Charlotte Regional Film Commission fights to keep cameras rolling in North Carolina

As long as we’re talking about North Carolina today, this article from another local paper comes to my attention with some interesting statistics:

“What puts us on the radar screen are the film incentives for North Carolina,” [Charlotte Regional Film Commission director Beth] Petty said. “It’s so important that we have those. That’s what brings in the big shows like ‘The Hunger Games.’”…

“The Hunger Games” alone added $60 million into the local economy, Petty said, including 21,000 hotel nights and the hiring of 300 construction workers who built sets.

Since 2007, production companies have pumped $1 billion into North Carolina, the lion’s share going toward paying for local labor such as electricians, carpenters, drivers, seamstresses and camera operators….

Later there’s this quote from a local business owner:

Shane Smith, owner of A Tasteful Solution catering company, said things like feeding the crews that created two Hallmark movies in the Winston-Salem region have come to account for between 15 and 25 percent of his business. They’ve also caused him to hire more chefs and delivery people.

North Carolina’s film production incentive sunsets at the end of 2014, but the state legislature doesn’t officially resume business in Raleigh until May 14, 2014.

Read the whole thing:

Huntersville Herald: Film Commission fights to keep cameras rolling

Film incentive shows tourism impact in North Carolina

The Wilmington Star News this morning reports on the tourism impact that the film production incentive has had on one North Carolina town:

“In 2013, tourism visitors to the museum [the Maritime Museum of Southport] has been 50 percent higher than the year before,” said museum manager Mary Strickland. “Movie and TV show filming in the area has contributed to our boost in numbers…When people saw the film ‘Safe Haven’ they wanted to come to Southport to see where it was shot. Inevitably, they ended up in our museum as they looked around the town.”

Strickland said that now that “Under the Dome” has filmed in Southport, the museum has seen even more visitors who want the full Southport/Under the Dome experience as well.

There’s more, including thoughts on the film incentive from city councilors, at the link:

Star-News Online: Southport museum project advances as board lauds film tourism

Forget Kickstarter: How Obama’s New Law Could Change Hollywood Crowd-Funding

The Hollywood Reporter has an interesting story about a law signed last year called the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (nice acronym), which goes into effect in September. The law lifted “depression-era restrictions on how fledging businesses raise money” in the hopes of boosting the economy, and it could change the way filmmakers crowd-fund their movie projects. Is “equity crowd-funding” the way of the future? Read reporter Paul Bond’s story here:

Forget Kickstarter: How Obama’s New Law Could Change Hollywood Crowd-Funding

NM: Governor Signs Bill Boosting TV Incentives

At a ceremony at the University of New Mexico today, Gov. Susana Martinez signed a comprehensive tax bill that included the so-called “Breaking Bad” provision increasing tax credits for television series.

The film bill started out as its own piece of legislation in the House and the Senate. But after it was passed, then vetoed by Martinez on the day before the session ended, it was revived by its sponsor, Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Albuquerque, and became part of a complex and comprehensive tax bill that passed in the final seconds of the session on March 15.

The bi-partisan popularity of the film bill helped those efforts, said Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. He heads the powerful Senate Finance Committee and is a fiscal conservative who has often criticized the film tax credits.

“My concern with this is, with 47 states offering film credits, we’re going to be a rest stop on the way to the next credit rather than [gaining] the stability and permanency we’d love to have,” Smith said at the bill-signing ceremony. “That being said, I also recognized immediately the appetite for the film credit on the House side and it created a great vehicle to attach a little amendment to.”

That “little amendment” has sparked outcries by some legislators that sweeping changes, such as slashing the corporate tax rate and phasing out reimbursements to local governments, were pushed through at the last minute, preventing lawmakers from evaluating the legislation.

Martinez spent little time on the film component of the legislation before signing the bill, but noted that it “preserves the predictability of the budget cap while giving a larger incentive to longer term TV productions that shoot in New Mexico.” She called the entire package of legislation a “game changer” that makes New Mexico more competitive. That same word was used several weeks ago by Mary Ann Hughes, vice president of film and television production planning for Walt Disney Studios, an interview with the Albuquerque Journal.

Hughes is a leader in Hollywood in comparing incentives globally, said Jason Hool, president of Santa Fe Studios.

“Everyone looks to her, so if she says it’s a game changer, it’s a game changer,” Hool said.

His facility is currently full, although he could not release information on the productions, but they include films and television shows.

Rick Clemente, CEO of I-25 Studios, said his facility has seen “an enormous uptick in activity” since bill was introduced in the legislature.

“I’m booked through the summer with four feature films right now,” he said. “I think our biggest problem in the recent past was the perception that the state was not interested in the business or not interested in pursuing it and we turned that completely around.”

Wayne Rauschenberger, COO of Albuquerque Studios, said he has received several calls from productions confirming the holds they put on some of his stages and also got several inquiries from studios that have been there previously. ABQ Studios* hosted productions such as “Terminator Salvation” and “The Avengers,” as well as “Breaking Bad.”

The New Mexico Film Office announced this week that “A Million Ways to Die in the West” starring Seth McFarland, Charlize Theron and Sarah Silverman will film here. The A&E series “Longmire” is in production in and around Santa Fe. “The Homesman” starring Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank is also in production around Santa Fe and Las Vegas. Forest Whitaker is in southern New Mexico this week shooting “Enemy Way.”

The new law allows TV series shooting at least six episodes and with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode to get a rebate of 30 percent on qualified expenditures, up from 25 percent. That same boost applies to expenditures on New Mexico resident crew for feature films with budgets up to $30 million that shoot at least 10 days in studio facilities in the state, and on feature films with budget of more than $30 million that shoot in studio facilities in the state for at least 15 days.

The law also allows unused credits to roll over to the next year if the $50 million annual cap on film credits was not reached. That is limited to $10 million annually with a three-year sunset provision. The law also allows productions to assign their anticipated credit to banks or other financing groups and thus get upfront financing for a film. And productions will have to make “reasonable efforts” to contract with vendors that have a physical presence in the state. Also, some non-resident crew expenses are rebatable, but only if a production made reasonable efforts to hire resident crew and it made financial or in-kind contributions toward workforce development or education programs.

Joseph Chianese, senior vice president with Entertainment Partners, which tracks incentives around the world, said the law gives New Mexico a significant advantage.

“It makes it a destination for television,” he said.

Supporters pushed for the provision because they said TV series stay longer and spend more money locally. At the moment, almost no other states have incentives geared specifically to TV, he added. Although New York recently expanded its definition of qualified expenditures to lure more kinds of television shows and extended its incentives out to 2019 (they had been set to sunset at the end of 2014, he said). It’s one reason “The Tonight Show” and “America’s Got Talent” are leaving L.A. and headed for the Big Apple.

The United Kingdom is also boosting incentives for television, Chianese said. He predicts that California will be the big loser in all this. Worldwide, some countries are extremely aggressive in courting productions. Australia is giving Disney a $20.7 million incentive to shoot the remake of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” down under, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

*(Full Disclosure: Albuquerque Studios is the primary financial backer of this website, however it does not have editorial control over my content.)

Megan Kamerick is a veteran reporter who has covered the film and media industry in New Mexico for many years.

 

 

 

Visualizing the Gallivan proposal for increased incentives in upstate New York

Earlier this year, New York State Senator Patrick M. Gallivan introduced S. 498, which would increase the New York State film production tax credit in upstate New York on a sliding scale. Senator Gallivan, who represents the Buffalo/Western New York area, was understandably upset when the Lionsgate production of a feature film called Draft Day, originally written about the Buffalo Bills, was re-written for the Cleveland Browns and relocated its production to Cleveland, taking with it hundreds of jobs and over $20 million in projected spending.

Senator Gallivan’s original bill proposed a four tier system, which would retain the current 30% in New York City, where more than 86% of the current production work in the State is located, and provide increases to 35% in nine down-state counties that are close to New York City; 40% in the eight counties of the capitol region; and 45% in the rest of the state. The text of the bill is here. According to a press release issued on March 27, 2013, the final state budget is expected to include a modified version of this proposal, but with only a two-tier system, providing 40% in upstate and western New York, but keeping the rest of the state, including the capitol region and the nine down-state counties, at the current 30%.

Since long lists of county names can be hard to get a grip on, the Media Economy Review created a handy map to help readers visualize and understand the geography of the two versions of this proposal. You can view the map here.

NM: Governor Promises To Sign Bill With Increased TV Incentives

The “Breaking Bad” bill has been reborn.

An omnibus tax bill that includes increased incentives for television series passed the New Mexico Legislature at the 11th hour and Gov. Susana Martinez has promised to sign it, despite her veto the day before of the original TV incentive bill.

I support the film industry,” Martinez said in a news conference. “I wish the veto had not been necessary, but it’s my job as governor to create an environment where jobs can grow across the board.”

Martinez said she will sign the bill and will also sign the budget bill “despite deficiencies.”

This will avoid the need for a special session, and that’s good for everybody, including New Mexico taxpayers,” she said.

The bill was revived by sponsor Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, House majority whip, as HB 641 after the original bill, HB 379 was vetoed by Martinez, but in her veto message she indicated she was willing to compromise if the bill was part of a larger tax reform package.

The provisions of the TV show tax credit were amended into the corporate tax cut in the final minutes of the session, according to a spokesperson for the Senate Republicans. The corporate tax rate would be reduced from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent over a five year phase-in.

The bill boosts the 25 percent tax rebate on qualified production expenditures to 30 percent for television series shooting at least six episodes in the state with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode. It would also extend that boost to feature films provided the productions meet certain budget thresholds and use studio facilities in the state for a specified period of time. Also, the extra rebate for films is only applicable to New Mexico crew expenses.

The bill also allows up to $10 million in credits to roll over to the following year if the credits paid out do not reach the $50 million annual cap. It specifies that productions shall make “reasonable efforts” to contract with vendors that have a physical presence in the state. And it allows for some non-resident crew expenses to be rebated, but only if a production makes reasonable efforts to hire resident crew and it makes financial or in-kind contributions toward workforce development or education programs.

 

NM: House Passes Reincarnated TV Incentives Bill

The New Mexico House has passed the resurrected “Breaking Bad” bill and it now moves on to the Senate Corporations Committee.

Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque and the House majority whip, introduced the bill on March 15 after his original legislation, HB 379, was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

HB 641 is a replica of HB 379. It boosts the 25 percent tax rebate on qualified production expenditures to 30 percent for television series shooting at least six episodes in the state with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode. It would also extend that boost to feature films provided the productions meet certain budget thresholds and use studio facilities in the state for a specified period of time. Also, the extra rebate for films is only applicable to New Mexico crew expenses.

The bill has been nicknamed for the TV series set and filmed in Albuquerque. Supporters have pushed for the legislation arguing that series stay longer and spend more money than feature films. Martinez said in her veto message that she was open to compromise if the film bill was part of larger package of comprehensive tax legislation.

The legislative session ends at noon on March 16.

NM: Breaking Bad Bill Resurrected

Just as Walter White found a reprieve from his fatal cancer diagnosis, the so-called “Breaking Bad” bill ain’t dead yet.

After Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the legislation on Friday afternoon, with a message that she was still open to compromise if she got other tax initiatives, it has re-emerged HB 641, according to Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque and the bill’s sponsor.

HB 641 passed the House Business & Industry Committee Friday evening and now moves to the full House for a vote. The legislative session ends at noon on Saturday, March 16.

The bill was one of the so-called “dummy bills” that Maestas introduced in February that had no text and was labeled as “Public Peace, Health, Safety and Welfare.” These bills allow for last minute maneuvers to get legislation passed.

The bill is identical to HB 379, vetoed by Martinez. It would increase the state’s film rebate to 30 percent on New Mexico crew for TV series shooting at least six episodes in New Mexico and and would allow up to $10 million in unused film tax credit funds to roll over if the total credits paid out do not reach the $50 million annual cap in a given year.

“With the $50 million cap already in place and with the $10 million cap on the carry forward provision in the legislation, this bill should stand alone,” said Maestas, House majority whip. “The governor, however, expressed frustration with not being able to review all the tax bills at the same time, so we will keep working until tomorrow at noon to send this legislation back to the governor’s desk.”

Maestas said in an earlier statement that it was “unfortunate that the ‘Breaking Bad’ bill became a political football.” Word of the governor’s veto was already picked up by the Los Angeles Times.

James Hallinan, spokesman for Maestas, said the bill will either stand alone or be pulled into a larger tax package.

 

NM: Governor Vetoes Breaking Bad Bill, Hints At Compromise

Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed a bill that would have boosted incentives for television productions shooting at least six episodes in New Mexico, despite wide bi-partisan support for the legislation.

However, supporters said a close reading of the governor’s veto message indicates a death knell may be premature. The broad support for the bill may have made it a key piece in a larger chess game to get other legislation Martinez is seeking.

“This session, I expressed a willingness to compromise and consider a measure that expanded the reimbursement rate for television productions,” Martinez wrote in her veto message.

“However, I was clear that any such measure must be part of a comprehensive tax reform package that helps create more jobs in New Mexico. Unfortunately, as of the time I am required to take action on this bill, the legislature has chose to only pass a package to increase subsidies to Hollywood, while failing to pass reforms designed to diversify our economy and help New Mexico businesses grow.

I cannot in good conscience further expand New Mexico’s film subsidy while leaving other sectors in our economy unassisted and genuine reform unattained. I again reiterate my willingness to meet legislators halfway and will support an increased film incentive as part of a broader reform package that I hope the legislature will pass before adjournment.”

With the New Mexico Legislature entering its final hours in this session, one observer noted that Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, who sponsored HB 379, has several “dummy” bills with the headings “Public Peace, Safety, and Welfare” and those could be used to roll in text from 379 and other tax reform bills sought by Martinez to create a package she would approve.

Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington, has two tax bills pending. HB 182 would amend the corporate income and franchise tax. It is still in committee. HB 315 addresses gross receipts taxes for manufacturers. It has passed several committees and is on the Senate calendar. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, has a Senate Finance Committee substitute bill for SB 538 and SB 521 that would lower the corporate income tax rate, require combined reporting for certain corporations and permit a single sales factor for certain manufacturers. It’s in the Senate Finance Committee.

“No one has said ‘Sorry, see you next year,’” said Jon Hendry, business agent for the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 480, about the film legislation. “I think the tax reform package could show up and this will be in it.”

HB 379, would have allowed TV series shooting at least six episodes and with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode to get a rebate of 30 percent on New Mexico crew. The current rebate is 25 percent on qualified expenditures.

That same boost would have applied to feature films shooting a certain number of days in studio facilities in the state. The bill would also have allowed unused credits to roll over to the next year if the $50 million annual cap on film credits was not reached. Amendments limited that rollover to $10 million with a three-year sunset provision. A fiscal impact report found that the legislation would not have an impact, but Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, has disputed that point.

The bill also allowed productions to assign their anticipated credit to banks or other financing groups and thus get upfront financing for a film. And under the legislation, productions would have had to make “reasonable efforts” to contract with vendors that have a physical presence in the state, and some non-resident crew expenses would have been rebatable, but only if a production made reasonable efforts to hire resident crew and it made financial or in-kind contributions toward workforce development or education programs.

Mary Ann Hughes, vice president of film and television production planning for Walt Disney Studios, called the bill a potential “gamechanger” in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal.

“It puts New Mexico as among the top leaders in the world regarding locations for a television series,” she told the Journal.

Disney is looking at bringing a series to New Mexico. And the New Mexico Film Office announced this week that NBC Universal Television will shoot a pilot for a new series, “The Sixth Gun,” in the state. The A&E series “Longmire” has started production on its second season here as well

 

NM: Breaking Bad Bill Goes To Governor

A bill boosting incentives for TV series that shoot in New Mexico is headed to the governor’s desk, but it’s still unclear if she will sign it.

The House voted to concur with Senate amendments to HB 379, which would boost the existing 25 percent rebate on qualified expenditures for film and television productions to 30 percent on New Mexico crew for TV series shooting at least six episodes in the state with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode.

The bill, also called the “Breaking Bad” bill for the long-running series set and filmed in Albuquerque, also allows up to $10 million in unused credits to be carried over to the following year if the number of credits paid out does not reach the $50 million annual cap. And it would allow productions to assign their anticipated tax credits to a bank or other financing entity, thus allowing them to get upfront financing.

“I thank both chambers of the New Mexico Legislature for working so diligently across party lines to send this critical jobs bill, the Breaking Bad Bill, to the Governor,” said House Majority Whip and bill sponsor Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, in a prepared statement.

“New Mexicans need jobs, good paying jobs, and this legislation will boost our economy sending a strong message to the film and TV industry, so I urge Governor Martinez to act swiftly and sign this bill into law that will welcome back the film industry to New Mexico,” Maestas added.

The bill also extends the 30 percent credit on New Mexico crew to productions that use studio facilities for a certain number of days, based on their budgets. It specifies that productions shall make “reasonable efforts” to contract with vendors that have a physical presence in the state. And it allows for some non-resident crew expenses to be rebated, but only if a production makes reasonable efforts to hire resident crew and it makes financial or in-kind contributions toward workforce development or education programs.

Gov. Susana Martinez now has 72 hours to either sign or veto the bill. It’s not clear which way she will go, although there have been a number of meetings among supporters, legislators and the Fourth Floor (common legislative slang for the governor’s office) to tweak this bill and an identical bill in the Senate. But apparently the governor wants to see other economic development initiatives pass as well.

“With federal budget cuts disproportionately hurting New Mexico, we are in dire need of enacting tax reforms to make our state more competitive to improve economic development,” said Enrique Knell, spokesman for Martinez, in an email. “Governor Martinez has expressed a willingness to consider a film bill, but it can’t be in isolation and must be part of a larger, more comprehensive package that levels the playing field to help create more jobs in New Mexico.”

Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Texico, said during the floor debate on HB 379 concurrence that there is an effort to create a comprehensive tax reform package for New Mexico businesses and the film tax credit “continues to leverage our tax dollars for out-of-state businesses, albeit they are bringing some work here and putting some new Mexicans to work, but temporarily. So it’s a delicate balance we’ve gotta face.”