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Kokomo firm taps state tax credits to make animated film

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A Kokomo-based startup founded by a children’s book author and an illustrator plans to produce an animated film in Indiana with the help of state film tax credits, economic development officials announced Tuesday.  

Bach Morris Technologies Corp., founded in September 2009 to develop interactive children's toys and media, will spend $2.4 million on “Whoever Heard of a Herd of Fird?” a movie based on author Othello Bach’s 1984 best-seller “Whoever Heard of a Fird?”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. said it offered the company up to $111,245 in assistance through the state's Media Production Expenditure Tax Credit program, which provides movie-makers as much as a 15 percent tax credit on in-state production costs.

Bach Morris' film project is estimated to create more than 20 high-skill jobs including artists, animators and programmers, among other positions.

Ball State University's Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts will provide production and design services for the project through a commercial spinoff, Immersive LLC, expected to launch this fall.

Production is scheduled to begin early next year and the film—Bach Morris’ first—is expected to be ready for release in the second quarter of 2012.

Bach Morris is developing a line of interactive toys based on characters, like Fird and others from its stories. The company also will launch a website with downloadable games and stories.

“Whoever Heard of a Herd of Fird?” is the latest film to choose Indiana for at least some of its production. Recently, “Transformers 3,” “Public Enemies” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” were filmed in-part in northwest Indiana.

Approved by lawmakers in 2008, Indiana's 15-percent tax credit is an effort to beef up the state's film-production industry.

It took industry backers years to get the tax credit on the books, as bills passed the House but not the Senate. When a measure calling for the 15-percent credit finally passed both chambers in 2007, Gov. Mitch Daniels vetoed it, calling the credits overly generous. Eventually the Legislature overturned the veto but capped total credits at $5 million per year.

Despite the progress, Indiana still lags other states. Michigan gives film productions there a 40-percent tax credit, for example, and Illinois offers 20 percent.
 

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