Spanish law could mean tax breaks

Perez pushing to get new film law onto the books

MADRID — The offices of Pedro Perez, prexy of Spain’s powerful FAPAE producers lobby, suggest an English gentleman’s in-town chambers.

The walls are covered in framed photos of horses, which Perez owns. Danaha, a filly, came second in the recent Gran Premio Mile. But Perez himself is going flat out to win another race: to get a new film law onto the books by year end.

Bets are evenly placed on whether Perez will win this one. But some early results are promising. On June 6, Spain’s Congress approved a motion tabled by the country’s ruling PSOE socialist party urging the government to draw up new film legislation, including the creation of a film/TV state agency.

For Perez and FAPAE, a new law should also introduce substantial production tax breaks, and new rulings for distribution and exhibition. That’s hardly a lengthy wish-list. But less is more when it comes to lobbying governments. And Perez has the best political antennae of any Spanish producer.

“We can’t spend all the time asking for things. I don’t want more subsidies. Paraphrasing Jack Kennedy, we’ve got to ask what we can do for our industry,” he says.

Tax breaks have traditionally raised the scorn of Spain’s crusty financial world, much of which still regard film as a bastion of lowlifes.

By gathering fiscal and economic responsibilities for film and TV under its roof, the FAPAE could help filmmakers bypass the difficult financial sector. New distribution-exhibition regs could include caps on U.S. studios’ distribution rentals in Spain.

Perez doesn’t want more Spanish films, but rather bigger and better movies. “We’re beginning to raise the bar. Every year we must have some more ambitious movies,” he insists.

Perez’s biggest challenge remains inflaming Spain’s establishment with a passion for a new and serious Spanish production sector. Time is at a premium; he’d like to achieve industry consensus on the new film law by late September’s San Sebastian Film Festival.

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