By Tris Carpenter
As I’m writing this, I’m jet-lagged out of my mind. I got back about 14 hours ago from a quick trip to Detroit, Michigan to meet with the studio mechanics Local out there and have a gander at the editorial facilities that the Motor City supports. And back in April, I made a similar trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Both Detroit and Baton Rouge are major beneficiaries of huge state tax incentive programs. Louisiana’s film incentive program was passed about six or seven years ago and has been quite successful at bringing the film and television business to the bayou. Michigan, easily the newest kid on the block, enacted its tax incentive just this past spring, but the size (42 percent) of the rebate was so astounding that motion picture production seems to be on the verge of eclipsing automotive manufacturing as the biggest industry in Michigan. I’m kidding about that last point, but I’m told that this year’s rebate is currently estimated at around $150 million.
Yes, the rebate is that large.
If you’re working on distant location and the picture hires editorial personnel locally, please make sure to call it in to the Guild so we can make proper arrangements for our new members.
The list of states that now offer some sort of incentive to bring in motion picture production dollars is long. In fact, Axium (the now-defunct payroll company) published a 76-page booklet in late 2007 outlining the various state incentive programs. States that have not created a program will be under pressure to do so as locales like Connecticut and New Mexico––never known for film production except when the story called for location shots––are now making major inroads in the movie business.
Though production in those states has gone through the roof, post-production has not––the vast majority of it still comes back to Los Angeles or New York. As such, you’re probably wondering why this matters to you. It matters because that situation may change; the tax incentives generally include post as well. If a company will go shoot in another state to save some money, what’s to say that they won’t eventually try to post there too?
As more and more production is being done away from the usual places (LA and NYC), we will need our members’ eyes and ears more and more to make sure that all post-production work meets union standards of wages and working conditions. Since virtually all union films that take advantage of these breaks have at least some of their crews brought in from LA or New York, we should be able to track and enforce these provisions.
If you’re working on distant location and the picture hires editorial personnel locally, please make sure to call it in to the Guild so we can make proper arrangements for our new members. Also, if you know that a picture is using local (meaning: not LA or NYC) sound editorial and re-recording mixing personnel and/or facilities, please call that in as well.
In addition, most states also offer an “infrastructure” credit. Companies that invest money in facilities and/or equipment necessary for motion picture production get some of it back. That’s why we’re seeing big plans for new post houses in states that would otherwise never need such facilities. We’re trying to keep track of these too, so please feel free to call or drop an e-mail whenever you see an announcement for one of these.