Colombia’s growing economy, attractive rebates, young workforce and diverse locations were highlighted by Invest In Bogota top brass at a meeting during the BAM Bogota audiovisual market.
Juan Carlos Jiménez, investment promotion manager at Invest In Bogota, told a press briefing on Wednesday  that since the non-profit agency launched in 2006 it had facilitated 113 investment projects with the likes of Discovery Channel, Siemens and 3M that had generated approximately $450m in inward investment.
Jiménez noted that the film sector is set to benefit from several key factors. According to data provided by the national statistics bureau DANE, the Central Bank, IMF and World Economic Outlook Database in October 2012, Colombia’s GDP in 2013 is forecast to grow 4.4pc compared to 3.9pc across Latin America.
The same sources calculated that Bogota’s GDP of $82bn in 2011 put it above Ecuador, the Dominican Republic Uruguay and four other Latin American markets that year. Some film professions in Bogota have acknowledged privately that the slower economic performance of Venezuela, Ecuador and Argentina, where there are stricter labour laws, could only serve to enhance the allure of Colombia.
The introduction of Law 1556 in 2012 established cash rebates of 40% for film services and 20% for film logistical services for films shot partially or entirely in Colombia and offers further incentives to foreign-based filmmakers. That said, some producers are understood to be concerned that the minimum spend is too high. The Law calls for paying for no less than 1,800 monthly legal wages calculated in local currency, which comes to approximately $589,000 based on an average exchange rate of 1,800 pesos.
Another positive sign is that security concerns have diminished following years of violence involving drug cartels and the government’s battle with left-wing Farc rebels, whose political party has just regained its legal status according to a report on Wednesday  on the BBC website. The Department Of Foreign Affairs and Migracion Colombia, have reported that the number of foreign visitors to Colombia has seen sustained growth over the past decade, climbing from 541,000 in 2002 to 1.698m in 2012.
Estimated national sales for the audiovisual sector have climbed steadily since the 2008 financial crisis and reached $1.481bn in 2012, of which the capital accounted for 92.1pc. Sales include consumer activity in film, video and TV sectors as well as business-to-business trade.
Jiménez noted that Bogota had become the hub for a vibrant animation sector led by the likes of Brainz, Oruga, Naska digital and NDI Teravision, while the video game industry is also showing signs of growth.
So far, examples of Colombian properties that have travelled overseas remain thin on the ground. A rare case is the soap opera Betty La Fea that spawned the global hit Ugly Betty, while Fox Telecolombia recently produced the English-language TV Series Mental in Bogota. Digital distribution of film and TV content is another area of huge growth potential and thus far has shown negligible market penetration.
The country’s torrid recent past has been a prevalent factor in local story-telling and Jiménez was careful to stress its ongoing relevance. However with a young filmmaker base and eyes on expansion, the executive noted that to compete as an entertainment power Colombia needs to broaden its product offerings.
“One of the things Colombia needs to do is universalise its stories,” he said. “We need to look at stories that are much more global in scope.”