Recent efforts by the government of Cyprus to attract international film production has paid off. Jiu-Jitsu – the first international film to be entirely shot in the island of Cyprus – has been recently completed and is ready to hit the big screen in the summer of 2020. Starring Nicholas Cage and directed by Dimitri Logothetis – a renowned Greek-American director – the film Jiu-Jitsu is a multimillion-dollar sci-fi martial arts movie and is already expected to be a big success.
The incentive plan launched by the Cypriot government, which has been given the metonymy of “Olivewood” – a portmanteau term made up from the word “Olive” which is a characteristic of Cyprus and Hollywood – is a successful initiative giving filmmakers cash rebates, tax breaks and other benefits to produce films in the sunny Mediterranean island. More specifically, under this scheme Cypriot and foreign producers benefit from a 35% cash rebate and/or tax credits on qualifying production expenditures and it also provides tax allowances of 20% for investment in infrastructure and equipment on the Island, aiming to help the industry develop further.
Aside from the incentives and the ideal scenery, the initiative enjoys the full support of local individuals interested in financing, co-producing, and promoting these international films. Local companies have already started providing services to film producers to help them navigate through the incentive scheme and eventually set-up their operations. Yiannos Georgiades, a prominent lawyer in Nicosia with connections in the U.S. film industry, is one of the Cypriot nationals that got involved in this early on, firstly with Jiu-Jitsu and with more films to follow. Like Georgiades, there are many locals interested in engaging in the newly-founded film industry in Cyprus.
Film production is expected to grow dramatically in the following years
Based on the successful production of Jiu-Jitsu, Logothetis is getting ready for a return with a new film to be shot exclusively on the island in 2020, Man of War, which is at the pre-production stage. S.O.S. Survive or Sacrifice, another international film starring William Baldwin began production in 2019. These productions have sounded the alarm-bell to other Hollywood, Bollywood, and European producers who expressed interest in filming in Cyprus, and some even expressed interest in developing film studios in the city of Paphos.
The potential is great but producers agree that there is still a lot to be done in terms of infrastructure, studios, and film schools in Cyprus. With a sufficient budget already allocated by the government and with properly addressing these issues, the island is set to become the next global hot-spot for film production.