Big Foreign Shoots in Mexico Down But Not Out

Mexican Film commission spurring more co-productions

Not since Neill Blomkamp’s  estimated-$115 million  “Elysium” in 2012 has a mega-budget pic been shot on location in Mexico. But the country has been inundated with TV skeins from Hollywood and elsewhere, per film commissioner Lorenza Manrique.

The reasons for the downturn in large-scale productions may be partly attributed to the prevalent news of drug violence and the change in government, which has brought in some new, less- experienced people to staff the film commissions of some states.

But to Mexican producer Stacy Perskie of Redrum, whose co-producing credits include “Elysium” and 2013’s $4.7 million Canadian-Mexican co-production “The Boy Who Smells Like Fish,” it’s really been more a case of development hell.

“There have been several big-budget studio films lurking around and I even did a location scout for one with an ‘Elysium’-sized budget, but they haven’t happened yet for various reasons,” said Perskie, who first got his taste of a major studio film when he was a production assistant on “Titanic.”

Luke and Andrew Wilson’s $2.5 million “Juarez 9” is in pre-production and will shoot in the state of Tabasco, said Perskie, who co produces the pic with Mexico’s Dark Factory Entertainment.

Perskie is working on two U.S. projects in the budget range of $10 million to $20 million that are still in development.

“Meanwhile, Mexico’s national film commission is expecting some uber-budgeted docu skeins and Imax productions, aside from more TV skeins and commercials this year,” said Mexican film commissioner Manrique.

Roland Joffe is set to helm in Mexico a multimillion-dollar budgeted miniseries, “Texas Rising,” for the History channel.

“We are looking to promote more co-productions with Mexico,” said Manrique, who pointed to several Mexican producers attending Berlinale’s Talent Campus and Co-Production Market.

Foreign productions spending a minimum of 40 million pesos ($3 million) in Mexico can avail of its ProAV incentive, launched in 2011, which offers a 17.5% cash rebate applied to eligible expenses, including VAT.

Among various incentives, Mexican productions and co-productions can tap up to $1.5 million per project from the Fidecine annual film fund, which was raised from $6.6 million to $8.6 million.

There is talk that the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto is looking to bolster the ProAV incentive, perhaps by having states offer similar rebates to raise a production’s overall savings. “If this would make the incentive grow from 25% to 30%, Mexico would blow everyone else out of the water,” Perskie said. “We have the infrastructure, the crews and the cheaper labor.”

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