Italy raises its profile as a filming location
Italy has always been able to boast superb locations and high-quality production talent. But the real reason that international film work has started coming back to the country is Italy’s 25% national tax credit. First introduced in 2009, it was improved in 2014 so that bigger budget productions could benefit (previously there was an unhelpful cap of €5m per project).
The most high-profile beneficiary of Italy’s tax credit has been Rome’s iconic studio Cinecittà, the best-equipped site in the country for large-scale productions. In the last couple of years it has been used for Romeo and Juliet, The Third Person and, in 2014, Working Title/Cross Creek/Walden Media’s Everest. This year, high-profile projects include Paramount/MGM’s Ben-Hur - which was based at the studio between April and July. Also filming at Cinecittà this year is Ben Stiller’s Zoolander 2.
Underlining the importance of the new improved tax credit to Italy’s film industry, Cinecittà Studios CEO Giuseppe Basso said: “We have waited a long time for our incentives to be tailored to the needs of international productions. As soon as this happened, some very important projects signed on, confirming that Rome and Italy can still be competitive internationally.”
The impact of the tax incentive has not gone unnoticed by politicians, either. In late 2014, Minister for Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini said investments by international productions were in line to hit €150m. “Big productions have returned to Cinecittà bringing jobs and spin-off activities,” he said, “It’s an extraordinary result.”
It’s not just Cinecittà that is flourishing however. The introduction of the 2009 tax credit also gave regional film commissions the confidence to introduce their own incentive plans. In 2011, the Lazio Region, which includes capital Rome, launched a €15m a year fund to prevent runaway productions and attract international producers. To be eligible, producers need to spend at least 40% of their budget in the Lazio area.
Given its proximity to Cinecittà, Lazio’s move makes a lot of sense. But even film commissions at the far ends of the country have followed suit. In 2012, Southern state Apulia launched a specific fund for international productions (which can be used alongside the national tax credit). As a result, it has managed to attract Bollywood blockbuster Housefull, Paul Haggis’s Third Person (with Adrien Brody), musical movie Walking On Sunshine and a remake of Point Break. Documentaries and commercials have also been shot in the region including a Japanese ad for Orangina starring Richard Gere in Salento.
Right at the other end of the country, Trentino has introduced a fund worth €1.2m a year. Trentino Film Commission’s Luca Ferrario explained: “For film and TV productions, the Fund offers up to €200,000, as long as the funding doesn’t exceed 50% of the production costs and at least 150% of the Fund’s allocated amount is spent within Trentino territory.”
After a strong response in 2012 and 2013, Trentino announced in December 2014 it would be funding six more projects. Among these are Giuseppe Tornatore’s La Corrispondenza, a love story set in Italy and England that stars Blake Lively and Jeremy Irons.
Alongside its incentives, Italy is also making an effort to facilitate productions once they arrive. Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s Inferno, for example, is filming in two of Italy’s most iconic locations Venice and Florence. The latest 007 movie, Spectre, meanwhile secured permission to shoot a car chase in Rome. Other big budgets films to visit have included Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Man From UNCLE.
Apart from features, Italy is also attracting more international TV and commercials producer. New Netflix drama Marco Polo, for example, shot some scenes in and around Venice. Similarly, commercials producer Park Picture was a recent visitor to Milan and Lake Como on a shoot for Range Rover.