Minnesota film tax credit bills could bring movie, TV production boom to Northland

Perhaps if this year the Minnesota House and Senate pass bipartisan film tax credits to encourage production companies to choose the state as a location.

The proposed incentive would create a transferable tax credit of up to 25% on government purchases for the production of films and television programs. In more than 30 other states there is currently some kind of film incentive that is a great motivation when production companies plan where projects should be shot.

“An incentive program like a movie credit is the only way to build a thriving industry in Minnesota since so many other states and countries have introduced movie credits,” said Senator David Tomassoni of Chisholm, author of the SF 1986 Senate Act, during a session of the Senate Tax Committee Thursday morning April 15. “Because of its success, this is now a necessary prerequisite for attracting large projects.”

Philip Gilpin, executive director and CEO of the Catalyst Story Institute in Duluth, said the company moved to Duluth in 2018 because it looked like the state was about to receive that incentive. A colleague from Gilpin at HBO told him that if Minnesota had movie incentives, he would have chosen to shoot $ 100 million worth of productions here in 2019.

The St. Louis County’s Board of Commissioners passed a similar movie incentive in December, adding a discount of up to 25% in the county and 20% off the Iron Range for area expenses while filmmaking. It was used as an example at the state level to show the difference the incentive makes in site selection.

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Commissioner Frank Jewell, who represents downtown Duluth and supported the county’s incentive, said he was a full supporter of the nationwide incentive as the film industry would create lots of jobs by getting people to stay in hotels to eat in restaurants eat and employ carpenter or electrician for sets. It would also create hundreds of new jobs in the area.

Brian Simpson, who represents the Minnesota film and television teams for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, said the current Minnesota workforce was not big enough to support the number of jobs these productions would create, which would mean that more people could be trained Join the workforce. These jobs, he told the Senate Tax Committee, are impossible to automate and come with full utility, training, and device certification.

“It is sometimes said that film and television are nothing more than temporary jobs, but we are just as temporary as the construction industry because we are a project-based industry,” said Simpson. “We are not temporary jobs.”

Right now, the state is losing these jobs as manufacturing companies choose to film in other states with incentives like Georgia to take away the workforce and millions of dollars.

Hailing from Duluth, Van Hayden, who is now the first assistant director, has worked on more than 90 films and television shows in his 32 years in the film industry.

“Unfortunately, due to the lack of tax incentives in Minnesota, with the exception of two of those 90 feature films or television series, I had to leave the state to work on it,” Hayden told the Senate Tax Committee. “I’d like to bring production back to Minnesota.”

Former Senator Dick Cohen said Minnesota has the strongest secondary-acting market outside of New York and Los Angeles and the second highest number of theaters per capita after New York. By using local actors, production companies save money on housing and flying people to the set, and the state has more accessible locations.

“You can have a manufacturing office in the city of Minneapolis and 45 minutes later you’re on a farm,” Cohen told the Senate Tax Committee. “’Grumpy Old Men’ is the best example of this. 1995. Manufacturing office was in Minneapolis; The interior photos were taken in Paisley Park in Chanhassen. and the exterior was shot in Lake City. You can’t duplicate that in a place like Manhattan, LA, or even Atlanta. “

Training courses for production jobs are already being held in Northland. Riki McManus, director of production at the Upper Midwest Film Office in Duluth, said filming projects are already planned for Duluth, the Iron Range and along the north coast this year. Workshops, such as one for the training of lighting technicians at Hibbing Community College, prepare a workforce as more productions are expected to come to the region.

Gilpin said the jobs will be accessible because they do not require a college degree and the on-site training is offered through Catalyst or the Upper Midwest Film Office. People interested in the creative sector don’t have to move to New York or California to be on TV or in the movies – they can come to Duluth instead.

McManus said if the state adds an incentive on top of the St. Louis County incentive, the area could become one of the state’s hottest filming destinations. The cities of Maple Lake and Austin are the only other places in the state that have incentives. They offer a 15% or 10% discount.

“We are seeing tremendous interest in this area here in Duluth,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson told the Senate Tax Committee Thursday morning. “Part of it is that Duluth is so beautiful. Part of that is that we have this incredible workforce. Part of it is that we have this amazing geography. It’s deep and rich and tells a beautiful story. “

As filming picks up again after the pandemic, there are more stories than ever just waiting to be told. Larson said Minnesota should be a place the backlog of productions wants to go to tell these stories.

Iron Range Rep. Dave Lislegard is the author of the 1975 HF House Bill. He said his role as an extra in the Iron Range film “North Country” opened his eyes to the subject when production for the film moved from Minnesota to Santa Fe, New Mexico to pursue a tax credit incentive.

“The story that changed the lives of so many people in this country that began in one particular location in Minnesota had to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a film loan,” said Lislegard. “The past year has torn this country – this world – apart for so many different reasons. But right here in the state of Minnesota, we had a situation, a travesty, that the whole world is watching. And at some point they will tell this story. We want this story to be told here. “

The bills were presented to the House and Senate tax committees.

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