At a recent film tourism conclave in the city, many countries wooed regional filmmakers and producers with offers and rebates for shooting in their region

An important social function of movies, apart from providing entertainment, sought to make different cultures spread across the world accessible to masses.

The International Film Tourism conclave, held at Hotel Trident recently, was an effort by the Ministry of Tourism representatives of countries such as Macedonia, Namibia, Mauritius, Taiwan and Oman, along with those from Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Delhi to reach out to filmmakers and producers of the regional film industry, which caters to a huge number of audiences across the globe.

A major takeaway of the conclave was that growing economies have as much to benefit from film production companies as filmmakers who go in search of picturesque foreign locations.

The Swiss delight

One of the organisers, producer L. Suresh reiterated the important role movies play in encouraging tourism by making a reference to Yash Chopra. “The Swiss government even named an intersection in Yash Chopra’s honour in Switzerland. They even admitted in front of an Indian delegation that they saw a great number of tourists coming to Switzerland from India.”

The conclave was an opportunity for delegates to coax filmmakers and producers to shoot in their countries by offering a number of incentives and rebates. The filmmakers and producers, in turn, expressed their concerns, including the need for quick processing of visa and other applications to obtain various clearances.

Actor Sarath Kumar, the chief guest for the inauguration, urged the representatives to create a ‘single window system’ that would make things easy. K. Muralidharan, producer, Lakshmi Movie Makers, who has shot abroad in 18 of his films, rued the fact that there was so much paper work involved even when it came to applying for concessions. “We usually go abroad in search of picturesque locations where we can shoot for longer hours [since sunlight lasts longer] with a minimum crew. These days, many countries are offering rebates and concessions on what we spend for production in the country, but it would be better if we are offered discounts in hotels etc and saved from the paper work.”

Many found Mauritius to be an attractive destination for shooting their films. The government of Mauritius has begun a ‘Film Rebate Scheme’ through which foreign producers can re-claim 30 per cent of total production expenditures.

The Mauritian Minister of Arts and Culture, Mookhesswur Choonee, was present at the conclave along with his team to woo the filmmakers and the producers. A representative said, “In 2012, we rolled out the scheme that would give producers a 30 per cent rebate on total expenditure. This was applicable even if the film hadn’t released. The only requirement is that a certain amount should have been spent.”

While several countries provide rebate on production costs, Mauritius offers something more. Actor Yuhi Sethu, who was present at the conclave, explained, “There are two kinds of costs. One is the cost of production and the other is remuneration of the actors, which can vastly vary. While most countries offer rebate on the production costs incurred, Mauritius has given a 30 per cent rebate on the salaries of the actors. This will reduce the costs considerably.” The Mauritian official said that it will be given as long as the “transaction happens in Mauritius”, and added that even documentaries and ad-films shot in Mauritius are included in the scheme.

Dency Mathew, representing Sultanate of Oman, said that the country currently doesn’t have a film commission but can provide logistical support and incentives on a ‘case by case’ basis. “If we find that the production company is reputed, we will give rebates and discounts.” A Macedonian representative in his presentation invited filmmakers to apply for Macedonian government’s production grant.

Speeding up process

All other representatives promised speedy processing of papers and safe environment to shoot. An official representing the Namibia Film Commission said, “Right now there are no incentives, but we will help with quick clearances and support for shooting in Namibia.”

The conclave will be held in Hyderabad and Mumbai as well in the coming week.