Dublin (Ireland), Jan 15 As it seeks to lure more tourists from India, Ireland is betting big on the $15 billion Indian media and entertainment industry to shoot more films, documentaries and TV shows on its pristine locations with substantive tax cuts that can redeem up to 28 percent of costs.
“We Irish are crazy about films like Indians. There are a variety of funding options for cinema productions in Ireland, not just to shoot films and TV shows, but also for post-production and animation,” said Naoise Barry, commissioner with the Irish Film Board.
“The major source of saving is what we call Section 481 tax incentive scheme under which 28 percent of qualifying expenses are refunded to producers. The main requirement is an Irish co-producer,” Barry told IANS during a presentation on the Irish film industry.
The top executive of the country’s main film industry agency said they were particularly keen on the success of “Ek Tha Tiger”, a film shot partially in Ireland last year with Salman Khan and Katarina Kaif in lead roles, produced by Yash Raj Films.
It is set for release during Eid this August.
“There was a major gain for the producers of ‘Ek Tha Tiger’,” said Barry, adding out of euro 2.1 million spent on shooting in Ireland, as much as euro 900,000 was refunded to the producers under Section 481 tax incentive scheme.
“That’s a 28-percent saving,” he said, adding, producers also get other incentives, such as exemptions from value added tax and with-holding tax on the casts who are citizens of the member countries of the European Union. The scheme is funded by tax-saving bonds.
The partnership with an Irish co-producer also resulted in “Ek Tha Tiger” rope in a 65-percent discount on road closure fee, a 60-percent cut in parking fee and a complete waiver of location fees.
Directed by Kabir Kahn, the romantic thriller is the tale of a man sent to Dublin on a secret mission, who falls in love with a woman studying at a fictional dance academy at Trinity College.
The co-producers arranged for shoots at some famous Dublin locations for spectacular song-and-dance sequences and stunts such as the Trinity College, the Quays, South King Street, Mount Street, the Shelbourne Hotel, Temple Bar and St Stephen’s Green.
According to Barry, an Irish co-producer also helps their counterparts from overseas in all stages of production, such as butgeting, scouting of locations, scheduling of the shoots, casting, crewing and post-production.
“We are a pretty big industry. The audio visual content production in Ireland is worth over around euro 550 million. This industry employs more than 6,000 people, with 560 small and medium enterprises operating in the sector.
Over the past 20 years, Ireland hosted a number of successful international productions such as “Braveheart”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Michael Collins”, “PS I Love You” and “Leap Year”.
One of the main reasons why Ireland has been giving these incentives is not just to lure shooting of films that can result in significant part-time employment for its residents, but to also attract tourists into the country, said Barry.
“We found that 18 percent of tourists who came to Ireland in 2008 came after seeing a film that has been shot in Ireland. Their contribution to tourism spent was as high as euro 369 million,” Barry told IANS.
Some 100,000 Indians visit Irland each year, even though there are no direct flights.