Not long ago, it would have been difficult for Greek production outfit Heretic to board a project such as “Do Not Hesitate,” an ambitious, Afghanistan-set war drama that is partly being filmed on the island of Crete.
But for Giorgos Karnavas, who is producing “Hesitate” alongside the Netherlands’ Lemming Film, the calculus has changed since Greece introduced a 35% cash rebate last year. “The cash rebate gives us the [ability] to step into projects that we would not be able to otherwise, and is also a tool to attract new projects that appeal to us,” Karnavas says.
The rebate has given a fresh jolt to an industry still recovering from the country’s crippling economic crisis, with a wave of majority and minority co-productions in the cards from Greek producers. The 35% cash rebate on qualifying spend is available to feature films, documentaries, TV drama series, animated films and digital games, with a minimum spend of €100,000 ($110,000) for features and TV series.
Leading production company Faliro House is in post-production on the romantic drama “Monday,” directed and co-written by Argyris Papadimitropoulos and starring Sebastian Stan and Dominique Tipper. The film is produced by Christos V. Konstantakopoulos (“Before Midnight”), Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (“Loving”), Damian Jones (“The Iron Lady”) and Deanna Barillari (“The Amaranth”), with Fred Berger (“La La Land”) exec producing.
Other upcoming titles include “Broadway,” the first feature from Christos Massalas, which Amanda Livanou of Neda Film is producing with Bertrand Gore of Blue Monday Prods. (France) and Digital Cube (Romania); Christos Nikou’s feature directorial debut, “Apples,” a co-production between Greece’s Boo Prods. and Poland’s Lava Films; and “Pari,” the feature debut of Iranian filmmaker Siamak Etemadi that Heretic is producing with France’s Le Bureau, the Netherlands’ Topkapi and Bulgaria’s Chouchkov Bros.
Homemade Films’ Maria Drandaki, who’s developing Konstantina Kotzamani’s “Titanic Ocean” with Manny Films (France) and De Film (Romania), notes that the cash-back scheme has been a key selling point for international collaborations “as our available tools for co-production before the introduction of the cash rebate were very limited and very unstable.”
But she echoes the concerns of other Greek producers about the need to drum up sources of financing beyond the foundering public broadcaster, ERT, and the government-funded Greek Film Center, which this year earmarked $3.3 million in funding for local filmmakers.
“The cash rebate is more functional, but it can’t be the only tool for the production of Greek films,” she says.
While another producer bemoans projects “languishing” due to lack of financial support, Vasiliki Diagouma of the National Center of Audiovisual Media and Communication, the government body tasked with administering the incentive scheme, struck a hopeful note that the Greek industry’s fortunes are on the rise.
“We know how long it takes for the industry to not just realize that [the rebate is] there … but also believe in it, embrace it, and fully take advantage of it,” she says. “We know that 2020 is going to be the year for Greece, and we’re getting ready for that.”