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August 28, 2006

A young independent filmmaker has generously offered to shoot her first film right here in Iowa, if we pay her a big enough bribe. From this morning's Des Moines Register:

Cedar Rapids will play a starring role in "Conditional Love," a movie project launched by former Iowan Lisa Arbuckle - unless Atlanta, Ga., gets the part.

Arbuckle has her heart set on shooting the feature film in Cedar Rapids. It's the setting for her screenplay and the place she called home until moving her family to Arizona in April 2005 to pursue her movie-making dreams.

But money talks. Georgia offers a package of film production tax incentives that could be worth about $200,000 to Arbuckle's project.

Well, don't let the door hit you in the Atlanta on the way out, Lisa.

Of course, the "economic development professionals" just love this:

"We ask legislators to give an incentive package to the film industry itself and that will lure the big production companies in," said Becky Gruening, director of tourism at the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau.

And what fabulous tourist attractions would this new film create?

She and producer Donnelly also scouted shooting locations in Cedar Rapids and nearby Benton County - including a jail, hospital, high school, club and liquor store.

Oh, yeah, that will pull them in, especially the liquor store.

The politicians are always ready to take a little bit of money from the rest of us to give it to Hollywood:

Film industry tax incentive bills that received little attention during the 2006 session are likely to get a closer look in 2007, said Rep. Jamie Van Fossen, a Davenport Republican who currently heads the House's tax policy committee.

In considering film production tax breaks, the idea isn't to portray Iowa as "the next Hollywood," said Van Fossen, "but there's a little bit of a successful record of films coming out of the state."

The film industry has been remarkably successful in getting other states to authorize bribes to filmmakers. The would be bribe recipients say that Iowa is one of four states without film credits.

If you wonder what this is really about, Ms. Arbuckle's chief bribe-seeker producer, Terence Donnelly, spells it out for the rubes:

For tax credits to really have value to filmmakers, they need to be transferable, said Donnelly, whose previous projects include working as assistant director for the filming of "The Exorcist" in 1973.

That means being able to sell the tax credits to another business that can use them, which would raise a lot of cash up front for the production company, he said.

In other words, the state pays virtually a direct cash subsidy by offering tax credits that the producer can sell at a discount to cover their production costs. Yes, that's what we Iowans want: let's pay taxes to subsidize film makers. Dollars for Hollywood! Lord knows they don't have enough money.

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What do the bribetakers mean, Iowa has no film credits? Pupi Avati is in Davenport right now filming another movie made locally. Per Friday's Quad City Times,
"It was the fourth day of filming for The Hideout, which marks the return of Italian filmmaking brothers Pupi and Antonio Avati to the Quad-Cities. A crew of American and Italian filmmakers is in the first of a five-week shooting schedule throughout the Quad-City area."

Oh. Maybe they have to be movies someone has seen.

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