Saturday, October 18, 2014

Star Spotting

What does Ireland have that can be used to generate jobs and tax income?

Not much in the way of precious gems, major manufacturing, lumber, gold, and the list goes on and on. What Ireland does have is beautiful scenery. And what does Hollywood want and need? Beautiful scenery that hasn't been used as backdrops so often that film-goers instantly recognize the actual location of the shooting.
Filming Star Wars 7 On Skellig Michael

Hollywood is also looking for discounts. The industry is facing a decline back home in California because it is too expensive to work there. Watch the credits of your average movie and you'll notice a lot of thanks going out to varioius foreign countries who provide some hefty tax incentives, along with a cheaper supply of labor.

The Double Irish is going away, but there's nothing to stop the State from modifying its tax credit scheme to draw in more Hollywood productions, which means more Hollywood A-listers arriving and more tourists following on their heels to get a glimpse of Brangelina and their menagerie or maybe George Clooney and is he escorting the missus or do they seem to be having a little spat there?

Scenery has its place, but to Hollywood's beancounters, it's all about the money.

Ireland will now make it about the money as well, if Arts Minister Heather Humphreys has her way.

Film crews can make use of a tax credit for the first 50 million they spend, but the major Hollywood blockbusters spend far more than that, and if you're competing with Prague for the business, you'll lose out to Prague. Ms. Humphreys would like Ireland to recognize the fact that the more desirable business is the more costly business, and the tax incentive should be upped to cover the first 100 million.

She throws in the usual bit about job creation because every tax scheme needs a job creation number to support it. That film production could generate 2,000 new jobs is most likely the absolute best case scenario that's more wishful thinking than hard numbers, but it is not easy to calculate the knock-on effect of star spotting as a new tourism draw.

After all, we speak English in Ireland, we have beer that we think is better than what you'll find in Prague, and we have all that cead mile failte to throw around.

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