Playing now: A sop opera Down Under to lure Indian producers

Written by Neha Pal | Neha Pal | Ashish Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 5 2010, 07:08am hrs
The Australian government has lined up a host of tax benefits to lure the fast-growing film industry in India. The financial sopsincluding a 15% location offset, rebate for producers and 15% production and digital offsets for movies filmed in Australiawere so far offered to studios from UK, Canada, France, New Zealand among other countries.

At present, 25-30 Indian films are shot Down Under each year. The Indian information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has already initiated talks for a formal co-production film treaty with its Australian counterpart.

Now, any Indian film production house spending a minimum of Rs 2.5 crore ($500,000) while filming in Australia can avail a 15% location offset or 15% refund on production, digital and visual (PDV) effects. Earlier, the minimum qualifying amount was $5 million (Rs 23 crore) for availing PVD effects offsets. Also, the Australian government is doing away with the location offset rider that offered 70% refunds on film-related investments to only those film studios which spent between $15 million and $50 million.

Further, there is a 40% producers rebate provided Indian filmmakers employ Australians in film projects which will also be released in that country.

Since 2006, Australia has been home to several Bollywood productions, including Salaam Namaste, Hey Babyy, Hindustani, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Love Story 2050, Chak De India and Victory. Dharma Productions We are family, starring Kajol and Kareena Kapoor, has also been filmed there.

According to Rebecca Ball, trade commissioner, Australia Trade Commission, The Australian government and state government film agencies work in coordination to facilitate easier access to enable foreign film production houses to produce films in our country.

This is done in recognition of the economic contribution that the film production has to the local economy, including creation of jobs and promoting innovation in the film industry, she added.

She added in addition to films, there was a huge interest in developing TV series in Australia and the trend is fast catching up. Last year, MTV India shot a number of episodes of its reality show MTV Roadies in Australia.

Indian producers are upbeat naturally. Every third big-budget film being shot in Bollywood or the Tamil film industry has Australia as the backdrop. Indian producers are already spending a minimum of Rs 5 crore while filming there. This will further give us incentives to go to Australia, a top executive of a leading Mumbai-based film company said.