Multiple agencies from The Philippines took to the virtual floor on the first day of FilMart to promote the Southeast Asian country’s companies and to tout the island nation as a desirable production location. Its biggest new selling point is a recently-unveiled funding system for Asian co-productions.

The ASEAN Co-Production Fund (ACOF) provides grants of up to $150,000 to feature films (live action, animation, documentary or Imax) that hail from the region covered by the Association of South East Asian Nations.

While insisting that the film’s director must be an ASEAN national is a deliberate hurdle, the fund is more generous in terms of the film’s nationality. ACOF is open to films that are only minority Philippines co-productions.

Another flexible condition is that an ACOF beneficiary is only required to use 50% of the grant as qualifying Philippines production expenditure. Applications can be made three times per year, as with other incentives managed by the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

Other co-productions that may not qualify for ACOF can instead use the International Co-Production Fund (ICOF) which opened for business in 2020. This scheme is run on largely similar lines to ACOF in that it is only open to feature-length productions, is operated on three application cycles per year, and that only the Philippines partner is allowed to make the application. Other thresholds are different: it requires roughly $100,000 of local spending and the maximum payout is $200,000. But it has the advantage that 50% of anticipated award can be advanced quickly and used to cash flow the filming.

A further incentive for inbound productions is Film Location Incentive Program (FLIP), which also launched in 2020. It operates a simple to understand 20% cash rebate payable against qualifying expenditure and is capped at approx. $200,000.

Unlike the co-production schemes, FLIP is open to film, TV, animation, music videos, web content and VR projects. Applications run on the same three times per year schedule.

“As an archipelagic state, Filipinos also take pride in the terrain as the country boasts a stretch of locations spanning landscapes in the country and in the city—from sprawling panoramic sceneries to Baroque-period buildings,” said the FDCP. The agency also oversees location assistance specialist Film Philippines Office, and Film Location Engagement Desk (FLEX), which is a one-stop-shop support in areas of production, governmental processes and services.