The Cyprus government wants to cut red tape that keeps film producers at bay, with a new bill in parliament aimed at attracting foreign companies that could choose the island for the next blockbuster.
The bill is sponsored by the Finance Ministry and provides a number of incentives to foreign companies, such as tax credits and cash rebates, but also discounts in exchange of investing locally in facilities and equipment.
The process of acquiring a media production permit in Cyprus is not streamlined, making it very difficult for film companies having to contact a number of departments separately, such as the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Department of Antiquities, police, airports, various state agencies and local authorities.
The government says the scheme is funded in line with European directives and the new law would create additional jobs in Cyprus.
It also provides further incentives to companies that employ local staff and even assign leading roles to Cypriot actors
It also provides further incentives to companies that employ local staff and even assign leading roles to Cypriot actors.
Besides offering up to 50% in discounts and credits, the bill tries to simplify the application process.
The new legislation proposes a single agency responsible for reviewing and granting permits, which also includes legislation geared toward local production companies.
Even though Cyprus could never compete with Hollywood or Bollywood, a number of projects could be ideal for a location such as Cyprus, such as a short series of documentaries.
The move is considered to be a competitive course of action following revelations that Cyprus has been missing out on film companies that choose to go to Malta and other non-traditional film production destinations in order to avoid having to deal with red tape in the Republic of Cyprus.
Several companies, including a BBC team, reportedly wanted to shoot on the island but backed out when they realised they had to deal with red tape and lack of infrastructure.
Members of parliament last year were shocked to learn that a BBC production team, which was shooting a documentary on Cypriot immigration in the UK, walked away when they realised there were no suitable facilities or incentives.
They ended up going to Malta, which is a fierce competitor of Cyprus in several areas, including tourism, banking and shipping.