Government Mandated Tax Shelter Boosts Biz

By Croll, Ben | Variety, May 21, 2017 | Go to article overview

Government Mandated Tax Shelter Boosts Biz


Croll, Ben, Variety


Belgium's 2003 tax shelter had an immediate, galvanizing effect on the local industry. Though the country became one of Europe's most popular shooting destinations and co-production partners, many in the local industry did not find the program equal for all.

"Where before investors could raise a lot of money, in the end not all of that money went into the films," says Jeanne Brunfaut, associate director of Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel. More than that, the 2003 law required local outfits to seek up to 50% of funding from outside investors, vesting outsized power in those investors' hands. They could effectively decide what could get made via the local industry.

"Under the previous law, the tax shelter required negotiating with an investor who could choose their project based on its perceived profitability and potential," says Jean-Yves Roubin, who heads up Frakas Prods., an outfit with a focus on young directors and hard-hitting films. "So if we were to come with a film like 'Raw' - which, despite its artistry, is above all a genre film about a young cannibal girl - it would have been harder to compete against the giant French productions also looking for funding via the tax shelter. So it wasn't easy to produce and develop genre films in Belgium."

That's why many of the country's independent producers viewed the 2014 overhaul as a breath of fresh air. Mandating greater financial transparency, capping the amount outside investors could recoup, and opening the door to further international cooperation beyond the European Union, the reforms broke up what many saw as a creative monopoly, leveling the playing field for all. …

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