Filmmakers get 30 per cent rebate

The recently formed Cayman Islands Film Commission is offering 30 per cent rebates on money spent by moviemakers filming in Cayman.

The new commission, set up at the end of January this year and run by the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau, announced the incentives scheme at a film trade show in Los Angeles last week.

Dax Basdeo

Dax Basdeo, Executive Director of the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau. Photo: Submitted

From 1 July, Cayman will offer a 30 per cent rebate on film, video, commercial and television productions filmed here.

The announcement was made at the Association of Film Commissioners International’s Locations Trade Show in California last week. Minister of tourism Charles Clifford, who attended the trade show, stated in a press release: ‘We are confident the film incentives programme will enhance our competitive bid and serve to attract productions to our three islands. The Cayman Islands have a great deal to offer the entertainment industry and our local talent pool is poised to embrace new opportunities and help contribute to our growth.’

Dax Basdeo, Executive Director of the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau which runs the film commission, said that the rebates would help stimulate Cayman’s economy and make the islands an attractive option for location scouts.

Using a simple example of how the money might be spent, Mr. Basdeo explained that if a film crew spends $10 million on accommodation, transportation, catering, and other qualified expenses, the government would rebate them $3 million.

‘In other words, government’s investment of $3 million generates at least $10 million in economic impact – a 233 per cent return on investment.

‘This is even before you consider the wider indirect impacts and knock-on effects on tourism. In other words, there is a multiplier effect that is generated from the direct spending of a production that will ripple through the economy, increasing incomes and even government revenue.’

He used an example of the ‘multiplier effect’ as a restaurant that the film crew frequents having to hire additional staff, thus creating new employees with a source of income they can spend in the local economy. ‘Further, with the increase in demand, the restaurant has to import more supplies, thus generating import duties for government,’ he said.

He added there was likely to be a limit on the amount of money individual productions would be rebated, and details would be worked out later, dependent on the next national budget.

The government hopes the incentives will make Cayman a contender in the Caribbean as a movie location amid competition from film commissions from the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and Dominica which also attended the trade show.

Bill Lindstrom, head of the Association of Film Commissioners International, told the Caymanian Compass that incentives were a valuable tool both for the filmmakers and for the countries that offer them.

He said that the 30 per cent rebate being offered by Cayman was a standard incentive in the industry, but added that producers would look at other elements in locations offering incentives, including the tax situation, cost of living and availability of local crew.

While the Caribbean remained an attractive location option for US movies featuring sea and beach scenes, Mr. Lindstrom said that the ‘holy grail’ of Cayman’s fledgling film industry would be how local creative talent and resources were treated and whether the rebates will be made available to them.

‘Can local people have the wherewithal and financial backing to do what they would like to do? They can tell the best and more accurate stories of the Cayman Islands,’ he said.

Mr. Basdeo said details of the incentive scheme and who would qualify for rebates was still being worked out.

The commission has also announced its advisory board, which will be made up of Mr. Basdeo; Graham Taylor, head of Independent Film at Endeavor; screenwriter/producer James V. Hart, who produced the movies Hook and Contact; Caymanian writer/director Frank E. Flowers; Jason Felts, producer J2 Pictures/J2TV; and photographer Patrick Broderick. Other members include: Bruce Deichl, co-founder of Tax Credits LLC; Heidi de Vries, partner at Walkers; and Thomas D. Selz, a founding partner at Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz, which focuses on entertainment law.

Cayman has been the location for a number of films and television productions over the years, most famously The Firm, which starred Tom Cruise, and local director and writer Frank E. Flowers who made Haven, starring Orlando Bloom.