ROME – Italy’s Rome Lazio Film Commission has launched a Euros 10 million ($11.3 million) co-production fund for film and TV that, while relatively modest, marks the biggest single injection of regional soft money in Italy and is designed to work nicely in tandem with the country’s competitive tax breaks.
The fund, which is financed by the European Union, is also expected to more than quadruple its pot going forward.
Launched during the Rome Film Festival’s new Mia content mart, the Lazio Cinema International Fund will allocate Euros 5 million for feature films with the other half going for TV productions. Documentaries are included, and also animation productions, though toons must be more than forty minutes long.
Financing, no portion of which must be reimbursed, cannot exceed 35 percent of a film’s cost – both above and below-the-line expenses qualify – if it is a co-production with non-European countries. That generous limit rises to 45 percent in the case of co-productions with Europe. Projects that promote the Lazio region, which surroundes Rome, will be strongly favored. Movies must be budgeted at at least Euros 1.5 million, unless they are first works, in which case a Euros 1 million budget will suffice.
Scripted TV projects must be at least 90 minutes long and cost at least Euros 2000 per minute to qualify.
During the presentation in Rome’s ancient Diocletian baths, Lazio Film Commission topper Luciano Sovena (pictured) underscored the importance of the fund as a tool to give further impetus to the resurgence of Rome and the region as a destination for international shoots, and in turn drive the local industry.
Last year Italy effectively did away with the cap on its 25% tax break for international film and TV productions. While the 25% refund is standard for Europe, the Italo edge is that the credit is cash back, with no refund necessary.
Italian tax incentives have helped Rome lure more major productions, especially from Hollywod, including Paramount’s “Zoolander 2,” MGM and Paramount’s “Ben-Hur” remake, and Sony’s James Bond installment, “Spectre.”
The idea behind the new fund is to also attract more mid-range pics, primarily from Europe, to the Eternal City.