Report says Irish pix need gov’t fix

Panel calls for tax relief

DUBLIN — A government-appointed group, set up last year to review the state of the Irish film industry, recommended Wednesday that more government subsidies and assistance should be forthcoming.

The Strategic Development of the Irish Film and Television Industry 2000-2010 Report called for the strengthening of existing tax provisions, which have been eroded by the state in recent years. It also called for greater marketing efforts by the Irish Film Board to promote indigenous product abroad.

Less tax relief

The 1997 reduction to 80% of the tax relief that investors could avail of in qualifying films (i.e., where 75% of the production work takes place in Ireland) from 100% is one of the reasons for the alarming slowdown in film production in Ireland this summer.

Another reason is the bullish — and successful — move by Britain and the Isle of Man to attract offshore productions with more appealing tax breaks.

The report recommends that the tax relief be continued for a minimum seven years, thus removing the uncertainty that surrounds the year-to-year extensions in annual budget provisions.

The recommendation that the level of tax relief for films under $5.4 million be 100% and a minimum of 80% for productions over that budget level is a step toward the full restoration of the 100% across-the-board bracket that brought productions such as “Braveheart” to this country.

Production growth seen

The report also estimates that production levels of non-indigenous productions should quadruple by 2010, and gauges the potential growth to rise from its current level of $166 million to $675 million during that period.

Project development for indigenous productions was another key area that the report addressed — with script development singled out for improvement — and a greater commitment in terms of company support and subsidy for Irish film and TV production companies.

The 6-year-old Irish Film Board is also proposed as the backbone of this new drive for the “strategic development” of the industry.

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