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By Hammad Zaidi | February 12, 2013

The word for today is “Mauritius.” No, that’s not some hip, new German slang I picked up last week, it’s a gorgeous island country of 1.3 million people, twice the size of Berlin, that’s tucked away in the Indian Ocean about 1,100 miles east of Madagascar. Mauritius is the word of the day, because it offers a newly created 30% cash rebate for qualifying production expenditures. Feature films, TV programs, documentaries, and even high-end commercials qualify for the 30% rebate, and Mauritius offers reasonably scaled spending requirements to trigger the discount.

IMG_5049 But, before I share my insight on this new hot spot, which is stacked with professional film crews, cutting edge equipment, and ocean waters that are warmer than your bath at home, let me first share how I got here. By “here,” I mean snowy Berlin, sunny Mauritius. Don’t get me wrong, I love Berlin, but its frigid weather has turned me into a little brown Popsicle.

My bumpy route to Berlin first started in the parking lot after the Super Bowl, when I shattered the screen of my virtually new iPhone (no, I didn’t break it out of anger because my 49ers’ blew a last-minute comeback that would have been an epic, history making, generation defining win that would have marked the first time a “running quarterback” won the Super Bowl…the phone just slipped out of my hand). I knew I only had a few hours after I landed in L.A. to get a new phone before the Apple Store closed, because I had to be back at the airport by 5 AM for my flight to Berlin, via Toronto and Frankfurt. After landing, I got a new iPhone, and then barreled home to kiss my wife and hold my daughters before they went to sleep. Then I drove my dad home, which was an hour away. By the time I got back to Redondo Beach, it was past midnight, and I could only take a quick nap, before I had to get to the airport.

I was passed out on my flight from Los Angeles to Toronto, but I do remember Toronto to Frankfurt, because I watched Argo, (great film), 21 Jump Street, (funnier than I expected) and Here Comes the Boom, (better than I expected). So, my journey seemed like my normal, sleep-deprived trip to Europe, until I landed in Frankfurt, Germany. Once I landed in the home of the Frankfurter, I learned that my one-hour flight to Berlin was cancelled, and I wasn’t going to get confirmed on another flight until the next day. So, I had to accept the airline’s offer to pay for my train to Berlin. An oversized T-shirt, free toothbrush and 50 Euros for my trouble later, I had to wait two more hours in Frankfurt before I could board the train. So, naturally, I spent bit of my newfound 50 Euros on a lukewarm Coke and a pack of Cherry Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum. Unfortunately, I broke my tooth biting into my first piece of Hubba Bubba. So there I was, exhausted with my tooth in hand….

Once I got on the train, I would up sitting next to Rabia, a German-born woman of Pakistani decent, who was going to Berlin to spend four days with Shamir, her “platonic” childhood friend turned budding filmmaker. So, instead of admiring the snow-capped landscape between Frankfurt and Berlin, or sleeping, I spent every minute of the four and a half hour train ride convincing Rabia that there was nothing “platonic” about Shamir’s intensions. Ultimately, I was right, as Shamir revealed his true intentions at the Berlin train station. Oh, how beautiful not-so-young love can be.

Anyway, thank you for indulging my left-of-center tangent. Now we’ll return to the regularly scheduled article about the incredibly delicious Mauritius. Since there are a plethora of reasons why you should consider shooting in Mauritius, they best way for me to deliver them to you is bullet-point by bullet-point. So, lets get started.

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How To Register For The Rebate
Companies interested in utilizing the 30% production expenditure rebate must register in Mauritius. However, registered companies can be “100% foreign owned,” and still qualify for the full 30% rebate. Furthermore, you must be registered at least 30 days prior to your shoot.

What the 30% Production Rebate Covers
Quite a lot, actually, including travel to Mauritius by air and sea, accommodations, catering services, ground transportation and facility vehicle services, picture and sound related post production services, professional services like legal, insurance and accounting, production service company fees, camera and lighting equipment rentals, labor costs, including “non-national crew,” (meaning the crew you bring over counts, too), as well as many other services needed to make your film great.

How Much Has To Be Spent To Get The 30% Rebate
The cool thing about this rebate program is that each type of project has a different minimum spend to execute the rebate. Based on the current exchange rate of $1 USD = 29.7 Mauritius Rupees, here are the current minimum spend limits:

Feature Film: $202,000 USD

TV Movie or Single Episode: $76,000 USD

Documentary: $76,000 USD

TV Commercials: $50,500 USD

As you can see, Mauritius makes it very easy to qualify for their rebate, so there’s no reason for you not to consider it.

How To Get The Money
As soon as your shoot ends, submit your completed paperwork and all receipts to the Mauritius Board of Investment (BOI). Once your submitted material is accepted by the BOI, you’ll get your 30% rebate back within 30-days.

Languages Spoken In Mauritius
Since English is widely spoken in Mauritius, along with French, Creole, Urdu, Hindi, Tamil, and Bhojpuri, there won’t be a problem communicating with the locals during your shoot.

Have I convinced you to consider Mauritius yet? I know I’ve convinced myself to go. Hell, I’m already racking my brain for ideas that could be shot there, because spending a month or so in paradise would be nothing short of amazing. Then again, I couldn’t imagine not seeing my wife and twin daughters for a month, regardless of how tantalizing the location was. Guess I’ll just have to take them with me!

Since the European Film Market and Berlin Film Festival are still in full swing, my article next Tuesday will focus on EFM. Until then, I thank you for lending me your eyes and I look forward to borrowing them again next week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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  1. neeranswami says:

    i want to meet you and i also want to make a video film.

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