The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
The good: The Film Industry generates large sums of money for a huge economic impact in Arizona. The bad: State tax incentives to attract filmmaking here are about to expire. The ugly: Arizona economy will suffer.
The Governor’s Film & Television Commission, which was part of the Arizona Department of Commerce, no longer exists because the Commerce department took an 85 percent budget cut this year. Arizona’s Business Attraction Manager Ken Chapa has been trying to include promotion for the film industry in his marketing projects, but his office will no longer be in existence as of July 2010.
According to Chapa, part of the problem has been that legislators didn’t understand the benefits of an incentive program to encourage filmmaking in Arizona. Chapa thinks part of the reason for that is because many elected officials have taken filmmaking in Arizona for granted because it’s always been here. In speaking with legislators, he found that most were very surprised by the fact that when films are made here, they have a huge work force behind them. Right now reports show $60 million to $70 million a year of projects we know about. But we need to have a program in order to compete.
Chapa: “Forty-two out of 50 states offer huge incentives to bring projects in. If you don’t have an incentive, you don’t play ball; that’s what drives location decisions. Arizona offers about 30 percent back in tax credits, but that’s slated to go away on December 31, 2010.”
The Arizona Film & Media Coalition President Mike McGinn told me that they’ve been working diligently on a new bill for the last two years, but there is no organization to provide monies for lobbying to educate legislators on the benefits of attracting film to Arizona.
McGinn explained that the film community is part of a vibrant social fabric that Arizona needs. “It’s a marketing tool for a lifestyle and tourism, and it brings a certain panache and excitement to a community; leaves large sums of money and leaves little footprints. It’s one of the industries that we can have here, that with our sunlight, proximity to California, and with the diverse and educated crews we have, we would have a natural advantage over most other states. We could be one of the top destinations for motion pictures outside of Hollywood. The money that comes into the community involves restaurants, rental cars, flowers, furniture stores, prop houses, art galleries, and catering, just to name a few.
“This is a broad-based economic impact: it creates high paying jobs and puts money into all phases of the economy. We’re not talking about short-term impacts; all the many films shot here from John Wayne and John Ford and all the way to recent movies, travel the world and people see Arizona, and see the red rocks and the Grand Canyon and the sunsets, and come to Arizona for that mystique. If we lose that we lose a marketing tool going forward for the Arizona brand for generations.”
The Arizona Film & Media Organization is comprised of: SAG, AFTRA, APA, IATSE, Teamsters, IFP, the Phoenix Film Foundation, The Visitors & Convention Bureau and schools.
Two new competing tax incentive bills have been introduced in the current legislative session. Both bills are sponsored by developers who wish to build or already have studio sites in Arizona. Both would replace the existing incentive program. On February 18, the groups behind the bills met with representatives from the Tucson and Phoenix Film Offices and the AFMC. They agreed to change the language of SB1409 to make it more agreeable to the local production community representatives. As a result, the AFMC is now IN FAVOR of this bill. An amendment to the bill was heard on February 23 by the Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee, and the amendment passed through this committee.
How can you help? By making a donation to the AFMC. Every single dollar counts at this point, and there are two ways to donate:
1) By mailing a check made payable to the AFMC to:
Arizona Film & Media Coalition, Inc.
Attn: Roxanne Chaisson, Secretary
20325 N. 51st Avenue, Suite 134
Glendale, AZ 85308
2) By making a donation from the AFMC’s web site.
Article By Lou Hunt