Monday, January 31, 2005

Film Updates; British Columbia Incentives

January 31, 2005

In this newsletter:


Congratulations to our client, writer/director Craig Brewer. His film, "Hustle & Flow," won the American Dramatic Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Winners were announced yesterday at the Park City Racquet Club. The film sold to Paramount for $9 million earlier in the week.

"Hustle & Flow" is the story of a Memphis pimp who wants to be a rap star. The picture stars Terrence Dashon Howard, DJ Qualls, Ludacris, and Taryn Manning. The film should be in theaters this summer.

Congratulations to our client, writer/director Richard Shepard. Miramax bought distribution rights to his film, “The Matador,” for $7.5 million at Sundance.

“The Matador” is a quirky thriller that stars Pierce Brosnan as a lonely hitman and his friendship with an unsuspecting couple from suburbia played by Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis.

Congratulations to our clients Art Klein, executive producer, and Eileen Craft, producer of “Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School.” Their film received a standing ovation from the Sundance audience after its world premiere screening and got a thumbs-up review from Ain’t It Cool News. “Marilyn Hotchkiss” tells the tale of a widower whose life is changed when he goes to search for a dying man’s lost love. The film stars Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, Donnie Wahlberg, David Paymer, Camryn Manheim, Adam Arkin, Sonia Braga, Elden Henson, Ernie Hudson, Miguel Sandoval, Danny DeVito, John Goodman.

Click here for the review.

In response to the new TV and film production incentives announced by Ontario and Quebec provinces, British Columbia has introduced legislation to step up its own tax incentive plan. The new incentives, which will be introduced to the provincial legislature in February, will increase the foreign production service tax credit to 18 percent, and raise the domestic tax credit to 30 percent.If ratified, the increases will take effect Jan. 1, 2005, and continue until Mar. 31, 2006. The move is seen as an attempt to keep productions from heading to the eastern provinces.

Click here for B.C.'s current film and television incentives.

Mark Litwak & Associates grants newsletter recipients permission to copy and distribute this newsletter and distribute it free of charge, provided that copies are distributed for educational and non-profit use, no changes or revisions are made, all copies clearly attribute the article to its author and include its copyright notice.

DISCLAIMER: While we are careful in preparing this newsletter, readers should consult with a lawyer before relying on any information. Case law and statutes are subject to change, and may not apply in all jurisdictions.

Copyright 2005, Mark LitwakAny source

No more nasty surprises says Fischer Boel

EU farmers need not fear fresh unsettling novelties in agricultural policy once sugar reform is complete, farm commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel told women farmers; representatives during Berlin's Green Week. 'I have no further reform package in my briefcase to shake everything up again,' she said.

She also told farmers that she was having second thoughts about letting sugar quota remove across national borders, one of the key parts of the proposed sugar reform. The move has been opposed by a group of ten less efficient countries led by Spain, but backed by UK growers and processors as one possible way of maintaining scale in the British sugar industry.

One might also think that not allowing quotas to move across borders is incompatible with the idea of an internal market, although dairy quotas cannot be traded from one country to another. However, the prevailing mindset among farmers was illustrated by German farm leader Gerd Sonnleiter who urged Mrs Fischer Boel to 'restrict calls for the destruction of what has been an effective means of regulating the market.'

Mrs Fischer Boel may yet be forced into further reform by tight budgetary constraints. Budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaité, commenting on proposals to cap the EU budget at one per cent of gross national income, described farm spending as an area 'far from competitiveness, only pretending to be competitive, except maybe for the rural development programmes.'Any source

Monday, January 24, 2005


January 24, 2005

In this newsletter:


Congratulations to our client, director and writer Craig Brewer. His film, "Hustle & Flow," was picked up for distribution by Viacom at the Sundance Film Festival for a $9 million advance. It’s part of a $16 million distribution deal -- the biggest deal ever closed at Sundance.

Viacom plans to distribute the film through all of its media channels, with theatrical to be released this summer by Paramount's not-yet-named indie films mini-major. "Hustle & Flow" will be backed by a $15 million P&A campaign primarily funded by Paramount and MTV.

"Hustle & Flow" is the story of a Memphis pimp who wants to be a rap star. The picture stars Terrence Dashon Howard, DJ Qualls, Ludacris, and Taryn Manning. It will continue to screen at Sundance all week.Any source

Uncommon Agricultural Policy?

Ever since the 2003 reforms of the CAP, there has been concern about renationalisation of the CAP. Within certain limits, the reforms allowed member states to decide how far they would decouple payments for different commodities. The basis on which the Single Farm Payment was made also varies between (and within) member states. The availability of 'national envelopes' for special payments to particular categories of producer also raises competition issues within a supposedly single market.

Now the issue of co-financing for 'Pillar One' of the CAP has raised its head, particularly in Germany. (The second pillar is subject to co-financing). It has been argued that it should be on a 75-25 basis with member states having to find €25 from their own funds for every €75 they wanted from Brussels. This could be a means of holding down EU spending and allowing net conributor states to keep spending down to one per cent or less of gross national income.

The talk has rung alarm bells in the Commission which has moved swiftly to knock the idea on the head. Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has argued that if co-financing was compulsory, it would mean a complete renationalisation of the CAP. If it was made compulsory, then the bottom line would always be the same. Resorting to the old argument that the CAP is the foundation stone of the EU, she declared, 'agricultural policy is the only common policy we do have in the EU and this would be the end of it.'

The renationalisation genie is, however, out of the bottle and we may not have heard the last of this idea.Any source

MEPs probe butter fraud

The budgetary control committee of the European Parliament is to probe a fraud scandal involving fake Italian butter that dates back five years. The Italburro affair became public after police discovered that a milk processing plant in Naples had produced large quantities of artificial butter using synthetic ingredients. This led to the payment of hundreds of millions of euros in production and export subsidies in Italy, France, Germany and Belgium

MEPs want the Commission to be more proactive in recovering the money. Legal proceedings were not begun in Belgium until 2003 and action has been confined to administrative fines in Germany. That is, however, more progress than has been made in France where the fraudulently claimed subsidies amount to €100m, but no court case has been brought against anyone involved.

Twelve people are now behind bars in Italy, but not before there had been two members linked to the case.Any source

Monday, January 17, 2005


January 17, 2005

In this newsletter:


Congratulations to our clients whose films have been selected for the upcoming 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Screening times are listed, however times and locations are subject to change. Please check with the box office or the Sundance website at for any updates. Director and Writer Craig Brewer, “Hustle & Flow” (Dramatic Competition) The film stars Terrence Dashon Howard, DJ Qualls, Ludacris, and Taryn Manning.Any source

Friday, January 14, 2005

Royal family farm subsidies may be made public

Under Britain's new Freedom of Information Act, the subsidies members of the royal family receive from the Common Agricultural Policy are likely to be made public. Farm minister Lord Whitty has said that he can see no reason why single farm payments should not be subject to disclosure. At present the only member state in which this happens is Denmark.

In practice the figures may be less interesting than supposed. The Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall estates are farmed by individual tenants so the payments go to them rather than the Queen or the Prince of Wales.

However, last year Oxfam estimated that seven of Britain's richest men collectively earn more than £2m a year in payouts from the EU. It was estimated that the Duke of Marlborough receives £369,000 for his arable farm on the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire while the Duke of Westminster, one of the richest men in the country, receives £326,000. One of the largest claimants is in fact The Co-operative Society that owns 100 farms covering 85,000 acres.Any source

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


January 11, 2005

In this newsletter:


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently signed legislation that provides an additional 5% refundable tax credit to filmmakers shooting in the city. The credit is part of a package of “Made in NY” incentives intended to encourage more productions in the city itself, and is in addition to the 10% refundable tax credit given by the state of New York.

The NYC tax credit is applicable to all costs of below-the-line tangible property or services used or performed within any of the five boroughs of New York City. The costs must be incurred directly and predominately in the pre-production, production, and post-production of a qualified film.

The refundable tax credit is applied against the production company or film owner’s New York State taxes. Fifty percent of any unused, earned credits may be carried forward to the following year. If those credits are still unused, they become fully refundable to the production company or film owner in the third year.

Productions eligible to apply for the “Made in NY” credit include feature length films, made-for-TV movies, television pilots, and television series, and the productions must be completed sometime between this year and 2007. To qualify, 75% of the total stage work must be conducted in a qualified New York City facility. If the production spends at least $3 million during production of the film at the qualified facility, the production company is eligible for the entire 5% tax credit refund. If the production spends less than $3 million at the qualified facility, but spends at least 75% of its location days in NYC, the production company is also eligible for the entire 5% tax credit refund. If the production spends less than $3 million and shoots less than 75% of its location days in NYC, the production company will only receive a tax credit refund for the qualified costs at the qualified facility. Credits are offered on a first come, first served basis.

For more information, contact the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting: .Any source

Monday, January 10, 2005

Polish farmers gain from EU membership

The impact on Polish farmers of the first eight months of EU membership has been broadly positive, accordance to senior Polish agriculture official Waldemar Guba addressing the Oxford Farming Conference. Before enlargement farmers were concerned about the differences in technologies, the effect on the labour and land markets and what was seen as the unfairness of the accession package.

Farmers had benefited from increased trade, extra investment in food processing, some improvement in land prices, only a moderate loss of jobs but, above all, from a rapid rise in prices. Since accession pig prices had climbed 21%, cattle prices 37% and poultry by 32%. There had only been a two per cent increase in milk prices and wheat prices, affected by drought, actually fell by three per cent.

Total agri-food exports in the first six months after accession rose by 34.7% compared with the same period in 2003. There has also been a significant increase in investment in the Polish agri-food sector. This was helping to prepare the 600 or so food processing plants which are not yet compliant with EU health and hygiene regulations but have to be by 2006.

The biggest problem Poland has faced since accession has been on the currency frint, with the zloty appreciating strongly against the euro. This had hit export competition and lowered the value of subsidies.Any source