Hoosierwood: Group seeks state tax incentives for filmmakers

A lobbying group is hoping it can persuade Indiana lawmakers to approve tax incentives to companies making movies in the state, saying it will create jobs.

The Indiana Media Production Alliance is proposing legislation that would include a 30-percent rebate or refundable tax credit on expenditures and nonresident labor, with minimum spending of $50,000. An additional 10-percent rebate or credit is tied to the hiring of Indiana-based crew members. And a 5-percent rebate or credit is tied to Indiana stories or filming that's done in economically depressed areas.

"We want to build an industry," sound technician Chuck Budreau, a member of Indiana Media Production Alliance's executive committee, told The Indianapolis Star. "It's nice to build the artistic things, and they will come along with it. But the main thing is, we want an industry that will create local jobs and not just bring people in from California to shoot films here."

Budreau said IMPA surveyed 160 film-industry workers when putting together the proposal. He said incentives provided by Illinois, a 30-percent credit on productions and a 30-percent credit on local salaries, provided a basic framework for the lobby group's plan.

Film productions generated $184 million in spending in Illinois in 2012, according to state officials. TV productions generated $92 million.

Few projects of any size were filmed in Indiana between mid-2008 and the beginning of 2012. According to IMPA, seven films with budgets exceeding $1 million were made in Indiana during that time period.

State Rep. Tim Brown, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said IMPA shouldn't anticipate immediate success because the legislature won't be writing a budget during the upcoming session and film-related tax incentives aren't universally popular.

"Some states have had positive results with these credits, and some states have dropped them because they found they weren't worthwhile," said Brown, R-Crawfordsville.

A successful proposal would create a climate in which money stayed in the state instead of fleeing with visiting filmmakers after each wrap party, Brown said.

"You want to make sure you get jobs for the long-term, and this is an industry that probably isn't growing jobs for the next generation," he said.

Indiana Economic Development Corp. spokeswoman Katelyn Hancock said Film Indiana wasn't taking a position on whether a new film industry tax incentive should be adopted.

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