News 21.10.21

10% PDV REBATE A BOON FOR NSW FILM INDUSTRY



The NSW Government introduced a 10 per cent rebate on Post, Digital & Visual effects (PDV) in October 2019 for projects spending at least $500,000 in NSW and has recently extended the rebate to digital games.

We checked in for an update with Screen NSW PDV Manager, Sue McCreadie.

How has the NSW PDV fund been received since it was introduced in 2019?

The fund has experienced a very healthy demand.  We have had over 150 projects come through the door, with a broad mix of local and international projects.  The State and Federal incentives combined make us very globally competitive so there has been a steady stream of international standalone PDV work coming to NSW.

Given COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the industry around the world, what has the effect been on this fund?

A few projects were delayed as filming ground to a halt around the world in 2020 due to the pandemic.  Border restrictions have presented some challenges where companies needed to engage international or interstate crew.  However, the PDV sector in NSW has adapted well to remote working. Most projects, especially in the animation and visual effects areas, have continued without too much interruption. 

Fin-Design-VFX
Image courtesy Fin. (L-R): Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

What are some of the fund’s successes to date?

The introduction of the rebate was a major factor in Industrial Light & Magic’s (ILM) decision to establish a studio in Sydney.  This in turn has provided exposure for visual effects (VFX) crew to the latest in virtual production techniques.

Our local companies are securing more international work and are expanding their footprint.  They are able to employ and train more people.  Over 350 trainees have been engaged on projects supported by the Rebate.  VFX crew are getting credits on major international projects, and where there are larger-scale productions we are seeing investment in upgraded technology and infrastructure.

Among the major projects taking place at the moment is the animated feature Shrinking of Treehorn at Animal Logic, directed by Ron Howard.  

NSW studios are breaking new ground. Plastic Wax for instance used the Unreal Games Engine for the interactive animated Netflix series, Battle Kitty.  The animation studio Flying Bark has a range of original IP and international service projects under way and has been able to expand into a larger facility.

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, courtesy of Flying Bark, animation and effects by Flying Bark, for Nickelodeon

A lot of work is coming through for streaming services.  We notice that the initial project often expands with change orders issued once the first batch of work goes through which suggests clients are happy with the quality of what’s been delivered. 

All this is helping to build on the state’s reputation as a major international destination for post and visual effects work.

How does the NSW rebate compare with the Federal PDV?

It largely mirrors the Federal PDV. The main difference is that only work carried out after the date of application attracts the rebate so applicants must register the project in advance with Screen NSW.

The NSW rebate does not cover Reality programs and there are some caps and exclusions set out in the guidelines.

A New Legacy, courtesy of Warner Bros. VFX and animation by ILM

Who is eligible?

Either the company commissioning the work (producer or international studio) or the studio carrying out the work can apply.  But there can only be one applicant for each project so they need to work that out in advance.

The rebate was extended to digital games from 1 October 2021. What is the anticipated impact?

We anticipate the rebate will make NSW an attractive location for global studios wanting to establish a presence in the Asia Pacific region, especially once the Federal Government’s 30 per cent games rebate becomes operational in July 2022.  While NSW currently has around 60 per cent of Australia’s PDV sector, the games industry is smaller, representing 20 per cent of the national share.  But given the potential for businesses and people to cross over between PDV and games, the strength of the NSW PDV sector should be an asset. 

The PDV guidelines and application form can be found here.