What The Nation Is Talking About: Film Production Tax Incentives - June 24

Movie ClapperIn the eight years since the number of states offering incentives to lure film production ballooned from under ten to forty, the incentives have been praised by industry advocates and damned by financial hawks. For many states, it's been about bad timing, as the incentives for some were enacted just a year or two before the economy tanked and they never gained any traction. Here's a snapshot glance of what's being talked about locally Tax Incentive wise in Wisconsin, New York and Maryland. Once a state offering subsidies to filmmakers, Wisconsin has become an early dropout in the race to woo Hollywood.  More than 40 states offer incentives, but Gov. Jim Doyle slashed Wisconsin’s subsidy program in 2009, leaving leaders in the state’s fledgling film industry complaining he cut too far.

Wisconsin now offers only a miniscule $500,000 a year grant program to filmmakers and video game companies. Local filmmakers say it’s not enough to foster growth in the state’s film industry.

“I don’t know of anybody that’s been able to take advantage of it,” says Michael Graf, a director and owner of Madison’s Spot Filmworks, which produces commercials for Midwestern and national clients. It’s one of just a few commercial production companies in the state. That began to change in 2008 when the state’s incentives took effect, he says – but the new studios, camera rental companies and other businesses that sprang up wilted when the incentives died.

Wisconsin, you could have been in the pictures!

Speaking at a press event outside of the Capitol, [Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick] Lazio blasted the state for replacing the $500 million Empire Zone program with the $50 million Excelsior program while increasing the Film Production Tax Credit by $85 million, Gannett’s Jon Campbell reports.

“The big shots in Hollywood—the celebrities, the big investors, the big money players—they’re actually getting an increase at the expense of the average small businessperson in New York,” Lazio said.

“The answer is pretty clear: the special interests are in control of the special interest government.”

Lazio Visits Albany, Talks Tax Breaks and Cuomo

Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said Wednesday that he would lure television and film productions to Maryland by expanding a state tax credit that has been cut since he left office.

The state budgeted $6 million for the tax credit under Ehrlich; the current figure is about $1 million. As a result, the Ehrlich campaign said Wednesday, no major production has come to Maryland in three years.

Ehrlich would boost credit for film, TV productions