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January 29, 2007

hh2.jpgThe Iowa City Press Citizen has a one-sided piece up shilling for "incentives" for people to make movies in Iowa. It gives the standard excuse for offering subsidies to one business at the expense of the rest of us:

If neighboring states have incentive packages offering multiple tax breaks for filmmakers and Iowa does not, it is a no-brainer which state will get the film, (22-year old filmmaker Scott) Beck said.

The last time this came up, the welfare-seeking filmmakers were wanting "transferable" credits. These are tax credits that the filmmakers can sell at a discount to other taxpayers. They have the same effect as a direct cash subsidy.

The welfare-seekers act like films have some special magical economic impact:

One of the last larger films to be shot in the state is �The Final Season,� shot in Norway and Cedar Rapids in summer 2006.

Producer Steve Schott estimates that for the film they spent about $1.5 million in the state for goods and services alone. He estimates that the crew spent another half a million dollars on food.

More than 3,000 hotel nights were booked and more than 30 cars rented.

That sure is special. Still, filmmakers come and go, leaving nothing permanent behind. Business subsidies are bad enough when the business is going to stick around, but subsidies for people who you know will pack up and leave at the end of a project? Maybe we should just pay California taxes and skip the middlemen.

Then there's this:

Bruce Heppner-Elgin, founder of the Iowa Digital Filmmakers Guild and a Washington resident, knows of dozens of filmmakers across the state who will be lobbying for the bill to pass.

�The film incentives are very important in that they first off give a level playing field so we can compete with states around us,� Heppner-Elgin said. �There is money out there that Iowa is missing.�

Nothing compared to what will be missing when Harold Hill leaves town. Actually, there is money missing, but I don't think that's what they're talking about.

The article says Mark Davitt (D- Indianola) will introduce a money-for-Hollywood bill this week. We will track its progress on our 2007 Iowa Tax Legislation page.

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