A trio of European film-industry executives is launching GapBusters, a studio-based outfit seeking to become a conduit for European and Canadian producers looking to tap into Belgian tax-shelter funds for film and TV projects with high commercial potential and budgets of at least 5 million euros ($5.58 million).
GapBusters has been formed by Pascal Diot, one of whose several roles is as CEO of studio facility Pole Image of Liege, and Liege-based producers Jean-Yves Roubin (FraKas) and Joseph Rouschop (Tarantula). The company’s offices will be located in Pole Image of Liege, a one-stop-shop studio facility housed in a 183,000-square-foot former tobacco factory. The site is one of the biggest beneficiaries of Belgian tax incentives for film and TV production. The idea is for productions to use the studios and services.
GapBusters is also launching a Belgian theatrical and TV distribution arm in order to offer prospective productions a minimum guarantee. The distribution side aims to handle five to eight feature films each year in the Benelux countries. GapBusters is also in talks with some French distributors in order to create a system that, beyond Benelux, would also ensure French distribution.
Negotiations are in advanced stages to service a big-budget French-language production.
GapBusters’ main financial tool will be Belgian tax rebates equalling up to 30% of total qualifying expenses in the European Economic Area and up to 45% of the Belgian-eligible spend.
GapBusters will access the rebates thanks to an agreement with Casa Kafka Pictures, the intermediaries for many high-profile pics that have tapped into Belgian soft money, including this year’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “I, Daniel Blake” and Belgian directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne’s “The Unknown Girl.”
“Last year more than 150 million euros ($167 million) in tax-shelter funds for film production were raised in Belgium, 30 to 40 million of which [was] by Casa Kafka,” noted Diot. “We have access to this [money],” he added.
On top of that, GapBusters is also offering its expertise to do the paperwork to apply for the Eurimages co-production fund and other funding sources.
Rouschop, whose Tarantula company produced Canadian director Philippe Falardeau’s “Congorama,” among other titles, underlined that GapBusters will negotiate competitive rates with the service companies at Pole Image.
But “gap financing isn’t just about money,” noted Roubin, whose FraKas shingle specializes in genre movies, such as hot Spanish horror-helmer Jaume Balaguero’s upcoming “Muse,” which he is co-producing. “We can bring the money, but we also know how to make movies.”