Uzbekistan has an emerging screen industry that offers largely underexposed locations and production support from a young film commission.
In January 2020, the country launched a 20% tax rebate based on local spend to entice international productions. Those looking to access the rebate will need to spend at least $100,000 in Uzbekistan to qualify for film projects, and $50,000 per episode for TV series.
“We have already had contact from international producers interested in shooting here, including a new US project from producer Larry Kasanoff (Mortal Kombat), an Indian project, and a French-Ukranian film backed by Star Media,” enthuses Mukhlisa Azizova, chairman of the Uzbekistan Film Commission, which handles the incentive on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, and offers production support.
The country is undiscovered as a filming location, which is why authorities are introducing it as a hidden gem in the heart of Central Asia, balancing its centuries-old tradition and Oriental hospitality with pragmatic government support for foreign businesses.
Uzbekistan offers everything from deserts and mountains to forests and lakes, whilst providing services that are reasonably priced. They welcome international productions. The country is at the crossroads of the East and the West, where well-preserved traditions meet a rapidly growing economy. The country is also one of the most peaceful in the region and in the world.
It has been actively advancing all its industries, including tourism and the arts, as part of the president’s reform agenda. They have also made it easier to get visas, and 65 countries are now exempt from visa requirements, including all European nations. Visa processing has been eased for 77 countries.
The country was the first in the region to introduce inexpensive high-speed train services, which eases travel to cities such as Bukhara, Samarkand and Shakhrisabz.
Uzbekistan has more than 320 days of sunshine a year, so shooting schedules are much less likely to be affected by bad weather. The day can stretch to 15 hours, allowing as many takes as needed without worrying about losing light.
The Uzbekistan National Film Commission launched in mid-2018 and offers production support throughout the country; it is a unique non-profit organisation in Uzbekistan. The commission connects producers with local service companies or other production professionals and can help negotiate local deals, as well as accommodation and travel logistics.
Uzbekistan Tourism Committee is the main co-ordinating organisation in the country’s efforts to develop film tourism. It is committed to continuously improving infrastructure and facilities for foreign production companies and is a key supporter of the film commission and other industry professionals.
The Uzbekkino National Agency is a government body in charge of cinema development in the country and issues filming permits. The film commission helps foreign production companies through the authorisation process, using the script and crew bios to get permissions from local authorities and leaders.