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The Cherokee Nation’s New Film Rebate Incentive Bolsters Tribe, Sweetens OK Incentive

Original publish date: May 13, 2022

The Cherokee Nation’s new film rebate incentive was created to bolster the nation’s revenue and take advantage of Oklahoma’s recent production boom. Funds spent in the Cherokee Nation allow the tribe’s government to develop the nation’s economy, provide services to its people and gain financial independence.

Utilizing the film incentive is a fantastic new way to get involved in Oklahoma’s rich history and Native American culture, earn a rebate for your production and support Oklahoma’s Indigenous population. The program was designed by the Cherokee Nation Film Office to promote tribal visibility on screen and to grow a skilled production-ready workforce within the tribe.

With applications currently open and the ability to double down on an Oklahoma film rebate incentive, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this exciting new program that can help you decide if it’s right for your TV or film production.

Film Incentive Program Facts

The new Cherokee Nation film rebate incentive is offering a cash rebate to qualifying tv and film productions that incur expenses while shooting in the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

A cash rebate is the most direct form of production incentive program, releasing a percentage of cash back to a production based on audited expenditures.

The Nation is made up of 7,000 square miles and according to the Nation’s film office, comprises “five distinct ecoregions,” spanning urban and rural zones. It’s jurisdiction touches 14 Oklahoma counties which you can explore using the Cherokee Nation’s interactive maps. Such a varied landscape can accommodate wide ranging film location needs!

With a $1 million cap, the program is off to a fantastic start, stacking up nicely to other smaller programs, considering this incentive can complement Oklahoma’s state film rebate incentive – which is also currently accepting applications for the next fiscal year and offers a 10-38% rebate depending on your qualifications.

Production wages and spend will qualify for the cash rebate. Additional percentage boosts apply when a production hires Cherokee Nationals on crew or as talent and utilizes Cherokee-owned rental houses and businesses.

Feature films, television, animation, music videos and documentaries are being accepted with a minimum spend of $25,000 within the Cherokee Nation and a $50,000 spend in the state of Oklahoma overall. There is no spend cap on any one project.    

Get an in-depth rundown with the full Cherokee Nation Incentive Rules sheet.  

What Qualifies for the Cherokee Nation Film Rebate Incentive?

Both above-the-line and below-the-line talent and crew members qualify for the film incentive program, as well as expenditures made within the Cherokee Nation with a 5% uplift for expenditures made at qualified Native American owned businesses.

The following lists detail the percentage of spend and wages that qualify for the film incentive rebate. According to the nation’s film office, “Native American is defined as a citizen of a Federally Recognized Tribe.” 

Above the line:

Below the line:

The Cherokee Nation Film Office maintains a Native Crew directory to help simplify hiring Native American crew members.

This program stands apart. Take note, not only does it incentivize hiring CN citizens, the rebate also motivates productions to hire Native Americans that are members of any Federally Recognized Tribe.


The Cherokee Nation Tribal Employment Rights Office maintains a list of authorized Native-owned businesses to simplify your vendor search.

Requirements of the Cherokee Nation Rebate Incentive

There are a number of rules and requirements you need to meet to take full advantage of this great new film rebate incentive. The incentive program was designed with special consideration to provide equitable representation of the Cherokee Nation on screen and behind the scenes.

The Cherokee Nation Film Office Incentive Selection Committee hand-picks projects based on a set of rules that consider potential economic impact, job market, Native American representation, tribal image and more.

A production must lay out a timeline, along which you must provide proof of funding, certificate of OK workers’ compensation insurance, proof of $1 million in general liability insurance, auto insurance, film schedule and screenplay, crew list and Oklahoma vendors.

An audit must be performed by a certified public accountant to verify all wages and expenditures, or percentage thereof, made in the Cherokee Nation. This audit must show that at least $25,000 was spent in the CN to qualify for the cash rebate.  

If an independent film has a production budget of at least $1 million, production must secure a completion bond and provide evidence of the bond, ensuring all liabilities incurred in the Cherokee Nation will be paid in full.    

Script approval up to ten days prior to production and any changes made during production must be approved by the CN Film Office to continue qualifying for the film incentive program. Representation of the Cherokee Nation and Native American characters must meet Film Office standards. All Native American characters must be portrayed by Native American actors.

The CN Film Office maintains a Native Talent directory to simplify casting needs. 

Production must also hire two qualified paid trainees who are Native American Oklahoma residents to work on set. These trainees must either be a student receiving class credit or an individual with fewer than three production credits. Supervised by a department head for at least half of the shooting days. 

On screen credit indicating a film or show was made in the Cherokee Nation must be included in the title credits in the form of a logo or using pre-approved language.    

Take Your Independent Film to Oklahoma

The Cherokee Nation’s film rebate incentive program is an exciting new way to get involved in the Nation’s rich culture and history while offsetting production expenses.

Combined with Oklahoma’s generous film rebate incentive, you can’t go wrong with the Cherokee Nation’s rebate program, especially if your script and budget are positioned to satisfy Cherokee Nation Film Office standards. 

Need help with film tax incentives? Reach out here.

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