SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — In recent years, Utah has been competing with Hollywood for the No. 1 position in the American motion picture industry. However, state legislatures failed to recognize this, jeopardizing the state’s position as one of the leaders in the industry. So what? According to the Motion Picture Association of Utah (MPAU), the motion picture industry is an economic contributor the state cannot afford to lose.
ABC4 recently caught up with MPAU Vice President Brooke Redmon, a strong supporter of the Utah film incentive and the industry as a whole.
According to Redmon, Utah sits at the pinnacle of the film industry. The state is an extremely attractive filming location, as it offers beautiful scenery, top quality crew members, and decent cinematic incentive.
Studio Binder defines a film incentive as “a tax benefit offered on a state-by-state basis in the United States to encourage film production within the state.” In short, movie incentives vary by state. If a state has a 25% film incentive, it can offer a production company a credit for 25% of total production costs.
A great movie incentive goes a long way. Redmon explained that a big incentive attracts big-name producers and directors such as Kevin Costner, who is expected to come to Utah for an incentive in the near future. Utah currently offers producers a 25% film incentive. “If we didn’t give him (Costner) that incentive, he would go somewhere else,” Redmon said.
The dedicated producer went on to explain the economic benefits our state receives from bringing in these big names in the industry. “When big-name producers and directors come to Utah to film, they put Hollywood’s money in the hands of the Utah legislatures by supporting local businesses, restaurants, staying at local hotels, buying gas at local gas stations and everything else.”
Redmon said a single project could bring in about $80 million in public funds. “We just did a film study and found that for every dollar spent by the film industry in Utah, seven dollars in public funds are generated,” she said.
Redmon went on to explain how it was up to the MPAU to bring together the entire film community of Utah to educate state legislatures about the importance of the state film community and what they actually do, so that they are inclined to support a great Utah film incentive and Utah’s film industry can continue to thrive.
“Film companies go where they can get the most bang for their buck,” Redmon said. “The bigger the movie incentive, the better.”
To date, Utah has an adequate movie incentive of 25%, although other states such as Georgia and New Mexico have a more attractive incentive. According to Redmond, it doesn’t always matter. She pointed to the exceptional quality of Utah’s film crew, cheap filming cost, and proximity to Los Angeles as factors that make Utah a better filming location than many other states.
“As a producer, a big part of my job is to negotiate with these big movie companies like Diney and Paramount that our 25% incentive is better than, say, Georgia’s 30% incentive.”
Redmon went on to note the organization’s goal of educating legislatures that Hollywood is not responsible for producing such Utah blockbuster movies as “National Treasure,” “Napoleon Dynamite” and “127 Hours”.
As Redmon noted, “It’s all these local filmmakers. Industry is Utah.