Iceland reimbursements seek to heat up filming

Legislation hoped to lure foreigners

REHJAVIK — The Icelandic Parliament approved legislation Thursday to make the country a more attractive destination for filmmakers by offering reimbursements for the production of domestic and foreign films.

The government will pay back 12% of domestic production costs until 2002, including out-of-pocket expenses originating in Iceland, and all salaries and taxable subcontractor payments. This temporary legislation will expire in 2005. The percentage will lower to 9% of domestic costs after 2002.

‘Positive alternative’

“This legislation is necessary so that we can be competitive in production costs in Iceland and make it a positive alternative for foreign filmmakers to come here. We already are competitive professionally and technically,” Finnur Ingolfsson, the minister of commerce in Iceland, told Daily Variety.

Saga Film and the Ministry of Commerce have been in discussions with Miramax and the Shooting Gallery about taking advantage of the legislation. A decision is expected soon on whether Miramax will produce “The Highlander 4” in Iceland.

“Several major U.S. film studios are already considering shooting films in Iceland,” said Magnus Bjarnason, New York-based trade commissioner for Iceland. “We expect that this legislation will convince even more filmmakers to choose Iceland for film production.”

Spending minimum

In order for a film to qualify for reimbursement, domestic production costs must be at least I$79,144,997 ($1.1 million). Film producers must also establish an Icelandic limited-liability company, which can be 100% owned by foreign corporations or individuals, to handle production in Iceland. Financial statements should be submitted upfront and registered with the government upon completion of the project.

Recently, the Icelandic government unveiled proposals to treble its film fund in the next four years.