Our recent springtime AMA webinar covered many of the highly valuable filming locations that are often overlooked by productions seeking film tax incentives. Just because a place isn’t Los Angeles or New York doesn’t mean it can’t provide your project with resources that can bring it to life.
These blooming “forget-me-nots” are often of great value to smaller, unscripted, and local projects, though their value is available to all. When you’re trying to lift your production off the ground, these lesser-known incentive programs can be extremely important to consider. These are a handful of highlights from the hour-long session.
Overlooked gems with fantastic programs
The Magnolia State can be great for independent productions, since it maintains a cash back grant program that incentivizes resident and nonresident wages, provides 30% back, and only has a minimum spend of $50,000. It also provides a 5% bonus for the hiring of a certain number of veterans (up to a rebate of 35%). The state film office’s audit process requires very thorough financial data, so it’s best to work with a local producer or a company familiar with the regional production landscape.
The Evergreen State just increased its funding cap from $3.5 million to $15 million. This is a rebate program, meaning that productions get their money back much more quickly than with a credit program (once all minimums and requirements are met). For wages to qualify, this program requires productions to pay for benefits. This state program might be best suited for smaller union jobs.
Looking for a deal in the Heart of Dixie? Look no further than Alabama’s amazing 25 to 35% fully refundable credit (or, essentially, a dollar-for-dollar contribution once productions meet the spending criteria). This state also has a fantastic and undervalued local crew base. Additionally, the audit process is rather simple.
Great states for unscripted, reality, and live events
The Bluegrass State offers a fully refundable credit, giving 30% for nonresident wages and up to 35% for resident wages paid. The state’s fantastic film office maintains a board of approvers that will evaluate your project and decide if incentivization is appropriate. Kentucky takes an application fee upfront, equaling about .5% of the estimated credit return. Employer fringes and insurance do not qualify. The state accepts live theater, docs, game shows, and reality programming.
The Silver State’s transferable credit is great for game shows, since it can be sold to casinos, who like to lighten their tax burden in this way. The incentive also applies to documentaries and reality programming (depending on the concept). This credit will earn productions up to 25% back, plus another 5% if more than 50% of BTL crew wages go to residents. A residency form is required, and productions must spend at least $500,000 or 60% of qualified costs in the state.
The Centennial State is offering a rebate program that provides 20% across the board for total spend to both resident and nonresident wages. Another bonus, the incentive program is well funded at $11.25 million, accepting documentaries, gameshows, and reality television.
Don’t sleep on these locales
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
The locale offers a 3% cash rebate that can be stacked on top of the state program.
Onondaga County, New York
This locale offers a 25% incentive that can be stacked on top of New York State’s 25% credit (for certain crew).
Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
This locale offers a cash rebate program that was built to support Oklahoma’s Indigenous population. Currently capped at $1 million, the program requires a minimum spend of $25,000 and can be stacked on top of the state’s rebate. Learn more about the Cherokee Nation’s film rebate.
Do your research, you won’t regret it
Don’t forget to turn over every rock and look under every cushion. There are far too many overlooked states and local programs to ignore, so be sure you’re checking to see what’s available and keep an open mind.
If your project isn’t limited by specifics and creative concerns, perhaps it can find a home somewhere you hadn’t considered. And if you already have a state in mind, make sure you know everything that is available to you locally.
Of course, going to lesser-used states may require that you bring a certain number of people with you (as crews may not be as readily available), so it can help to work with a local producer to balance your needs with regional requirements.
It may seem like it’s easier to rely on popular locations that come with certain legacies and assurances, but one of these overlooked “forget-me-nots” might still be a more perfect solution to your project’s needs.
We’re here to save your production money
Find up-to-the-minute incentives information for each state in the country—including our interactive map and Incentives Wizard calculator—at www.mediaservices.com/incentives.