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How International Filmmakers can Increase Diversity – Raindance

The UCLA College of Social Sciences recently released its comprehensive annual study of gender and ethnic diversity in filmmaking entitled The 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report. Among other discoveries, it revealed that although the casting of women and people of color has improved in recent years, these groups remain underrepresented among executives and writers. 

Observing these trends over the years has led researchers to conclude that Hollywood may be pandering to increasingly diverse audiences with the faces they put on the screen but have yet to fundamentally improve diversity in the way films are made behind the scenes. Filmmakers can help redress this situation by availing themselves of the increasingly available ways to include greater diversity among their crews without going over budget.

Diversity Opportunities for Independent Filmmakers

Independent filmmakers have several means at their disposal for finding on-location filming opportunities in underrepresented countries with high populations of people of colour. Consider the examples we’ve researched below, each listed with demographics, filmmaking resources, and details about incentives the location provides filmmakers to help keep costs down.

Mexico: High Mestizo Population Offering Filmmaker Tax Breaks

Although Mexico does not collect ethnicity-related census data, the estimated ethnic breakdown in the country as of 2012 is:

To encourage filmmakers from abroad to shoot on location in Mexico, the Mexican Film Bureau offers several incentive programs. Among these is an ATA Carnet system that exempts foreign filmmakers from customs duties and taxes for transporting goods back and forth across Mexican borders. Mexico also offers foreign filmmakers a 0% VAT.

Visit the Mexican Film Bureau for more information about filmmaking opportunities in Mexico.

Japan: ¥200 Million in Incentives for Film Producers

As of 2016, the ethnic breakdown in Japan, assessed by nationality, is:

In 2020, the Japan Film Commission launched a pilot project to provide international filmmakers and other audiovisual productions incentives for shooting on location in Japan.

Among these incentives is up to ¥200 million in funding — about $18,316 USD — for production costs directly related to filming in Japan (or up to 20% of costs, whichever is less), such as paying Japanese individuals, public organizations, local governments, and corporations.

Visit the Japan Film Commission for more information about filmmaking opportunities in Japan.

India: Rebates on Film Production Expenses and Co-Productions

As of 2000, the ethnic breakdown of India’s population is:

India, whose economy is battling a rise in fuel prices, recently launched an incentive program for international film productions shooting on location in the country. The program includes a 30% rebate on qualifying expenses incurred in the country, up to a maximum equivalent to approximately $300,000 USD. 

The South Asian country also offers a similar incentive for foreign co-producers from any of 13 countries with which India has a co-production treaty — the United States among them — that invest in Indo-foreign co-productions.

Additional incentives from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting are designed to make it simpler for international productions to film in India. The Film Facilitation Office (FFO) can help to streamline the application process for shooting permits. 

What’s more, the governments of various states in India have begun developing incentives of their own to entice more production companies to shoot there.

Visit the Government of India’s Films Wing for more information about filmmaking opportunities in India and its filming incentives.

South Africa

As of March 2020, South Africa reports the following ethnic groups in its population:

The Department of Trade Industry and Competition of South Africa has recently reopened its incentive program (after a pause for COVID-19) to filmmakers who shoot on location in the country. Rebates of up to R50 million (about $3,482,050 USD) can be earned in many ways: choosing black-owned suppliers and services, creating employment opportunities for South African citizens. 

The incentives apply to documentaries (a minimum of R500,000) as well as larger productions and also include post-production costs.

Some South African provinces also have additional film commissions. For example, the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC), located in South Africa’s wealthiest province, offers various types of funding to on-location productions.

South Korea

The Republic of Korea’s population is composed primarily of people of Korean descent — so much so that the government doesn’t even bother to keep ethnicity statistics. As of mid-2018, its population is 51.4 million.

Korea’s film industry has been shepherded by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) since 1973. Films, documentaries, and television productions can apply for incentives from the council. Incentives include cash rebates that increase with days shot on location. The grants cover a percentage of your total budget (including cast and crew) up to a max of 200 million KRW (about $177,687 USD). 

KOFIC grants are available year-round and their website even maintains a current list of available Korean actors.

How to Search for Additional Shooting Locations and Incentives

Many countries around the world offer incentives like the ones listed above to entice international filmmakers to shoot on location within their borders. 

To learn about applicable incentives that could help your production, visit the website for the “film bureau” or “film commission” of any country where you would like to shoot. If the country doesn’t already offer any film incentives, inquire whether the agency would like to consider negotiating some sort of custom incentive for your production.

This content was originally published here.

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