Valais becomes first Swiss region to launch cash rebate scheme

The Valais Film Commission had been inspired by the example of Austria’s CineTirol

By Martin Blaney 8 Aug 2022

Valais becomes first Swiss region to launch cash rebate scheme
Locarno Film Festival, Ti-press/alessandro Crinari. Credit: Tristan Albrecht

The canton of Valais has become Switzerland’s first region to launch an automatic cash rebate scheme to attract Swiss and international audiovisual productions.

Tristan Albrecht, head of the newly-created Valais Film Commission, was in Locarno this weekend to announce the full roll-out of the film commission’s services and the introduction of the cash rebate scheme.

During a discussion of new film financing models in Switzerland as part of the Locarno Pro programme of events, Albrecht explained that the architects of the Valais Film Commission had been inspired by the example of Austria’s CineTirol to introduce a financial incentive tool in order to complement its facilitation services for production teams.

“It’s not only important to make it easy for productions to come and shoot in our region, we also needed to have an incentive,” said Albrecht. “We thought about different options such as a selective, more cultural scheme; a tax rebate scheme; or one involving a cash rebate giving a reimbursement of expenses in the territory.”

The film commission chose the third option and defined a series of criteria which would have to be fulfilled for producers applying for the cash rebate. Locations in the region include Zermatt, Sass Fee and the iconic Matterhorn mountain.

Rebate conditions

Various conditions must be met to qualify for the rebate of between 15% and 35% of the eligible expenditure.

The project must be a feature-length fictional or animated film or series; have a minimum shooting period of five days in the Valais region; and generate at least 100,000 CHF ($103,993) eligible expenses in the territory.

“We come at the end of the game when a project is almost completely financed and has 70% financing acquired,” Albrecht said. “The scheme is really trying to help the productions that are already strong financially speaking.”

He added that the film commission would “put a cap of 100,000 CHF on the amount of cash rebate a production can receive because otherwise one big production could come along and bankrupt us by taking all the money!”

While the focus of the film commission’s funding activities will be on the cash rebate scheme for feature-length projects, one-off grants are also to be provided to help finance the production of documentaries, short films and reality TV shows.

Albrecht suggested that 30,000 CHF would be made available for a documentary project, 20,000 CHF for a reality TV show, and 10,000 CHF for a short film.

According to Albrecht and Laurent Steiert, deputy head of the film department at Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture (FOC), this new cash rebate scheme would be compatible with the FOC’s own Film Investment Refund Switzerland (PICS) programme which is principally focused on Swiss-international co-productions.

PICS refunds 20% to 40% of eligible production expenses generated in Switzerland and grants up to a maximum of 600,000 CHF for an individual project.

The canton of Valais is situated in the southwestern part of Switzerland, with Italy bordering to the south and the canton of Ticino - where Locarno is located - to the east.

Valais’ locations have served in the past as the backdrop for such films as 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger, 2013 Bollywood suspense thriller Fever, Nikita Mikhalkov’s 2015 Sunstroke, as well as the Wham music video Last Christmas.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Screendaily.

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