Vivek Agrawal
Producer of several films. Worked for Reliance Entertainment and Phantom

Tourism to two countries from India where films are shot, has grown tremendously. I can give you examples of what Queen did to Amsterdam or Paris or what Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara did to Spain. You can’t even imagine how the numbers have changed. Because the spending power of the common man in India has grown.

Most European countries are giving incentives to producers, where you get some kind of rebate or some kind of tax incentive. So even an average film, which can’t afford to go abroad, starts thinking in that fashion. They increase their budgets marginally, because it’s not that big a jump if you’re getting some kind of rebate. So basically, that’s a huge factor where more and more producers want to go and shoot abroad to take advantage of getting those 15, 20, 30, and 35 percent tax credits. They’ve started reaching out to the film bodies in India or the producers. And they’re having events to promote their places, locations, and facilities. They offer a tax break of 15–30% or 35–45% of the amount of money that a producer physically spends in their country.

Some countries have something called a cultural test. You’ve got to pass the cultural test. Some countries don’t have any of that. They just say, “Okay, if you spend, say, a minimum of one million dollars in the country, you’re eligible to avail the tax credit. Based on your spending in the country, they will appoint an auditor. Paying a car vendor, paying a caterer, paying a crew that you hire from their country—all these expenses get categorised into different heads and get audited. And then you get some money back. So even if you go to a country, you either form a company there or collaborate with an existing line production company and set up an account for your film. And the value-added tax is reimbursed to you immediately.
In England, there’s a body called HMRC (revenue service). They have a system where you collaborate with the industry in Britain, and fill out a form to qualify as a UK film. The overall list of points is 35 and you need to get 20 points. Once your film qualifies for it, you are eligible to get 20% back on your UK expenses. So it’s 20% of 90% of the eligible UK spending.

Hypothetically, if three of the four main characters in your film are British citizens, you get 4 points. Then, if the underlined material is British, that is, if you’re taking the rights of a British book or if your screenplay writer is a British citizen, you get 2 or 3 additional points for that. So they have criteria for choosing heads of departments. So out of the top eight or ten—like a cameraman, costume designer, or script supervisor—if any one of the key list members is a UK citizen, you get another point. If your producer is from the UK, you get another point. Then if there are 40 speaking parts, which are called character actors in the film, then they’re talking parts. And if more than 50% of those are UK passport holders, then you get another point. There are various criteria like that. So if you add up to 18 or 20 points, then you qualify as a UK film.

Summary of points – cultural test for film

Find out how points for the cultural test for film are allocated.

Cultural Test Points

A Cultural Content  
A1 Film set in the UK or EEA 4 points
A2 Lead characters British or EEA citizens or residents 4 points
A3 Film based on British or EEA subject matter or underlying material 4 points
A4 Original dialogue recorded mainly in English or UK indigenous language or EEA language 6 points
Total Section A 18 points

B Cultural Contribution  
  The film demonstrates British creativity, British heritage and/or diversity 4 points
Total Section B 4 points

C Cultural Hubs  
C1 (a) At least 50% of the principal photography or SFX takes place in the UK 2 points
  (b) At least 50% of the VFX takes place in the UK 2 points
  (c) An extra 2 points can be awarded if at least 80% of principal photography or VFX or SFX takes place in the UK 2 points
C2 Music Recording/Audio Post Production/Picture Post Production 1 point
Total Section C (Maximum 4 points in total in C1) 5 points

D Cultural Practitioners (UK or EEA citizens or residents)  
D1 Director 1 point
D2 Scriptwriter 1 point
D3 Producer 1 point
D4 Composer 1 point
D5 Lead Actors 1 point
D6 Majority of Cast 1 point
D7 Key Staff (lead cinematographer, lead production designer, lead costume designer, lead editor, lead sound designer, lead visual effects supervisor, lead hair and makeup supervisor) 1 point
D8 Majority of Crew 1 point
Total Section D 8 points

Total all sections (pass mark 20) 35 points

When I go to a place, I first get in touch with the people who are there. It’s the cleanest and simplest way to understand the rules and systems of that country.

In Eastern Europe, what’s coming out now is a lot of heads of departments, like action directors, art directors, production designers, and cameramen; they’re all very talented. That’s an individual thing, and also because of the film schools. The talent is unbelievable.

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