Hawaii Film Blog

Monday, April 17, 2006

More Film Tax Incentive Success Stories

Brrr, it's cold up here: Poor Wentworth Miller is shooting "Prison Break" in Illinois (where there's an attractive tax credit), but would rather be shooting in Hawaii (where there isn't...yet!). (Photo: Fox)

In his Newsweek column, George F. Will recently commented on the pending Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of state-sponsored tax incentives. Will provides a brief history of states competing with and undercutting each other to attract business, and argues that this practice is a laudable one because "Capital goes where it is welcome and stays where it is well treated."

With respect to the film industry, some states get this message loud and clear. Here are the latest film tax credit success stories, and the latest on wannabe states that want a piece of the action:

  • New York: Fueled by the astounding success of its pilot film and TV tax incentive program, the New York State Legislature recently passed a budget that extends this program through 2012, increases the annual overall credit allotment from $25 million to $60 million, and allots a separate new $42 million incentive for commercial productions.
  • Illinois: A bill is currently moving through the state legislature to extend and increase Illinois' current film tax credit--25% off IL resident labor costs--that's expiring next January. The new incentive program would give productions a 20% rebate on total IL production costs and 15% back on labor costs for employees hired from high-poverty areas. The state is hoping to lure another runaway success like Fox's "Prison Break." (Side note: "Prison Break" star Wentworth Miller apparently recently fantasized that, "In the last episode of the season, we slip into the prison's sewer systems, up through these grates, and pop out a hatch--and we're face-to-face with Matthew Fox, and we spend season two on a tropical beach." What, those cold Chicago winters up in Joliet not doin' it for ya, Wenty? Miller is referring of course to "Lost," which, incidentally, is shot in (now sunny again) Hawaii.)
  • Arizona: The state's new film tax incentive program has already attracted numerous productions, and it's also stimulating the animation business. Several animation firms have opened up in Arizona, expressing interest in working with local AZ college students to provide on-the-job animation training.
  • Connecticut: This state is jealous of all the attention and love productions are giving to its neighbors (MA, RI, and NY), so there is bipartisan support for a bill that's currently moving through its legislature. This bill currently offers 25% back on eligible costs for companies spending $50K+, and a whopping 30% back to companies spending $1M+.

And let's not forget Hawaii, where our film bill (SB2570)--providing a 15% rebate on Oahu expenditures and a 20% rebate on neighbor island expenditures for films, TV projects, commercials, and photo shoots spending $200K+--has passed both legislative bodies and currently sits in conference. We'll find our real soon (in about 2 weeks) for sure whether this bill will become law.

15-20% Tax Credit Bill Passes House Floor Vote
Film Bill: The Final Frontier
>> State Tax Credits on Trial in Supreme Court
Tax Credits Bring Gigantic Film Studio to Queens
>> Beantown as Tinseltown
Everyone Else Is Doing It...
States Cannibalizing States
Press Massacres Hawaii's Film Tax Credits Again

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