Film incentive bill moves to Senate for approval

he film incentive bill (HB69) that passed the Alabama House on Feb. 17 is now in the Alabama Senate and has been assigned to the Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee.
From the editorial “Time to say ‘action’ on movie incentives” in the Feb. 24 edition of the Mobile Press Register:
“The House’s unanimous approval of a bill that would provide film-makers with incentives appropriately sets the stage for Alabama to get back into the movie-making business.  Now, it’s up to the Senate to take action to inject life into the state’s moribund film industry. It would be foolish not to.  Alabama has a lot to offer film-makers, including a mild climate and diverse settings from mountains to beaches, cities to villages, farms to factories and mansions to hovels. But the state is missing out because legislators have been slow to install economic incentives that have proven successful for other states, especially Louisiana. In 2002, Louisiana became the first state to offer incentives to draw the film industry to spend production dollars within its borders. Its film industry grew from $7.3 million to more than $500 million. The movie industry has had a direct impact on Louisiana’s economy, with more than $1.5 billion supporting about 19,000 jobs.
Forty other states followed Louisiana’s lead, all offering some form of incentives in a fierce competition to attract film companies for onsite shooting. Meanwhile, Alabama sat on the sidelines, despite a history of film-making since 1949, when “Twelve O’clock High” was shot at Fort Rucker. Indeed, Alabama had success in attracting film companies before other states rushed in to offer incentives. For example, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was filmed at Brookley Field in 1977 and Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” was shot in Montgomery in 2003. But the film industry has largely avoided the state in recent years. Only two productions came to Alabama in the past two years. Even films that were perfect fits – such as “Sweet Home Alabama,” “The Guardian,” “Crazy in Alabama” and “Forrest Gump” – were shot in other states. That could change. The bill passed by the House would put Alabama back in the competition. It would give film-makers a 25 percent rebate on production costs and a 35 percent rebate on salaries to Alabama residents. It also would exempt most production companies from sales and lodging taxes. Rep. Richard Lindsey’s bill would make up the lost revenue by reinstating penalties on late tax payments.
People who work to attract film companies to Alabama say several are eager to shoot in the state, but they’re waiting for incentives. If the legislation passes, says Eva Golson, the director of the Mobile Film Commission, one or two movies could begin production in Alabama within a few months. Despite the weak national economy, the film industry is thriving. Industry analysts predict a growth of nearly 5 percent a year. Alabama can capture a piece of that economic pie if senators join their colleagues in the House to OK incentives.”

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