A broad-ranging review published in October will likely lead to some changes to existing federal incentives in Australia. That said, the various state government plans, which help bolster the country’s international competitiveness, will be unaltered.
Film biz is lobbying for the burgeoning post-production sector to be eligible for the Federal Tax Offset currently claimable on Australian production spends. That initiative enables productions budgeted between A$15 million ($11 million) and $38 million to rebate 12.5% of their expenditure, so long as 70% of the budget is spent in Oz. Higher-budget productions can claim the offset regardless of the Down Under spend.
When raising funds in Oz, Section 10b of Australia’s Taxation Act allows a 100% tax deduction to investors over two financial years, on condition those films are certified as wholly or substantially made in Australia.
Different states also offer incentives, which can add 1.5% to 2%, depending on the size of the budget. Each state also provides free advice and assistance with filming in their area, particularly locations and dealing with local authorities.
- Ausfilm: Web: ausfilm.com. au (federal content attraction agency; Federal Tax Offset advice; Federal regulation advice; gateway for state location, rebate and facilitation services). Contacts: Sydney head office: CEO Mark Woods, phone +61 2 9383 4192; Los Angeles office: Film Commissioner Tracey Montgomery, phone: (310) 229-4831
- Federal Tax Offset: Web: dcita.gov.au/filmtaxoffset
- State rebates/incentives (as well as locations advice etc.): ausfilm.com.au/childsplay/cgi-bin/show_page.p1/2/110 (this link takes you through to Ausfilm’s State Film Agencies page)
Warner Bros. has a long history of lensing Down Under: Until earlier this year, the studio part-owned with Roadshow a Gold Coast lot; and “The Matrix” films, among others, lensed in Sydney.
“Superman Returns” nearly didn’t, with pic’s original helmer McG citing the planned Sydney shoot as one of his reasons for walking away from the project. Bryan Singer, however, was happy to relocate Down Under. From October 2004 to November 2005 he rented a loft high above the King’s Cross red-light district.
For the studio, the deal clinchers were Australia’s 12.5% rebate, the strong returns for the U.S. dollar at that time, the bright Australian sunlight, vast facilities at Fox Studios Australia and considerable crew talent needed for the extensive set build.