Ireland courts filmmakers

DUBLIN — Section 35, Ireland’s main film tax incentive, which has been largely responsible for the boom in indigenous and foreign production since its revamp in 1993, has received a significant boost.

The three-pronged elements of the 1997 Finance Bill amending section 35, which are designed to attract larger-budget foreign productions to Ireland are:

* Doubling the amount of section 35 investment that can be raised per pic to $24.75 million during peak production months (February-September, inclusive) and to $27.2 million for the off-peak winter months;

* an additional 10% can be raised if post-production is carried out in Ireland;

* increased scope for corporate investment in film in any given year, from $10 million to $13.2 million (with a maximum of $5 million in any one film).

The announcement is timely, as lottery funds already are attracting more productions to Britain and the British Labor Party has an election commitment to establishing an equivalent tax provision to section 35.

Already there is talk of Steven Spielberg’s World War II pic “Saving Private Ryan,” starring Tom Hanks and Ed Burns, coming to Ireland this summer. Originally to be shot in Britain, Spielberg’s difficulties with the British army in finding the requisite army manpower for the Normandy landings sequences has him scouring Ireland.

Ironically, it was a combination of the then-newly revamped section 35 and the availability of 1,500 army reserves that led Mel Gibson to shoot a significant part of his Scottish epic “Braveheart” in Ireland in 1994.

Section 35’s initial revamp in 1993, coupled mainly with the re-establishment of the Irish Film Board that same year, has been responsible for Irish film and TV production levels totaling $160 million for 1995 and almost 1,300 full-time jobs being created in the industry.

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