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Italian Locations Offer Diversity and Lots of Incentives

Nick Vivarelli

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From glaciers in the Dolomites to the emerald Sardinian coastline, gritty industrial settings and roughly 54 Unesco World Heritage sites, the Italian peninsula offers pretty much any type of location you could imagine.

“Italy is a country where you can shoot everywhere,” says Stefania Ippoliti, president of the Italian Film Commissions umbrella group. “It’s not like in France, where it’s all about Paris and the Cote d’Azure.”

Plus, “everywhere you shoot, you find an efficient film commission, [which] “was not the case a few years ago.”

There are at least 18 film commissions now operating across Italy. Most of them offer incentives and local film funds that have grown to be worth a total of €60 million ($66 million) a year. Though on a merely monetary level Italian funds are not on a par with Germany or France, the basic advantage is that the country’s film commissions also double up as film funds so that their incentives are more tailored to specific needs, just as each region increasingly specializes in catering to a specific type of production.

The Southern Apulia region, where “Bond 25” is shooting, offers a rebate of up to $1.12 million for TV dramas and scenery that doubles for productions set in the Middle East or North Africa.

Umbria, where exteriors for AMC’s “The Name of the Rose” were shot, is aiming to be the green heart of Italy thanks to its unspoiled nature. Piedmont is playing up the fascination of its regal residences such as the 18th century Racconigi Castle, where Marvel Studios is expected to shoot scenes of “Black Widow.”

Tuscany, where Frank Spotnitz’s “Medici” series is set, and largely shot, is playing up the production and costume design mastery that comes with the famous scenery.

Sardinia is pioneering ecologically sound green film shooting protocols. Hulu’s “Catch-22” did the bulk of its production on the island. Lombardy specializes in servicing commercials. The Campania region surrounding Naples has seen a proliferation of activity with Sky’s “Gomorrah” and RAI/HBO’s “My Brilliant Friend,” whereas Sicily is home to “Inspector Montalbano,” a massive local hit that also plays on the BBC and other international outlets.

“It’s a very varied, diversified landscape where everyone can find their cup of tea,” says Ippoliti. To lure more shoots Italy’s film commissions have collectively cut red tape, streamlined their application procedures, and launched a website — italyformovies.it — which has a searchable database of all locations and incentives. They also “exchange a lot of information,” even as they compete, knowing that a proactive spirit of collaboration is key to keeping Italy on the global moviemaking map.

At the heart of this network is the Rome Lazio Film Commission and its $11.2 million Lazio Cinema Intl. Fund geared toward co-productions, which provides an average of $560,000-$784,000 per project with no obligation to return the money.

“In Europe we are among the largest funds, and certainly the largest one that you don’t have to pay back,” says the commission’s general director Cristina Priarone.

Recent co-prods that have tapped into this coin include Matteo Garrone’s “Pinocchio” and British writer Dean Craig’s remake of French wedding comedy “Plan de Table.”

Another Italian film entity that has long been prominent is South Tyrol’s IDM Film Fund & Commission, which has a yearly pot of $5.6 million. It is a bit different because it’s located in Italy’s northernmost point, and is also a German-speaking territory.

“We have this natural focus towards German/Italian, Austrian/Italian, Swiss/Italian co-productions,” says its chief Birgit Oberkofler, though she quickly points out that they are not limited to those types of projects. The range of recent IDM beneficiaries spans from Austrian genre pic “Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies” to Italian auteur Alessandro Rosetto’s upcoming Venice drama “Effetto Domino,” which didn’t shoot in the region, but did its post there.

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