Lawmakers push for better film incentives in Colorado
The Associated press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – All right Colorado, take two.
Lawmakers – and film buffs – are taking another crack at boosting Colorado’s incentives for film production companies, saying the state is missing out on helping its local economies because it lags behind other states in giving more lucrative deals to the movie industry.
“We need to continue that incentivizing to make sure they stay here,” Democratic Rep. Nancy Todd said Wednesday during a House resolution for “Colorado Cinema Day.”
“I’m here to say, ‘Don’t go to Kansas,'” Todd said.
A proposal released Wednesday would increase a tax rebate the state gives production companies from 10 percent to 20 percent, a figure that would be comparable to other states, but not nearly as high as others. Kansas for example, offers at 30 percent rebate for film production companies and Louisiana and Oklahoma go up to 35 percent and 37 percent respectively.
The refund is given to filmmakers to help offset costs for in-state expenditures.
Colorado has a rich history of film that includes the original “True Grit” movie with John Wayne, filmed in Ouray and Ridgeway. The “Perry Mason” television series was filmed in Denver, and the famous scene from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” where Paul Newman and Robert Redford jump off the edge of a canyon and into a river was shot in Durango.
But film production companies have been going to other states because they offer better incentives. The remake of “True Grit” with Jeff Bridges was shot in New Mexico, which has a rebate of 25 percent. Most states have some type of tax incentive for films.
From 1897 to 1997, more than 350 movies were shot at least partially in Colorado, but that number has dwindled to about a couple of dozen in the last 15 years.
A bill last year to boost the state’s incentive fund with an optional 10-cent fee on tickets failed. This year, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is advocating for better film incentives. In addition to increasing the state’s rebate, the proposal allows the state to be a guarantor for loans for film production. The state would charge an upfront facility fee, which producers would pay, in exchange for the guarantee. A bank would provide the loan.
Democratic Sen. Linda Newell, one of the sponsors of the proposal, said the idea of increasing the state’s film incentives is gaining momentum.
“I think it’s because we’re getting screamed at by the film production industry,” she said.
Newell said the tourism industry is also taking note.
“The other piece of it is now the tourism is coming and saying, ‘Look, we are losing jobs because every time a film production company comes here and you have a film production, they spend an average of $10 million dollars in the state while they’re here,'” she said. “And that includes those mom-and-pop shops, it includes restaurants, the bed and breakfasts, the ski resorts.”