Legislation links funds to director's track record

ROME — A film law designed to do away with decades of subsidies to local movies that bombed at the box office has received the final government greenlight.

The legislation forces producers to assume greater financial risk and links government funds to the director’s and producer’s track records. A project also must have a distribution deal in place.

Under the long-in-the-works rules, producers will be able to apply for government funds for up to half a film’s budget, down from 70%.

Projects will be eligible for low-interest government loans — which they must repay only if the movie makes money — under a system similar to one operating in France. That system looks at the producer’s and director’s history in terms of box office and critical acclaim.

In the case of a first-time director and/or producer, projects will be evaluated for funding largely based on the script.

To counter criticism that the reference system could privilege veteran directors and block new creative forces from entering the market, producers who work with first-time helmers will be eligible for 100% financing.

Other novelties include the introduction of product placement in Italian movies — it previously not been allowed — and significantly streamlined funding procedures.

The law, announced by culture minister Giuliano Urbani at the Venice Film Festival in September, replaces legislation dating back to 1965 and is effective immediately. Depending on results, it will be subject to revision over the next two years.

“The only producers who should fear this law are those who consistently made flops with specially set up dummy companies,” Urbani said.

While the new legislation is largely welcomed across Italy’s industry, there is plenty of skepticism as to how it will be applied.

For one thing, industryites are bemoaning the lack of a long-sought tax shelter for film investors.

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