The Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan is known for its natural beauty: picture perfect mountains, stark and craggy ridges and rolling summer pastures. Better still, the paperwork for filming in this tiny country is minimal. Stanislav Solovkin, Film Commissioner, KRIFCom — Kyrgyz-Russian Independent Film Commission –tells Rohini Nag Madnani just why Kyrgyzstan is an attractive proposition for film producers
What benefits do the Film Commission or the government offer foreign film producers?
Kyrgyz is a new entrant to the incentive program to promote filming in Kyrgyz and I am happy to discuss some of them. The general permit for the production, being actually the accreditation issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is issued for free. With KRIFcom support, any single non-private location in the country will be free of charge, especially when talking about the outdoors the country is famous for.
With the support of KRIFcom, there is no Customs fee for the temporary equipment import, for those who intend to film in the country. The visa regime is quite relaxed, and with the support of our Film Commission, you can get visas in 5-7 days, in most cases. Kyrgyzstan is an extremely cheap country as far as film production goes. It also addresses every production need: manpower, transportation, food, accommodation and more.
While we keep on negotiating with the Kyrgyz government on incentives and cash rebates, there is unfortunately no law in this regard, that has been implemented yet. We are constantly pursuing this and it is only a matter of time before the government considers special incentives and rebates for foreign film productions shooting in Kyrgyz. However, there are certainly other benefits, tax benefits.
How can a filmmaker approach you with a project to be shot in your region?
KRIFCom has an exclusive representative in India, that is Amit Kothari and his company Limelight Enterprises. You can approach him or you can simply contact us directly via our website,
Kyrgyzstan is a cheap country to shoot in. But since there is no incentive program from the Kyrgyz government, this would be taken up on a case-to-case basis. Co-production is a new market for Kyrgyz and, at present, local productions have not ventured into that territory. I am pretty positive that one major international successful film project could become a major game-changer.
What, according to you, makes the destination exquisite for filming an Indian film?
Kyrgyzstan is a fresh and new destination. In Soviet times, it was pretty closed due to its proximity to gold and uranium deposits. Then, due to the USSR’s collapse, the country suffered devastating poverty and political instability. Nowadays, it is one of the safest countries in the world.
Creatively, Kyrgyzstan has an overwhelming variety of landscapes. There is everything: snow peaks and deserts, lakes (which can double as the sea) and rivers, forests and the steppes. Many locations can double as Russia or Siberia and even the planet Mars.
Logistically, it is extremely convenient as Kyrgyzstan is a really tiny country. End to end, the furthest you will travel is 600 km, while most of the landscapes I mentioned above are an hour’s drive from each other. The roads are surprisingly good. In addition, Kyrgyzstan has two international airports.
Are there any tax benefits?
Despite the fact that the government of Kyrgyzstan does not have any direct cash rebate laws yet, certain considerable incentives are already applicable. With KRIFCom’s support, a full-length feature film producers will get a VAT (12 per cent) refund on the budgets they spend locally.
In addition, there will be Payroll Tax incentive. It should be noted that the payroll and social security taxes are pretty high, up to 38 per cent. Foreign productions can reduce this tax to 20 per cent, depending on the number of people hired locally as well on the overall wage expenses spent in the country. Please note that citizens of Russia are considered to be locals, which is an advantage and saves production costs if a foreign production shoots in the region.
These incentives are only available to those producers who apply via KRIFCom. The funds will be transferred to the foreign production company within 30-45 working days after the submission of all paperwork to KRIFCom.
Can you share some anecdotes about film production in your region?
While it was a part of the USSR, Kyrgyzstan produced three feature films a year while there are over 300 cinemas then in the country. Nowadays, things are different. Both the state studio, KyrgyzFilm, and private producers shoot 10 films a year (mostly low-budget) but there are less than 50 cinemas now in the country.
The world-renowned documentary series DNA Nation was partly shot in Kyrgyzstan. After the shoot wrapped, the DNA Nation crew voted for Kyrgyzstan as the friendliest shooting destination.
KRIFCom is the only film commission in Central Asia, and one of two film commissions in the territories of the former USSR.