Cannes, France. Indonesia is beginning to take cues from other nations by welcoming foreign filmmakers to shoot in locations across the archipelago to boost the country's tourism sector and grow creative economy industries.
Officials from various tourism agencies across the archipelago, including from Bandung (West Java), Yogyakarta and Banyuwangi (East Java), manned the Indonesian pavilion at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in southern France in recent weeks to draw potential filmmakers to the Southeast Asian country.
Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) official Lalu Amri Rois Radhiani said several local administrations are preparing to establish film commissions to ease permit grants, logistics coordination and accommodation for foreign filmmakers.
"Promoting filming locations across the archipelago is a primary focus for us. By showing Indonesian cities on the big screen, we can draw more tourists. Other movies, such as 'Laskar Pelangi,' have already capitalized on this," Lalu said.
However, some local administrations have discouraged film production crews from exploring lesser-known regions across the archipelago. To avoid complications with difficult bureaucracies, many filmmakers choose to shoot at popular, easy-to-access locations, such as Jakarta. According to Lalu, Bekraf has invited five European film commissions to the capital to discuss closer collaboration.
However, Bekraf says not all city governments are ready to offer tax incentives to open their cities up to filming. Jakarta and Bekasi in West Java, on the other hand, have begun reducing entertainment taxes to encourage filming in those cities. Similarly, the Bandung administration has begun offering free accommodation for production crews if filming expenses rise above a pre-determined amount.
"Most entertainment taxes across the archipelago are 15 percent and are a burden to filmmakers and cinemas. Because of that, Jakarta has begun to do away with their tax and Bekasi is reducing theirs," Lalu said.
"Every city has different capacities, and every production team has a different financial plan, so we will have to discuss taxes on a case-by-case basis."
Fauzi Asni, who represented Riau's Siak district at Cannes, said he is happy that Bekraf is reaching out to local governments about changing inhibiting policies for creative industry businesses.
"We are committed to helping foreign filmmakers explore our locations. In Riau, there is the beautiful Siak river, the Jantan waterfront city, the great mosque of Syahabuddin and the Hock Sio Kiong pagoda," Fauzi said.
Fauzi said his office may not be able to offer tax incentives just yet, but is willing to provide free accommodation to film crews.