Tax breaks / incentives
There's no shortage of funding options in Belgium. The Belgian Tax Shelter is a government-approved tax incentive designed to encourage the production of audiovisual works. It is one of the very few audiovisual systems that applies to the whole of Belgium rather than to a particular language community. The producer is offered an attractive way to finance projects, the investor obtains tax exemption and the Belgian state benefits from increased economic activity and spending.
The Finance Ministry estimates that from 2003 to 2011 the system channeled over €600m into films and other audiovisual works. For more information visit Brussels Film Office or download this Tax Shelter document.
The Flanders Audiovisual Fund VAF Film Fund supports audiovisual productions in Flanders, as well as international co-productions with Flanders. The aims of the Fund are threefold: to develop a sustainable audiovisual industry, to encourage and support upcoming audiovisual talent and to promote a vibrant audiovisual culture in Flanders.The VAF Film Fund receives an annual grant from the Flanders government, which in 2013 was worth about €15m. A minimum of 80% of the annual budget goes to production support. Filmmakers can apply for support to fiction, documentary, animation and so-called Filmlab (experimental) projects. There are four types of support: scriptwriting, development, production and promotion support.
The VAF/Media Fund was launched in 2011 in order to support the production of independent television series, co-financed by a Flemish broadcaster. The Media Fund supports three genres of series: animation, documentary and fiction series. The BBC/HBO television series Parade's End was one of the first productions to benefit. The total budget of the Media Fund for 2013 is €5m.There are several types of support possible within the Media Fund: scriptwriting, development and production. For foreign series a minimum of 20% of the budget must be financed through a Flemish producer and the majority of the finance must already be in place. This means a minimum of 50% of the total budget must already be financed or the project must already have been granted support by a public film body.
In Wallonia, the Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel (CCA), the cultural film fund from Wallonia-Brussels, takes on a similar role.
The CCA is the public body dealing with the support for the creation and promotion of audiovisual works in the French-speaking region (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles). The CCA has an annual budget of €23.2m which includes a financial contribution from broadcasters and audiovisual services distributors to the local audiovisual production.
On the basis of cultural criteria, CCA offers selective support (subsidies and advance on receipts) at various stage of the project’s life: scriptwriting, development, production, completion, promotion and distribution. On the basis of the commercial performance of their films, producers can also access to automatic support to reinvest in future projects.
Different types and formats are eligible for public support at CCA: feature-length and short fiction, documentary, animation - television fiction and documentary – experimental (Film Lab) and web creation.
In 2012, 31 feature films were produced, of which 25 are co-produced with foreign partners. These co-productions take place in the framework of co-production agreements signed with several countries such as France, Switzerland, Morocco, Canada and more recently China. However, foreign productions wishing to access CCA’s support schemes are advised to first find a local producer.
The Wallimage Investment Fund uses an annual €4m to support co-productions set in the region. It is purely an economic fund which supports audiovisual productions and enterprises but as said before its website hosts a wealth of knowledge including some of the latest productions taking place in the region and a who's who.
Alongside this there is Wallimage/Bruxellimage for those looking to shoot across province borders. This line, worth €2m, is funded for 50% by the Walloon Region and for 50% by the Brussels Capital Region. Claimants may submit a bid for maximum €300,000 (loan+equity). The investment determined by the fund may not be implemented unless the following two conditions are met. 1) The production company must demonstrate that it already has at least 30% of the total funding for its project. 2) It undertakes to spend at least €150,000 in each region (+/- 15 %).
On top of this a new initiative, the Screen Flanders fund, offers financial support to audiovisual productions that spend (part of) their budget within the Flanders Region. Belgian producers can apply to receive up to €400,000 refundable advances by way of economic support to cover their audiovisual expenses in the Flanders Region. Foreign producers interested in applying for the fund can co-produce with a Belgian producer that satisfies all the selection criteria.
Fiction, documentary or animation films with a running time of at least 60 minutes and animation series consisting of at least three episodes with a minimum total broadcast time of 60 minutes for the whole series are eligible. The (co-)production must enrich the cultural heritage of Flanders and invest a minimum of 250,000 euros in the Flanders Region. Every euro entrusted to a producer must yield at least one euro of audiovisual expenditure in the region. The maximum support per project is 400,000 euros.
In Belgium, it is also important to reach out to broadcasters as partners in financing. Both public and private broadcasters are obliged to invest part of their resources in independent production, either by co-producing or via pre-sales. The easiest way to succeed with finding a partner broadcaster is to first find a local producer via the Belgian producers associations or via the Francophone Film Producers' Association.