Film producers call for tax incentives to win back Hollywood

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Eagle-eyed film-goers will have noticed the medieval streets and facades of Prague and other Czech towns cropping up in Hollywood blockbusters such as Mission Impossible and Casino Royale. Experienced and highly-qualified Czech crews as well as Prague's renowned Barrandov studios have proved a winning formula for Hollywood over the last decade, but now, the Czech film production business is sounding the alarm. In 2003, they say, foreign filmmakers spent more than five billion crowns in the Czech Republic. Last year, that figure had fallen to 1.4 billion, and the reason - the Czech government doesn't offer tax breaks. Radomir Docekal is the executive director of the Audiovisual Producers Association:

"I don't think there's something wrong with the film industry in the Czech Republic. I think it's still going well, but we are facing problems with our governmental relations, because the Czech Republic doesn't have any tax incentives of the kind offered by neighbouring and competing countries. That's the problem."

But does Hollywood need tax incentives? After all, they come here because the Czech Republic is simply a very cheap place to make films.

"I don't think we're cheap. I don't like this word - cheap. We are not cheap. We are effective and economically good. That's our policy. But what we don't have is the tax incentives offered by competing countries like Germany, Hungary, Britain, France, Luxembourg, everywhere. That's our problem. These tax incentives decrease the risks for the producers making their movies in Europe, because they spend lots of money and invest lots of money and somewhere they can get something back and that's something they can't get here."

But there are tax incentives included in a draft law to be submitted to parliament quiet soon. That will resolve the situation.

"I hope so. I believe so. Everybody understands that something has to be done. That's why last year we started to deal with our politicians and hopefully the Culture Ministry will be able to send the law to the government this year and hopefully it will be passed next year and will come into force in January 2009."