Seven film commissions and government bodies pledged to work together to develop production incentives and other schemes to create a film-friendly environment in Asia, at the close of the second edition of Film Policy Plus (FPP) on Wednesday night.

The seven orgs said they would establish a “region-wide incentives system of reduced customs and tariff formalities”, as well as develop co-operation programmes to increase cultural understanding between participating countries.

Signatories to the joint declaration included the Japan Film Commission (JFC), Korean Film Council (KOFIC), Malaysia’s Multimedia Development Corporation, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Thailand Film Office (TFO), Cambodia Film Commission (CFC) and Nepal’s Film Development Board.

The agreement came at the end of the two-day FPP (Oct 13-14) during which film commissioners and officials from 15 Asian countries outlined the programmes they have in place to support their local film industries and attract overseas shoots.

“Last year we gathered to envision how this would be run – this year we’re discussing specifics,” said AFCNet president Park Kwang-su. “There are issues we need to address, such as customs and tariffs, and incentives are being introduced in other regions so it’s time for us to discuss these too.”

While Asia is not renowned for soft money, a slew of film commissions are springing up across the region, many of which have started to offer rebate and service deals.

These include Korean regional commissions such as the Busan Film Commission, co-organiser of FPP, which offers up to 30% of shooting costs to a ceiling of $86,000 (KW100m). Taiwan also has active regional film commissions, including the Taipei Film Commission, which has a pot of $1m for grants to overseas productions that shoot in Taipei.

FPP also included delegations from two new national film commissions in Cambodia and Japan (see separate story) and cast a spotlight on some of the region’s more pro-active or popular locations, including New Zealand, Jordan, the Gold Coast, Nepal and Taipei.

George David, deputy general manager of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan, explained that the country is the only one in the Middle East that doesn’t insist on script approval. The country, which last year hosted Transformers 2, is also considering the introduction of incentives. “Currently our only incentive is employment tax as we don’t charge for local crew. But we’re looking at taking off VAT and sales tax,” David said.

Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (Bunka Cho) outlined its support programmes for the local industry, some of which are open to co-productions with Japan. The agency has launched the $23m “Japanese Film and Moving Images” promotion plan covering production, distribution, training and restoration.

On the production front, the agency gives support to features in three categories – features, documentaries and animation. This replaces the previous funding system, which had a separate strand for international co-productions, and supported Canadian-Italian-Japanese co-production Silk.

KOFIC reiterated plans to invest in a $20m fund with partners from the private sector, tentatively called the Global Fund, of which 15% or $3m would be invested in international co-productions.

FDCP chief Rolando Suarez Atienza explained that the Philippines offers grants of up $15,000 against equipment and post-production costs accrued in the country. Thailand doesn’t offer incentives, but TFO director Wanasiri Morakul said the government is discussing the introduction of various schemes. 

Nepal is also reaching out to foreign productions and provides customs-free imports of all film-related goods, said the chairman of the local Film Development Board, Amar Raj Giri. The Himalayan kingdom hosted Kevin Mcdonald’s Touching The Void in 2003.

Organised by the Asian Film Commissions Network (AFCNet) and Busan Film Commission, FPP ran parallel to locations trade show BIFCOM.