Moderating last week's panel on location hot zones at Screen International's European Film Summit in Berlin, Jonathan Olsberg had an apt analogy for the industry's worldwide pillaging and plundering in search of soft money booty. "We're the Vikings of modern cinema."
Oldsberg, whose management consultancy helps structure international co-productions to take advantage of tax and other incentives, put that knowledge into practice as a producer on John Duigan's Head In The Clouds, an Anglo-American-Spanish-Canadian collaboration.
For the Vikings out there, the map is constantly shifting with several new pots of gold being unearthed all the time. Among the latest potential motherlodes is Belgium, which was represented at the summit by Genevieve Lemal of SCOPE Invest.
Wary of repeating the mistakes of her Dutch neighbours, whose tax laws were originally exploited to little local benefit, Lemal promised that the new incentives being ratified in Brussels would make it be "easier to access for Belgian projects, but better than the Dutch model".
Unlike other territorial models, which are set up to entice private individuals into investing in films in return for deferring their tax obligations, Belgium is offering those tax breaks to Belgian corporations. This, Lemal, admitted could mean that the scheme was risk averse and slow.
And also limited, according to Spice Factory's Michael Cowan. An acknowledged practitioner in the world of international co-production (he's another producer on Head In The Clouds), Cowan has already run his sliderule over the Belgium tax laws, which won't be introduced until April. With only 1600 companies in Belgium, Cowan questioned how attractive the country will be to overseas producers.
As it happens, Cowan is far more intrigued by South Africa. It's the kind of covetous attention that is already making Heather Mansfield, whose Mansfield Associates is advising South African banks on their involvement in film investment, very nervous. "We have to protect the industry from the rush, we have to be very careful."
Also working towards a tax scheme is Germany, although it has yet to find widespread favour among politicians in this country, noted German entertainment lawyer Wolfgang Brehm. "But it might be possible within a year." If it does get enacted, it might help swing the financing pendulum back towards local German production after a year in which the majority of the Euro1,6bn raised in private equity in Germany went to Hollywood.
Arclight Films' Gary Hamilton brought everyone back to the basics reminding producers that at least 20% of any project had to be real money, and that they should be thinking of making the good projects first and foremost.
It was a statement that was echoed by Olsberg. He wrapped up proceedings by saying that even if we are all Vikings at heart, we should opt for a better balance between projects thought out to fit certain schemes and indigenous ones, which he feared were too rare right now.