Las Vegas Sun

September 24, 2017

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Nevada support high for tax breaks on U.S.-produced films

The Nevada Film Office continues to participate in efforts to stop "runaway production" by supporting federal legislation that would offer tax credits for wages paid on films produced in the United States.

Robin Holabird, deputy director of the Nevada Film Office, said getting support for the bills is a tough sell because the proposals are perceived as a form of corporate welfare for the film industry.

Bills were introduced in the House and Senate last year and both versions were forwarded to committees.

The bills are designed to provide incentives to film companies to keep production in the United States. For economic reasons -- often a favorable currency exchange rate -- companies have filmed their movies in other countries that have provided incentives for them to move.

Many Hollywood companies have done location shooting in Canada and Australia.

The issue is important to Nevada, since the state reported Friday that it had received about $134.9 million in revenues from film, television, commercial and multimedia productions in 2001. That's about $10 million more than what was generated the previous year and brought the total amount generated since the Nevada Film Office was formed to more than $1 billion.

"I am pleased to say this continues the record-breaking trend the Nevada Film Office has been setting for three years in a row," said Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, who oversees the Commission on Economic Development which oversees the film office.

"It is especially gratifying when we realize this growth in Nevada filming took place in spite of two threatened industry strikes that caused production to practically grind to a halt as well as the Sept. 11 tragedy that affected all business and industry," she said.

The Nevada Film Office, which opened in 1983, estimates that $1.125 billion in revenues have been brought into the state by film production companies since then.

The issue of runaway production, which grew throughout the 1990s, was evident in one of the most recent feature films completed in Nevada, "The Pledge," starring Jack Nicholson.

Holabird said several scenes were filmed in Northern Nevada before production was moved to Canada. Holabird said producer Sean Penn wanted to complete the picture in Nevada, but studio executives had already made arrangements to complete it at Canadian locations.

The United States Independent Film and Television Production Incentive Act of 2001 was introduced in the Senate in July and in the House in October. No Nevada lawmakers are among its sponsors. The bill, written as an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code, was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

Feature films represented about 26 percent of the production revenues generated in Nevada in 2001 ($35 million), trailing television production with 57 percent of the total ($76 million). The remaining 17 percent of revenues was generated by commercials ($10 million), photography ($7 million), music videos ($4 million) and corporate, industrial and miscellaneous productions ($2 million).

In addition to announcing the film office's 2001 statistics in a luncheon at Planet Hollywood, Hunt also unveiled the 2002 Nevada Production Directory and introduced the winners of the office's 2001 screenwriters competition.

The production directory is a 264-page indexed resource book listing Nevada companies in support roles for film production. The book lists production coordinators, managers and producers, talent agencies, casting directors, extras, photographers, promoters, unions and guilds.

The screenwriting competition, conducted for the 14th year, had 150 entries last year. The winning script was submitted by Mark Foster, Rosemount, Minn., who wrote "Cape Nevada," an action-adventure story about two men who compete to launch the first manned, privately built rocket into orbit.

Barry Green, a producer and writer with Fiercely Independent Films, Las Vegas, finished second with a script called "Dead Line," about a woman tormented over the disappearance of her only sister.

Hunt said 13 of the 25 screenwriting finalists are based in Nevada, with scripts coming from writers in Elko, Reno, Henderson and Las