20. August 2010

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On 21 June of this year, the Czech Republic introduced an incentives plan for filmmakers shooting in the Czech Republic. The Film Industry Support Programme offers rebates of up to 20% on production-related costs in the Czech Republic. The incentives aim to boost the local film industry and offer more value to international productions. Ludmila Claussova of the Czech Film Commission says the incentives are having an immediate effect: The incentives have been in effect for two months. Has there been a lot of interest? Yes, we're off to a very good start. More than 10 projects have applied for the incentives already, and more are registering with the Ministry of Culture every day so they can qualify for support if they decide to shoot here. Where are these productions coming from? All over – the Czech Republic, other European countries and America. A French production, Philibert, is already shooting, as are several Czech films. Can anyone apply? Yes. The incentives can be paid out only to locally registered tax entities, so the easiest way to go about it is to strike a coproduction deal with a local partner, who then becomes the applicant. There are already many production companies and production-service providers here with experience on international productions. Alternately, the foreign producer can establish a Czech subsidiary, which then applies for the incentives. So the incentives are good for local filmmakers, too. Absolutely. The whole idea is to make the Czech Republic more competitive when it comes to international productions – films that provide jobs to Czech crews, contracts to Czech companies and money to Czech businesses. Of course, this is also good for foreign producers who are looking to get as much value out of their shoot as they can. In the end, everyone wins. How does the cultural test work? It's very straightforward. Projects must pass a test for European cultural and production criteria in order to qualify for the rebate. The cultural criteria award points, for example, for using Czech or other European settings, or characters or story lines from European history. Production criteria include using European locations, facilities and crew. This is no problem for projects shooting in the Czech Republic, of course. It's a 46-point test, and projects must score at least 23 points. What costs are eligible? The costs have to be for goods and services provided in the Czech Republic. They have to be directly related to production, so marketing and distribution costs do not qualify. Also, eligible costs cannot amount to more than 80% of the project's total budget. What about international costs? Costs incurred outside the Czech Republic are not eligible, but filmmakers can receive a 10% rebate on costs paid to cast and crew while filming in the Czech Republic, provided they pay withholding tax here. Are the incentives just for big productions or can small productions qualify as well? There are minimum spending levels that need to be met, but these should be no problem for most producers. Theatrical features and TV films need to spend at least CZK 15m (approximately $720,000) in the Czech Republic, theatrical documentaries CZK 3m (approximately $150,000). TV serials must spend at least CZK 10m (approximately $480,000) for each episode. Producers do need to have 75% of their budget in place, however. How long does it take to qualify, and when is the money paid out? There's a three-step application process. First, the applicants find out within 30 days if their project has passed the cultural test. Then they can apply for the incentives by submitting their budget and other financial information. The Ministry of Culture confirms the amount of their grant within another 30 days. Finally, at the end of production, applicants submit audited statements that show their eligible costs. They'll get a response within 30 days and their money within a further 14 days. Just how much money is available? There's no cap on how much funding a project can receive. Grants are awarded first-come, first-served. For this year alone, the support programme has CZK 400 million (approximately $19 million). On the Czech side, that could attract up to CZK 2.5 billion in local spending. Where can producers find more information? Visit the web site of the Czech Film Commission at filmcommission.cz for basic information about the incentives as well as details about shooting in the Czech Republic and a complete database of contacts for the companies, individuals and organizations you need to make your film here. The programme is administrated by the Media and Audiovisual Department of the Czech Ministry of Culture, and the complete legislation and other information about the incentives are available at their website www.ppfp.cz.