Media and Entertainment

Financing Irish film – individual tax incentives

John Gleeson John Gleeson

One question I am consistently asked since the Section 481 tax credit was re-vamped is whether it is still possible for individuals to be able to invest in Irish film and TV. My answer is always yes, but it’s not as straight forward as it used to be.

The easiest and most effective way for individuals to get involved in investing in the film industry is through the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) scheme. Unlike the old Section 481 tax credit, individual investors cannot get tax relief under EII if they invest directly in the production of a film or TV series. However, you can get the tax relief for investing in film infrastructure (such as film studios) and for investing directly in Irish film and TV companies.

One of the main things holding the Irish film industry back is the lack of availability of suitable studio space in Ireland, but there are plans for the expansion of studio space here. So we expect there will be numerous investment opportunities coming down the line to invest in such studio expansions - through the EII scheme. I am currently acting as advisor to three clients in the film industry who plan to seek money soon from individual investors:

  1. client one: is a very high-profile company in Ireland that has a slate of high-end TV drama projects in development. The client needs cash investors to bring these projects to a 'green light' stage with large TV networks in the US;
  2. client two: is a newly established Irish subsidiary company of a reputable production house in LA that has numerous feature films with budgets ranging from $10m to $25m. It is being led by the former head of a very large film company. He has established a company in Ireland for the development of a number of movies, that may not necessarily be shot in Ireland, but all of the development activity will take place here; and
  3. client three: is a company that needs development finance for various TV, animation and game shows.

There is always a risk when investing your money in film and TV activities. However, there are ways to reduce that risk including:

  • talking to a lawyer or accountant who understands the industry before investing in a film or TV company;
  • ensuring there are established people with a track record of delivering successful film and TV projects in the mix; and
  • remembering that the definite 'no go' is investing in someone who has no track record or contacts, but who has decided to make a movie.

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