Lawmakers hope motion picture incentives bring more films to Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY -- More motion picture directors are calling "Action!" than ever before, but Hollywood is where most films and TV series are shot. Utah is pushing harder to change that.

The push plays off the success of projects like "High School Musical." Now lawmakers are willing to put cash behind that effort. Just last week, a Senate panel gave a film financial incentive bill unanimous approval.

"This bill, if we spend the $10 million in the next fiscal year, automatically $50 million comes into the state. And that's just the beginning," said Don Schain, president of the Motion Picture Association of Utah.

The proposal is to invest $15 million over two years for tax credits to film companies. Projects could also qualify for rebates -- the idea is to allocate $5 million over two years for that.

The money is an investment of confidence at a time of uncertainty. "The impacts are so well-documented. The economic modeling has been done. We can show the effects of a film coming to this state. You can't really refute that kind of analysis," said Jason Perry, with the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

People who work in the film industry say the incentive money will accelerate film production growth. "We now have a shot at getting the projects that we want in the state. We have a shot at getting long-term employment for series television for people," said Tim Nelson, a film producer and director.

Utah is already attractive enough for a company called Bay Entertainment to invest in a sound stage-post production studio complex in Park City.

"This is imminent. We're coming. We're fully funded, private funding. No stimulus money, federal money, no state money whatsoever," said Todd Bay of Bay Entertainment.

The film incentive fund is mostly funded through federal stimulus money.


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