35% Baseline Cash Rebate Program to Incentivize International Film Production in the Kingdom, 50% Rebate Available for Spend on Saudi Labor
Grant Program for Saudi Filmmakers for Production in the Kingdom
Partnership Programs with Leading Global Film Institutes for Saudi Talent Development
May 11, 2018, Cannes – The Saudi Film Council (SFC) announced today, during its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, the launch of several key programs that will benefit both local filmmakers and film industry development in the Kingdom, as well as international filmmakers, production companies and studios that will look to the country as an important, emerging global production location. The new initiatives are expected to have the significant positive impact on production growth in the local market through a newly established 35% baseline cash rebate program, and on domestic talent development through a grant program and international skill-building partnerships.
As a key component of SFC’s strategy, the initiatives will contribute to building a sustainable industry that will bring economic contributions including job creation, services spend and industry infrastructure development. The initiatives will also drive the development of Saudi stories for audiences both at home and globally, introducing a new Saudi narrative in the film to the world.
“We are very excited to mark our first appearance at the Cannes Film Festival and Marche du Film with the launch of initiatives that support our overall goals for talent development and film and content production in the Kingdom including one of the most attractive rebate programs in the world,” said Ahmad Al-Maziad, CEO of the General Culture Authority, which oversees SFC. “They highlight two of our key pillars – nurturing and empowering our rich talent pool of aspiring and established filmmakers and introducing the international industry to the world of opportunities the Kingdom has to offer, as we seek to build an industry that draws on our heritage and supports the unique needs of our country, while at the same time plays a vital role within the global film community.”
The cash rebate program will apply to productions that will be filmed in KSA, offering a baseline of 35% for all spend used and consumed in the country, with the ability for productions to realize higher rebates by meeting certain criteria. A 50% rebate will also be available for spend on Saudi labor employed on productions. The rebate is expected to bring productions to the Kingdom, including feature films, documentaries, episodic series and animated content, as well as encourage production companies to employ local crew. Details on the program rollout will be made available in the coming weeks.
The rebate program will drive greater visibility of the country as locations are featured in films and TV programs, that will further attract international productions and impact the country’s nascent tourism sector. As in-country spend grows, it is expected to have a follow-on effect on industry infrastructure development such as studios and service providers, including hotels and accommodation, catering, transportation and other support services. The program is in line with SFC’s strategy to develop a vibrant and sustainable film industry in Saudi Arabia, as well as to engage the global international film community.
Talent development is a key area of focus for SFC, as a critical element in building a sustainable sector. The National Grant and talent partnership programs for Saudi nationals will lay a solid foundation for growth through education and skill-building to foster and enhance the local community. A deep industry talent pool will not only put an added spotlight on the creative capacity of Saudis and support increased local content development, it will also ensure that international productions can source local talent, resulting in increased domestic job opportunities.
The National Grant Program will be open to KSA nationals who produce or post-produce content in the Kingdom and meet the Program’s eligibility criteria.
Talent development partnerships with global film institutes, including The University of Southern California, the Studio School and Film Independent in the United States, and La Femis and Les Gobelins in France, are providing critical skills training for aspiring and established Saudi filmmakers, as well as ‘train the trainers’ programs to add further domestic skill building capacity. In 2018, trainings and multi-week “summer camps” will be undertaken in Saudi Arabia, Los Angeles and Paris covering the full spectrum of skills required for film production, including directing, editing, screenwriting, sound design, VR/AR and 2D/3D animation.
The Saudi Film Council was launched in March 2018, as part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s drive to develop a vibrant society and propel economic diversification through new industries under Vision 2030. It was launched by the General Culture Authority (GCA) of Saudi Arabia as one of its five key cultural industry sector entities.