Monday, September 6, 2010

[MISP] Rebate/Incentive update from the Nation


Thought I would post this article from Colorado State, as it includes state Tax Incentive/Rebate circumstance from around the States......

Colorado faces uphill battle to be market player
State most attractive to TV productions, advertisers
By Todd Longwell

Ask Ken Seagren to reflect on Colorado's boom years, and he recalls
the late
1980s and early 1990s. That's when Viacom Prods. transformed Denver
into a
production hub for such shows as "Father Dowling Mysteries" and
"Diagnosis
Murder," not to mention numerous telefims including two dozen "Perry
Mason"
mysteries starring Raymond Burr.

"There was always at least one, if not two big Viacom shows shooting
at the
same time," says Seagren, president of grip and light company Lighting
Services. "And these were shot for months, typical TV-type schedules,
so
there were like 200 Teamsters working."

But by the late 1990s, the boom had gone bust. 

Canada had initiated a series of incentives, luring away TV movie
business
that had been the state's staple. Then, in 2002, Louisiana passed a
generous
production tax credit package, kicking off an escalating domestic
incentives
war that has since spread to about 40 states.

Sure, Colorado still has its good looks, from the lush majesty of the
snow-capped Rocky Mountains to the arid beauty of the Sand Dunes
National
Park, the largest sand dunes in the U.S. But its 10% tax rebate can't
compete with states like Michigan, which boasts a 42% tax credit, or
its
neighbor to the south, New Mexico, which offers a 25% rebate.

"Within a span of 15 years, the industry has gone from 'location,
location,
location' to 'incentive, incentive, incentive,' and it's almost to
the point
where that is the only thing they look at," says Kevin Shand,
director of
the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media. "I was in a
meeting with
a producer a couple of months ago and she said, 'Listen. Until you
hit 25%,
I'm not even going to consider you. You're not on my radar.' "

To help boost its profile, Colorado recently made it a little easier
to
qualify for its incentives. Previously, a project needed to spend 75%
of its
below-the-line budget in Colorado and 75% of its cast and crew had to
be
state residents. As of July 1, the below-the-line spend clause has
been
eliminated and the percentage of Colorado residents required to work
on a
project was reduced from 75% to 25%. The legislature also lowered the
minimum spend for out-of-state production companies from $1 million to
$250,000.

Shand believes the reduced requirements will help draw productions
that drop
in for a week or two for colorful backdrops, as they have throughout
the
state's history, from 1969's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and
"True
Grit" to 1989's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." 

He also hopes this will attract low-budget indies that need the
state's
practical locations. "I think our market is the guy doing the $1
million-$10
million movie," Shand says. "Because in a lot of the big-budget
incentive
states, how much attention is a $1 million or $5 million movie going
to get?
They want the guy who's going to spend $20 million or $50 million. If
we can
get somebody here to spend $5 million, we'll be happy."

While its film market has never hit the big time, Colorado has made a
steady
impact in television.

This year, the state also opened up its incentives to TV commercials,
an
enduring staple of the state's production economy. It's a particularly
popular destination for auto and tire manufacturers, due in part to
the ease
of moving quickly from winding mountain roads to ultra-modern urban
landscapes. 

"Denver's up against the foothills, so it's minutes to the
mountains," says
Seagren, whose company has worked on commercials for most of the major
automakers, as well as spots for brands such as Nike, McDonald's,
Budweiser
and Coca-Cola.

Once known as "the cable capital of the world," Colorado's TV
commercial
industry has been buttressed by the presence of telecommunications
companies
such as Dish Network and Liberty Media (whose holdings include the
Denver-based Starz Entertainment), both of which have their
headquarters in
the state. 

"[This] gave us the ability to do national work right in Denver,"
says Monty
Miranda, who co-founded the commercial production company Incite
Films after
earning a cinema degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder in
1990.
"I got the opportunity to do the first TiVo commercials and the first
Redbox
commercials with McDonald's."

Colorado is also a force in the world of reality TV, thanks to High
Noon
Entertainment, which is set to deliver more than 400 hours of
programming to
eight networks for the 2010-11 television season, including VH1's
"Tough
Love," TLC's "Cake Boss" and Food Network's "Ultimate Recipe
Showdown." 

The company was founded in 1997 by Jim Berger, Duke Hartman and Sonny
Hutchinson, who had worked together at local NBC affiliate KUSA-TV
from the
1980s through the mid-1990s. Early on, it had success selling shows to
Scripps (HGTV, Food Network, etc.), based in Ohio, and Discovery
Networks
(Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery, etc.), based in Maryland, but cable
channels
in Los Angeles and New York were less receptive.

"There was a prejudice against Colorado back then," says Berger, High
Noon's
CEO. "Then, about seven or eight years ago, we put a really smart
young team
in L.A. We wanted them to get in business with MTV, VH1 and Lifetime,
and
that's what they've been able to do.' After this, "we opened up an
operation
in New York last year with the sole intent of getting more business
going
with A&E, History and others like them based there."

(While postproduction for most High Noon programming is done out of
its main
offices in Millennium, Colo., only four of its shows are actually
shot in
the state: "Food Network Challenge," VH1's "Secrets of Aspen" and
DIY's
"Disaster House" and "Dominator.")

The TV business aside, Colorado still leaves a lot to be desired for
those
on the local-talent side of the business, most of whom must reach
outside
the state to score a gig in the big leagues. 

Agent Kathleen Ham of Denver-based Donna Baldwin Talent says she has
no
trouble finding clients who will work locally for voice-overs,
commercials
and industrials. But if they want a movie role, her clients
frequently have
to drive six hours to Albuquerque, N.M., for a 10-minute audition. And
Miranda, who shot his debut feature "Skills Like This" in Denver, had
to
move Los Angeles in part to get new work. He is planning to shoot his
next
film, "Liquid Sky," in Boston, where he can take advantage of
Massachusetts'
25% tax credit. 

Anecdotes like this further frustrate Colorado's film boosters, who
admit
there's little chance they'll ever have a truly competitive
incentive. 

Year after year, the state's production community pushes hard for an
increase -- and every the legislature votes it down. It doesn't help
that
the state has a long history of fiscal conservatism, a
constitutionally
mandated balanced budget and the same recession-induced revenue
shortfalls
afflicting other states. 

Many members of the state's production community are optimistic that
this
fall's elections could bring in a new governor, more willing and able
to
push through an improved incentive -- namely Democratic candidate and
current Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, cousin of Emmy-winning
filmmaker
George Hickenlooper.

"Colorado's perspective is, 'We will invest in an industry, but we're
not
going to subsidize it,' " Shand says. "So, no, we're not going to get
'Terminator 16' here. But we will get a week or 10 days of a 'Bucket
List.'
And, I'm happy with that."

Thank you Hollywood Reporter.

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