Film-makers applaud benefits
By Leiselle Maraj Tuesday, October 2 2012
Local film-makers and production companies applauded incentives announced yesterday by Finance and Economy Minister Larry Howai in the 2013 Budget but are urging that there be no delay in implementation of the measures.
Howai yesterday said a 150 percent tax deduction up to $3 million will be allowed for the corporate sponsorship of audio/visual or video productions for the purpose of local education or local entertainment and the same incentive could be claimed by local production houses on their own productions. This is expected to take effect from January 1, 2013. During the financial year, Government is also expected to introduce a regime to allow the duty free importation of film equipment and goods and to implement the zero rating of Value Added Tax on machinery and equipment used in the creative industries.
A spokesperson from video production company, Necessary Arts, said the tax regime benefitting corporate film sponsors has been talked about for years but has not been taken seriously by many businesses. “A lot of production companies are losing money because films are very expensive to make. When it is finally enforced, it would be positive for the film industry,” the spokesperson said. She said the struggle to get filming equipment into the country made the nation seem third world at times. “These measures are greatly appreciated. We are happy for it but make sure it happens, do not just say it,” she said.
Head of Savant Limited, Mariel Brown whose Inward Hunger: The Story of Eric Williams won the Best Local Feature Film award at this year’s Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival expressed happiness that Government is following through on plans which have been in the works for the film industry including the tax deduction for private company sponsors.
“This is how we grow industries; find ways to support it and make it easier for persons to produce. I would like to see more but this is a step in the right direction,” she said.
Brown said at the same time, she hopes appropriate infrastructure and mechanisms are put in place so these measures can be carried out in the near future. “When I go to customs, how will the officers know I qualify for duty free importation of film equipment.
Mechanisms not in place for the full utilisation of incentives. It is fantastic that they announce these incentives but they need to move very quickly to make these incentives actionable and put in place the correct operation support so that film maker and the private sector can enjoy incentives,” she said.
Emerging film maker Michael Mooleedhar said these initiatives will open up the industry. “There is a lot of equipment people would like to get to help with video production but it is expensive.
Duty free importation of goods makes it easier for people to have the right equipment and this would open up the industry,” he said, adding that the tax incentives will also encourage more video production.
He said once the industry opens, this means more competition which will assist in driving the industry forward. “Although the Film Company was established, there was still some concern about how serious was the move to develop the industry. I think these incentives show that we really want a film industry,” he said.
Anthony Dennison of JCD and Associates Limited said the incentives provides a great opportunity for expansion in the industry.
“The industry is a burgeoning area. There are more production companies than ever and there are many talented people,” he said. His company, he said, has been encouraging young people to get into the industry through internships.
“These incentives will be there for more production companies to develop and do more creative work,” he said.