- Parent Category: Preproduction
- Category: Locations
- Published on Wednesday, 09 July 2008 17:13
- Written by Frank and Margie Barron
Bragging about their “painless 25 percent tax rebate, with no cap and no minimum spend requirement,” has paid off handsomely, according to deputy director of the New Mexico Film Office, Jennifer Schwalenberg. With a couple more months to go in the fiscal year, New Mexico’s revenue from productions hit $471.6 million, versus the $467 million for the entire 2007 fiscal year. Plus, there’s a film investment loan program with 0 percent interest ─ up to $15 million. Add to that, the state’s Film Crew Advancement Program, offering 50 percent wage reimbursement for on-the-job training of New Mexico residents in advance below-the-line positions, and it’s clear to see why the state is one of the fastest growing production communities.
The incentives have helped develop “an exceptional and extensive crew base ─ the largest between coasts ─ with 1800 members and dozens of dedicated industry vendors,” Schwalenberg reports.
The state also offers one of the most successful U.S. incentive programs for studio and independent projects. The new Albuquerque Studios has been active and offer several new sound stages. And the film office offers a searchable location database on its website. New Mexico, a union state, is less than a two-hour flight from Los Angeles, has a temperate climate with over 300 days of sunshine, and varied sites ─ from snow-capped mountains to deserts ─ adding to its lure. Also, there’s the state’s Green Filmmaking Initiative, offering help and advice on environmental projects.
Producer Paul Stupin, for the USA Channel series In Plain Sight, says going to Albuquerque was a great move, because the state’s landscape has “its own unique quirkiness that fits the show; it’s a spectacular place to film.
Recent productions include: Crash, Lifetime’s Sex & Lies in Sin City, and feature films Run for Her Life, Observe and Report, Easier with Practice, Legion, and Terminator Salvation: the Future Begins, directed by McG.
Arizona’s Motion Picture Tax Incentive Program (MOPIC) has been a key reason for major productions filming in the state. A qualified company may receive income tax credits equal to 20 or 30 percent of the company’s investment in eligible Arizona production costs. And since the MOPIC program was enacted in 2006, over 140 applications with more than 50 qualified pre-approvals that have started their productions.
Changes to the MOPIC program in Arizona have added new incentives in 2008, such as the “Commercial and Music Video” set-aside of five percent of the annual allocation, and a new “Infrastructure Transferable Tax Incentive” for studio facilities specifically for the film and television industry.
The Arizona MOPIC program is fluid in that pre-approvals for qualified productions can enter the program and if for some reason, are unable to complete their obligations, the pre-approval credits are withdrawn and placed back into the program for that calendar year.
Last year, producer/director Peter Berg turned the Arizona desert into Saudi Arabia for Universal Pictures’ The Kingdom, and called it a great experience with the incentives and support from the film office.
Before lensing Stephen King’s Desperation for ABC/Circle Films, producer/director Mick Garris says his producing partner, Mark Sennet, “met with Arizona government officials and helped shape the favorable situations for filmmakers there. We had a great experience in Tucson and Bisbee [with] great locations, enthusiastic cast and crew, and open arms from both the governmental forces and the citizens, which makes a huge difference.”
Director of the Arizona Film Office Harry Tate explains that the, “film and television industry has long recognized the vast array of locales and beautiful scenery Arizona has to offer. We've added to our scenic attributes with financial incentives that offer budgetary reasons to consider filming in Arizona. We continue to attract attention from many international countries whose filmmakers and television producers have found the look, the cooperation, and the experience they were seeking in Arizona.”
Recent productions included: Kids in America (2008), Lionsgate’s series, Hidden Palms (2007), and a Sony/Spike TV pilot called, SIS. There was an independent feature from the Ronalds Brothers (Netherbeast Incorporated) called The Graves and Jolene, Into The Wild, Jake's Corner, and Longshot. Website: www.azcommerce.com/film
The Pennsylvania film incentive is a 25 percent transferable tax credit for film and television projects. There’s a maximum of $75 million available per year, and 60 percent must be spent for qualified Pennsylvania expenses. Goods and services for the production qualify if purchased from state vendors. If the expense is subject to state taxes, it qualifies. Production insurance completion bond and workers compensation qualify, if purchased from a Pennsylvania vendor.
Productions can utilize state-owned locations at no charge, except for costs incurred by the affected department or agency, but permits are required to shoot on the majority of state property. Completed films must acknowledge the Pennsylvania Film Office in final credits and display the state’s logo. The state also offers a 20 percent grant program. There’s a large crew base, along with support services in the two main urban centers located in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. And the infrastructure is growing with plans for developers to build two movie studios in Delaware County and Montgomery County ─ due to a great tax credit benefit.
Thanks to a big push by Sharon Pinkenson of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, the local IATSE union reports that more than $500 million in projects are underway or planned for the next three years.
Recent productions include: The Dream of the Romans, Marley & Me, Happy Tears, The Last Airbander, Transformers 2; series Cold Case, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.