Film and TV Production Incentives - A Real Example From Today's Plain Dealer

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Fri, 08/03/2007 - 15:27.

Once again, Cleveland's daily is excited about the latest “drive-by shooting” of the film industry, reporting that 'visitors to the Rock Hall got an extra treat — watching Rainn Wilson, chief geek from “The Office,” shoot scenes for his upcoming movie “The Rocker.” Once again, however, we are missing the big picture ... literally.  While one day's shooting in Cleveland warrants the media attention, the “The Rocker” will be shooting forty-five days in Toronto, Ontario.

While it's encouraging that, apparently, the producers and production team at least thought about Northeast Ohio as an option, they looked at the financial numbers and realized they would save a possible $1.5 to 2 million by shooting in our neighbors to the north. What's missing in Northeast Ohio?

  • Tax and financial incentives, to encourage the film and TV industries work here in Northeast Ohio. New Orleans grew from a $12 million film location to $120 million, with producers flocking to shoot in Louisiana and use the production incentives to make the financial numbers comparable with overseas work (see earlier post for an industry survey ranking Louisiana in the top tier of production states). Louisiana offers a 25% credit on all expenditures for work done in state and a 35% credit for payroll for Louisiana residents. An additional 40% credit can apply to infrastructure projects. Even with the tax breaks, the incentives are effective in generating more work for residents and more revenue for the state.

  • Infrastructure investment activities. Toronto is upping the ante, offering a sound stage to lure work and productions to the city. In 2004, almost $950 million worth of film and television productions were shot in Toronto, providing 25,000 jobs in the city (making it one of the city’s largest employers). Since 1994, growth of major productions in Toronto has increased by nearly 7% annually. Now our neighbors to the north are creating a $250 million sound and production stage. Other states, like New Mexico, are following the model, creating places to work to attract film production activities to the state (an earlier blog post described that a subsidiary of NBC Universal recently opened in New Mexico the largest equipment shop west of LA for TV, film and commercial productions, supplementing their 25% tax credit for production expenses).

We're debating taxpayer funded convention centers that will never generate a profit, build football stadiums on the lake that get used ten times a year, while other areas are cleaning our clocks in the growth industries. Literally, Ohio Legislature, wake up and get in the game!