“The first thing foreign producers look for, apart from the locations, is above all, assistance during the first location hunts, i.e. to be able to count on the hospitality of the film commissions, location managers and local transport. I am referring, in particular, to independent low budget films”.
These are the words of Enzo Sisti, a veteran of worldwide film production. (line producer on “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, production consultant on “Spectre”) who is currently working in Matera on the set of “The Nightingale”, a Warner Bros production.
“Recently I have been contacted by Australian producers asking me if hospitality would be available to them if they came to Italy to do some location hunting. I believe that the State, now that it has officially recognized the film commissions (Ed. – in the new cinema Bill) should guarantee this small incentive, along- side the ‘bigger’ one, the tax credit, which is a fundamental element that allows us to ‘fight’ on an equal footing with the other countries that also offer incentives, and where the costs are possibly lower.
Minister Franceschini has done an exceptional job by raising the maximum tax credit limit for foreign productions in Italy (Ed. – from 5 to 10 million Euros), and extending it to in- clude television dramas. I would say that it is working really well now, because one Euro of tax credit in turn generates 9-10 Euros, a true magic bullet for the national economy.”
“It is essential to present a united front with the film commissions at international events, not just and not only to explain how the system works, but to offer real examples, films that have been successfully made and are a guarantee of our credibility, like, more recently, “Ben Hur” or “Zoolander””.
Sisti continues: “An even more useful thing is to organize conferences to which foreign professionals who have taken advantage of the tax credit can be invited in order to share their experience. We did this in 2009, in collaboration with ANICA [Italian Association of Cinematographic Audiovisual and Multimedia Industries], and the producers of “The American”, which brought us a huge amount of publicity. Here the presence of the film commissions is crucial, for their precious photographic database, for their experience and for the great culture of their work in the territory”.
The proposal launched by the president of the IFC, Stefania ippoliti, of establishing a common stance between the Film Commissions and our line producers has had a favorable reception. “I think it is a very sensible proposal”, says Marco Valerio Pugini of Panorama Films (line producer on “Voice from the Stone”, “Zoolander 2” and “The Vatican” with Panorama Film): “it is good to have a more synergic relationship with the institutions, and when I say institutions, I am referring to the Film Commissions”.
Pugini would like the “stance” to be extended to include the technical industries: “We have good visual effects companies in Rome and Milan that could develop more if they had projects that were a bit more important. The same can be said for the film studios. Apart from Cinecittà, which is famous all over the world, there are many other smaller structures in Turin, Rome and in Lazio. Last year, in addition to location-based movies like “Bond” or “Inferno”, there were others like “Ben Hur” or “Zoolander” that also used technical structures and this is a good sign. We have a very good range of tax incentives, but what we are lacking is an effective marketing operation because there are still people abroad who do not know that we have a tax credit system that works so well”.
Enrico Ballarin of Mestiere cinema (“The Twilight Saga: New Moon”, “Quantum of Solace – James Bond”, “The Italian Job”) basically agrees, and points out: “things are much better than a few years ago. Now, if foreign producers call you, the first thing they ask is how to get the tax credit.
Obviously, it is necessary to act systematically in order to reach those who are ‘not calling us’ yet, and I think it would be right to do that at the markets, where we usually go independently as private entities with a different strength compared to that of the institutions”.
And with regard to the promotional strategy, Ballarin suggests: “I have the feeling that Italian film commissions promote the existence of tax credits as an additional piece of information, whereas in other countries they highlight them immediately because, underneath it all, they are what attract people the most. Promotion also has to be conceived in a more global manner, the objective has to be to bring the films to Italy, not to the individual regions”.
“We can be witnesses for the Film Commissions of the beauty and ease of filming in Italy”, adds David Nichols of Cineroma (the co-producer of “Everest” and “To Rome with Love”, line producer on “The Tourist”). This is really necessary, because “whilst filming in Italy is every foreign producer’s dream, especially for Americans, there is often an element of fear as well, of diffidence towards our country. For me, it is a dream to film here, but when I try to convince executives at the majors to do so, I realize that they are not fully aware of all the possibilities Italy can offer”.
The work that is carried out on ‘made in Italy’ for fashion should also be applied to cinema and its technical and artistic excellences: “Italian directors of photography, costume designers, makeup artists and hairdressers are the best in the world!”