Audiovisual: Brussels in the global spotlight
Brussels has an excellent reputation in the film and audiovisual sector. This reputation is due in part to the talent of its service providers, their professionalism and agility. But it is also a result of its ingenious tax shelter system, a federal tax incentive designed to support the production and design of audiovisual works. And it’s garnering growing interest from international co-producers…
Launched in 2003, theTax Shelter is experiencing growing success withinvestors: while 10 million euros were raised in 2004,this figure rose to 150 million in 2019.
This tax incentive enables companies looking to invest in works destined for television or cinema screens to benefit from tax break of almost 5% as well as gross returns of around 5%.
This measure has had a significant impact on audiovisual production in Brussels: between 2003 and 2010, employment in the sector grew by 23%and 2.5 times as many Belgian films were produced in this period, while the number of awards received by Belgian productions increased by 49%.
What’s more, the Belgian government is the main beneficiary of this scheme, since the direct and indirect benefits by far outweigh the “losses” from tax exemptions,as the Echo explains in its article on the subject.
Co-production as a driver of development
The market in Belgium being too smallto cover ambitious production costs, the majority of Brussels-based audiovisual companies are decidedly outward-looking. Be it financial or artistic, partnership with foreign co-producers and distributors is practically essential for any Brussels-based company looking to expand.
The audiovisual economy in Brussels is therefore highly dependent on international co-productions, mainly with its immediate neighbours, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg, as well as other European countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland etc.
Pascal Smet, Secretary of State for European and International Relations for Brussels underlines this significance: “Our capital is the largest media hub in Belgium. Almost half of all Belgian media channels have their headquarters in Brussels. With award-winning films such as Girl and Black, we are proving that the capital is the ideal place to launch audiovisual projects that achieve success outside Belgium.”
The capital is therefore actively marketing itself to countries that have shown an interest in co-productions with Belgium, and more specifically Brussels: Germany, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Lebanon and Latin America.
In 2018 and 2019, two new agreements opened the door to new growth markets:Chile and Uruguay. State visits to these countries have provided an opportunity to sign agreements and open up potential new funding sources.
Brussels, international star of the screen
A growing number of productions are putting the city of Brussels in the spotlight. Notable examples include feature films such as Racer and the Jailbird, Above the Law, The Prime Minister, Ascension Day, The Elephant and the Butterfly, The Happy Prince, The Faithful Son, A Girl from Mogadishu, J’ai perdu Albert, Adoration, Heavy Duty, Adorables and All Of Us…
Meanwhile, TV series with Brussels as a backdrop include Unit 42, e-legal, Generatie B, Transferts, Lucas etc., Les Misérables, Black Spot, The Middleman and Black-out.
The increase in film and TV shoots in the Brussels-Capital Region has had several positive effects, particularly for the hospitality and retail sectors, but also in terms of city marketing.
A creative, innovative and flourishing audiovisual sector also helps to boost tourism and the appeal of the Region in the eyes of investors and decision makers, beyond the audiovisual sector.
Brussels-based media companies are making a noise outside our borders…
With hub.brussels at the helm, the screen.brussels cluster brings together over 160 Brussels-based audiovisual companies. These include 3 audiovisual companies with enormous potential:
Demute is a company specialising in immersive, interactive audio experiences, with a focus on technological development. At the cutting edge of these new technological and creative audio markets, it is developing the IP to create the sound of tomorrow.
By taking part in economic missions and trade fairs organised by hub.brussels, Demute has gained visibility on the international stage, in particular forging links with the immersive technology industry in Quebec.
LucidWeb is on a mission to democratise virtual and augmented reality experiences, by helping brands create narratives using virtual and augmented reality that are both unique and easily accessible to the greatest number of users, using headsets, mobile phones and cross reality (XR). Their customers include ARTE, VRT, the European Commission XR4ALL and several virtual reality agencies all over Europe.
TheFridge.tv is a company specialising in visual effects, motion graphics, 2D and 3D animation and virtual reality. Its R&D work focuses on the production of content for various platforms, through technological innovation.
3 reasons to develop your audiovisual project in Brussels
- A flourishing ecosystem of companies doing business in the new media sector.
- Various clusters dedicated to supporting and actively promoting the talents of the companies.
- The beers!
- Unique access to smart, international talent.
- Proximity to the major European XR hubs: Amsterdam, London, Berlin and Paris.
- XR meetups in Brussels: they have a good balance of the main stakeholders in the XR field, such as content creators, agencies, publishers and startups.
Tom & Jan HameeuwTheFridge.tv
- An excellent economic ecosystem for audiovisual production
- A strong focus on innovation
- Quality support from the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region
In order to support the talent of our producers and post-producers, while boosting the image of Brussels internationally, the Brussels-Capital Region needed a coherent structure, designed to support every link in the value chain: producers, post-producers, distributors, screenwriters,…
According to Barbara Trachte, Secretary of State for the Economic Transition in Brussels: “It is essential that the local authorities support the culture industry in Brussels for at least two reasons. On the one hand, because it is a key economic sector for Brussels. On the other, because culture creates connections in society […]. I am therefore delighted to see the Regional Government acting, via screen.brussels, as a genuine driving force in the various areas of the audiovisual industry, which will, in turn, entertain and educate many of the city’s residents. ”
Since May 2016, screen.brussels has brought together all the regional support services for the audiovisual industry under one brand:
- screen.brussels fund: funds conventional or innovative audiovisual productions that spend all or part of their budget within the Brussels-Capital Region. This has had a dramatic impact on the audiovisual sector, attracting major domestic and international productions while helping at least 34 audiovisual companies set up in, or relocate to, the Brussels-Capital Region to date.
- screen.brussels cluster: helps business to start up, grow, and expend internationally.
- screen.brussels film commission: provides logistical support for film shoots: obtaining the correct permits, helping scout for locations, finding accommodation, etc.
- screen.brussels business: provides structural funding to growing audiovisual companies in Brussels, in the form of conventional or convertible loans.
One cluster to unite stakeholders in the audiovisual sector
With its large network of Belgian and international partners, the screen.brussels cluster, led by hub.brussels, offers tools and services that aid the development of projects, and support their growth, transition or international expansion. In the year 2019, it yielded some exciting results:
- support for over one-hundred businesses in their development and international expansion (25 missions in 2019)
- investment in 31 projects (films, tv series, documentaries, animation, online, etc.), to the tune of €3 million, generating €37 million in spending
- Support for 1311 days of film shoots within the region
Over to Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region for some final thoughts: In light of these results, the combined impact of the various screen.brussels services shows how useful it is to have a single point of contact supporting the sector, both for Belgium and internationally. The initial aim of uniting all regional services involved in the development of the audiovisual industry, and combining their efforts in order to make them more effective has been fully achieved. The 2019 Results prove that our strategy meets the needs of the sector. ”