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Germany Expands Rebate System for VFX Sector

Germany’s VFX sector is celebrating newly revamped guidelines of the country’s main subsidy program, which make it possible for big-budget animated and visual effects-heavy projects to secure rebates as high as 45% when they meet new minimum spend requirements.

The new rules do away with requirements that films have to be physically shot in-country to qualify for the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) rebate incentive program. The two-tier DFFF system includes a funding pool, known as DFFF II, that is specifically aimed at international co-productions and big-budget domestic films.

Germany’s muscular VFX industry has for years lobbied for inclusion in the program, which until now has focused on production companies and physical on-location shoots. Instead of being linked to physical shoots, the new regulations require a simple €2 million ($2.3 million) spend in order to qualify for the DFFF II’s 25% rebate.

German regional funders FFF Bayern and MFG Baden-Württemberg already offer VFX support in the form of 20% rebates, so productions working with companies in the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg  can now combine regional and federal funding for rebates of up to 45%.

Florian Gellinger, executive VFX producer at Berlin-based Rise Visual Effects Studios, praised German culture and media commissioner Monika Grütters for spearheading the change, which is expected to boost international business and make Germany more competitive.

“The federal government has now taken the necessary steps to make our film industry internationally more competitive and the rebate more accessible,” Gellinger said. “Hardly any film today is made without digital image design and manipulation. Sometimes even the main cast is created digitally, and the demand is skyrocketing.”

Gellinger added that Germany had been on “the slow end of this development for years while innovative tax incentives in Canada and London have created an employment boom abroad. We can now focus on gaining ground creatively and technologically by [combining] regional and federal rebates to a total of up to 45%.”

Rise, which also has offices in Munich, Stuttgart and Cologne, is one of Germany’s leading VFX studios. The company has contributed visual effects to major productions, including most of the Marvel films, among them “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Black Panther,” “Captain America: Civil War,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” as well as the likes of “The Fate of the Furious” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

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