India Rewrites Incentive Script to Boost Filming

By Pickle  February 12, 2024
India Rewrites Incentive Script to Boost Filming, Pickle Media

India introduces a ground breaking initiative to empower filmmakers: offering upto $3.6 mn in incentives for filming and service projects, with the goal of enhancing its position as a premier destination in the global film industry. It presents a great opportunity to participants at the Berlinale’s European Film Market to kick start their filming, co-production endeavours, or service engagements in India

In the sprawling landscape of the global film industry, India stands out as a beacon of diversity, culture, and cinematic heritage. With a history spanning over a century, the Indian film industry has not only contributed significantly to the world of cinema but has also continuously evolved, offering new opportunities and avenues for filmmakers worldwide.

However, India’s allure in the global film industry is not just about its heritage anymore but also its evolving incentives for international filmmakers. With the recent announcement by the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, India has set a new benchmark in incentivizing foreign film production and service work.

The global film production and distribution market, valued at over US$77.2 billion, continues to witness remarkable growth year after year. The rise of Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms has further fuelled this growth, with a staggering 599 English-language TV shows produced in 2022 alone, marking a 7% increase from the previous year. Amidst this dynamic landscape, India has emerged as a prominent player, witnessing a remarkable 56% increase in the number of foreign films shot within its borders over the previous fiscal year.

Recovering from the shock of global pandemic, in 2022, India witnessed a cinematic resurgence with 1,623 movies released, marking a 9% increase from 2019 levels. Gross Box Office revenues soared to $1.3 billion, a threefold increase over the previous year. The exponential growth extended beyond domestic boundaries, with 335 films released overseas, reflecting a remarkable 170% increase from 2021. With projections estimating the industry to reach USD 3 billion by 2025, India’s cinematic prowess shows no signs of slowing down.

Key Features of Revised Incentives

Increase in Incentive Percentage:
A significant surge from 30% to upto 40% in incentives for foreign film production including bonus of 5% each for employing Indian crew and for Significant Indian Content

Cap Limit
Elevated cap limit of Rs. 300 Million(~$3.6 Mn) with an additional 5% bonus for projects featuring Significant Indian Content (SIC).

Objective
To position India as a preferred destination for medium and big-budget international film projects, fostering artistic expression and cultural exchange.

Administration
Administered by FFO under the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), the scheme aims to streamline the process of obtaining incentives, promoting a film-friendly ecosystem in India.

India Rewrites Incentive Script to Boost Filming, Pickle Media

What India Offers?

India’s appeal to filmmakers lies in its rich tapestry of skilled manpower, exotic locations, world-class technical expertise, and a treasure trove of diverse content, music, and culture. From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the sun-kissed beaches of Goa, India offers a myriad of breathtaking backdrops that serve as the perfect canvas for storytelling.

At the forefront of India’s cinematic resurgence is the Film Facilitation Office (FFO), serving as a single-window mechanism to facilitate filming permissions and grant official co-production status. Under the purview of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, FFO streamlines the process of obtaining film visas for international cast and crew, thereby fostering a conducive environment for foreign productions.

Central to India’s strategy in attracting foreign filmmakers is the revamped incentives scheme, offering up to 35% reimbursement of India spend for international productions. With a focus on promoting quality cinema and cultural exchange, the scheme extends additional bonuses for significant Indian content, further diversifying the cinematic landscape.

Incentives for International Production – Live Shoots

The incentives scheme for international production of live shoots in India offers a significant boost to filmmakers aiming to bring their projects to Indian soil. Projects approved for filming after April 1, 2022,

Before Start of Production / Service

 Obtain Filming Permission/Sign Contract
 Apply for Interim Approval
 Start Production/Shoot

After Completion of Shoot / Service

Within 90 Days Apply for Disbursal In 60 Days
 Auditor scrutinizes documents
 Committee meets
 Disbursal

India’s media and entertainment industry, particularly in the AVGC sector, is experiencing rapid growth, presenting a wealth of opportunities for startups and investors. EFM serves as a global stage to showcase India’s diverse audiovisual offerings, attracting international interest are eligible to avail themselves of these incentives. The scheme extends a reimbursement of 30% of the qualifying production expense (QPE) incurred in India, with bonus of 5% for employing 15% or more Indian crew and an additional 5% bonus for significant Indian content. The incentives are capped at ₹300 million, providing filmmakers with substantial financial support to bring their cinematic visions to life while promoting cultural exchange and diversity in storytelling.

India Rewrites Incentive Script to Boost Filming, Pickle Media

Incentives for International Production – Animation

For international production projects focused on animation, post-production, and visual effects services, India offers an attractive incentives scheme designed to foster collaboration and investment in the country’s burgeoning animation industry. With no prior permission required, international animation and post-production service providers can avail themselves of a reimbursement of up to 30% of the qualifying production expense (QPE) in India. Furthermore, projects featuring significant Indian content stand to benefit from an additional5% bonus for Significant Indian Content further incentivizing filmmakers to explore the creative possibilities offered by India’s animation sector.

Incentives for International Co-Productions

India’s incentives scheme for international co-productions aims to facilitate creative collaborations between Indian and foreign filmmakers while promoting cultural exchange and access to financial resources. Projects granted co-production status after April 1, 2022, are eligible to claim incentives, including a reimbursement of 30% of the qualifying production expense (QPE) incurred in India. With a cap of ₹300 million, these incentives can be claimed in two stages – interim and final – providing filmmakers with financial support at key stages of production.

By incentivizing international co-productions, India aims to diversify its cinematic offerings while strengthening its position as a global hub for collaborative filmmaking endeavours.

Claiming the Incentives

Once a foreign production project has been approved and completed in India, the process of claiming incentives begins. The filmmaker or production company must submit a detailed application, including all necessary documentation, to the designated authorities. This typically involves providing evidence of expenses incurred during production, such as invoices, contracts, and audited expense statements. For live shoots, permissions from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting or Ministry of External Affairs (for documentaries) are essential.

Following the submission, a thorough evaluation is conducted by a specialized committee to verify the eligibility and authenticity of the claims. This streamlined process ensures transparency and efficiency, encouraging more foreign filmmakers to explore the vast opportunities India has to offer.

Role of Nodal Officers and Indian Missions Abroad

Nodal officers and 124 Indian Missions abroad play a crucial role in facilitating the seamless execution of filming projects in India. Acting as liaisons between filmmakers and various state administrations, these officers serve as key points of contact for obtaining necessary clearances and permissions. With presentatives stationed across 36 states/union territories and central agencies, nodal officers streamline communication channels, expedite bureaucratic processes, and provide invaluable assistance to filmmakers navigating the complexities of India’s regulatory landscape.

India boasts state-of-the-art studios, post-production facilities, and technological resources spread across major cities like Hyderabad and Bengaluru. With advanced infrastructure dedicated to production and post-production activities, India emerges as an attractive destination for overseas filmmakers

Additionally, Indian missions abroad act as facilitators, offering support and guidance to international filmmakers interested in exploring opportunities in India. Their proactive engagement ensures that filmmakers receive timely assistance, fostering a conducive environment for film production and enhancing India’s appeal as a preferred destination for international projects.

India’s enhanced filming incentives not only signify a quantum leap in its commitment to nurturing the film industry but also herald a new era of collaboration and creativity on a global scale.

As international filmmakers flock to explore the myriad possibilities that India offers, the country’s cinematic journey embarks on an exciting trajectory, promising endless opportunities for storytelling, cultural exchange, and artistic expression.

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