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56th TIFF: Greek Film Center & Creative Europe Media Desk Greece Presentation
11 November 2015
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Providing incentives to attract foreign investment in film production was the subject of the presentation organized by the Greek Film Center (GFC) together with the Creative Europe Media Desk Greece, in the framework of the 56th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF), on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, at Warehouse C. The main speaker at the presentation was Thierry Baujard, CEO of the European company peacefulfish, experienced in the development of film incentives in countries such as Malta, Croatia, Norway, the Netherlands and Lithuania.

Anna Kasimati, Tierry Baujard and Gregory Karantinakis (®Motionteam)

The speaker was introduced by Gregory Karantinakis, general director of the GFC, who said: “The GFC in collaboration, with the European MEDIA program and TIFF, launches today a series of measures that aim to attract foreign producers in Greece. This goal is not a new one and indeed there are many studies conducted by the Bank of Greece and the Onassis Foundation which show how much attracting investment in film can contribute to development. In recent months we have witnessed actions towards this direction on behalf of the government and other competent ministries of Culture and Development, focusing on attracting producers as a development tool. Although there has been a great development in this field in Europe and the Mediterranean, this procedure is rather fragmented in Greece. It is a process that requires the involvement of many contributors and is related to the dynamics among them, but produces substantial reciprocal benefits. The numbers are overwhelming. For every million spent, the state earns 1.4%. That says a lot”.

Thierry Baujard’s speech was titled The European Incentive Landscape: How to Design a Competitive Scheme for Greece to Attract Foreign Productions. “Twenty years ago I founded a company to help interested parties in finding financial resources to participate in the audiovisual industry. In recent years, we have been dealing with film, video, music and publishing,” Mr. Baujard explained in his opening speech. And he added: “We try to help each government in attracting foreign projects and investments in the country. We work closely with the European Commission and the Media Guarantee Fund, which will be operational in 2016, helping producers to get loans through banks and guarantees. This is not only a challenge for Greece but also for all European states. The Fund will guarantee 100% of the loan. We are not looking for funding, but for guaranteeing the loan. In addition, in many countries, especially in Northern Europe (Norway, Estonia) but also in southern Italy, we created various funds for film commissions so as to facilitate access to finance for production companies”.


In his speech, Mr. Baujard put special emphasis on private financing for film productions, stressing: “It is not easy to achieve, but we have succeeded in many countries and we believe that it can be done in Greece too. We now have a small office in Greece, and we recently organized an event in Thessaloniki which attracted the interest of several investors”.

Replying to a question on film production in Europe, posed by Anna Kasimati, Head of Research and Programmes Office of the GFC, Mr. Baujard noted: “We all know that there are increasing difficulties. The productions are numerous and the reductions got us below 50% of the total funding, so alternative sources must be sought. What I consider to be an important issue for Greece is tax cuts, but new investment tools are also needed. One example is crowdfunding, which is increasingly used by more and more producers. Also, a product can be shown on TV or the internet, and thus collect funding from various sources. Special funding for a soundtrack may also apply. Co-productions, access to public funds, tax breaks and funding through television broadcasters are some of the alternative tools”.

Mr. Baujard also put particular emphasis on the need for tax incentives in the field of film production. On this issue, he stressed, among other things: “This could be of interest to Greece today. By the term "incentives" we refer to three tools: tax refund, tax exemption and deduction, all of which with the purpose of shooting a film in one country. Certainly this is also an advantage for the local co-producer. The international production needs support from the local producer to have these incentives, which can only materialize when the expenditures can occur inside the country, otherwise the producer will go elsewhere”.


In this framework, countries such as Belgium and Lithuania have introduced tax exemptions. “Companies wanting to pay less tax may do so by financing productions and thus have exemptions for their total turnover. Another example is Spain, where film producers are offered favorable tax treatment. Today, 17 out of 28 countries in Europe are implementing such incentives. For every euro spent, the economy earns 15 euros. There are substantial reciprocal benefits,” Mr. Baujard explained. 

Asked by Ms. Kasimati about the relation between tourism and film production in Greece, Mr. Baujard replied: “Tourism is a very important factor. There is very strong competition in the film industry in Europe. But I believe in addition to tourism, something more has to be offered. If you do not offer something more, you will not be high on the list of investors and will not get foreign investors’ interest to deal with you. Without providing incentives, it is not possible to attract investments. In Croatia and Malta, many strategies for tourism are directed to film tourism. For example, the series Game of Thrones was filmed partly in Croatia, thus helping to attract more tourists in the country. The problem is that while we know that there is a link between tourism and film production, we must look further into the economic aspects of this link. In particular, we need to consider the impact of shooting a film in an area. We launched a related program called Interreg in London, Malaga and other towns to investigate the impact productions have. It is also important to be able to attract tourism companies in film financing, something we tried to do recently in Lapland. Therefore, tourism is a fairly important criterion we may add to the tax incentives”.

Finally, replying to a question by Ms. Kasimati regarding the need for a Film Commission Office, Thierry Baujard commented: “I think that an organization should assume the coordination role, particularly coordination at the international level, in all countries providing extensive tax incentives. The Film Commission Office is one such institution. It has a strategic role in Europe and there is also a relevant network in place, which is very active. We need to define the role, the responsibilities, how it is funded. In many countries, there are fragmented actions in this field, which overall reduces the effectiveness of this tool”. 

Source: TIFF official website
  Grigoris Karantinakis
  Balkan Survey programme - Thessaloniki Film Festival 2015
  56th Thessaloniki International Film Fest - Open Horizons, Special Screenings
  The Greek program of the 56th Thessaloniki International Film Festival
  56th Thessaloniki International Film Festival - Agora Industry
  Peacefulfish official website
  MEDIA Program official website
  Greek Film Center official website
  altcine Explore movies by Country People To read
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