Benelux Region

(Behind the scenes on Kursk: Via Est/Belga Productions)

An increasing number of international productions are choosing to shoot in this dynamic and compact region of northern Europe.

International productions are being lured to Benelux by a trio of attractive national financial incentives: the Belgian tax shelter, the Netherlands’ cash rebate system and Luxembourg’s selective national audiovisual production support scheme (AFS).

Since the introduction of the cash rebate scheme in 2014, the Netherlands has seen a major upswing in inward investment. Recent high-budget feature and high-end TV series to shoot in the country include Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk for Warner Bros, Amazon Studios’ adaptation of Donna Tartt’s novel The Goldfinch and Amazon’s animated series Undone, produced by Michael Eisner’s The Tornante Company with the Netherlands’ Submarine and the US’s Minnow Mountain.

In Belgium, outsiders may take a few moments to get their heads around the regional and linguistic complexities of a place that often appears to be two countries in one. Flanders and Wallonia have their own languages (Flemish and French) and their own local government agencies in every field, including film. For film producers, the so-called “waffle-iron politics” can be an advantage. It means there are more funds and support agencies, among them the Flanders Audiovisual Fund, Screen Flanders, Screen Brussels and Wallimage. The Belgian tax shelter remains a major attraction.

Recent projects to have shot in Belgium include BBC series Les Miserables, Brian De Palma’s Domino starring Guy Pearce for Backup Media, Thomas Vinterberg’s Kursk for EuropaCorp and part of the third season of Canal Plus’ Versailles.

Amsterdam and Brussels are near enough to each other to make it possible for productions to take advantage of facilities or incentives in both Belgium and the Netherlands.

In Luxembourg, Film Fund Luxembourg is an active investor in international film production through AFS. It offers to producers discretionary loans to finance development and scriptwriting, distribution and production/co-production for fiction and animation, documentaries, short films and transmedia projects. These loans are repayable from the finished work’s receipts. Recent projects with which it is involved include Ari Folman’s animated Where Is Anne Frank, a Belgium-Netherlands-Luxembourg-Israel collaboration and Elbert van Strien’s supernatural thriller Marionette.

The Lowdown – Belgium

Financial incentives

Financial incentives The Belgian tax shelter covers up to 42% of Belgian audiovisual spend. It is a complex system and international producers need a local producer to apply. This financing can be combined with other regional funding. Screen Flanders has an annual budget of $5.6m (€4.5m), Screen Brussels invests $3.7m (€3m) a year into film and TV production and Wallimage has $6.2m (€5m).

Full details of financial incentives in Belgium:

screenflanders.be

www.screen.brussels/en

www.wallimage.be

Infrastructure and crews

Antwerp’s AED Studios has hosted the likes of Thomas Vinterberg’s Kursk, which used the facility’s water tanks. With so much activity, the crew base is continuing to grow. Crews generally speak English and often German. International producers will be able to find seasoned heads of department. There are plenty of local service companies including Czar and Lunamine, two Flemish outfits known for their skill at co-producing.

Size matters

It is possible to reach almost anywhere within Belgium inside an hour. Brussels is less than 60 kilometres from Antwerp or Ghent. Trains and motorways link all the major cities.

First person to contact

Jan Roekens, head of production, Screen Flanders
jroekens@vaf.be

Noël Magis at Screen Brussels

nmagis@screen.brussels

The Lowdown – Netherlands

Financial incentives

International producers can access a cash rebate of up to 35% for film productions and 30% for high-end TV series on eligible production costs. Dramas, documentaries and animations can all access the incentive. This is an automatic scheme.

Full details of financial incentives in Belgium:

filmfonds.nl/nl/international/netherlands-film-production-incentive

Infrastructure and crews

Fast-improving crews and growing post- production expertise are making the Netherlands an increasingly attractive option.

Size matters

The Netherlands is very accessible from abroad and easy to navigate. The country’s main airport, Amsterdam’s Schiphol, has flights to almost every international destination. The country also boasts excellent road and rail infrastructure.

First person to contact

Bas van der Ree, Netherlands film commissioner, Netherlands Film Commission
b.van.der.ree@filmfonds.nl

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