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New Rebates and Facilities Look to Boost Chilean Filming

Big changes are afoot in Chile.

Cash rebates of up to 20%-40% may launch before the year’s end. Ongoing talks with economic authorities are now “in an interesting phase,” says the Chile Film Commission’s Viccenza Martini Vera.

“There is absolute certainty in the film sector and in other institutions that Chile will soon take its place on the world stage among competitive locations.”

Such a move would be great for Chile on several levels, says Fabula producer Juan de Dios Larrain, whose brother Pablo’s latest drama “Neruda,” co-financed by Participant Media, competes at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. “Not only will it be good for Chile on economic terms, but what is invested in the country and on rebates will be largely compensated by the prestige and attention it will bring the country and the diversity of its locations.”

Meanwhile, Pinewood Studios inked a memo of understanding in November to open a studio in Chile. Chile Studio Group (CSG), created by Singapore-based investor Incubatrix, has asked Pinewood to conduct a feasibility study to determine the viability, size and scope of the project, says Raj Uttamchandani, executive director of Chile Studio Group, which will be financing the studio.

“Latin America is a large and significant market, but it’s also extremely fragmented,” he says. “We see Chile as a natural point to attract productions within the region, from Brazil, Argentina and even Colombia.”

Uttamchandani says CSG’s initial focus would be to provide world-class media production facilities to the Latin American market. “We would then look to attract Hollywood productions at a later stage, through our partners in the industry,” he says.

While welcoming the advent of a Pinewood studio in Chile, genre maestro Eli Roth, who has, together with helmer Nicolas Lopez and Miguel Asensio of Sobras Intl. Pictures, formed a ‘Chilewood’ film hub and shot his latest pics “The Green Inferno” and “Knock Knock” in Chile, some logistical issues still need to be resolved. “Plane tickets are expensive; if you can find a way to reduce those prices or bring them in as a partner on the film to promote the country as a film center, it can really thrive,” he says. Asensio warns that cash rebates might see prices rise in all services as it did in Brazil and Colombia, but it could eventually stabilize.

“The crews are fantastic. They work differently than American crews, but they’re excellent and can get done anything you want,” says Roth.

Former Troublemaker VFX supervisor/artist Aaron Burns (Grindhouse) who has worked at Sobras since 2010, concurs. He’s directing his second pic, suspense thriller “Madre,” in Chile, with Sobras is producing. “Chile’s talent pool is so rich and they can work fast; crew members are not as rigid as in the U.S. and can work in all departments,” he points out.

Producer Robert Katz, who worked on Phoenix Pictures’ Chilean miner drama “The 33,” helmed by Patricia Riggen and starring Antonio Banderas, oversaw all aspects of the day-to-day production and post as well as co-developed the script. “Chile has spectacular locations ranging from deserts to mountains, which can be reached in short distances,” he says. Labor wages were high when “The 33” shot in Chile in 2014, but the new incentives would make them more competitive, he says.

At present, Chile can support no more than two large-scale productions at a time, says Asensio, and only one company, Fabula, ostensibly provides production services for big features such as “The 33.” Chile has skilled crew members, but too few of them. However, Pinewood Studios plans to address this.

“Education, training and skills development is a key part of the (Pinewood) project to increase the talent pool available. Pinewood already has several initiatives in this area and we would work with them as well as other partners for this,” says Uttamchandani.

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