RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR | NT NETWORK
The emergence of global locations for film shooting has not only opened up newer vistas for Indian filmmakers, but also provided an opportunity to the audiences here to see the unseen places. Georgia, a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, and one of the republics of the erstwhile Soviet Union, provides such emerging film locations, being home to Caucasus Mountain villages and Black Sea beaches.
The former chief executive officer of the Entertainment Society of Goa, Manoj Srivastava, who in 2014 tied up India Shoots, his film production company with Sarke Studio from Georgia, thus creating India Shoots–Sarke Studio JV, said that a number of Indian filmmakers are already making a beeline for Georgia.
The 2015 Telugu war film, ‘Kanche’ (The Fence) was filmed in 55 working days, 35 of which were in Georgia. The Georgian Armed Forces also trained the film’s unit to properly use the weapons allotted from the Georgia Military Institute.
“The sequel, ‘Kanche II’ has also been shot in the India Shoots–Sarke Studio JV,” informed Srivastava, noting that another Telugu film, ‘INS Garuda’ is presently being shot in Georgia, starring Rajshekhar. “The studio has its own set up including the sound stages, film equipments, lights, catering, wardrobe, star wagons and so on,” he said.
Irakli Chikvaidze, the noted Georgian producer, representing Sarke Studio and partner of the project said that Sarke Studio has recently produced ‘The Search’ directed by Academy Award winning director, Michel Hazanavicius, which was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
“Apart from Sarke Studio, Georgia has other four to five active studios, with at least three of them working in Indian co-productions, or providing production services to the Indian film companies,” Chikvaidze informed, maintaining that Indian Shoots and Sarke Studio joined their forces to get such co-production ventures to another level. “Unfortunately, there are lot of intermediaries in the Georgian film business, however they have nothing to do with the film industry,” he noted, observing that, at best they are the tourism agencies, which are taking the film production companies from India to shoot in Georgia, which made India Shoots–Sarke Studio JV spot the disadvantages, the problems faced by the film producers, and offer them facilities.
“Apart from the studio facilities, we also suggest and provide location shooting services in Georgia,” Chikvaidze stated, pointing out: “All the public access facilities are free of charge in Georgia, as also free of any licenses for shooting purposes.” He further said that the Georgian government is very helpful and needs to be only intimated about the places, where the film units desire to shoot.
In 2016, tax rebates were announced for productions interested in filming in Georgia. The scheme offers to international producers 20 per cent to 25 per cent cash rebate of qualified expenses incurred in Georgia, and aims to support the film industry development in the country.
“The government of Georgia has introduced 20 per cent to 25 per cent cash back from this year, and our joint venture was proud to undertake first two of such cash back operations, with one Indian production company already paid and another one about to be paid,” Chikvaidze revealed.
Coming out with the information that the studio also provides post-production facilities including grading of films, Srivastava said that if the film being shot in Georgia is the first production of the producer, then apart from the 20 per cent assured cash back facility he gets additional one per cent cash rebate. “Furthermore, additional one per cent cash back facility each, can be availed if the film has scenes shot in front of Georgian monuments with a mention, if Georgian national flag is displayed in the film, if the Georgian actors are used in the film for leading roles, and so on,” he added, maintaining that in such a way, another 5 per cent cash back facility could be availed through shooting in Georgia, apart from the 20 per cent pure cost returns.
Speaking further, Chikvaidze said that the cash back scheme however is pretty much straightforward, unlike the ones existing in European countries. He also informed that to qualify for the scheme, the filmmakers have to spend at least US$2,20,000 in Georgia, while the producers of short films, television series and music videos have to spend a minimum of US$1,20,000.
On a parting note, Chikvaidze informed that last year, India Shoots–Sarke Studio JV has shot four feature films – three of which were Indian movies – with foreign partners by providing production services. He also stated that locations pertaining to commercial facilities in Georgia are being made available to the filmmakers for low prices, including a huge dam, the port, the oil rig in the sea, a five-star hotel, and a highway, 10 kilometres of which was recently blocked for shooting, for three days.