Abu Dhabi eyes film incentives - report

Film authority in talks to sign joint production deal with Canada.
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Abu Dubai is considering introducing financial incentives to help boost the UAE film industry, local media reports.

David Shepheard, the director of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC), told The National newspaper that plans for an incentive programme in Abu Dhabi were at “the research stage”.

The comments came as it was also reported that Abu Dhabi and Canadian film executives have had “preliminary discussions” regarding an agreement to co-produce a number of movie projects.
“Could Canada be the first country with which Abu Dhabi has a co-production agreement? I think so. We’ve been having discussions over the last year or so. We’re looking to see how [Canada] structures its various government support programmes,” Shepheard told the newspaper.

“It’s part of our message that the UAE is very serious about building a film industry. The co-production agreements would only spark off projects that are relevant to both countries,” he added.

The agreement could lead to some Canadian productions being shot on location in the emirates, and vice versa, but the report said the success of the deal hinged on whether the UAE authorities were prepared to introduce financial incentives to help attract producers.

In April, ahead of the Gulf Film Festival 2010, Tim Smythe, CEO of the Dubai-based Filmworks production firm, told Arabian Business it is “critical” the UAE government offers incentives for foreign filmmakers to shoot in the UAE if the country’s fledgling movie industry is to survive.

“If you want Arab cinema you have to do something like this,” said Smythe, who was a producer of the award-winning ‘City of Life’, the first movie set and filmed in Dubai.

However, he warned that while most countries around the world offer so-called ‘soft money’ in the form of tax breaks and financial incentives to attract productions to their shores, the lack of any such provision in the UAE means producers opt for other locations, such as Morocco or Tunisia.

“There is no structure set up for soft money in this country. [Its establishment] is critical. If they want to have a film industry, that is critical,” Smythe said.

Smythe added that movies filmed in the UAE would boost the local economy, to the extent that for every dollar invested in a film in the country, another seven dollars would be invested in accommodation, production costs and jobs.

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