Thailand unveils new incentives for foreign filmmakers

Thailand chose the Cannes Film Festival to raise the curtain last week on new incentives for shooting and producing films in the Kingdom, offering cash rebates to foreign crews of up to 20 percent on films and television productions, as industry publications said the country is as popular as ever among producers.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn, who also serves as chairman of the National Film and Video Committee, and Minister of Tourism Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, unveiled the incentives, which industry insiders in the country had been anticipating for years, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The new incentives include a 15 percent cash rebate on all in-country production spending beginning in 2017. Every production that spends over $1.5 million will automatically get the 15 percent rebate. But, the total rebate can rise up to 20 percent. An additional 3 percent is available if a project hires a Thai actor or actress for the lead role, or if key Thai production staff are used. Another 2 percent is available for movies that promote Thai tourism, even if indirectly.

“We currently have a number of big shoots considering coming to Thailand,” Nicholas Simon, founder of Southeast Asia production services company Indochina Productions, told the Hollywood Reporter. “[This incentive]could be a game changer.”

“The smaller films are already coming, but the incentive will help attract more studio films,” added Rachvin Narula, CEO of Bangkok-based production services film Benetone Films.

According to the Thailand Film Office, the number of foreign shoots increased by 15 percent in 2015, lead by China, which shot 48 films there.Chinese filmmakers have increasingly turned to Thailand as a film location following their 2013 smash comedy hit Lost in Thailand. The film’s popularity has also helped fuel an ever-growing wave of Chinese tourists to the Kingdom.

But filmmakers the world over have long considered Thailand as an ideal location for some productions because of its lush natural environment, cosmopolitan cities and the quality and affordable cost of local production staff. Add modern logistics and government support to the mix, and it’s easy to see why Thailand attracts filmmakers. Productions shot in the country in recent years include The Hangover Part II, The Beach, The Impossible and No Escape.

Less recent hit films shot in the Kingdom include Around the World in 80 Days, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Deer Hunter, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and The Ugly American.