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Senator hopes to revive state incentive for filmmakers

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Democratic Sen. Lonnie Randolph has kicked off what’s expected to be a multi-year effort to revive Indiana’s tax credit for film and TV production.

Indiana’s tax credit expired at the end of 2011, and the newly formed Indiana Media Production Alliance hopes to restore it. Glenn Pratt, president of the Indianapolis-based organization, said he didn’t expect to see any legislation pass during this year’s abbreviated session but will certainly get behind Randolph’s bill.

"If you look at various other states, there is huge potential for building a new industry in Indiana," Pratt said. "This is a long-term endeavor."

Senate Bill 39 provides for a tax credit of as much as 40 percent on production expenses in an economically depressed city or county, and 35 percent elsewhere. The previous credit was 15 percent.

The bill caps the state’s loss at $2.5 million per fiscal year, but the Legislative Services Agency predicted the fiscal impact would be much less, around $240,000 a year after 2015, based on claims under the previous credit.

The credit was used three times between July 2008 and December 2011, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Randolph said he’s been interested in tax credits for filmmaking since reading an article about the economic impact of productions in Illinois and Chicago. “It’s an economic development tool is what it is,” he said.

Illinois offers a 30-percent tax credit on qualified film-production expenses, as well as an additional 15-percent tax credit on salaries for individuals who live in economically disadvantaged areas. The Illinois Film Office says that the movie and TV industries have spent more than $1 billion in the state since the tax credit was enacted in 2004. That includes $184 million spent in 2012, which saw the production of such TV shows as "Chicago Fire," "Boss" and "Mob Doctor."

One side benefit of media productions, Randolph believes, is bringing attention to Indiana communities as good places for other businesses. “Maybe some location will get discovered,” he said.

Legislative leaders have been less enthusiastic about the credit. Randolph filed a similar bill last year, and it didn't get a hearing. His current bill has been referred to the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee.

Tax credits are very influential in producers’ decisions about where to shoot, because their investors want them to save as much money as possible, said Pratt, a freelance production coordinator who works mainly on commercials. Without the credit, crews that come to Indiana usually do so at the urging of Hoosiers who have personal ties to certain locations, he said.

That was the case for Newburgh native Michael Rosenbaum, who shot his feature film “Back in the Day” in the Evansville suburb in 2012 because he grew up there. The movie opens in theaters Jan. 17.

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  • Nothing to lose
    don't know how many films would be shot here...there are already Indie folks working here, tax breaks or no...can't hurt anything...and of course there is no enthusiasm for it in our legislature...there isn't some secret PAC money in their coffers for this...why bother doing something just because it is the right thing to do?
  • Fault in our Stars
    Instead of local author John Green's best-selling book, Fault in our Stars being filmed in Pittsburgh, perhaps Indiana could have had that business? Especially since a pivotal scene in the book takes place at Funky Bones on IMA's 100 Acre campus.

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  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

  3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

  4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.

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