The threshold has been lowered from $3.13m to $1.96m for New Zealand films wanting to make a claim under the Screen Production Expenditure Fund.

The New Zealand Government has lowered the expenditure threshold that needs to be reached before New Zealand films can make a claim under the Screen Production Expenditure Fund (SPIF). The fund has US$15.64m (NZ$20m) remaining in the pot for the next two years.

The government says the continuing global and local recession has prompted the action, which will mean that films that spend US$1.96m (NZ$2.5m) on qualifying costs in New Zealand can now get back 40% of those costs if all the rules are met. Previously the threshold was US$3.13m (NZ$4m).

Some of these funds will go to television, but those claims can only be for 20% of qualifying expenditure.

It will mean more New Zealand films will go into production, said the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson, when he made the adjustment public yesterday.

The Screen Production and Development Association, which represents producers, was quick to publicly approve of the government’s action.

“In the current climate of fiscal restraint the local screen industry is coming up with some very interesting projects that this drop in the SPIF threshold will enable them to bring to fruition,” said SPADA chief Penelope Borland. “It will also further support the local screen industry’s ability to become more sustainable.”

SPIF funds can be seen as easy money and are accessible to potential partners abroad if they work within the framework in place for official co-productions.