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Czech Biz Encourages Incentives

Czech industryites say they are worried that the slowly returning tide of foreign productions could fall off again if politicos don’t pony up more coin for incentives.

A rare bright spot amid the Eurozone crisis has been Prague shoots of projects such as “Child 44” and BBC skein “Musketeers” (above) but the Audiovisual Producers Association revealed at the Karlovy Vary fest on Sunday that unless Czech incentives rise to $40 million annually, business could well be lost to Hungary, where there’s no cap on the kitty.

The Czech system differs from Hungary’s, offering cash back on spends rather than tax breaks, and proponents have been grappling with how to handle multi-year productions such as cable series “Borgia,” now in its third season at Barrandov, repping a 10-month shoot that started in May. With the annual incentives pot currently at $25 million with much of next year’s total likely to go to such projects already here, film bizzers fear that international coin for new shoots will flow elsewhere.

“The system is unstable and must be stable,” said APA topper Radek Docekal. The foreign spend in 2012 of $78.2 million – the fourth year of growing biz, mainly European co-productions – is still a less than a third of the historic peak in 2003.

That troubles local tubthumpers such as Culture Ministry fund chief Helena Frankova, who fears Czechs will could be seen as unreliable partners.

Barrandov spokesman Jan Hlubek agrees that foreign producers are likely to feel jilted unless the Czech Republic – currently under a caretaker government following the ouster of Prime Minister Petr Necas – can get its act together.

More hopeful types point out that the film incentives were first passed under a caretaker government in 2010.

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