American Film Market 2011: Territory Report -

The positive impact of Mexico’s 226 tax incentive instituted in 2006 is now clearly visible with the number of films shooting locally jumping to 50-70 per year from 15-30, despite the worldwide economic downturn.

The incentive is capped annually at 500 million pesos ($37.7 million) and is offered in addition to an equal amount of coin dispersed by Mexican film institute Imcine through its Fidecine (commercial pics) and Foprocine (arthouse fare) programs.

Foreign productions intending to shoot in Mexico can access the coin by teaming with Mexican shingles that can request it, but the money usually dries up by April.

In March 2010, a new tax rebate program for “high-impact” shoots, dubbed Fondo Proaudiovisual, has been awarded to a handful of films, most recently Zoe Saldana starrer “Colombiana.” That program rebates up to 7.5% of a Mexico spend in addition to a rebate on all sales tax — up to a total of 17.5%. The minimum spend for a production to trigger the incentive is $5.3 million, or $1.5 million for post, and there is an annual cap of about $40 million.

Mexico City’s Estudios Churubusco continues to be a mainstay for local production and is in the process of expanding services and space.

Just to the capital’s west is Estudios Interlomas, a private joint venture between BoomDog and Sony TV LatAm. It’s an alternative to the aging, brick soundstages at Churubusco. The site features six editing studios, a full-HD production unit and stages that can expand to 27,000 square feet.

Just south of the border, near Rosarito, Baja California, is Baja Studios, which have been working closely with state officials to lure Hollywood by offering top-notch and, more important, safe facilities and services.

The number and depth of film professionals has been boosted by the recent increase in film production and extensive advertising business in Mexico.

Also, there have been a growing number of post-production, vfx and production services offices cropping up, especially in the capital, many niche-focused. The question seems more to revolve around training disparities that leave some opting for U.S. specialists, particularly for high-tech specialists and above-the-line crew.

“There are good people at the top international level, but they are few,” says one producer, who added, “I am not convinced of the talent at the post houses in Mexico. I think they have the machines but not the experience. That will take time … and many errors.”

But others disagree. “The technical knowledge of Mexican crews is totally compatible with that of the U.S.,” says Marco Polo Constandse, a producer at Filmadora Nacional. “With the multiple co-productions that exist in Mexico and for the high number of American and foreign productions that have filmed in Mexico, Mexican crews have worked with the best filmmakers in the world.”

Daniel Birman Ripstein of Alameda films described his experiences working with Mexican crews as “unbeatable.” He acknowledged that the uneveness of the national production schedule still left gaps where many professionals find themselves unemployed.

Still, he added, “I have never had a problem with a lack of commitment with (crew members’) work or lack of professionalism.”

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Mexico City
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