In an effort to assist young filmmakers to achieve success in the audiovisual industry, In Focus covers issues and opportunities that could be beneficial to emerging talent. In this month�s issue, we look at a company, Hunter Film Incentives (HFI) that provides much needed assistance and facilitation to those seeking to access incentives.

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Stacey-Anne Millar of Hunter Film Incentives
HFI was formed out of a desire to assist in the development of the film and television industry in South Africa. After much research it was found that there are indeed numerous incentives and benefits available to the industry, particularly in regards to animation � however, many production companies and investors are neither aware of these nor sure how to use them in the most beneficial way, making projects generally difficult to get off the ground.

HFI has a long-term vision aimed at bridging the gap between the production company and the investor by designing and creating soundly-structured packages, utilising the available benefits and incentives, in order to make projects mutually beneficial for both parties.

�There are various rebates and incentives available,� says Stacey-Anne Millar, Executive Director of HFI, �but the application process can be very time consuming. We are able to facilitate these processes from beginning to end, taking all the paperwork off the hands of producers and production companies.�

After performing a full evaluation of a project proposal, HFI will asses whether or not the project will qualify for the incentives available and, once this is established, will facilitate said incentive applications from start to finish. This includes financial applications to institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and National film and Video Foundation (NFVF). This process serves to reduce the balance of the finance needed to be sourced as well as making it more attractive to potential investors.

�In the case of incentives such as the 24F tax incentive,� explains Millar, �investors apply for this in their annual tax returns. HFI acts as the liaison between the investor and SARS, saving the investor valuable time. In the case of applying for finance from organisations such as the IDC or NFVF, we will complete and submit these applications for production companies.

�We have extensive experience in production management in this industry with the qualifications to back it up. Using our experience with running projects, grouped together with the standard project management methodologies and the knowledge of how productions are run both internationally and locally, we offer a high-level management of productions to ensure targets are met so that incentives are not jeopardised. From monitoring of budgets and schedules to creating risk schedules and formally closing off projects, we will ensure projects are on time and in budget."

Millar started out in the industry freelancing for various companies, including Fresh-eye Films, Clearwater and Rapid Blue, working on commercials, live events, television series and stills catalogues. Working through a crewing agency, she progressed from production assistant to production manager. Millar obtained a broad range of experience by working at The Regent Street Association in the UK. On her return to SA, she was asked to produce the first 3D animated series to be produced locally called Ed & Eppa In the Wild, for Red Pepper Pictures, produced in conjunction with Parthenon Entertainment in the UK.

She then re-joined Depth VFX in 2007, with the view to creating a successful long-form production division, combining her practical experience locally and internationally, and carefully constructing a sound business venture for animation production.

�In terms of animation, I am trying to drive major reforms with government and private bodies who have until recently only regarded the business as artist driven, and not as return-based model, attractive to serious business,� claims Millar, adding that she�s an industry player in terms of influencing funding and financing for animation projects, and assuming the responsibility of selecting the most financially viable shows�.

Millar qualified as a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM�) in 2008, forming HFI with the aim of transforming the local industry by providing opportunities for foreign investors and contributing to the industry as a whole. Her consultants include Derek White, an entrepreneur, a thinker, observer and consumer with interests firmly rooted in film and television production, promotion, acquisition, marketing, monetisation, deal-structuring, digital futures and product innovation; Karina Stanford-Smith, who has over 18 years of experience working in the international animation industry; and Anton Alberts, an advocate who specialises in entertainment law, ICT law and space law.

For more information, go to www.huntewrfilmincentives.co.za, or email Stacey-Anne Millar on Stacey@hunterfilmincentives.co.za