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In February, Italy renewed its rich tax credits for international productions through 2013, ending uncertainty about the stability and durability of the generous incentives and prompting the country’s myriad regional funds to increase efforts to lure shoots.

Italo tax incentives offer a 25% deduction for international productions capped at $7 million, payable through an Italian executive producer. And as of January, international productions shooting in Italy are no longer required to pay a previously existing 20% VAT tax, which was a big sore spot. “The American,” “The Tourist,” and “The Rite” are among U.S. pics that have tapped into the deduction to date. Up next is Woody Allen’s untitled Rome-set project.

A side effect caused by the tax credits — which are partly replacing much-maligned straight government subsidies — is the development of equity financing.

Local banks are finally starting to invest in movies, especially international co-productions such as Paolo Sorrentino’s Sean Penn-starrer “This Must Be the Place,” in which Italy’s Banca Intesa San Paolo took a stake in what is considered a big breakthrough.

And, of course, the Italian boot’s spectacular locations, food and superlative set and costume designers add value, though the steep current dollar-euro exchange rate, does not.

STUDIOS & FACILITIES UPDATE

Cinecitta Studios: Rome’s venerable Cinecitta Studios, with 30 soundstages, a total 300 acres of backlots, and some of world’s most skilled craftsmen, remain the country’s best full-service

soundstages, equipped with state-of-the-art post. Cinecitta also provides services for shoots in external locations all over the country.

Cineporto: A number of newer, smaller but more agile facilities are also proving worthy, namely Turin’s Cineporto, a high-concept structure comprising production and wardrobe offices, a screening room, but no soundstages.

Other Options: There is also a brand new Cineporto in Bari, a bustling port city in Italy’s South. And new full-fledged studios are in the works in a converted Fiat auto factory in Termini Imerese, Sicily.

RESOURCES & CREW DEPTH

Italy, with its deep cinematic roots, has generally topnotch crews who are eager to work outside the local moviemaking milieu. Film commissions, now present in almost every Italian region, and local executive producers know the best local specialists, depending on the task.

One thing to keep in mind is an Italian propensity for generally good production values. Cinematographers, set and costume designers, but even grips and locations scouts, are likely to be topnotch. And the catering services should be hard to beat.

POST & VFX
Most big American pics shooting in Italy do their post and vfx elsewhere.

Post-production: That said, Cinecitta has a 25-suite post facility called Digital Factory,

which can also handle stereoscopic post.

Vfx: And in terms of fx, there are several budding Italo players in the fast-evolving European fx field, including Turin’s Lumiq Studios and Proxima Milano in Milan. Both are 3D specialists.

FILM COMMISSION CONTRACTS
Torino/Piemonte
Italy’s most active region in terms of film incentives.
Web: fctp.it

Roma Lazio
The film commission for Rome and the surrounding Lazio region.
Web: romalaziofilmcommission.it

Ap ulia
This film-friendly region on Italy’s heel has been luring lots of local shoots lately thanks to a new film fund and facilities.
Web: apuliafilmcommission.it

THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Italian crews usually belong to a union that can impose more restrictions on their work and hours than some international producers are accustomed to.