Friday, February 20, 2009

Film Incentives in the News...

Another report on film-related incentives from AP has been picked up by many papers across the country...

States woo Hollywood with tax breaks

By JULIE CARR SMYTH
The Associated Press


Thursday, February 19, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hungry to prop up their ailing economies, U.S. states are locked in a fierce competition to lure Hollywood filmmakers to their gritty cities and picturesque towns with tax breaks and other incentives.

The movement remains intense despite state budgets facing near crisis, largely because the movie and TV industry has emerged as a tough survivor in hard economic times. California, facing a $42 billion budget deficit, nevertheless approved a film tax credit Thursday.

The film industry's economic health has pushed some states like Ohio to take a second look at tax breaks for filmmakers and TV producers after years of viewing such financial incentives as luxuries the state couldn't afford. The state shuttered its film commission for five years in 2002 because of budget cutbacks.

Ohio lawmakers are poised to approve film industry tax breaks soon, once they work out whether to offer to make the breaks big or bigger.

Gov. Ted Strickland vetoed the bigger tax breaks favored by legislative Republicans in December, saying he wanted to weave the breaks into discussion of his proposed two-year operating budget. Republican lawmakers were eager to continue the recent momentum from "Spider Man 3," parts of which were filmed in Cleveland.

Strickland said Thursday an incentive program capped at $20 million every two years, rather than $100 million each year, is all Ohio can afford.

"I could not and I do not support the larger commitment on the part of the state," he said.

Ohio is one of only a handful of states left that don't already offer a state-level tax break to filmmakers or a giant pot of cash that producers and directors can tap for incentives.

Lawmakers in Indiana overrode a governor's veto of film industry incentives there a year ago.

Vans Stevenson, who oversees state government issues for the Motion Picture Association of America, said the incentives states offer are more than offset by the economic benefits that result from film and TV production.

"The perception that this is a giveaway in inaccurate," he said. "States have recognized that show business is an economic development engine, and they want to get on board."

...

The rush of states to offer movie incentives began about six years ago when U.S. film-making was going increasingly out of the country — to places like Canada, Bosnia, Romania or France that offered low costs and cash rebates or payouts.

For many states, the investment paid off.

A study conducted for New Mexico, where films such as the Oscar-winning "No Country For Old Men," ''The Book of Eli" and "In Plain Sight," showed positive results. The review by Ernst&Young, released earlier this month, found that 30 films produced in 2007 in that state generated about $253 million in spending and directly created 5,989 jobs.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson boasted in his recent State of the State speech that the state had "created a new industry" over the past six years through its film industry incentive program.

An analysis by the nonprofit group Film Wisconsin released in December, for example, found that new breaks and incentives in that state had brought in more than $9.2 million and created at least 850 jobs. That state was home to production of the upcoming film "Public Enemies" starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.

Despite such positives, Wisconsin and some other states are beginning to rethink their incentives amid the national economic meltdown...

More at: States woo Hollywood with tax breaks

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