After a year as US vice-president of the Irish Film Commission, Jonathan Loughran knows what's on the minds of most Hollywood producers.

Tax incentives are what they invariably ask about first, he confirms, "and if that's not the first question, I make it the first answer".

The Los Angeles office that Loughran set up in early 2007 is the first outside Ireland for the Irish Film Board (IFB), the national film agency that encompasses the Commission.

The office's purpose is two-fold: to help promote Irish film-makers and films - such as surprise summer hit Once and foreign-language Oscar submission Kings - in the US; and to bring more US projects to Ireland at a time when foreign production in the country has fallen off.

Luring US movies has become "more challenging", concedes Loughran, who previously worked in Los Angeles for export agency Enterprise Ireland. "The environment has become very difficult, with the weakness of the dollar against the euro and the UK becoming more competitive for Hollywood feature films."

But Ireland has significant selling points, he insists. For one thing, the country's Section 481 tax incentive, which provides a benefit of up to 20% of a production's Irish expenditure, is open to both film and TV drama projects and pays out on the first day of shooting. The incentive was extended recently to run to 2012 and the IFB and others have been lobbying to have it enhanced.

The country's International Production Fund, an equity investment fund managed by the IFB, was launched to "improve Ireland's competitiveness", Loughran explains. "We had to adapt to a changing environment."

Also open to TV shows as well as films, the fund last year invested in The Tudors, the historical series from US cable network Showtime, which shot in Ireland.

Then there are Ireland's picturesque locations - most recently seen in the Warner Bros/Summit Entertainment US Christmas release P.S. I Love You - and its production infrastructure, in the shape of studios and crews.

"We're not just a new territory popping up with an incentive," Loughran asserts. "We have a history of servicing very large Hollywood feature films, so there's a certain security that goes with that."

Twelve months of touting such attractions to Hollywood has convinced Loughran that in the fiercely competitive international locations business, Ireland is best positioned to attract "mid-budget features in the $30m-$60m range and independently financed pictures. Section 481 is very much an incentive, so it actually goes to cashflow the production, whereas in the UK you'll get that cheque maybe a year later."

The US strike situation allowing, several such projects could be crossing the Atlantic in 2008.

"There are a number of large features that we're actively working with at the moment to bring to Ireland," says Loughran.