Hungary rebates a lure to foreign filmmakers

Investment must be linked to local partner

Hungary is aggressively targeting foreign filmmakers by introducing cash rebates that create one of the most production-friendly environments in Europe.

The new film laws will come into force April 1 after a 10-year battle by local industryites to persuade various governments that film isn’t just art, it’s a potentially lucrative industry worth supporting, according to Andras Erkel, VP of the Hungarian Producers Assn.

The measures include a 20% rebate on all production costs incurred in Hungary, available to foreign and local filmmakers. However, foreign firms must have a local partner to be eligible for the coin.

The partnership can be almost any relationship, such as a co-production or a service company doing line-production services. However, if the relationship is a co-production, the project is then also eligible to apply to the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation for additional grant money.

The law, passed by Hungary’s parliament last month, includes documentaries and animation and may extend to TV projects.

The country will be even more of a bargain for filmmakers beginning May 1, when it joins the European Union and becomes eligible for EU grants and subsidies.

The changes will make the country an attractive location for runaway production, possibly as an alternative to Prague and the Czech Republic, which has been a virtual Hollywood backlot since the late 1990s.

“There has been huge interest from Hollywood already,” Erkel said. “My email box is full with people asking about this.”

Among the movies shot in Hungary are “I Spy,” “Underworld,” “Spy Game” and “Sniper 2” and TV miniseries “Napoleon.”

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