In states across the country, subsidies and tax credits for film projects are being left on the cutting room floor.
Oklahoma’s $5 million incentive program — which was among those scrutinized by the tax credit task force — is at risk, and state filmmakers and supporters are fighting back, according to Oklahoma Watch, which reports that the state has helped finance 20 feature films in four years, including one that starred Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson.
But a state lawmaker says the Oklahoma film industry isn’t adequately casting for an important, recurring role: Full-time Employee.
“We give them up to 37 percent of all of their costs, and there aren’t any full-time jobs from that,” Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, told Oklahoma Watch. “They say there will be full-time jobs in the future. But I want to know when and where.”
Currently, most film work in Oklahoma is temporary, said Jill Simpson, director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office. This year’s $5 million subsidy will “stimulate” $15 million in spending on labor, food, lodging and other expenses, she told Oklahoma Watch.
The idea, basically: small, successful film projects will snowball into more, bigger film projects. Over time, Simpson said, there will be enough film activity to support permanent industry employment.
Oklahoma’s film incentives are among those included in a moratorium installed in 2010 to help offset a state revenue shortfall. The moratorium is set to expire on Dec. 31, but Dank, who co-chaired the tax credit task force, has filed a bill that would extend the suspension two more years.
The Small Screen?
Compared to some states, Oklahoma’s film subsidies are relatively small.
Is that a good or bad thing?
That might depend on when you ask industry supporters.
Small was a bad thing in 2011, when the Film and Music Office tried unsuccessfully to double the program’s cap to $10 million. And all $5 million of the film subsidy was tapped just three months into FY 2012, Oklahoma Watch reports.
Small could be good, however, when you’re in the state’s funding cross-hairs.
“I know every program is being scrutinized, but we’re tiny in the scheme of things,” Simpson told Oklahoma Watch. “With the program capped at $5 million, we’re not attracting blockbusters. We’re not trying to create Hollywood in Oklahoma.”