SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In recent years, Utah has been in competition with Hollywood for the No. 1 position in America’s film industry. However, state legislatures have failed to acknowledge this, putting the state’s position as one of the industries leaders in jeopardy. So what? According to the Motion Picture Association of Utah (MPAU), the film industry is an economic contributor the state can’t afford to lose.
ABC4 recently sat down with Brooke Redmon, Vice President of the MPAU, a strong proponent of the Utah film incentive and the industry as a whole.
According to Redmon, Utah sits near the top of the film industry. The state is an extremely attractive film-site, as it offers beautiful landscape, top-quality crew members, and a decent film incentive.
Studio Binder defines a film incentive as “a tax benefit offered on a state-by-state basis throughout the U.S. to encourage in-state film production.” In short, film incentives vary by state. If a state has a 25% film incentive they are eligible to offer a production company a 25% credit of total production costs.
A big film incentive goes a long way. Redmon explained that a large incentive attracts big-name producers and directors such as Kevin Costner, who is set to come to Utah for incentive in the near future. Utah currently offers producers a 25% film incentive. “If we didn’t give him (Costner) that incentive, he would go somewhere else,” said Redmon.
The dedicated producer went on to explain the economic benefits our state receives as a result of appealing to these big industry names. “When big-name producers and directors come to Utah to film, they put Hollywood’s money in the hands of Utah legislatures through supporting local businesses, restaurants, staying in local hotels, purchasing gas from local gas stations, and everything in between.”
Redmon stated that one project alone could bring in around $80 million in state funds. “We just did a film study and found that for every dollar the film industry spends in Utah, seven dollars in state funds is produced,” she said.
Redmon went on to explain how it’s up to the MPAU to bring together Utah’s entire film community to educate state legislatures on how big the state’s film community is and what they actually do, so that they’re inclined to support a large Utah film incentive and Utah’s film industry can continue to thrive.
“Film companies go where they can get the most bang for their buck,” Redmon said. “The bigger the film incentive, the better.”
As of today, Utah has an adequate film incentive of 25%, though other state’s such as Georgia and New Mexico have a more attractive incentive. According to Redmond, this doesn’t always matter. She emphasized Utah’s exceptional film crew quality, cheap cost of filming, and close location to Los Angeles as factors that make Utah a better film-site than many other states.
“As a producer, a big piece of my job is negotiating with these big film companies like Diney and Paramount that our 25% incentive is better than–for example–Georgia’s 30% incentive”
Redmon went on to note the organization’s goal of educating legislatures that Hollywood is not responsible for producing these blockbuster Utah films like ‘National Treasure’, ‘Napoleon Dynamite’, and ‘127 Hours’.
As noted by Redmon, “It’s all of these local filmmakers. The industry is Utah.”