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Filmmakers looking for a fresh destination can head to Colombia, which loves Bollywood but is yet to be discovered by the Hindi film industry

When you think of ‘Colombia’, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘football’ and names like James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado, David Ospina and Carlos Valderrama. The one thing that is not very widely known about Colombia or Colombians is their love for Bollywood.

India and Colombia are connected with each other due to their love for family-oriented movies, which resonates with people of all generations. Colombians also like Bollywood, especially for its song and dance. In fact, there is also a Facebook page called ‘Bollywood-Colombia’, where famous Bollywood songs and dance numbers are shared. The page has over 3,500 followers.

Yet, Colombia, situated at the northern tip of South America, has not yet been explored by Bollywood filmmakers. However, there are a few well-known Hollywood movies that have been shot here. Also, the popular Netflix original series, Narcos, has been widely filmed in Colombia, in places like Bogotá, Medellin, Cali and Cartagena.

Climate

Colombia has the special advantage of being a favourable destination all year-round as the climate is never too extreme. However, the Caribbean coast and Medellin are the two places where warm and dry weather prevails for almost the entire year.

Season-wise, December to March is ideal for shooting in Colombia’s charismatic towns and cities on beautiful sunny days, although these places are full of domestic as well as international visitors. From April to June, is the rainy season but there are only intermittent rains.

July to August is the favourable season if you want to showcase Colombia’s rich and striking countryside, lush green jungles and crystal-clear beaches. If one wants to shoot without tourists around, September to November is the perfect time of the year.  Since this is not a season for tourists, accommodation is cheaper and the choice of hotels is much better.

Location

Untouched by camera lenses and not yet captured on the cinematic screen, Colombia is the perfect destination for filmmakers who aspire to present to their viewers never-seen-before landscapes and virgin sceneries. Colombia offers a wide range of natural landscapes, from mountains to natural parks, beaches and jungles, in addition to rural, urban and colonial locations. Popular filming locations in Colombia are the Amazon rainforest, Andes mountains, La Guajira desert, Tayrona National Park and Cartagena, a historic city.

Cash Rebate

Colombia offers a cash rebate or cash reimbursement of 20-40 per cent for films partially or totally produced in Colombia. The cash rebate applies to services provided by Colombian entities or persons that are residing in the country. The project should involve expenditures in film services or film logistics services of approximately around $440K USD and the project capital should be around $1.2M.

  • 40 per cent for film services (i.e. audio-visual pre-production, production or post-production)
  • 20 per cent for film logistics services (i.e. services provided for hotel, catering and transportation)

VAT Rebate

According to the Colombian Tax Law regarding Value Added Tax (VAT), services rendered in the country and used exclusively outside the country by companies or persons without business or activities in Colombia are deemed to be exempted.

Permits

Local permits must be obtained from authorities in the city or municipality where taping or filming takes place.  Some of these cities have their own regulations that must be respected.  Producers and directors are recommended to contact the Film Commission in Bogotá to find out about these regulations. There are different permits required for shoot locations, props and natural resources.

Visas

Foreigners require a visa to enter and remain in Colombia. If foreigners remain in Colombia for more than 180 days, they require an authorisation to stay issued by Migración Colombia. Under Law 1556, foreigners who are part of the technical crew, artistic team, actors or actresses involved in shooting movies or other audio-visual productions to be made or filmed in Colombian territory may obtain a courtesy visitor visa type V. The duration of the courtesy visas ranges from 30 days to 2 years.

The information below is to be submitted to apply for a courtesy visa:

  • Written request to the Film Department or the Colombian Film Commission signed by the producer of the work.
  • Synopsis and summary of the project.
  • No need of visa application for less than 90-days stay.
  • Details of persons involved in filming.
  • Estimate of financial resources to be invested in filming on Colombian territory.
  • Places and dates foreseen for shooting.
  • Certificate of health insurance policy for a period at least as long as the stay in the country.
  • Visas must be applied for 15 days in advance due to the high number of applications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Customs

To facilitate film and audio-visual work in Colombia, legislation has established the following preferential treatment in customs houses:

  • Necessary film equipment and materials may be imported for six months, renewable for an additional six months.
  • Consumable goods such as film, lights or batteries can be imported with the same obligation to re-export them.
  • This type of temporary import generates no customs duties (tariffs, taxes or other duties), as long as property is re-exported to its country of origin before the allotted authorization expires. In all cases, transportation, storage and cargo expenses must be paid.
  • With authorization from the Ministry of Culture, no guarantee is required for temporary imports.
  • Likewise, non-residents arriving to the country (maximum 6 months, renewable) to participate in cinematographic productions may bring in articles for personal or professional use without payment of customs duties; as long as they are declared at the time they are brought in and re-exported.

Taxes

Sales tax is paid on the sale of fixed assets in the form of real estate, imported fixed assets, and services provided in Colombia at rates varying from 1.6 per cent and 35 per cent.  Generally, sales tax is 16 per cent.

The IVA (Aggregate Value) tax does not apply to property temporarily imported for a short period such as equipment and other elements to be used in film productions and film-related activities.

Rental of property other than housing (such as locations) is subject to a 10-per cent tax. Special sales tax regulations apply to certain parts of the country such as the Amazon department, the archipelago of San Andres and Providence and Santa Catalina.

Revenue earned by artistes, technicians and production personnel that do not reside in the country, when there is no contract and no payments generated by their participation in foreign film shall be considered as foreign income, as long as the National Film Office Resolution Allowing for Filming on National Territory has been issued. In such case, income tax in Colombia does not apply.

 

Hiring personnel/crew

There are several contract models in Colombia that can be used to hire artistes, technicians and authors and logistical services required in production projects. Each type of contract has its own clauses and conditions to be fulfilled and producers have to adhere to the same based on the type of contract they choose to follow.

 

- Bhavi Gathani

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