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Film producer not happy with budget incentives
Director and producer of Total Chaos Productions, Paul Banseelal, is adamant that proposed incentives and tax allowances announced in Finance Minister Larry Howai’s 2013 Budget statement last Monday are nothing new and will make very little difference in developing the local film industry.
Howai proposed a 150 per cent tax deduction up to a maximum of $3 million for the corporate sponsorship of audio, visual or video productions for the purpose of local education or local entertainment.
This $3 million limit is an increase from the existing $2 million and will become effective on January 1, 2013. A news release from Total Chaos Productions said, “We received our certificate earlier this year of 150 per cent tax deduction of up to $2 million, only to realise that tax deduction or tax allowance means the sponsoring company would be able to claim only 37.5 per cent of the amount sponsored in tax write-off.”
In an interview with the T&T Guardian, Banseelal said within the last six months he had sought sponsorship from over 300 companies to produce the second season of his television series, Life with the Ramsinghs, and has failed. He said potential sponsors in the private sector are not enticed by the opportunity to reclaim their 37.5 per cent tax deduction because the amount to be reclaimed is almost insignificant.
As a result, he said, some of the sponsors of the first season of his sitcom did not bother to seek the tax deduction, which his company describes as “a downright insult from a government that is boasting of a developing film industry.” The news release insists there is little support from the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism as well as the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company (TTFC).
The release said the only support the company had received recently was from the executive director of Gayelle the Channel, Errol Fabien, who has offered the production company a skeleton budget to produce season two of Living with the Ramsinghs.
In a telephone interview, Fabien said, “Too many people are talking about local content and not doing anything about it. Wherever in the world I go I see local content, but not in T&T.”
Fabien said there is no financial support and because of this he had to downsize Gayelle to keep the network running. He said that the fiscal incentives that are in place are not designed to assist television stations. Referring to Banseelal, Fabien said, “I salute people like this man. I will give my whole station to people like him.”
When contacted, Ingrid Ryan-Ruben, Director of Culture in the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, said there were several reasons why a filmmaker might be denied funding by the TTFC. She said one possible reason could be that the individual or organisation was not certified by the National Registry.
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