Serbia bows 15% prod’n rebate

Cash back offered for foreign films shot in country

The Serbian government has upped the production ante in the Balkans by introducing a 15% cashback incentive for foreign films shot in the country.

The cash rebate is applicable on goods, products and services purchased for international productions. A further 12% rebate is available for locally paid crew, which includes foreign crew and talent if they are paid in the country during the course of the production.

Minimum spend to be eligible for the rebate — the first of its kind in a former Yugoslav country — – is €2 million ($2.8 million).

Part of the Serbian Ministry of Trade and Agriculture’s campaign to promote Serbia, the rebate is available only this year; all requests for payment must be submitted by Nov. 15. It is hoped the rebate will be carried forward to 2012.

Before civil war tore Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s, Serbia was a popular site for international productions, noted for its locations, English-speaking crews and modern studios and services.

In recent years, the government has been promoting it as a high-quality, low-budget location with prices sometimes 25% lower than those of other countries in the region.

Serbia’s film commissioner, Ana Ilic, said the incentive is intended to further cement the country’s reputation as an attractive location.

The country has hosted nearly $30 million in high-profile productions in the past year alone, Ilic said, including Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut, “Coriolanus,” and EuropaCorp’s “Lock Out.”