Israel has approved a 25% rebate for international TV and film productions with an initial budget of 45 million shekels ($14.5 million) for two years.
The program, which aims at enticing foreign producers to come shoot in Israel, has been pushed by the Israeli TV & Film Producers Association, in partnership with the Israeli Finance Minister, as well as the culture, foreign, economy and tourism industries.
“This is a very big deal for Israel and the local TV and film industry,” said Adar Shafran, chairman of the Israeli TV & Film Producers Association. Shafran said the rebate program will “provide thousands of jobs for Israelis and tens of millions of shekels that will be invested in the Israeli economy as a result of using services such as flights, hotels, catering, transportation and more.”
In the absence of a tax incentive, only a handful of international shows and films have shot in Israel in recent years, including an episode of the Italian show “The Million Dollar Race,” a commercial and part of “Hit and Run,” which hailed from Israeli creators, says Tzvika Gottlieb, CEO of the Israeli Producers Association, who adds that there are now several European and U.S. projects in the pipeline to shoot in Israel.
“When you see that ‘Dune’ and the latest ‘Star Wars’ movie shot in Jordan, it’s clear that Israel has a lot of potential; not only do we have the same desert but we also have many different landscapes, from desert to snow, beaches, mountains and of course historical landmarks; and a blossoming industry,” pointed out Gottlieb.
Danna Stern, managing director of Yes Studios, the Israeli production-distribution company behind such hits as “Fauda” and “Your Honor,” said, “This is a great first step in the right direction that will make Israel a more attractive location for international productions.”
“We have some of the world’s best creative talent — in front of and behind the camera — beautiful locations and the best weather,” said Stern, adding that “as more producers discover the benefits of physically producing here, hopefully the government will allocate additional resources for our industry.”
Although the specific details of the tax rebates have yet to be unveiled, it appears that the minimum amount of expenditures that needs to be invested by an international production is 4 million shekels. As with other rebate plans around the world, a local producer will need be hired.
Eitan Mansuri, a leading Israeli producer whose banner Spiro Films has produced Samuel Maoz’s “Foxtrot” and the hit show “False Flag,” among others, said the green light for the rebate plan was “a sign that the new government is open to listen and try things, and understand now how much of an opportunity it represents for the film and TV industry in Israel.”
“We have brilliant creators, actors, excellent local crews and an amazing variety of locations, but Israel is very expensive, and that’s how the possibility of coming was less attractive than in neigboring countries, which all launched strong incentives, but we hope this will be a game-changer for many companies, from the smaller European TV series to the huge Hollywood productions,” added Mansuri.
Mansuri said the one issue that has always been problematic when shooting in Israel was getting insured in case of political or civic unrest, but he believes the country is facing “a relatively calm future” in spite of geo-political tensions.
On the plus side, Israel has been leading the way in terms of health safety, getting its population vaccinated against COVID-19 faster than any other nation. The majority of the Israeli population has now received three vaccine shots and seems to have wrestled the pandemic.
“This important step brings with it a significant message that focuses on Israel’s positive branding in the world as a center for filming international films and series, using Israel’s natural resources and unique and historical sites that exist in Israel,” said Avigdor Liberman, the Israeli Finance Minister.