By Stefano Ortiz
The FDCP held an orientation Thursday night, December 12 to introduce its latest initiative, the Film Philippines Incentive Scheme.
Launched last October, the Film Philippines Incentive Scheme seeks to encourage international production companies to shoot in the Philippines by providing financial incentives for projects that co-produce with or hire local production companies. The new initiative takes effect in January 2020 and comprises of the Film Location Incentive Program (FLIP) and the International Co-Production Fund (ICOF).
FLIP will provide cash incentives to Filipino line production companies working on international projects, thereby putting more power in the hands of local companies and providing increased freedom and flexibility. ICOF, which will support co-produced feature films between local and international companies, can further act as cash flow, supporting the investment or funding of a project in its early stages.
Under FLIP, Filipino production service companies hired by international productions qualify for a 20% cash rebate on qualified spending for up to 10 Million PHP. Audiovisual content of various genres and formats qualify for FLIP, whether live-action, documentary or animation and include feature films, short films, television series, web content or content for alternative distribution platforms. The production company must meet a minimum of 8 million PhP production expenditures to qualify for FLIP.
Meanwhile, Filipino production companies that enter into a co-production agreement with international production companies qualify for ICOF. The International Co-Production Fund has narrower criteria limiting funding to productions for feature films. The fund, however, requires a lower minimum expenditure than FLIP: production expenditures of 5 Million PHP qualifies a film for the ICOF co-production fund. Like FLIP, a production company can apply for up to a 10 Million PHP rebate.
Both programs have a two-step application process. An initial application outlining the project’s provisional expenses must be submitted within four months of shooting, and the second final application must be filed within three months of the production’s final expenses. Three application periods are allowed for the initial application with decisions issued in April, August, and December.
The production companies must be registered under the FDCP’s national registry system and each project will be judged on whether it meets the qualifications for the financial incentives.
The Film Philippines Financial Incentive initiative is part of the agency’s wider push to invigorate, elevate and professionalize the Filipino film industry. Increasing international film productions both stimulates the Philippine economy and generates necessary growth in the industry’s working standards. The core of the initiative, Chair Diño said in the question and answer section of the orientation, is ”to open up the industry for collaboration, for people to discover how talented we are, how good we are in providing service, and how the Philippines can be a creative hub for films."
Chair Diño also noted how the FDCP is pushing to incorporate globally competitive standards into the film industry. The Film Philippines incentive will be “providing jobs, for our production companies” and “creating and elevating skills, technology, and knowledge transfer. ”
David Fabros, executive director of the Film Philippines program spoke of the National Registry’s role in this undertaking: “The latent function of the National Registry,” Mr. Fabros said, “is to take stock of what our industry needs to compete in order to be world-class…to make steps to professionalize all these aspects of [the film industry].” This is part of a mission that includes conducting trainings and workshops, adjusting maximum working and turnaround hours, setting minimum wages, and simplifying the process for film clearances and permits. These changes, by empowering the industry workers, in turn strengthen the industry itself.
“We really need to [make these changes]” Chair Diño said, “It’s time for us to set these working standards to protect the workers so that when international companies come in here, [our industry] will not be abused.”
The FDCP also invited producers Lope ‘Jun’ Juban and Alemberg Ang to speak at the orientation. Both producers shared knowledge regarding joint international and Filipino productions. Mr. Ang, who most recently produced Liway, shared past experiences regarding independent film productions and submission processes to international festivals. He also gave pertinent advice regarding the incentive, speaking on how projects must meet “global quality” to qualify for the award.
Mr. Juban discussed his previous experiences doing line production work, particularly as the lead of Philippine Film Studios Inc. (PFSI), which includes involvement in films such as Francis Ford Coppola’s classic Apocalypse Now, the Oscar-Winning Platoon, and the major Hollywood production The Bourne Legacy. He spoke of the incentive’s support to the local film industry and participated in the question and answer section’s discussion on the ways to address issues and further improve the Filipino film industry.
Both Mr. Juban and Chair Diño emphasized the need for the Filipino industry to recognize what it brings to the international platform. “You have to know your worth.” Ms. Diño said, “We need to highlight what sets the Philippines apart from the rest of Asia: English is a second language to us, that's a significant advantage. We are flexible when it comes to accomodating sudden changes in production. We make things happen.” The Film Philippines Location Incentive does precisely that.
For more information on the financial incentives program go to www.filmphilippines.com
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