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06 January 2021

Hungary: The Most Popular Filming Destination in Continental Europe

“You are spoilt for choice in Hungary. The variety of landscapes is incredible. In popular Budapest alone you will find everything from dramatic history and flamboyant architecture to healing thermal waters, opera houses and sports stadiums. All location palettes are on offer in the capital city, from classical to modern, industrial to upscale, hipster to retro, with castles and rural landscapes. this makes it easy to double for many different countries, including Paris, Buenos Aires, Berlin and Moscow” (kftv.com)

 

CNN: 10 Beautiful Movie Locations in the Hungarian Capital

“It’s not enough to be Hungarian to make films. One must also have talent,” according to a legend, this sign used to hang above the door of a Hollywood studio, suggesting that once upon a time you couldn’t swing a cat in LA from all the Hungarians.  

„However, the many successful outings of Hungarian cinema in recent years didn’t just come out of the blue; Hungarian-born greats long ago made a name for themselves in the citadel of moviemaking. Hungarian filmmakers who were forced into emigration in the 20th century were actually already present when Hollywood was born. Many of the great studios that are operating today were led by Eastern Europeans. It isn’t commonly known that William Fox and Adolph Zukor were born Vilmos Fried and Adolf Cukor, respectively. Michel Curtiz (Mihály Kertész) introduced then out-of-the-box visionary thinking and achieved directorial success in essentially all genres of film. Sir Alexander Korda (Sándor László Kellner) was a pathfinder in direction.” (spiceofeurope.com)  


We Love Budapest: 10 Hungarians who are Global Superstars of Cinema History


Hungarian Film Incentive

Films - for cinema and television - produced in Hungary are eligible for a 30 % rebate based on their expenditure, all the direct film production costs, spent in the country. The scheme is part of the film support programme approved by the European Commission until 31st of December 2024.

The incentive is available through local business companies who receive tax relief after their support of films. The support is guaranteed by the Hungarian State through the Collection Account managed by the NFI.

The financial support is provided in the form of a cash refund (post-financing). The 30% incentive is extendable to 37,5% of the eligible production expense by adding 7, 5% non-Hungarian costs. The non-Hungarian eligible spend is capped at 25% of the rebate.

 

What productions can benefit?

  • Films of all genres made for cinema release
  • Feature films, series, documentaries and animations made for televisions or other distribution platforms
  • Porn and extreme violent films, commercials, reality shows, news, sport coverage, talk-
    shows, talent shows and daily soap operas and scripted realities are excluded

Cultural test

  • Films applying for the incentive have to be submitted to a cultural test
  • Films must contain European content or cultural values and additional points are granted if EU nationals are either making or financing the movie (point system)
  • 15 points has to be earned to pass

Registration of company and production

  • Hungarian companies, registered with the National Film Office (NFO) are eligible to apply
  • Foreign companies should conclude coproduction or service agreements with Hungarian registered company
  • Production has to be registered at NFO
  • Start of filming has to be reported to NFO

Who provides the financial support?

  • Corporate-tax-paying domestic companies that may reduce their tax payable and tax base by the financial support they provide (double write-off)
  • The financial support is provided in the form of a cash refund (post-financing)
  • Film producing companies can request the support from the collection account of the Hungarian National Film Fund (it may charge a maximum administration fee equal to 2.5% of the subsidy granted)

Eligible expenses

  • All the direct film production costs are eligible except those excluded by the film law; other costs are limited by the law (see below)
  • The producer is free to spend 20% of the budget outside Hungary without suffering a reduction in the amount of the incentive. This means that not only the spend made to Hungarian taxpayers will qualify, but also some of the services provided by foreign taxpayers - up to 20% of the total production budget (consequently 37,5% of the Hungarian spend will be refunded)

Excluded or limited costs

  • Part of copyright costs over 4% of the budget
  • Travel costs are limited to trips from and to Hungary, stopover possible
  • P&A is limited up to 2% of the budget (but max 10m HUF)
  • Cost of services delivered by non-Hungarian sub-contractors limited up to 25% of eligible Hungarian spend.
  • Producersʼ fee (line, co-, executive and other producers) maximum up to 4%
  • Costs of completion bonds limited up to 5% of the budget (but max 100m HUF)
  • Remunerations of cast and crew members up to HUF 3 million per person and per film production will be eligible at 100% for tax rebate, and the eligibility of all remunerations exceeding this limit will be capped at 50%. (these limitations do not apply to Hungarian self-employed or loan-out cast and crew members whose remuneration is subject to different tax liability than personal income tax)
  • expenses, where date of the certificate of completion falls out of the production period or it is issued later than 3 months from the end date, are excluded
  • any expenses settled by compensation (products or services) have to be excluded
  • any costs related to a film produced about an event, are limited to the expenses incurred regarding the production, and not the event. If costs cannot be separated, all expenses should be excluded

How much is the incentive?

  • Up to 30% of the eligible production expense (Hungarian or not-Hungarian)
  • The non-Hungarian eligible spend is capped at 25% of the Hungarian eligible spend

Aid intensity provisions to take into account

  • Total state subsidies (including direct and indirect support) shall not exceed 50% of the production budget, or
  • in case of co-productions 50% of the Hungarian contribution or 60% of the Hungarian contribution if the co-production involves a co-producer from another EEA Member State too
  • in case of low-budget films, “difficult” audiovisual works and films produced in Hungarian language the extent of subsidies is 100% of the budget or the Hungarian contribution
  • in case of documentaries, animation, shorts, experimental films etc. - 100% of the budget or the Hungarian contribution

Other advantages

  • Experienced crews
  • Languages spoken
  • Well equipped new studios – sound stages
  • Variety of filming locations
  • Post-production facilities and expertise

Is pre-financing possible?

  • Certain banks are willing to pre-finance state subsidies and VAT
  • Depending on the bank and the individual contract they keep a percentage from the 25% (meaning the actual rebate will be about 20%)
  • Deal with NFO for monthly or quarterly accounting