Niche Film Industry Locales: A Growing Trend Fueled by Tax Dollars
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Nov 20, 2012

Niche Film Industry Locales: A Growing Trend Fueled by Tax Dollars

Many states rely at least in part on television, movie and commercial productions to help support their local economies. Besides increasing visibility and boosting tourism, these operations positively impact catering businesses, restaurants, hotels, equipment rentals and more. They also provide paying jobs for local residents, who are often hired to do important grunt work or provide specialty services.

Rare Opportunities

When states are able to attract filmmakers, community residents reap the benefits. According to professional esthetician Shalaine Howell, she tends to receive valuable opportunities when film production companies come to town, including one that allowed her to work on a film by John Carpenter called "The Ward."
"I was a make-up artist for several of the actresses that participated," she said. "It was a lot of fun. Then two summers ago, we worked on a film called 'Knights of Badassdom" starring Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, and Summer Glau." "I also did a small project in Seattle about eight months ago. Washington had an incentive that didn't pass and so a lot of companies decided to produce elsewhere; so long story short, my son is 16, and I want to be able to spend the next few years with him, so I'm just doing as much local work as I can even though there's not as much of it as there used to be."

Luring Them In

Unfortunately, when states fail to snare the attention of filmmakers, they miss out on all the benefits. Recently, Washington took steps to prevent future lost economic opportunities. After recognizing that the state was losing significant business to Vancouver, Washington's House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation providing incentives to filmmakers, including rebates that make the state a much more attractive place to shoot.

Other States Seek to Compete

In a move similar to Washington's, Colorado recently introduced legislation that would aggressively pursue business from filmmakers. Dubbed House Bill 1286, the measure would provide a huge increase in incentives offered to movie makers who choose to film inside the state. The Governor has allocated $3 million for the program, which would increase incentives by 10 percent, while also providing filmmakers with a state guarantee for a senior bank loan.

Is it Worth it?

Many community leaders aren't always so excited about the prospect of dedicating tax dollars to attract production companies; however, as states recognize the benefits, more and more are competing to become niche locales for film productions. Recently, state leaders provided nearly $2.2 million dollars in incentives to convince filmmakers to shoot the movie "Mud" inside Arkansas, and they've already announced intentions to dedicate more funding to lure in future projects.
As a growing number of states recognize the benefits of having production crews working within their borders, smaller markets are now actively competing against one another for the right to play Hollywood for a short while.

Guest Author: Ryam Lawrence writes for Off-Topic Media. Thanks to Shalaine Howell for her contributions to this story. Ms. Howell can be reached at Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics in Spokane, Washington.