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AVP Summit: Italian industry debates reform of tax credits, co-productions, and exploiting local stories

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AVP Summit: Italian industry debates reform of tax credits, co-productions, and exploiting local stories

Source: 2022 Wildside S.r.l. – House productions LTD_ph.Claudio Iannone

‘The Good Mothers’

Italy’s tax credit, increasing the number of international co-productions and the challenges facing the Iocal film industry were among the key talking points at the third Audiovisual Producers Summit which took place this week in Calabria in southern Italy.

The event, organised by Italy’s Audiovisual Producers Association (APA), brought together around 200 execs from the Italian, US, French and UK film and TV industries.

They included Amazon Studios head of Italian scripted originals Davide Nardini, new Wildside CEO Sonia Rovai, Sony Pictures Television president of international Wayne Garvie, Banijay chief digital officer Damien Viel, Franklin Entertainment’s DeVon Franklin, Palomar co-CEO Nicola Serra, Cosmopolitan Pictures founder Ben Donald, Netflix director for Italian language series Luisa Cotta Ramosino and Rai Cinema’s Paolo Del Brocco.

Italy’s reformed tax credit

Everyone was waiting for news on when revisions to Italy’s audiovisual tax credit which has a headline rate of 40%, would be confirmed and the credit re-activated. Introduced in the wake of the pandemic, the tax credit has been instrumental in boosting production levels in the country.

Italy’s ministry of culture has been working on reforms to the tax credit for the past year to refocus the credit on Italian talent, locations and stories. However this has caused film productions to delay shoots until the details of the changes are confirmed.

Speaking to

Screen at the Summit, Lucia Borgonzoni, undersecretary of state to the ministry of culture, said the reforms are just waiting for the sign off from Italy’s ministry of finance, and will be completed “before summer.” The ministry says the reforms are not aimed at reducing the money available to fund the tax credit.Several producers expressed frustration at how long the reforms have taken to finalise and said banks aren’t prepared to finance film productions until they know the precise level of funding the tax credit will provide.

However, Chiara Sbarigia, the president of the APA, sought to put the changes into perspective. The APA president, Chiara Sbarigia, put the changes in perspective. She said that her organization had worked closely with the Ministry of Culture on the reforms. “We have a tax credit of 40% for cinema projects. We have 35% of tax credit for audiovisual projects. We have 40% rebate for international productions and 35% rebate for audiovisual projects. It is a lot.”

Italian embrace

Italy wants to build on its growing reputation as an international filming hub and co-production partner – one that has recently attracted shoots such as Johnny Depp’s biopic of Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani

Modi, Julian Schnabel’s crime mystery In The Hand Of Dante, Joe Wright’s Mussolini series M: Son Of The Century, and Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of William S. Burrough’s Queer starring Daniel Craig and Drew Starke.One of the purposes of the Summit is to showcase Italian locations and funds and to act as an informal meeting place for Italian execs and their international counterparts. It is also to promote regions outside of the traditional popular venues like Rome, Florence and Venice. Last year, it was held in Trieste, a northern port city. (Last year it took place in the northern port city of Trieste).

Calabria is currently hosting Lux Vide and Rai’s big budget reboot of classic TV series

Sandokan at a variety of locations and at studios that have been purpose-built for the show. The head of the Calabrian Film Commission, Anton Giulio Grande, told Screen the series could be a ‘game changer’ for the region both in terms of attracting other productions and tourists drawn to its landscapes. Among other projects to shoot in Calabria are Disney+ series The Good Mothers and the Manetti brothers’ Diabolik Chi Sei.International co-production and partnerships was a big theme of the Summit. Daphne Lora from Film France, Agnieszka Mody of the BFI and Nicola Borrelli, director general of the Italian cinema department at the Ministry of Culture were among the executives who spoke. Each of the executives explained what their country can bring to the table when working with an Italian producer in terms of funding.

AI Tools

No 2024 conference would be complete without an entire session dedicated to the challenges and possibilities presented by AI. Damien Viel, Banijay’s chief digital and marketer, said AI would be most effective as a “back-office tool” for the global production group. He cited AI’s business opportunities, focusing on automatic clipping, indexing, and distribution of content. He said AI could be used to increase productivity and lower production costs. “If we produce cheaply, there will be so much money for creativity and to start new IPs”. Speaking on the same panel, screenwriter John August – a Writers Guild of America board member whose credits include

Big Fish and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – said he worried that AI tools “are going to be used to create something that replaces a lot of what we are doing.”European stories

Delivering the Summit’s keynote, Sony’s Wayne Garvie challenged European producers to better exploit the continent’s ‘treasure house” of stories – whether tales of Roman emperors, Norse gods or French musketeers. US companies he said are traditionally better at reinterpreting European stories for international audiences, and then capitalising on their success by building worlds and franchises around their series and characters.

“Isn’t it time we evolve? To own the reinterpretation our own stories? To reimagine them in a way that resonates with global audiences. Garvie said that the Italian government is concerned about the fact that so many classic Italian stories have been told by non Italians. Borgonzoni flagged to


the upcoming launch of a EUR52m fund for film productions and series which tell Italian stories with international breadth and scope: “We want to push Italian producers to try and tell stories…about the Guccis or Ferraris, maybe making co-productions but where the Italians are in there.” [subjects like]Production pressures

Paolo Del Brocco, the head of leading Italian film player RAI Cinema, said the Italian box office is suffering this year because of a lack of big US films as a result of last year’s strikes. Del Brocco also said that the market cannot absorb the number of films being made in Italy. Del Brocco said that while it’s important to support up-and-coming directors, auteur films, and intimate stories, the industry must also make “movies that have a wider audience” and tell stories that appeal to a broader range of audiences. “Movies cost two or three times what they did in the past.” He stressed that it was important to find a solution to production inflation, and that all components of the industry needed to come together to tackle it – from producers to agents to crew members.

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