Landmark advocate pushes for tax breaks for filmmakers

While an independent film crew shoots a movie with Columbus in a starring role, a local landmarks advocate hopes to see state officials begin granting tax breaks to filmmakers in Indiana.

The Hoosier State remains among fewer than a dozen states nationwide that do not offer film incentives. It does have the Indiana Film Commission, however, which showcases talent and resources to companies seeking assistance in commercial, film and television production.

“I hope this film becomes another way to help state officials realize that there is an opportunity to make movies in this state,” said Richard McCoy, director of Landmark Columbus, which cares for the city’s artistic and architecturally significant sites. “We should be competing nationally for more of these (film shoots).”

In the movie “The Fault in Our Stars,” Pittsburgh was used for Indianapolis throughout. Massachusetts towns depicted fictional Carlinville, Indiana, in Robert Downey Jr.’s film “The Judge.”

Massachusetts provides filmmakers spending more than $50,000 in the state with a package of tax incentives: a 25 percent production credit, a 25 percent payroll credit, and a sales tax exemption, according to the Massachusetts Film Office.

A production credit, according to independent movie producer Mary Jane Skalski at cinemablend.com, involves state film incentives refunding a qualified portion of the money spent in the state back to the production.

A production spending $1 million in a state with a 25 percent incentive eventually would get $250,000 back from the state.

“In some cases, that money will come as a check,” Skalski said in a question-and-answer chat on the website. “Every state is different, but when a production is finished spending money in the locale and/or when the entire production is done, an accounting is provided to the state. Then that is vetted internally before any check or voucher is released.”

The producer said such incentives are key to help movie crews mitigate financial risks.

A January editorial in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette supporting a bigger tax credit for Pennsylvania read: “The crews spend loads of money locally, generating more income and tax revenue than the tax credits cost. More work builds a local industry of technicians.

“The multiplier effect fills hotel rooms and restaurants and fuels catering operations. The national buzz when, say, star Jake Gyllenhaal declares his adoration for Pittsburgh after filming here is gravy.”

On the Web

Information about the Indiana Film Commision is available by visiting filmindiana.com

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.