Saturday, February 12, 2011

How Other States' "Film Incentives" Drain Them Dry

Carpe Diem:

According to the Michigan Film Office website, 129 movies have been filmed in Michigan since 2008, including 48 in 2010 ("Gulliver's Travels), 43 in 2009 ("Capitalism: A Love Story"), and 38 in 2008 ("Gran Torino").  

It might seem curious that so many movies are now being filmed in Michigan, a state known more for its automotive industry, failing cities, flat landscape and cold weather than as a top movie destination.  And it might also seem curious that a movie being released this weekend titled "Cedar Rapids" that supposedly takes place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was actually instead filmed in Ann Arbor, Michigan.   Well, it's not so curious once you know that Michigan offers filmmakers a 42% refund or tax credit on their direct production costs in Michigan.  Spend $10 million making a movie in Michigan and you could get $4,200,000 back!
[...]Fortunately, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has been exposing the Michigan Film program as a complete boondoggle for Michigan taxpayers.  Even the State Senate Fiscal Agency questioned the program when it estimated that the state gave out credits of almost $150 million during a period when it only took in $26.6m in taxes from filmmakers, for an estimated net loss to the state of $122 million. 
It is wonderful that we have a film industry in Wilmington. If we, however, attempt to get into a subsidy war with other cities, or states, we will wind up like Michigan, where even if we get a production we lose.

The basis of Wilmington's competitiveness needs to spring from its private sector, not from the public.

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