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Letter: Film industry needs local incentives

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Kermet Merl Key


In September 2013, “Proxy” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was shot in Richmond by local film director Zack Parker. The crew and most of the cast live and work in Indiana. All four of Zack’s feature films have been shot in Richmond, but in May he told the Indianapolis Star that “due to [the] tax credit available to filmmakers in Chicago, [he] will shoot his next picture there.”

The surrounding states of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and even Kentucky have film tax incentives. The short-term goal of these credits is meant to attract specific films and productions to the state. For states without an established movie production base, such as Indiana, initial film productions may have a large component of payments to nonresidents and out-of-state suppliers, but as the industry develops over time, a greater share of movie spending accrues to residents and in-state suppliers, ensuring the long-term goal of creating jobs and incomes for state residents.

Georgia has become a leading state for film and television production since the introduction of its film tax credit. The total value of production spending increased over 400 percent from 2007 to 2010, with annual production spending exceeding $600 million in 2011. Hit television shows like AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” call Georgia home. Georgia only recently supplanted Louisiana as the major U.S. destination for film and television production outside the state of California.

In 2002 Louisiana was the first state to offer a film and television production tax incentive. HBO’s “True Blood” and A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” are just two of the popular shows filmed in the state. Closer to home are NBC’s “Chicago Fire” and CBS’s “Mike and Molly,” both shot in Chicago.

Hoosier residents who work in the film and television industry often must travel to neighboring states in order to make a living. An Indiana film and television production tax credit would be essential to establishing a base in Indiana for original film and television productions and bringing those jobs here.

Some in Indiana are willing to concede that having artistic activity in our midst is an important part of a vibrant regional economy but are concerned about the economic value of subsidizing transient jobs that may at best only highlight the region. They fail to realize that as more films are produced in a region, more production houses open shop. Then when a television studio is looking to film outside California, it not only finds a tax-friendly region but skilled, experienced residents.

Ball State, Indiana University and IUPUI are producing many local graduates who will find a career in the film and television industry. Zack Parker was a Ball State student who transferred to UCLA, but he returned to Indiana to make all four of his films, building a network of talented professionals here in Indiana. If Indiana offers an incentive for filmmakers to produce their films here, they’ll come. And if they come, they might actually stay.

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