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What is a Film Certificate of Origin?

As an independent filmmaker, whenever you reach the point of film distribution for your work. There are going to be several different contracts and legal documents that will be required. It’s best for you to organize your distribution documents ahead of time. So that you don’t face any potential hurdles when you near the distribution deal. For example, the certificate of origin is one such document that, without it? It could hold you up significantly. Preventing distribution of your film if you’re not prepared. But, what is a film certificate of origin and why is it important?

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What is a Film Certificate of Origin?

A certificate of origin certifies where a film was shot. And basically states that a film was legally shot in the area. Without the film certificate of origin, a distributor may not accept your film for distribution.

Because they cannot guarantee that you had the right to shoot on the property. Or within the location that you filmed at. Additionally, the certificate of origin is important because it proves that you filmed in a particular city, state or country.

Which are details that are often necessary in order to take certain tax incentives for your production or to finance your film.

Why is a Film Certificate of Origin Important to Film Financing?

Film financing takes on many forms, most notably producers will frequently use tax incentives as a means of raising capital for their productions. But tax incentives are generally based on individual cities or states, with different opportunities in different areas.

In order to qualify for a particular tax incentive, the filmmaker must shoot the film in the predefined area for which the tax incentive was imposed.

The film certificate of origin proves that the film was shot in the area that the filmmaker says. And that the production was permitted and otherwise legal.

This is important to film financing. Because the certificate of origin is one of several essential documents that the filmmaker will need when filing for the tax incentives. And other financing opportunities that might be made available to them.

What to Do If You’ve Been Asked to Supply a Film Certificate of Origin

If you’re an independent filmmaker that has been asked to supply a film certificate of origin, you might be wondering what you should do. The film certificate of origin is a short, 1-2 page document.

That describes the film’s title, producer, production company, and area of origin along with some other basic details. You can order an adjustable film certificate of origin template online for your own personal needs.

Or you can have your entertainment attorney create the form specifically for you. If you use a templated version, it is very important that you have it reviewed by your production attorney to ensure accuracy and validity.

In Summation

Supply the film certificate of origin to the distributor, tax authority of another entity that is requesting the film certificate of origin from you in a timely manner.

It’s a short, very important document. That proves you filmed your production where you say you did, when you say you did, and that it was done so legally. And it’s a must for distribution as well as for claiming tax incentives for film financing. 

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