FNE Q&A: Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of Film in Georgia: Relaunch of Cash Rebate

    Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of Film in Georgia Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of Film in Georgia

    TBILISI: The Film in Georgia 20-25% cash rebate programme was launched at the beginning of 2016. The programme, including a cash rebate offer, was recently renewed by the Government of Georgia, with a focus on the film industry promotion component, supporting the development of the local film industry and attracting foreign film production.

    FNE spoke to Tatia Bidzinashvili, Head of Film in Georgia, about updates.

    FNE: How has the programme evolved?

    Tatia Bidzinashvili: The state programme Film in Georgia was returned to the representatives of the film industry with renewed conditions. The programme was introduced in 2016 and over the years we have had a permanent complex relationship with representatives of this industry. We overcame many difficulties and obstacles collectively. We tried to position Georgia as the most appropriate location in Eastern Europe at the international level. This is an industry that is growing fast and requires the same from us. The accumulated experience informed us changes, refinements and updates on our part were required. Accordingly, the current programme has become even more flexible and tailored to international producers, to make it even easier for them to produce audiovisual works in Georgia and, consequently, to make investments in our country.

    FNE: What difficulties did the programme face during the pandemic?  Have any fundamental changes in your business model occurred that you think will continue after the pandemic?

    Tatia Bidzinashvili: The global pandemic has affected many areas around the world. The film industry was no exception. As one would expect the pandemic conditions complicated the filmmaking process as it banned the gathering of a certain number of people; however, this industry became much more original. Demand arose in one of the most passive areas of our programme, like animation. With the announcement of the renewal of our programme, the number of applications in this direction has increased and at this stage we are negotiating two specific projects.

    As for the business model, I would like point out that back in 2016, to participate in our programme and then in the operational part, the full cycle was online. The applicant had to come in person only to sign the contract, which was desirable for both parties, as we got to know each other in person and talked about the various details of the programme. Consequently, even after the pandemic, we continue to work online and actively communicate with beneficiaries and other members of the film industry. 

    FNE: What can you tell us about the updated programme budget?

    Tatia Bidzinashvili: We have good news in this part. This year, for the first time during the existence of the programme, we have an official budget of 1,388,888 EUR/5,000,000 GEL in the form of a "Cash Rebate", which brings more confidence in both international producers and representatives of the Georgian film industry.

    FNE: What can you tell us about the direction of the updated programme "Ongoing Project"?

    Tatia Bidzinashvili: The programme has moved to a new stage of development. If before our goal was to shoot even the smallest fragment of a film in Georgia, now we have a much larger goal. The successful implementation of a Hollywood project in Georgia has further increased the demand for our country. Many films have been shot in full in Georgia, which has shown us a modern reality: there are projects for which 12 months is not enough to shoot in Georgia, and we are very thrilled about that. Accordingly, we have included an "ongoing project", which mainly involves shooting serials, reality shows and trilogies. It will be necessary to create other pavilions for filming in Georgia at this time interval, which will directly contribute to the inflow of investments, as well as to raise the qualifications of industry members.

    FNE: What can you tell us about the updated procedural dates and administrative issues?

    Tatia Bidzinashvili: Our programme has become even more comprehensive in this regard. All ambiguous details and procedures are pre-written, which creates more transparency and flexibility between the beneficiary and us. All administrative issues and relevant documentation are defined in advance.

    FNE: What can you tell us about the changes in the qualified cost of animation?

    Tatia Bidzinashvili: In case of animation, the lower limit of qualified expenses is very small 27,777 EUR/100,000 GEL. This will contribute to the development of this direction in Georgia and the attraction of low-budget projects, which will lead to more ambitious projects in the future.

    FNE: How important is it for Georgia to coproduce and to service the shooting of European productions?

    Tatia Bidzinashvili: The European market is very interesting for us. The most important are the coproductions we carry out with Europe. Georgians are given a chance to learn a lot from them and here I can say with full responsibility that Georgian filmmakers also share interesting news and knowledge with foreign coproducers. Most of the European projects are focused on quality, which makes us happy. I hope our cooperation will become even closer.

    FNE: How many foreign productions applied for the cash rebate in 2021?

    Tatia Bidzinashvili: Since it is only one week since the applications were officially launched, only one application has been registered yet, and two potential beneficiaries are in the process of preparing the documents.