×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Romanian Production Incentives Take Final Shape With Industry Help

The film and TV industry in Romania is close to realizing a long-held dream to see the country introduce a production incentive to match those in rival locations like Hungary and the Czech Republic, which have attracted scores of international shoots while Romania has been left virtually empty-handed.

After years of lobbying, local producers’ sense of frustration has been exacerbated in recent years by a string of announcements from the Romanian Ministry of Culture claiming that the introduction of the sweeteners was imminent. This time around, with a draft proposal circulating, the prime minister openly urging passage and the U.S. embassy said to be strongly backing, industry-ites seem convinced it’s happening.

“We are expecting it,” says Alex Traila of the Romanian Film Center, the country’s major film support body, noting that a petition signed by 4,000 working film professionals has added new urgency. What’s more, lawmakers approved a memorandum in April acknowledging the need for passage.

Although the government has not committed to a clear timeline, says Traila, if the incentives pass soon, so that they can be factored into the fall budget, “we could already put it to work in the autumn.”

More than one draft is in circulation but top Romanian producers have urged a few key points to make the sweeteners effective, including Tudor Giurgiu, head of the Transilvania Film Festival, and producer at Libra Film.

Ada Solomon, executive producer of “Toni Erdmann” and producer of “Aferim!” and Berlinale-winning “Child’s Pose,” has recommended the incentives be accessible to all, not just targeted at foreign shoots with budgets that eclipse Romanian ones.

“The lower the level of spending requirements, the more opportunities are created,” she says, noting that Hungary’s system, with no minimum spend required for a production to qualify for a rebate, makes for an ideal model.

She adds that “Toni Erdmann” was a tough sell without incentives to persuade German and Austrian producers to film in Romania.

Incentives, offered throughout Europe and the U.S., generally require productions to spend a certain amount in order to qualify for cash back in the 20-25% range, provided they partner with local companies and often that they hire local crew and/or cast, use local sets or meet other criteria such as cultural checklists.

The Czech Republic’s incentives, passed in 2010 and modified since to make them easier to use, require feature productions to spend $670,000 locally in order to qualify for rebates while TV productions can get in for about half of that per episode.

“The incentives law would definitely give a burst to the industry and collateral factors (tourism, freelancers, etc.) if applied wisely,” Solomon says.

By contrast, incentives that only apply to productions spending 1 million euros ($1.17 million) would help only one or two production houses in Romania she estimates. More accessible sweeteners would also allow smaller local companies to be minority partners with foreign shoots and not be so dependent on state film support funds.

Currently small- to medium-budget foreign films are most interested in filming in Romania, Solomon points out, arguing that these should be able to benefit.

“Steady construction is built with small steps, not with big, risky jumps.”

The most likely final shape of the incentives, says Traila, is a 35% cash rebate on spending with an extra 10% possible if the production is “explicitly promoting” locations, cities and landmarks in Romania.

The amount that any one project can receive is expected to be capped at 5 million euros ($5.83 million), with applications open year-round, not tied to the calendar year. Within 60 days of the shooting wrap, says Traila, the production have its rebate in the bank.

As with similar rebate schemes, foreign productions would be required to partner with a Romanian company but local producers would be eligible to participate directly.

The deal is expected to signify a major boon to Romanian lots such as Bucharest Film Studios, formerly known as Media Pro, where topper Bobby Paunescu has estimated that the 19-sound stage facility could be eligible for big refunds on 200 million euros ($233 million) in production spends.

More Film

  • Box Office Film Placeholder

    China Box Office: Taiwan's 'More Than Blue' Wins Second Weekend

    Taiwanese melodrama, “More Than Blue” held strong at the Chinese box office, to secure a second week of success. The film is a Chinese-language remake of a Korean film from 2009, involving Singapore’s MM2 and the filmmaking arm of Fox Networks. With little in the way of strong, new competition, “blue” scored $27 million, according [...]

  • Noah CentineoNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Kids’ Choice Awards 2019: JoJo Siwa, Noah Centineo Take on Bullying

    This year’s Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was full of positivity and encouragement to be yourself. DJ Khaled, known for his upbeat mantras, hosted the 32nd annual awards ceremony alongside JoJo Siwa at USC’s Galen center. Siwa accepted the award for favorite social music star. Siwa said in her acceptance speech, “I get hated on every [...]

  • Us Scriptwriter and Film-maker Larry Cohen

    Larry Cohen, Cult Horror Writer-Director of 'It's Alive,' Dies at 77

    Larry Cohen, best known for his work as a B-movie producer and director in the ’70s and his later work in screenwriting, has died. He was 77. Cohen’s friend, actor and publicist Shade Rupe, confirmed the news, which was announced in a post to Cohen’s official Facebook page. Rupe said Cohen died in Los Angeles [...]

  • Captain Marvel

    Box Office: 'Captain Marvel' Shatters $900 Million Milestone

    Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel” continues to do heroic business. In its latest box office milestone, the female-fronted superhero tentpole zoomed past $900 million in ticket sales worldwide. “Captain Marvel” brought in a mighty $87 million globally this weekend, including $52 million from international territories. It has now generated $589 million overseas for a global haul [...]

  • Us - Lupita Nyong’o - cr:

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Stuns With $70 Million Opening Weekend

    Talk about scary good. Universal’s “Us,” the second directorial effort from Jordan Peele, pulled off a stunning debut, generating $70 million from 3,741 North American locations. That haul is enough to land it the second-best opening weekend of the year behind Disney’s “Captain Marvel” ($153 million). The psychological thriller about a family confronted by a [...]

  • SHAZAM

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content