The Australian federal government has offered $280 million ($400 million AUD) to attract international film productions to Australian soil, as was announced last Friday by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Location Incentive plan will provide cash grants over the next seven years. It is in addition to Australia’s location Offset system, which projects can receive rebated for production and post-production work completed in Australia.
The Location Incentive program follows a $175 million ($250 million AUD) package that was revealed last month to support the wider arts and entertainment sector impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Of that incentive, $34.4 million ($50 million AUD) was allocated to the film and TV sectors, much of it in the form of financial guarantees for insurance policies that allow film and TV productions to restart.
“The Location Incentive is an economic multiplier. It will sustain the vitality of Australian screen production and support jobs and local business” states federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher. The government estimated that it will maintain over 8,000 jobs over the seven years, those will in turn benefit an estimated 9,000 businesses.
Part of this estimation is due to Australia managing the coronavirus outbreak better than the U.S., making it a more attractive plate to locate large scale film productions. Ten films from Hollywood that have been able to access $86 million ($123 million AUD) of finance under the Location Offset including the recent “Thor: Ragnarok”, “Godzilla” and the ongoing “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” from Marvel Studios.
“South Australia has increased its investment in high value international production in recent years, with productions including the state’s biggest ever screen production ‘Mortal Kombat’ demonstrating the state’s capacity to deliver. ‘Mortal Kombat’ has provided a strong pipeline of work through the entire South Australia screen sector, including significant work for our world class post production, digital and visual effect companies. With South Australia one of the safest places in the world right now, and one of the first places in the world to resume production, the state is ideally placed to take a slice of this new fund in the post-COVID recovery.” States South Australia’s Minister for Innovation and Skills, David Pisoni.
However, guilds are wishing to emphasize local production “Whilst inbound productions are an important part of the overall Australian production industry, at this critical time we also need to ensure there is a balance in government assistance for the whole ecosystem”, said industry group Screen Producers Australia. “Significant gains in employment, investment and creative output could also be achieved through an extension of the tax incentive for domestic television content, the Producer Offset, which should be increased from 20% to 40%. This would also address the anomaly whereby international productions are able to access higher levels of support than local productions, which create local IP, employ local creatives and create great Australian cultural content.”
SPA also argued that the local content quotas on Australian TV should be reimposed at the end of 2020, they were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak in order to give broadcasters flexibility at a time when the supply chain was disrupted.
Whatever international or local films become produced with this scheme, we’re in!