Film incentives gain steam
January 27, 2009
A television series hasn’t filmed in Park City since the producers of "Everwood" left Utah almost three years ago.
"We have not replaced ‘Everwood’ with any sort of long-running television series," Utah Film Commission Director Marshall Moore said. "We would like to attract another series to the state because that’s where the real economics pay off."
The Utah Film Commission hopes state lawmakers will pass legislation to attract more TV producers, who spend up to $1 million per episode working in the state.
"This bill will make the state more competitive with other states like New Mexico and Louisiana in attracting bigger budget productions," Moore said.
Senate Bill 14 would increase the current financial incentives the government provides filmmakers from 15 to 20 percent of their production costs.
"Filmmakers have been coming here since the 1920s to work," Moore said in a telephone interview Monday. "We have an industry in place here, we just need to sustain it and grow it."
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The Utah Film Commission met with more than 100 independent filmmakers last week during the Sundance Film Festival to discuss the bill aimed at providing filmmakers with more financial perks.
"Anything that helps the filmmakers is a good thing," Sundance Film Festival spokeswoman Brooks Addicott said.
Utah is competing with about 40 other states to attract film crews, Moore said, adding that a television series could employ 200 people for up to 10 months at a time.
"We have to have a stronger program to compete for some of those bigger budget films and TV series," he said. "A blockbuster, put aside the fact that it gets a lot of notoriety, what it does is employs more people for a longer period of time It creates jobs very quickly, because when a production chooses a state, one of the first things they start doing is hiring people on the ground."
Filmmakers can currently receive a 15 percent refund of up to $500,000 of expenses they incur in Utah.
"They have to spend all their money first before we give them anything," Moore said. "Not every single production does hit the cap."
SB 14 would provide incentives in the form of cash rebates to small-budget producers who film in Utah. The bill would provide tax credits to larger-budget productions.
"This new bill will sustain, grow and make Utah one of the premier destinations for filmmakers all over the world," Governor’s Office of Economic Development Executive Director Jason Perry said in a prepared statement. "This bill is a great way to increase economic activity through film production."
Politicians in Utah are beginning to realize that filmmaking is related to economic development, Marshall said, adding that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has termed the state, "Saltywood."
"He’s referenced that a couple times after Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake," Marshall said. "It’s imperative if we want to be competitive as a state, to pass legislation like this that will help us have the tools necessary to attract the studios and TV series."