Japan Launches Inaugural Round of Funding for Location Production Incentive Program

Japan, funding, location production, incentive, scheme, film industry, grants, financing, filmmaking, cinema, Japan government, creative industries

Japan is gearing up to launch its much-anticipated location incentive scheme for film and TV production next month. This initiative marks a significant step forward for the country’s entertainment industry.

Under this scheme, filmmakers and producers stand to benefit from reimbursements of up to 50% of their eligible expenses incurred within Japan. The reimbursement ceiling is set at an impressive JPY1 billion ($6.66 million) per disbursement, offering substantial financial support to qualifying projects.

Designed to attract larger-scale productions, the scheme casts its net wide, encompassing a variety of formats including film, television, and streaming projects. To qualify, productions must meet certain spending criteria within Japan. For instance, projects with a minimum direct production spending of $3.3 million in Japan automatically qualify. Alternatively, those with budgets exceeding $6.66 million are eligible if they allocate at least a fifth of their budget (JPY200 million or $1.33 million) to production expenses in Japan.

Japan Launches Inaugural Round of Funding

Moreover, the scheme extends its reach to projects with international distribution, provided they meet specific spending thresholds. Productions distributed in ten or more countries can qualify if their Japanese production expenditure surpasses $1.33 million.

This initiative is poised to invigorate Japan’s entertainment landscape, fostering growth and innovation while simultaneously attracting global talent and investment. It represents a promising opportunity for filmmakers and producers alike to bring their creative visions to life on Japanese soil, enriching the country’s cultural tapestry and reinforcing its position as a hub for cinematic excellence.
Funding applications must be submitted through a Japanese production company within specific periods this year: March 4 – 15, 2024; May 20 – June 7; or Aug. 26 – Sept. 13.

Eligible costs cover direct expenses associated with film production in Japan, including payments to Japanese corporations, individuals, local governments, or public organizations.

It’s important to note that the program will close once the grant budget is fully utilized, which may happen before all three rounds are completed, cautioned the scheme’s backers. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) serves as the scheme’s designated owner, with the Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO) acting as the program operator, and the Japan Film Commission (JFC) as the program coordinator.

In addition to the specified periods for application, all projects must meet four additional criteria: they should contribute to the Japanese content industry by generating employment or utilizing studios; they must conduct filming in Japan; they should promote the filming location; and they should enhance the global appeal of Japanese works. However, VIPO has indicated a willingness to consider projects that may not fully meet all criteria, provided they significantly benefit the Japanese economy and domestic film industry.

Notably, the guidelines, which were initially introduced in October last year and expanded from a pilot scheme in 2019, do not address the eligibility of post-production or visual effects work carried out in Japan. Additionally, there is no clarification regarding the treatment of salaries paid to foreign talent.

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