Film creators get dues

SIX creators of locally-filmed movies and television shows received part returns on their investments from the Government last Wednesday, after several years in some cases, when Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon distributed cheques in keeping with the Production Expenditure Rebate Programme.

A short ceremony was held at the ministry’s office, in Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1530739344582-8′); });

“The delays are indeed regretted,” Gopee-Scoon said, “(but this delay) is occasioned by the country’s economic challenges where energy sector revenues, taxes and royalties, of which our nation’s economy has been dependent, fell by 87 per cent between 2010 and 2017.”


One of the recipients said he was notified last November of the release of funds for the rebate but added that he appreciated the reasons for the delay after meeting with Gopee-Scoon.

The Production Expenditure Rebate Programme, which is administered by the state-run TT Film Company (TTFC) falls under the purview of the Trade ministry and is managed in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.

The programme offers cash incentives to national and international producers for expenditure incurred while filming in TT and covers the rental of local equipment, supplies and services; payments for the police, fire and ambulance services; wardrobe, props and related items; location fees; employment of local cast and crew; accommodation and food; and local travel and transportation costs.

Among the films and shows which benefited from the rebate programme were: Bazodee, The Apartment, Sally’s Way, Oil & Gas Pioneers of the Caribbean, Green Days by the River, and Bad Granny.googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1530739344582-7’); });

Gopee-Scoon said, “It is acknowledged the film sub-sector can provide opportunities for economic expansion through increased revenues, employment, trade and investment. FilmTT is charged with facilitating the development of the local film industry and to promote TT as a premier location for international film productions,” said Gopee-Scoon.

The film rebate offers a tiered system of 12.5 per cent to 35 per cent rebate on a minimum expenditure of $650,000 up to a maximum $51.2 million for foreign production companies filming on location in TT.

For local film producers, the programme offers a 35 per cent rebate on expenditure from $100,000 up to the $51.2 million. An additional rebate of 20 per cent is granted on the labour costs incurred in the hiring of local labour.

“A strong indigenous film sector is integral to the economic diversification of Trinidad and Tobago.

The regional and international appeal remains very encouraging,” Gopee-Scoon said.

She added that creative industries have been identified as one of seven key national economic areas prioritised in the national development strategy 2016-2030 (Vision 2030)– Building Globally Competitive Businesses. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1530739344582-6′); });

Gopee-Scoon said the country will benefit from the programme, among other ways, by means of an increase in foreign exchange earnings; transfer of experience and knowledge from foreign film creators to local ones; increased international competitiveness from the local film industry; and TT’s exposure as a prime location for film production. She identified the Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia and the UK as countries with transferable tax credits and/or rebates on production costs within the respective countries.

“These countries have succeeded in vibrant film industries by providing attractive incentives to international filmmakers. An analysis of the incentives offered by these countries really has determined that the film rebate, which is offered by the Government, can, in fact, compete internationally. And since the introduction of the programme in 2006, 19 films have been completed with a spend of over $95 million on location in Trinidad and Tobago. And the last rebate payment was made to Maturity Music Ltd for the production of PAN! Our African Odyssey, in 2017.”

Although the programme was introduced over a decade ago, the payment of rebates have taken a halt for several years.

In an interview following the ceremony, Jason Reece, creator of Bad Granny, a docu-series inspired by his automotive customisation shop, said the wait for the rebate was tedious “but worth it.”

Reece said he recently sat down with Gopee-Scoon and was satisfied when she expressed the reason for the delays. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1530739344582-5′); });

“What they’re doing is really good. It’s just the time process to get it sorted and sometimes the red tape of doing the process is kind of tedious but I guess it takes out people trying to take advantage of the system. “The process, I think is good, correct, and they’re learning. It does help the film industry. So it’s a two-way street. Yes, it takes long to get the money back. You know, maybe waiting for it is a good thing. It might eliminate those who want to abuse it.”

Source: Newsday