The Dutch government has announced an additional tranche of funding worth Euros 7m, to subsidise mid-range projects' marketing campaigns, as well as production support. At the same time, however, changes to the Dutch tax incentive scheme, mean that producers must now secure 50% of a film's budget (up from 30%) in order to qualify for tax breaks.
This is the third time since its inception in 1999, that the Dutch tax break system has been changed. The amendments will come into force on 1 January 2002.
Rick van der Ploeg, the vice-minister for culture who presented his plans to the industry at the Dutch Film Festival on Sep 23, called it "fine-tuning", but the filmmaking community sees it as yet another disruption in continuity for the industry. Especially as Van der Ploeg's proposals, which he expects to be finalised in three weeks, first have to be approved by the European Commission in Brussels - a time-consuming process, which already has seriously disrupted film production in Holland this year.
Thanks to the tax break system and increased funding for young directors, Dutch film has been enjoying a mini-boom - culminating in the competition screenings of Adrift and Magonia in San Sebastian later this week. The insecurity surrounding the tax break system has slowed production to a virtual standstill for most of this year. Earlier this year, the Dutch Film Fund froze its contributions to tax-funded films because it had already exhausted its budget.
Jeanine Hage from the TV co-production Fund CoBo warned Van der Ploeg that "next year, the Dutch film festival can show all local productions in three days. The current crop of Dutch films was initiated two or three years ago. But this year, practically nothing was produced. We need some kind of continuity."
Another change in the tax system requires that 50% of a film's budget should be spent in Holland. Under the old system, this was always an unwritten rule, and therefore open to interpretation. However, Dutch producers have increasingly complained about international producers raiding the Dutch coffers without contributing substantially to the local industry.
Van der Ploeg agreed that the current changes should be processed as quickly as possible to maintain the current high level of interest by private investors. But he conceded, "If we want this tax system to be still functioning in ten years time, we need to keep monitoring its progress and adjust it when necessary." Van der Ploeg also announced extra investments, totalling Euros 7.3m, in TV films, documentaries, animation, festivals and exhibition.