Emulating Jordan, Israel to offer grants to lure foreign filmmakers

Film movie wadi rum
A file photo of the shooting of a foreign film in Wadi Rum in southern Jordan. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Israeli government aims to “positively brand the country” and improve the economy through a rebate project that could grant up to $13.9 million to produce foreign films and TV series in the country over the next two years, according to Jewish News Syndicate (JNS). اضافة اعلان

Culture and Sports Minister Yehiel Tropper told JNS that people typically opt to go to Greece, Italy or even Jordan, where it is cheaper to produce films. Jordan is a “big player” in the rebate system, he said, and many millions of dollars are infused in the country by filmmakers.

“There is no reason why Israel cannot do the same thing,” he said.

The move was initiated earlier this summer by five Israeli ministries: economy, culture and sports, finance, foreign affairs, and tourism.

Qualified filmmakers — including in the field of animation and those working on TV series — can receive reimbursement for production expenses of up to 30 percent. The amount of financial support will be granted based on documentation provided by the recipients at various milestones throughout the production process. Up to 80 percent can be received during production and 20 percent when the film is completed.

Reimbursements can range between $154,347 and $5.1 million, according to JNS.

Tropper said that the investment is expected to increase in value thanks to the “domino effect” of commercial activity. He said when production teams are in town, they will spend money in hotels, use public transportation, order catering, hire professional support staff and more.

Any applicant who wins a reimbursement grant has to agree to mention in film credits that the production was made with the support of Israel and allow Israel to share information about the film’s connection to the Holy Land “in any manner it sees fit”, according to the program’s official documentation.

Tropper said that the program is fully funded for two years and then will be up for renewal. He noted that despite the government turnover due to another round of elections, “if this works, there are movies being made in Israel, it helps the economy and puts Israel in a positive light”.

Already, without the grant program, many well-known films have been made in Israel or developed by Israeli talent, such as Netflix’s “Hit and Run”, “Fauda”, “Yellow Peppers”, “Tehran”, and others.

On the animation side, “the industry is booming right now in Israel”, Ben Molina, who runs the Animation Union in Israel, was quoted by JNS as saying.

“Israel is both an animation service provider and the creator of original IP,” he said.

Film production in Jordan provided 8,698 filmmaking jobs in 2021, compared to 5,500 in 2020, a growth of 58 percent, according to figures obtained from the Royal Film Commission (RFC).

Also, 657 projects were filmed in Jordan with the support of RFC, including documentaries, feature and short films, television series, advertising and video in 2021, compared to 382 projects in 2020, marking a 72 percent growth.

The total volume of expenditure for projects filmed in Jordan was JD24.9 million in 2021, compared to JD17.5 million in 2020, a 43 percent increase.

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