Georgia is determined to bounce back after the shock of a short, but violent, war against Russia in August 2008. The country’s minister of culture, Nicolas Rurau — a 41-year-old U.S.-educated lawyer and film-school graduate — is prepping a tax incentive law that would provide for 25% rebates, up to a maximum of $1 million, on films made in the country.
There is also breathtaking scenery, history and culture contained in a compact country of 4.5 million people where a director can film on a sun-drenched beach in the morning and have time to be high up a snowy mountain by late afternoon.
Shooting of Renny Harlin’s yet-to-be-titled $10 million Russia-Georgia war film was drawing crowds in Tbilisi late October, where scenes that really took place just over a year ago were being replayed for the cameras.
Bonus: The new tax laws are part of a government plan that will ensure all ministries and local authorities are film-production friendly. Film liaison officers are being appointed in all government departments and the police and army told to facilitate the work of filmmakers.
And costs are low — David Vashadze, research and development manager of the Georgian National Film Center, estimates they are 20% lower than in Eastern Europe, although competition from Hungary is heating up with U.S.-based Raleigh Studios opening a glitzy Budapest facility next April and the Czech Republic’s government approving an attractive incentive plan targeted to launch next year.
Hot spot: Georgia boasts five modern studio facilities in Tbilisi, including the Soviet-era, now partially privatized Georgia Film Studios, which offers a wide range of services and rental options. The studios have two soundstages of 7, 750-square feet each. The studios also have sound, color grading and correction facilities and a negative processing (CTM Debrie) lab.
Key contacts: A national film commission is due to be set up within the National Film Center in 2010 to coordinate all questions about making films in Georgia. Inquiries should be addressed to David Vashadze.
Georgian National Film Center: filmcenter.ge
Georgia Film Studios: geofilm.ge