Japan Opens First Funding Round of Location Production Incentive Scheme

Japan will next month open the first round of film and TV production funding under its previously-teased location incentive scheme.

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The scheme offers reimbursement of up to 50% of qualifying expenditure in Japan, with an upper limit of JPY1 billion ($6.66 million) on each disbursement.

Targeting larger-scale productions, the scheme is open to: film, TV or streaming projects that have minimum direct production spending in Japan of $3.3 million; or have budgets greater than $6.66 million and spend a fifth of that (JPY200 million or $1.33 million) in Japan; or, in the case of other projects distributed in ten or more countries, have Japanese production spend higher than $1.33 million.

Applications for funding, to be made through a Japanese production company, must be made in one of three periods this year: March 4 – 15, 2024; May 20 – June 7; or Aug. 26 – Sept. 13.

Eligible costs include direct expenses related to film production in Japan such as payments to Japanese corporations, individuals, local governments or public organizations.

The program will end when the grant budget is expended, which may occur before all three rounds have been completed, the scheme’s backers warned. The Ministry of Economy, Trade Industry (METI) is the scheme’s designated owner; Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO) is the program operator; and the Japan Film Commission (JFC),the program coordinator.

Additionally, all projects should fulfil four other criteria: benefit the Japanese content industry through employment or use of studios; shoot in Japan; promote the location where the filming took place; and help the global appeal of Japanese works. However, VIPO says that it is willing to consider other projects that fail on some of the criteria as long as the work “greatly benefits the Japanese economy and the domestic film industry.”

The guidelines, which were previously trailed in October last year and which were themselves an expansion of a 2019 pilot scheme, still make no reference to the eligibility of post-production or visual effects work conducted in Japan. Nor do they explain the treatment of salaries paid to foreign talent.

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