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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK
Tax break fuels NI film business
Heather Graham
Heather Graham has been filming in Belfast and County Down
Hollywood star Heather Graham's presence on a Belfast movie set is evidence of Northern Ireland's growing profile as a destination for film productions.

Northern Ireland has recently been taking full advantage of a new tax deal which makes it more attractive as a film location.

US and European film-makers have been coming in force, turning the tables on the industry in the Irish Republic where film studios are suffering from the competition.

Filming on Buy, Borrow or Steal has been taking place across Belfast and in parts of County Down on a seven-week shoot.

Heather Graham says: "I play a girl who really wants to get pregnant but my boyfriend breaks up with me and I find out I have only one egg left.

Local technicians have found themselves firmly in demand
"It is a comedy - it is ridiculous, crazy things happen and it is really fun."

She is in Northern Ireland thanks to a tax break offered by the government whereby the more money a film company spends in the UK, the more it saves on tax.

To qualify for this, the production must spend at least 25% of its budget in the UK.

The more it spends, the more it saves, and when 80% of the budget is spent in the UK, it attracts the best tax deal.

This has proved to be a better offer than next door in the Republic of Ireland, although it still has the edge for television productions.

Film camera
I was really enticed by the Northern Ireland Film Commission, and the advantage here is that you can combine their money with the UK tax credit
Doris Kirch
Film producer
In simple terms, the tax break means that if a movie costing 10m is made mostly in Northern Ireland, the producers can save 2m.

They can use this to cover production costs, so the film is much cheaper to make.

On top of that is money offered as an inducement by the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission.

Buy, Borrow or Steal producer Doris Kirch said on their budget of just over 4m, they would save about 1m.

"There was a time when we considered shooting in Germany but three weeks before we entered pre-production, the UK tax credit really came through," she said.

"I was really enticed by the Northern Ireland Film Commission, and the advantage here is that you can combine their money with the UK tax credit."

It turns out that the only problem now might be too many films wanting to use Northern Ireland's limited pool of technicians.

Maggie Taggart speaks to Heather Graham

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