Coup can’t stop Thai production

Interim government occupied with other pressing matters

BANGKOK — The shock lasted, indeed, for about 24 hours.

Despite initial concern, the psychological impact of the military coup Sept. 19 has proved to be minimal, almost non-existent actually, to the business of foreign film production in Thailand. 

“Naturally our clients were alarmed at first, but the day after Sept. 19, everything was back to normal,” says Sasisupa Sangwoributr, president of Fipsa –Film Production Services Assn.

“They understood that the coup was a peaceful one, and that it wouldn’t escalate into a national crisis, as had happened in some countries in this region.”

What remains a major concern to the parties involved, however, is whether the interim government will put serious effort into passing the laws regarding incentives for location shooting, since their hands are occupied with other pressing matters following the political shake-up.

The long-hatched plan to establish a one-stop facility remains in limbo. So too is the talk of restructuring the tax system to boost the country’s appeal.

According to tourism and sports minister Suvit Yodmanee, ideas being considered include value-added tax refunds to producers and income tax breaks for actors.

This year, the revenue from foreign productions, including feature films, TV commercials and musicvideos, is expected to reach Bht 1.7 billion ($46 million), up from $30.8 million of in 2005. More than 400 productions used Thailand as a location during the first nine months of 2006.

“Our strongest points remain the reasonable cost and the experience of the crew,” adds Fipsa’s Sasisupa. “Other countries in this region will find that hard to beat.” 

Wannasiri Morakul of Thailand Film Office says: “The good sign is that we’ve had more feature films shot in Thailand this year. But we have to keep working, because there’s no guarantee that things will remain this good next year.”

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