Thursday, 31 May 2012

Abu Dhabi: An Offer to Film Makers that will be hard to refuse

On 20 May 2012 The Abu Dhabi Film Commission announced an incentive scheme to attract film makers to the Emirate. It takes the form of a 30% rebate of the eligible production spend in Abu Dhabi. According to FAQ about the scheme on the Commission's website the following expenditure qualifies for a rebate:
"All expenditure within Abu Dhabi on location or studio filming and expenditure that is directly related to the production of the project that is purchased or sourced through Abu Dhabi based companies. This includes the purchasing or licensing of intellectual property and goods owned, or facilities and services provided by Abu Dhabi companies."
Expenditure that is not eligible includes
  1. Financing expenditure
  2. General business overheads of the UAE co-producer or production services company 
  3. Deferments, profit participation and residuals
  4. Advances
  5. General expenses such as general costs of administration
  6. Travelling and transport costs of crew and cast to UAE
  7. Gifts and entertainment expenses
  8. Expenditures incurred in other countries
  9. Land and building costs and maintenance
  10. Executive Producer fees
  11. Publicity and marketing costs
  12. Consultant fees charged by a consultant to prepare the application
  13. Costs for legal advice
  14. Contingency costs
  15. Costs for insurance related to financing
  16. Purchase of capital goods
The FAQ indicate that  labour costs relating to contracting UAE registered crew and services including daily payments for activities in Abu Dhabi may qualify for the rebate but deferred salary payments and residuals do not qualify,  Similarly,  though travel and transport of crew and cast to Abu Dhabi are excluded, temporary accommodation in Abu Dhabi as well as airline tickets booked on the Abu Dhabi airline Etihad Airways or the private charter of aircraft based in the UAE may qualify for the rebate.

The rebate is available for almost any type of film or television programme whether shown in Abu Dhabi or not. These include 
  • Feature films
  • Television drama including series
  • TV and feature documentaries
  • Factual and natural history
  • Comedy
  • Commercials
  • Music videos 
  • Other television, such as lifestyle, reality, game shows and entertainment programmes
It also includes post-production and digital effects services supplied inside Abu Dhabi for projects shot outside the UAE.

The scheme is clearly aimed at attracting  film and programme makers from India and Pakistan who already use Dubai as a film location. The Abu Dhabi Film Commission already operates as an exchange for crews, production companies and locations.  According to its downloadable Locations Guide it can offer some spectacular backdrops for filming.

As I discussed in my articles "Copyright and Related Rights in the United Arab Emirates" of 4 Jan 2012 and 11 Feb 2012 films and performances are protected throughout the Union by Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 concerning Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights.  Abu Dhabi has not set up a local common law jurisdiction like the DIFC Courts or the QFC Civil and Commercial Court (see my article on the QFC of 3 April 2011) but the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce does offer a commercial arbitration service.   Moreover, there appears to be nothing to prevent the choice of any law or jurisdiction in a film contract or contract for production services. Further information about the scheme can be obtained from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission's website or by calling  +971 2 401 2701.

Dubai is also a film location with a growing local film and TV industry. Film and production businesses are beginning to cluster in Dubai Studio City,   There is a also a cluster of advertisers, events management, marketing and other media businesses in Dubai Media City.  According to Rapid TV News, Dubai has recently enacted legislation to establish a film and television commission in Dubai along the lines of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (see Rebecca Hawks "Dubai to establish film & TV commission" 28 May 2012).

As ever, should anybody wish to discuss this topic further, he or she can call me on +44 161 850 0080 or fill in my contact form. He or she can also contact me through Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter.

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