State Film Incentives Working

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By Nike Kern,

As 39 states across the country vie for Hollywood’s production money, here at home the Governor’s Office of Film and Television is doing its part. At stake is a significant slice of the mega-million dollar film production industry, not to mention the potential tourism dollars that may follow a blockbuster film produced and filmed in Oregon.  The film industry in Oregon alone generates more than $475 million in direct economic output per year and creates nearly 5,000 FTE jobs according to the Governor’s Office of Film and Television’s website.  This agency works to build the film, television and multimedia industry in the state and is a major part of the governor’s economic development plan.

“Other states are extremely aggressive when it comes to getting films,” says Scott Chambers, president of Chambers Communications, one of the state’s leaders in film production located in Eugene. “It’s a constant battle.”

Although Chambers does not rely on grants or incentives for his productions he does believe that most producers are driven by their budgets instead of by a specific location.  “More than our great scenery it’s the incentives that are the trump card when it comes to out-of-state producers deciding to come here or go elsewhere,” says Chambers.

Many states across the nation offer incentive programs but Oregon is a little different than most. It offers incentives that are cash rebates as opposed to tax credits. Such enticements include a rebated 20% of Oregon-based goods and services and cash payment of up to 16.2% of wages paid to production personnel. Another big pitch for filming in Oregon is the lack of a sales tax. Producers can save five to ten percent in their non-employment expenses by directing their crews to the Beaver State.

These incentive programs are labeled the Oregon Production Investment Fund and the Greenlight Oregon Labor Rebate (funded in part by the Oregon State Lottery and administered by the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department.)  In addition, filmmakers can seek grants from local cities such as the City of Eugene’s Telecommunication and Cable Communications Grant.

Although numbers are still out for now just how many films will be produced in Oregon in 2009, a continued upswing in numbers for Oregon is a truism.  “Oregon has always been strong in quality of crew and talent, and depth of locations but it’s particularly interesting to note the direct correlation to the introduction of our incentive programs in 2005, and the dramatic rise in production from ‘05 to’ 07, “ explains Susan Haley, director of marketing for the Governor’s Office of Film and Tourism.  “We’ve had a 115% increase in direct spend over that time period.”