(KCPW News) One bill file for next year has already been opened to boost tax incentives for films shot in Utah. Democratic Representative Karen Morgan will sponsor the bill, and Marshall Moore, director of the Utah Film Commission, says more are on the way.
"We'll be looking forward to presenting legislation that would change our current motion picture incentive fund. Don't know what that is yet, though," Moore says. "But we are working on it, aligning it, maybe, with some other states' incentives, and actually creating some new things that haven't been done before."
Moore says one proposal would create a two-tiered incentive, one for small, independent films and a different plan for big-budget Hollywood productions. Depending on their budget, producers could choose which incentive works best for them, Moore says.
Of the 40 states offering incentives, Michigan, Connecticut and New Mexico are attracting the most films. These states offer full refunds on state taxes, compared to Utah's 15 percent cash rebate, which is capped at $500,000 dollars. While the incentive needs to be increased for big-budget films, Utah wouldn't need to give full refunds, Moore says. The state has other things to offer.
"A lot of the other states that are offering higher percentages, a lot of them are starting from scratch," Moore says. "They don't have an indigenous crew base, they don't' have equipment there, so a lot of the incentive gets eaten up in costs related to travel. Whereas here, we already have the crew in place, we have two equipment rental houses, it's an easy flight from Los Angeles and we have great locations within an hour."
Only three of the 29 films shot in Utah this year had budgets bigger than $5 million. One of these – High School Musical 3 – was handed a $1.5 million incentive by the legislature earlier this year to keep the production at Salt Lake City's East High.