Cathleen Allison / AP
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | 12:08 p.m.
Movie star Nicolas Cage traveled to Carson City today to urge state lawmakers to pass a movie tax incentive bill, promising to use his connections in the industry to help spark a filmmaking boom in Nevada if the measure becomes law.
“My name is Nicolas Cage, and I’m an American filmmaker,” Cage told lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee, who put away their laptops and phones to listen to his testimony.
Onlookers gathered outside the committee room to snap pictures and gawk.
“I have four scripts that could easily be shot in Nevada,” said Cage, who described himself as a Nevada resident, adding he’d like to wake up at home, go to work shooting a film and return home at the end of the day.
“I know investors around the world. I could give you names. Give me six months and I’ll give you a list of names of folks who would love to come to Nevada to make a movie,” he said.
Cage was testifying in favor of Senate Bill 165, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Ford. The measure would provide qualified film producers transferable tax credits worth 20 percent of production costs. Additional tax credits would be given for hiring Nevadans.
A similar bill failed last session, and Gov. Brian Sandoval’s economic development office hasn’t placed an emphasis on film production in lieu of working to attract industries such as aerospace, energy and health care.
Ford argued Nevada should take advantage of any economic development opportunity as Nevada struggles through an economic recovery. Filmmakers, Ford argued, are going to other states that offer tax incentives.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman also testified in favor of the bill.
Cage argued Las Vegas is already home to talented film and sound crew workers who need jobs.
“I know folks who have tried to put a studio here, but we can’t put the cart before the horse,” Cage said. “We need to pass the bill.”
Cage went on to suggest Carrot Top be tapped as a late night talk show interviewer for a show filmed in Nevada.
In a brief interview after the hearing, Cage said movie making could also boost tourism in Nevada.
“I’m trying to make an investment in the culture of our state,” Cage said. “It’s not just a financial thing; I’m trying to make an investment in the perception of Nevada. I’m someone who travels the world quite often. I’m at work in different parts of the world. I’ve met many people around the world, and I want them to go to the movies and see how beautiful our state is, because it actually works.
“People see a movie and want to go to the place it was shot. That happened with the Lord of the Rings. Everyone went to New Zealand after that movie.”
While Cage described himself as a Nevada resident, records show his $5 million Las Vegas mansion was foreclosed on in 2010.
The Spanish Heights Drive home is for sale now for $6.9 million.
Carole Vilardo, president of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, testified against the bill, saying it doesn’t make sense for lawmakers searching for new revenue for education and other services to grant tax credits.
She also criticized the language of the bill itself.
“This is totally open-ended where the laundry list of everything in the world would be open for exemptions,” Vilardo said.