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On Location: Serbia launches new film incentive

March 25, 2011 |  1:48 pm

With its low-cost labor and scenic locales, Serbia has long been a popular European location for filming. Now, facing rising competition from neighboring countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Germany, the country wants to up its game.

The Serbian government has approved a new film incentive program specifically targeted to foreign productions. The program provides a 15% cash rebate on goods and services purchased in Serbia and a 12% rebate on labor expenses, including foreign crew and talent. (Serbia previously offered a far more limited incentive: a refund on value taxes that companies paid in the country.)

There is no cap per project but the program may be constrained by limited resources.  A spokeswoman for the Serbia Film Commission said only $2 million had been allocated for the first phase of the program through Oct. 31.                                                                                     

Serbia was once one of the busiest film destinations in Europe before civil war broke out in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The Serbian film industry has been making a comeback in recent years, however, and in 2010 hosted $30 million in productions, including the Ralph Fiennes-directed "Coriolanus," starring Gerard Butler and Vanessa Redgrave, and Europa Corp.'s "Lockout," with Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace.

"With existing cost savings of up to 25%, our excellent crews, our equipment and locations, we were able to attract the attention of international producers,'' Serbia Film Commissioner Ana Ilic said in a statement. "With the Serbia Film Incentive, the rationale for filming in the country became that much more compelling." 

-- Richard Verrier