The Audiovisual Industry Plan, which brought serious investments in Cyprus and well-known names of actors, such as that of Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage, is in danger of turning into a film with many gaps in the script. And it promises to bring more investment.
However, as lawyer Konstantinos Messios stated on the Active radio show Insider, serious problems have arisen in the development of the project and the question is whether it will really develop into a successful long-term sustainable industry in Cyprus.
Mr. Messios stated, among other things, that the committee that manages the project and is part of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA), is not staffed by people who have any experience in the audiovisual industry. To date, they do not even have a consultant, he said, who can advise them on how a production is organized and how it is funded.
“We fully understand the whole process that concerns a newly enlightened industry for Cyprus, everything is new, there are new ideas, new ways of dealing with it. The issue is that instead of recognizing the need for cooperation with all interested parties, who have come to Cyprus and have invested, without any benefit at the moment from the state, we treat them as people with other people's purposes and intentions. Unfortunately, there is not the necessary cooperation, communication, efforts to find solutions, resulting in huge delays in the control procedures and finally in the payment of the sponsorship provided by the plan, which is the main factor that attracts or will continue to attract any investor. ” he said.
Other factors, according to him, that further complicate the situation are bureaucracy, interventions by other actors that are unfamiliar with the subject of filmmaking and which convey misconceptions.
Offset but …
According to Mr. Messios, the film producers who have completed their works in Cyprus and took part in the project, have not yet received the money they deserve. “There are debts to the public, they also come from the taxation of the companies involved, there are some debts that arise from VAT but, very simply, we told the Evaluation Committee that if we reach the amount that will be paid to the producers, this amount is due in taxes and is much smaller to cut. The sponsorship to the producers is over 6 million and the tax charges, if everything that has been submitted is approved, is around 1 to 1.5 million. There is a special provision in the Law on Tax Collection for set-off “.
The Tax Commissioner and the Ministry of Finance are in a good mood to proceed with the clearing process, however, according to Mr. Mesios, there is a refusal on the part of the Commission, as they ask for the taxes to be paid first. “I think that this situation costs the state, in the sense that it is not followed up with new productions of large budgets. If the ultimate goal is to shoot the next Mamma Mia in Cyprus, the wheels of the industry must begin to turn. “If we do not show that we are cooperative, no one will come,” said Mr. Messios.
There is interest
It is important to mention that, at the moment, there is intense discussion about the creation of a film studio in Cyprus. Already, several real estate owners have expressed interest in using their property for this purpose. Mr. Messios in the show Insider mentioned four candidate areas, however there are other places. The creation of a film studio will result in the creation of several jobs in various related fields.
As Mr. Mesios cited as an example, there is, among other things, an intention to re-apply for the creation of animation studios, with at least 50 artists. “It is something very important, which does not come from well-known sources, but from people who have the opportunity to bring such know-how to Cyprus. And most importantly, willing to teach, to offer experiences to many young people in Cyprus. But they are waiting. “
The relevant investment is estimated to exceed 25 million euros, without the land, amount that concerns the machines and equipment that such a studio needs.
The above may act as a deterrent for investors, while when the plan was announced and launched, the first indications spoke of a double-digit number of films. Now, interest may have waned, and with the pandemic factor worsening the situation. “The problem we are facing, because it is the first major production (s.s. Jiu Jitsu) everyone sees it. Those who are interested in coming to invest, see and the first question is “is the first production completed? Did you get the sponsorship? ” If the answer is no, we can not discuss or attract others. “We are talking about a period where people are looking for jobs,” he concludes.