Local filmmakers left on the cutting room floor
The local film industry is frustrated over the little support it receives from the state, while the government is chasing after big production companies such as Paramount and Pinewood studios.
Cyprus held a Film Summit this week to present foreign film companies with a reimbursement and tax incentive scheme aiming to attract them to the island.
But local directors said Wednesday’s summit has left them on the cutting room floor.
While excited over the prospect of big filmmakers coming to the island, the Directors’ Guild of Cyprus feels that this is just another example how the local industry is being neglected.
The government is promoting legislation which will see foreign filmmakers reimbursed with 35% of expenses made during filming on the island, or tax rebates if preferred, which the guild claims suits only big studio productions.
Daina Papadaki, the President of the Guild told the Financial Mirror, that the preconditions set by the government for one to be eligible under the proposed scheme excludes the vast majority of Cypriot filmmakers. She argues that reimbursements and tax rebates are given only to companies which have produced two films in the past five years.
“This not only excludes individuals, but the majority of Cypriot filmmakers. How many Cypriot producers have made more than one movie in the past five years? In Germany, which is a much bigger market, the criteria of the equivalent scheme are one movie in five years,” said Papadaki.
“Due to the fact that the state has not adequately supported our industry over time, nor has it given incentives to support private financing of Cypriot films, the frequency of the production of Cypriot films and their annual production is so small that it is almost impossible for Cypriot producers to meet this criterion,” she added.
The Guild feels that it has been ignored during the drafting of the scheme, despite having offered their expertise to authorities they did not receive an answer.
“We did not even receive an invitation for the summit until we requested one,” said Papadaki.
The Guild said it welcomed the scheme and would support it, but added it should not only aim at attracting international productions, but also reinforce the local industry, which should be upgraded and consulted about such campaigns.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for so many years,” said Papadaki.
“The event is a stepping stone to initiating a broad understanding in the international film world that we are here and up and running.”
However, under the proposed criteria, foreign studios can easily go ahead with productions on their own without entering into a partnership with Cypriot filmmakers or even employing Cypriots active in the local audiovisual industry.
“Other countries demand that foreign companies co-produce films shot on their territory, while Croatia has a clause that foresees a minimum of 30% of people employed for the production must come from the local workforce,” said Papadaki.