investing in talent, creativity and enterprise.

The agency supports and promotes the Irish film industry. The Irish Film Commission, a part of the IFB, with offices in Dublin and Los Angeles, promotes Ireland internationally as a location for film and television production. We also provide information, advice, introductions and logistical support to Irish and international filmmakers during the development and production process.

What makes this destination exquisite for filming?

Ireland offers a wide variety of rural and urban settings. In fact, Dublin even regularly doubles for London and New York! The landscape is unspoilt, and the natural light is beautiful. Ireland is an ancient country which will delight the Indian audience. This is complimented by a well-established local film industry offering experienced local producers, world-class crew, state-of-the-art film studios and a wide range of post-production facilities.

Why should a filmmaker shoot in Ireland?

International filmmakers regularly shoot in Ireland. They come for the locations, the Section 481 tax incentive, the competitive cost of production, and the enormous support they receive from the Irish Film Board. Ireland is relatively undiscovered by the Indian cinema goers. Yash Raj Films is making Ek Tha Tiger in Trinity College, Dublin to show Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in a new setting, unseen until now by the Indian audience. The Irish tax incentive, Section 481, is available for film and television production. The incentive is:

• Worth up to 28 per cent of eligible spend

• Is available to the production on the first day of principal photography

• Is available to both film and television productions

• Value is determined at the outset

Qualifying expenditure includes all EU personnel and purchases of goods and services in Ireland. An Irish resident independent production company is required to access Section 481 finance. Your Irish co-producer can also facilitate production, including budgeting, scouting, scheduling and the hiring of local cast and crew. Recent projects, which have availed of the tax incentive include Ek Tha Tiger. The movie is being shot in Dublin in September and October.

Can you share an experience about filming in Ireland?

The Irish Film Board has worked closely with Yash Raj Films throughout the pre-production of Ek Tha Tiger, securing the use of Trinity College, Dublin as a film location. We also ensured the support of the Irish Police and Dublin City Council. Indian productions shooting in Ireland are exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) on a wide range of goods and services.

FINLAND

Maija Laine, Deputy Film Commissioner, North Finland Film Commission

What benefits do the North Finland Film Commission or the government offer?

The North Finland Film Commission (NFFC) serves domestic and international production companies by offering consultation, local expertise and a reliable co-operation network in Northern Finland. NFFC provides information on shooting locations in the region, local services and professionals of the field. The commission acts as the first link to the local authorities and to the audio-visual infrastructure in the area. NFFC can help in the negotiations with local financiers such as municipalities and companies and tourism authorities.

We provide the following services free:

• Location scouting (up to 3 days for feature films)

• Information on production facilities and locations in the region• Contact details of local production services companies, equipment rentals and professionals on the field• Deals with local services (accommodation and car rental)

• Links to the local authorities and to the audiovisual infrastructure in the region

• Consultation on making efficient shooting arrangements in the region

• Consultation on regional funding

What makes this destination exquisite for filming?

The NFFC region is exquisite because of its spectacular natural locations and climate. The North Finland Film Commission region is located on the 65th latitude. The region spreads out from the Gulf of Bothnia eastwards to the Russian border. From a flat coastline, the scenery changes first into gently rolling country, then into desolate northern tree-covered hills and finally into fells and taiga forests. The western part is dominated by the coast: The western flat fields also have idyllic countryside villages and foggy swamps.

The eastern areas of the province attract with untamed northern nature and its wildlife. The scenery changes with the season. In winter, the scenery of the eastern part of the province is covered by snow that provides light and is among the thickest in Europe.

Four distinct seasons give diversity to the region and go from one extreme to another. Even though Northern Finland is located as far north as Siberia or Greenland, the warm Gulf Stream makes the average winter temperatures several degrees higher in comparison. Still, winter temperatures can plunge below -30°C in January and February.

An average of one metre of snow every winter and bright, long summer nights give its own unique label for the area and a magical setting for any story.

Why should a filmmaker shoot in Finland?

The film infrastructure in the region is young and functions efficiently. The area has been the location of several domestic and international feature films, commercials and TV productions. International feature films such as Hanna (Focus Features, USA 2011) Blanc Comme Neige – White As Snow (Blue Monday Productions, France 2010) and Das Fenster zum Sommer – Summer Window (Zentropa Entertainments, Germany 2011) have been shot in the nature locations and cities in the region.

Even though more and more international productions are shot in Finland every year, the locations are still relatively unexplored. So we definitely have something new to offer the Indian audience.

Operating in the area is easy thanks to the wide transportation and service network as well as extensive cellular network. The roads are in good condition and well taken care of also during the winter when snow covers the region. Oulu airport is the second-busiest in Finland.

What are the tax incentives?

There are no specific tax incentives in Finland.

Are there any special rebates that can be availed?

The NFFC has worked with some Indian productions, and even though we do not have an incentive of a film fund in the area, we can help negotiate deals with local tourism authorities and companies, if the project is suitable.

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

The Oresund Film Commission (OFC) is a non-profit organisation established in 2003 to promote the region as an international film location and to service international film and TV productions shooting in the region. Embracing the area of Southern Sweden and Greater Copenhagen, the OFC combines the best resources of the two Scandinavian countries to ensure the best possible experience on location in the Oresund region. Whether you’re shooting a big-budget feature film or a small-scale documentary, the Oresund Film Commission will make your production in the Oresund Region smooth and rewarding.

How does the Oresund Film Commission help in film production in the region?

The Oresund Film Commission has been set up to deliver free advice and assistance to international film projects shooting in the region. OFC assists in offering invitations to serious companies from abroad. English is the working language and there is 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. You will benefit from a sophisticated film-industry infrastructure.

How will the Film Commission help Indian film producers and production houses in particular, if they are interested in shooting in the region?

OFC assists in offering invitations to serious companies from abroad. It offers comprehensive information on filming opportunities in the region. It arranges recce trips where we provide free lodging and free location scouting. We have an extensive Online Location Database of more than 1,200 images from the Oresund Region. We offer 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; and 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. Since there are no 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 our close co-operation with the local media.

What makes this destination exquisite for filming?

Unique locations bursting with Scandinavian spirit is what the region prides itself on. 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 the 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 you desire backdrop in sleek design and architecture in a contemporary European city setting or fairytale scenery and medieval villages tucked in lush fields, Oresund 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 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 summertime. 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. 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 are also fluent in English.

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 and do not need introduction.

What are the tax incentives?

There are no tax incentives in Scandinavia although you can get the VAT of 25 per cent back when you present receipts of the money spent in the region. OFC treats every project individually to assure the best package deals. There is a Regional Film Fund, Film i Skåne, where you can apply for support.

Film i Skåne acts as co-producer, investing equity in feature films and TV series that are shot in Skåne. There are National Film Funds in both Sweden and Denmark but to be eligible for them you have to have a local co-producer.

Can you share an experience about filming in Southern Sweden?

We have had a few Indian companies here for a recce. 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. At the same time, Swedish Television decided to make a short documentary about a day of a location scout with them.

In Malmo in Southern Sweden, you can find the only Indian film cinema hall in Scandinavia where Swedes can enjoy Indian movies. In 1992, Dev Anand shot his film Pyar Ka Tarana in Copenhagen. That was the year before the Film Commission was founded.

FRANCE
Franck Priot, Deputy Director, Film France, French Film Commission

What benefits do the French Film Commission or the government offer?

`Every year, more than 300 foreign filmmakers shoot feature films, TV series, commercials or documentaries in France. For most of them, the adventures in our country start with an e-mail (www.filmfrance.net) or a call to Film France, the French Film Commission. Among other duties, the mission of this state-funded agency is to promote France to foreign filmmakers, which also means advising the production house before as well as during the shoot in France. Our network of 40 local film commissions all over the country puts us in the unique capacity to help you find locations, source workforce or partners, such as the French line producers used to service Indian productions.

Production services companies are important assets of France’s ability to provide you with a fruitful filmmaking experience. Film France is also in charge of studying the applications for the French Tax Rebate for international productions that reimburses 20 per cent of the eligible costs of big-budget feature films shot in France. It helped to lure huge Hollywood filmmakers, which could also be a good news for everybody else. It means our crews are mastering world-level skills and technologies.

Our services are free of charge. As you may have the chance to discover, filmmakers enjoy a very special status in France – everybody wants to say “yes!” and our support is just one of the consequences of this special love France has for cinema.

What makes this destination exquisite for filming?

From snow-capped mountains to exotic beaches, from world-famous landmarks to beautiful countrysides, France offers an unchallenged range of locations with bullet-trains and highways to travel from one side of the country to another.

Why should a filmmaker shoot in France?

There are more than 50 running line producing companies in France and at least six of them have a track record of working with Indian filmmakers. Film France will be happy to help you network with them. They are used to organising locations scouting and shoots, accommodations, permits, sourcing crew members, dancers and actors. And they know the specifications of your concerns like – schedules, star dates, visas, budgets and so on.

What are the tax incentives?

In January 1, 2009, France introduced an incentive for big-budget movies wanting to shoot in France: A production house spending at least € 1 million (Rs 6.2 crore) in France can get a special rebate amounting to 20 per cent of the costs paid in France (does not include hotels). This means if you spend € 1 million, it is as good as spending only € 800,000 (more than Rs 1 crore is given back by the French State).

Can you share an experience about filming in France?

As a Euro country, France may not be cheap, however many things are not so expensive either. Did you know you can shoot at well-known landmarks such as the Eiffel tower, Notre-Dame church for free? And these are only two out of our many star locations that will bring amazing production value to your film.

France has witnessed the shooting of many Indian movies, and the filmmakers have all been very happy with the results. The range of 200 productions shot in France every year goes from Hollywood-sized movies to low budget guerrilla-style ventures. But they all need crews, locations, accommodations and all other kind of equipments. As there have been solutions for all of them, there will be a solution for you as well. The service company and the local film commissions will help you to get the best return for your money.

Are there any special rebates that can be availed?

The Tax Rebate for International productions (TRIP) supports foreign companies whose projects are completely or partly made in France, for movies which are not official co-productions between a French producer and a foreign one. To be eligible, projects must include elements related to French culture, heritage, or territory.

Eligibility is based on a Cultural Test, which assesses the relativity of the story, locations, characters, sources, landmarks, creators, crew and technical hubs. For animated production, there is a specific document. Please contact Film France. The amount allocated comprises 20 per cent of the film expenses incurred in France, and caps at €4 million per project. The TRIP is given to the French company managing the production in France on behalf of the foreign producer.

VANCOUVER
Susan Croome,Film Commissioner, British Columbia

Why should a filmmaker shoot in Vancouver?

Vancouver is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and is recognised as one of the world’s most liveable cities and top filming destinations. Every community in Vancouver is film-friendly and has the infrastructure to help producers get the job done quickly and efficiently.

However, Vancouver is only one of the beautiful cities, British Columbia (BC) has to offer. Filmmakers who have shot in BC keep coming back knowing that it has everything they need for an incredible backdrop for their motion picture projects – city life, ocean, mountains, desert and wide open spaces – it’s all here!

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