Hosts of Michel Hazanavicius’s The Search and Transporter 3 set to add rebates; Ukraine to join Creative Europe framework.

Georgia and Ukraine are set to become the latest countries to introduce tax incentives in order to attract foreign productions to shoot in their locations.

Speaking at this week’s Film Industry Office forum in Odessa, David Vashadze, head of export and distribution at the Georgian National Film Center (GNFC), revealed that a tax rebate scheme will be launched from next January.

Foreign producers wishing to benefit from the scheme will be required to reach a minimum of spend of $300,000 in Georgia and fulfil a minimum of three days of shooting in the country.

The minimum spend will be reduced to $150,000 for documentary projects.

The rebate would be 20% of the qualifying expenses and an additional 2% could be paid if there are more Georgian elements such as the hiring of local cast or the promotion of Georgian culture.

According to Vashadze, low production costs and a film-friendly climate are not enough to attract foreign producers to a particular location given the growing cut-throat competition from other production hubs. “Nowadays, tax incentives are a must,” he noted.

In addition, there are plans to establish a Georgian Film Commission to serve as “a one-stop shop” to reduce the level of bureaucracy for foreign productions wanting to shoot in Georgia.

International productions to shoot in Georgia in recent years include Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s The President, Michel Hazanavicius’s The Search and Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet.

Ukraine to follow suit

Meanwhile, at the same event, Philip Illienko, head of the Ukrainian State Film Agency (USFA), explained that there are also plans to include a 20% tax rebate in the new Cinema Law which is being currently at the draft stage.

He pointed out that this measure and the proposal to access the Ukrainian national lottery fund could give a welcome boost to the Ukrainian film sector.

In a discussion on regional film funding strategies, Polish producer Dariusz Jablonski – who is a member of the Odessa International Film Festival’s main jury – suggested that local filmmakers should lobby the Odessa’s municipal and regional authorities for the establishment of a regional film fund, pointing to attractive locations and solid infrastructure as incentives.

Productions shooting in Odessa in the recent past include the Jason Statham action film Transporter 3, Nikita Mikhalkov’s Ivan Bunin adaptation Sunstroke and Nana Djordjadze’s My Mermaid, My Lorelei

Ukraine to become member of Creative Europe

In another boost for Ukraine, the country is set to become a member of the European Union’s Creative Europe framework programme this autumn.

Terry Sandell, head of the EU-Eastern Partnership Culture & Creativity Programme in Kiev, said that an agreement is likely to be signed between Ukraine and the European Commission “in September or October”.

A Creative Europe Desk providing information for cultural and creative sectors in Ukraine would then be up and running before the end of the year. 

Sandell explained that Ukrainians would able to benefit from all of the action lines in the Culture Sub-Programme, but only 20% of the strands offered by Creative Europe’s MEDIA Sub-Programme would be open to the professionals from the film and TV sectors.

“Complete access [to MEDIA] is dependent on countries signing up to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive,” he said.

Thus, Ukrainian professionals would initially be able to participate in such action lines as training and market access within the MEDIA Sub-Programme.

In a Skype link from his Brussels office, Martin Dawson, deputy head of Unit for MEDIA Support at the Commission’s DG CONNECT, reported that a mid-term review of Creative Europe would be prepared by December 2017 and preparations would begin in December 2018 for a successor to the current programme, which would then come into effect after 2020.

Odessa pitches

English-language spy drama Assassin’s Love was among ten projects pitched on Thursday (July 16) at Odessa’s Film Industry Office forum.

The production from Kiev-based Fresh Production charts the story of a KGB agent Bogdan Stashinsky (aka Joseph Lehmann) who falls in love with a German woman in Berlin of the late 1950s.

Lehmann’s wife, an East Berlin hairdresser Inge Paul, doesn’t have any idea of her husband’s real identity or occupation until he confesses the truth. She declares war on the KGB and everything its stands for and plans their escape to West Berlin on the very day when the Wall is built in August 1961.  

The project, which has attracted verbal interest from at least one established UK actor according to Georgian-born director Zaza Buadze, has been developed at the Mediterranean Film Institute’s script workshop.

Another project pitched by Fresh Production, Kateryna Kucher’s romantic-drama Frosya’s Love, has already attracted local distributor B&H Film Distribution for the theatrical release in Ukraine, while Film.UA has committed as a postproduction partner to Konstantin Konovalov’s adventure-drama Doctor, which is looking for Turkish partners to become co-producers.