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LA India Film Council calls for Collaborative Efforts to Promote Film Tourism

On March 25, the LA India Film Council launched a report highlighting India’s potential to become a preferred film shooting destination entitled Unleashing the power of film tourism: the first step at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) FRAMES 2015. The report assessed the current single window clearance mechanism for film shooting, recommended solutions to build a strong production tax regime in the country and highlighted global best practices to promote film tourism in the country.

The report by EY, a global professional services organisation and endorsed by FICCI and the Film & Television Producers Guild of India (FTPGI), was released during a panel discussion entitled Unleashing the Power of Film Tourism on Day One, FICCI FRAMES. The discussion featured a presentation by Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director, Motion Picture Association (MPA), Asia Pacific, along with an esteemed panel of Government representatives and producers – Thomas L Vajda, Hon’ble Consul General of USA, Mumbai, Richard Bale, Hon’ble Consul General of Canada, Mumbai, Colin Burrows, CEO, Special Treats Productions and Mukesh Bhatt, Producer & President, FTPGI.

India has natural advantages in terms of scenic locations, incredible cultural diversity, trained film crews and low production costs to attract film productions. The current Single Window Clearance Mechanism to support productions is a welcome step by the film industry, however multiple challenges faced during the clearance process at the regulatory and administrative level - including procedural hurdles during the application stage - undermine the potential of film production and its allied industries to grow.

In 2014, the media and entertainment industry was recognized as one of the top 25 sectors in the Make in India initiative . Transforming India into a global film-shooting destination will require establishing an effective single window clearance system to simplify and expedite flow of information between various government bodies and the industry in an efficient and resourceful manner.

The report recommends the setup of Film Commissions in India and proposes an operational framework at a national and state level. The role of a Film Commission is to serve as a local government liaison, to provide and coordinate public and private services for film shoots, attract foreign productions to India, create a sustainable ecosystem that benefits both international productions and the local economy through effective film incentive programs and promote film tourism.

Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director, MPA, Asia Pacific, said, “India’s film and television industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in the country, and there has been a renewed surge of investment into the country by global companies. Simplification of clearance procedures for film shooting, support to productions through a robust tax incentive regime, and adopting global best practices, will help to attract big budget productions and in turn boost inbound tourism.”

Mukesh Bhatt, President, FTPGI said, “A Film Commission should be an independent full time body and involve participation from film industry stakeholders who have the experience and understand the film making process. Moreover, it would really help if the members of the Film Commission were compensated either project-wise or on payroll. This would ensure active participation by members.”

U.S. Consul General Thomas L. Vajda said, “There is great potential for expanded collaboration between our film and entertainment industries.  Whether it is Indian studios shooting in the United States, U.S. studios filming here in India, developing strategies for intellectual property protection, or sharing knowledge on production methods and technologies, both countries can benefit from efforts to bring our film and entertainment industries closer together.  We look forward to working with partners here in India to provide knowhow, experience, and whatever other value we can to take this relationship forward.”

Richard Bale, Consul General Canada, Mumbai said, "With Canada and India having signed a bilateral Audio-Visual Co-Production Agreement in 2014, India has a wonderful opportunity to attract Canadian producers and directors to shoot in India. Improving the ease of doing business in the film sector through the establishment of Films Commissions and a transparent framework of incentives would be very effective next steps for India to build on the new interest in India among Canadian filmmakers."

Jyotsna Suri, President, FICCI, said, "Our country has a vast wealth of spectacular terrain and it is important that we explore and exhaust avenues of locale shooting for entertainment with state governments as our partners. This can only happen in the true spirit of a public-private model. Through effective film tourism and enhancing our locales, we will lay strong foundations for India as the most dynamic destination for international stakeholders, generating local revenues and jobs and providing on-the-job skills for the workforce."

Farokh Balsara, Partner and Media & Entertainment Sector Leader, EY India says, “While the film industry is a significant contributor to the double-digit growth rates achieved by the Indian media and entertainment sector, it is time for film production to move to the next level, thereby making India an undisputed choice for film shooting. A step-by-step approach of introducing single-window clearance and setting up film commissions will make India an attractive destination for Indian and foreign filmmakers and also serve as a catalyst for increasing film-based tourism.”

Colin Burrows, CEO, Special Treats Productions, UK, said, “Single Window Clearance is an important step on the road to growth for the Indian film industry. But it is only a first step and I hope both central and state governments will be able to create a structure that will help both local and foreign film makers who want to showcase this great country.”

The recommended 3R approach: Review, Restructure and Reassure in the report highlights the need for the Government to review and map gaps in the current policies and procedures, formulate a restructuring strategy to boost film production and provide continued reassurance to the film and TV  industry by adopting global best practices to promote film tourism.

A copy of the LA India Film Council and EY full report Unleashing the power of film tourism: the first step is available to view and download at the LA India Film Council website here: https://goo.gl/67yyPX

Setup in 2010 by a Joint Declaration between the City of Los Angeles and the Indian Film Industry, the Council continues to provide new platforms to foster knowledge exchange and partnerships between stakeholders in the U.S and the Indian media and entertainment industries. The Council has previously released two reports on the related subject, both of which can be found on the website:

1. Made in India: Attracting and incentizing film productions by EY
https://goo.gl/zxgvA2

2. The Roadmap for Single Window Clearance for Film Production in India – A Prelude’ by EY: https://goo.gl/HeuvaX

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