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Colombia: New year to ring in generous rebate plan

American Film Market 2012: Global Locations - South America

Colombia unveiled a film law in the summer in a bid to lure more international shoots. Better known as Film Law 2, the legislation allows foreign productions investing more than $500,000 in the country to see a return of 40% on all film-service expenditures and 20% of hotel, food and transportation expenses.

The law will come into full effect in January but this hasn’t stopped a slew of projects from shooting there in recent months.

“We’ve definitely fielded a lot more inquiries since the film law was announced,” says film commissioner Silvia Echeverri, who sees the initiative generating jobs, revenue and work experience.

Most recently, Sony Pictures Television shot Lifetime telepic “Left to Die” in Bogota, which stood in for Quito, Ecuador.

Local shingle Dynamo provided production services for the drama, which revolves around an innocent woman, played by Barbara Hershey, who is jailed in Ecuador for drug trafficking.

Citing low costs, great locations and crews with growing set experience, Copal Pictures producer Lorenzo O’Brien says: “(Colombia) is without a doubt the new kid on the block with a lot of bluster.

“Everybody gets very excited about working on a project and puts their best foot forward,” says O’Brien who has produced “Left to Die” as well as TV movie “The Fall of Sam Axe” with Fox Television Studios and Fox Telecolombia in the country.

“I definitely think the new Colombian production rebate law has generated a lot of interest in Colombia,” adds Dynamo CEO/partner Cristian Conti. “A lot of the larger producers are contacting us and some films are being pushed back in order to tap into the rebate.”

Dynamo runs a private equity fund and co-produced the $2 million “The Hidden Face” with Fox Intl. Productions. E-nnovva Films, the film arm of RCN TV run by Julian Giraldo, is setting up a $100 million private equity film fund and is hedging that the new law will spur more investors to chip in.

E-nnovva Films has been ramping up various English-language projects, starting with Simon Brand’s found-footage drama “Default,” which will be presented at the AFM.

A local production boom spurred by hefty tax incentives introduced in the 2003 Film Law and robust TV support has led to a growing talent pool.

“Colombia is projected to release 22 titles this year,” says Echeverri, who points out that before the 2003 film law, Colombia produced an average of two to three titles a year.

Equipment houses Congo Films, which supplies all of Latin America, and Hangar Films, provide the latest audiovisual equipment available.

But helmer Juan Orozco, whose “Al final del espectro” is being remade by James Wan (“Saw”) and stars Nicole Kidman, issues a word of caution. “Colombia is also the least regulated in terms of labor in the audiovisual industry,” he says. “Nobody regulates overtime while the unions and guilds are small and wield little power.

“The (new) law is incredible,” he adds. “It’s the best that could have happened to Colombia’s film industry … now we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t become the worst that could happen to our film industry.”

Global Update: South America

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