New Zealand is hoping to attract more big-budget film and TV productions in the country by lowering the qualifying budget thresholds for productions. Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce and Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson announced the changes to the Large Budget Screen Product Grant on Wednesday.
Under the changes to the LBSP grant and the post, digital and visual effects grant (PDV grant), the qualifying budget threshold for TV series pilots, made-for-TV movies, and mini-series will drop from $11.73 million to $3.13 million. The threshold for the PDV grant will also be lowered from $2.35 million to $780,000.
“Attracting more TV production and investment in New Zealand will boost the economy and provide greater continuity of work for Kiwis and their families,” Mr Joyce stated.
“We also want to build on our growing strength in high-value post production, digital and visual effects, and enable smaller New Zealand companies to be more successful in attracting work to New Zealand.
The current LBSP rebate at 15% for budgets with a qualifying NZ expenditure of $11.73 million upwards is still in place, as well as the additional 15% capped at $7.63 million for $156 million upwards expenditure in the country.
The changes to the funding follow a two-year review into the effectiveness of the incentives of the industry.
“Industry sustainability is what’s driving these changes. We want more international screen productions to come to New Zealand and utilise our world-class expertise and scenery. The changes could also mean more local film and TV producers are able to make content that is attractive to overseas market,” Mr Finlayson added.
However, local filmmakers don’t approve of the government changes to the funding, saying that it will only favour overseas production companies.
Changes to the domestic Screen Production Incentive Fund will ensure private investment by requiring a minimum non-government investment in qualifying films of at least 10 per cent, and with at least 25 per cent in television. For animation projects, the threshold of qualifying is lowered from $1 million to $400,000 per hour.
The qualifying threshold for a 15 per cent tax rebate on TV production, meanwhile, will decrease from $15 million to $4 million. But it also means that feature filmmakers will be required to find at least 10 per cent of their funding through private means before they are qualified for the incentive. There was no minimum requirement before.
“Without government encouragement there would be no film industry in New Zealand,” filmmaker Mike Riddel of the award-winning The Insatiable Moon was quoted by the Radio New Zealand News as saying.
“We would be back to the days of everybody scrambling around trying to do things on the smell of an oily rag... you can’t sustain an industry on that.”
But Mr Joyce believes that the 10 per cent private sector contribution is fair, especially coming from the taxpayers’ perspective.
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