New Incentives Offered by Medellin Film Commission

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

After creating a Film Commission and One-Stop-Procedure to facilitate administrative procedures for producers, Medellin is taking another step forward in its incentives for productions filmed in the city. Now, on top of the 40 percent and 20 percent cash rebate for expenses in Colombia, offered by the national fund created by Law 1556, producers will receive up to 15 percent of expenses spent in the city, which may or may not be in addition to the national incentives.

The film Love and Coffee, which is being shot in the city, has received the incentive, and two productions that will be made next year have also been approved to receive it.

Location Colombia spoke with Francisco Pulgarín, director of the Medellin Film Commission.

What are the challenges involved in this incentive?
The short-term challenge is to continue raising the number of films that are shot in the city. However, it’s important to mention that Medellin’s strategy is designed for the long term. We are the only city in the country that currently has a public policy for film and audiovisual projects, which was approved by the Medellin City Council through Municipal Agreement 302 of 2015. So we have a road map for the next ten years, which seeks to consolidate the city as a national and international film destination.

How does the city directly benefit from the creation of this incentive?
There is a strong component of economic spillover, because the incentive is structured so that for every peso reimbursed to producers, they have to have invested ten pesos in the city. Not to mention the free publicity generated by the productions, which directly affects the city.

What other advantages does Medellin offer, besides the incentive?
We are the only city in the country that has a One-Stop-Procedure; I can say that this initiative operates effectively and has helped more than ten national, local, and international productions. We are a city without the transportation problems that other capital cities in the country may have. The weather; our mass transportation system, which can be used as locations; and our proximity to towns in various temperature zones make us a very attractive destination for productions.

How can Medellin compete with Bogota?
The idea has never been to compete. It’s a mistake to start from that premise. What we’re doing is to build an ecosystem that will foster the creation of an industry in the long term, with the understanding that it is still utopian to talk about an industry in a country like ours. However, a local Film Commission that is present on the international stage, incentives provided in addition to the national incentives, and our fully operational One-Stop-Procedure are all significant steps toward closing the gap with other cities.

As part of the internationalization plan proposed by the administration of Mayor Aníbal Gaviria, Medellin is the first city in the country to implement a local version of National Film Law 1556 and launch incentives to promote the film industry in the city. For over two years, the city has been implementing a vigorous strategy to modify, through film, the negative ideas that used to exist about Medellin. This has included the creation of the Medellin Film Commission, which operates out of the Medellin Convention & Visitors Bureau, as a program of the Department of Economic Development; the creation of a One-Stop-Procedure to help producers who come to the city to receive permits; and training for technical personnel through specialized courses with foreign filmmakers.
Now, with the creation of these incentives, which will complement existing national incentives, Medellin takes a major step toward becoming the number one destination for productions coming to Colombia. The idea is that in addition to the national fund created by Law 1556, which reimburses 40% and 20% of expenses paid in the country, Medellin’s new initiative will provide cash rebates of up to 15% of expenses paid in the city to productions shooting there. This may or may not be in addition to the national incentives. Medellin’s strategy not only seeks to support successful national policies, but also to consolidate a new industry for the city. Over the past year nine local and international films have been filmed in Medellin, a record number, and the idea is to continue to encourage more productions to be shot there and for more and more people from the city to participate in them. In this way, Medellin continues to advance toward its goal of becoming a major Latin American destination for productions from around the world.